Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Culinary Lab in Session

We're wrapping up another summer of culinary trial/error in Saugatuck, Mich. Some new favorite ingredients: Black Garlic; Truffled Dwarf Peaches (hold over from last summer); Basque Ardi Gasna Cheese; Colatura Alici Anchovy Extract; La Quercia Pancetta; as well as others. I will be back in St Louis by Labor Day, but here is a favorite new summer palate cleanser before I go:

Kaffir Lime-Melon “Shooters” with Coconut Chantilly
Ingredients:                                                        Qty.\Weight         

Cantaloupe, Peeled/Seeded/Diced                                  1 medium
Fresh Lime Juice                                                         4 limes

Simple Syrup, (1/2 water/1/2 sugar)                              1 1/2 cups
Kaffir Lime Leaves (fresh or frozen)                             2
Coriander Seeds (cracked)                                           15
Green Cardamom pods (cracked)                                  5

Coconut Milk                                                              1 cup
Heavy Cream                                                              1/2 cup

Spring roll wrappers                                                    4 sheets
Eggs, beaten                                                                        1
Oyster sauce, Hoisin sauce or soy sauce                        1 Tablespoon
Sesame Seeds (Black and White)                                   as needed

Preparation Procedure:  Preheat oven to 325.

Bring simple syrup, lime leaves, coriander and cardamom to boil.  Remove from stove and allow to steep 30 minutes to one hour.  Strain and chill.

Meanwhile beat heavy cream in mixer until peaks start to form, fold in coconut milk and mix until thick.  Refrigerate.

When syrup is cold pour over melon and lime juice in blender and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate.

Brush springroll wrappers (cut in an appealing shape) with egg wash mixed with oyster sauce or hoisin or soy.  Sprinkle with sesame while still wet.
Lay out on silpat or parchment lined sheet pan, cover with sheet of parchment or another silpat.  Bake 10-15 minutes until brown.

Fill shot glass 2/3 full of melon soup, top with dollup of cold coconut chantilly and garnish with sesame wafer.

Independence Day in NYC

My frequent trips to NYC typically come in Fall/Winter/Spring, so when I ended up there in July it took a little adjusting to (ie. no sport coat/socks/etc.). It was a daring five-day restaurant marathon: Mas Grillade; ABC Kitchen; North End Grill; Prime Meats; Txikito and others lost in the fog. However, my favorite new spot for food + ambiance is the restaurant at the new NoMad Hotel in midtown. Put together by the team responsible for Eleven Madison Park (after USHG/Danny Meyer graciously stepped out), it is a wonderful place to eat. http://www.thenomadhotel.com/

Favorite Miami Hotel

My family and I made a late spring visit to the food/culture capital of Florida, Miami, before heading off to the opposite side of the panhandle to visit a friend. While I typically laude culinary experiences in this blog, I wanted to take a moment to applaud what was a thoroughly exceptional hotel experience. As a young traveler the quality of the hotel was not typically important to me (i.e. 'you just sleep there'), but as I've gotten older my feelings on this have changed. (This is probably best exemplified by the Relais & Chateaux App on my phone.) When I travel I've come to appreciate good accommodations almost as much as good food experiences. That is why I was so pleasantly surprised by The Raleigh Hotel on Miami Beach. Perhaps because my expectations were modest, my memories of Miami Beach hotels were thumping house music and way too many white loafers, I was simply hoping for a place where we could allow my two-year old some pool/beach time without having to worry about her crib vibrating from the omnipresent bass. This is why The Raleigh came as such a pleasant surprise. Right in the center of it all on Collins Ave. on S. Beach, The Raleigh truly is 'an oasis and respite' as their website proclaimed. The staff was overwhelmingly Cuban and thoroughly friendly, in fact the whole experience took me back to images of pre-Castro Cuba (see scenes before Fredo broke Michael's heart in The Godfather Pt. 2). The hotel is recently renovated to accentuate it's Art-Deco strengths and is shrouded in giant palm trees to make it seem like you're secluded on a remote island and not across the street from the W Hotel Miami. My travels have taken us to many nice places over the years, but this is only the second time my wife/I agreed we'd go back to experience the hotel again (Hotel Crillon le Brave in Provence is the other). If you're in Miami it's worth a look.http://www.raleighhotel.com/