Foie Gras Finale

And so the time has come to say Farewell to Foie.  Today is the last day that foie gras can legally be sold in California and numerous restaurants have been offering an excess amount of foie featured dishes on their menus.  At work, I've had a Foie Gras Ice Cream dessert.  However, I decided to add one last little bite...

Foie Gras Macaron ~ 
Foie Gras Torchon sandwiched with thin layers of Strawberry Jam and sprinkled with Brioche Crumb and Turbinado Sugar

Hopefully the diners thought it was tasty enough to be the last bite of foie gras they will enjoy in California.  Alas, Nevada is just a short plane ride away...


Strawberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Strawberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Strawberries // Olive Oil and Maldon Crumble
(yield: 14 servings)

1 1/2 c  Cream
1/4 c     Sugar
5 sh      Bronze Gelatin, bloomed
2 c        Strawberry Puree, cold
2 1/2 c  Buttermilk, cold

Bring sugar and cream to a simmer
Add gelatin to dissolve
Stir in cold strawberry puree
When mixture is no longer hot (cool over an ice bath if necessary), stir in buttermilk
Portion into glasses/molds


Another Sweet NYC Visit 2012

Just a month after the James Beard event in NYC, I returned for a little mother/daughter vacation.  Here are the "sweet" finds, both new and old that we enjoyed:

[Banoffee Pie] Absolutely to die for @ Co.

[Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream, Gingersnap & Cornmeal Cookies] Customizable Ice Cream Sandwich @ The Meatball Shop

[Lychee Ice Cream] A must everytime I am in NYC...it's tradition @ Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

[Pumpkin Sesame Doughnut, other fried goodies and cakes] Although I didn't get to try the cakes, they were so cute that I just had to share! The pumpkin sesame doughnut is made with glutinous rice flour, so it's a nice departure from the conventional doughnut. @ Paris Baguette with 2 locations in CA.

[Coffee and Vanilla Sundae - Pralines and Caramel Sauce, Mini Ice Cream Cone - Lemon Rosemary Sorbet, Strawberry-Vanilla Vacherin - Poached Rhubarb and Pistachio Ice Cream] As I often mention, I hate being disappointed by a lackluster dessert at the end of a fantastic meal.  Dessert @ The Modern is quite the opposite.

This bakery is just over a half a year old and between my mother and I, we have already been here 5 times!  [Cannele, Perfect Little Egg Sandwich, Macarons and "my breakfast spread" including the DKA] I would not leave NYC without a cannele and DKA.  The arlette (not pictured) is also quite tasty. @ Dominique Ansel Bakery


Part II: Chi-Town [ A L I N E A ]

Entering Alinea

I've been to a handful of 3 Michelin star restaurants that all offered amazing meals.  However, to a certain degree, they were all classically prepared and presented.  At Alinea, the thought process behind each and every detail is evident.  The focus is definitely on the food with it's minimal decor and it's interactive presentation that draws you into the dish at hand.  Dining at Alinea is a complete experience and made quite the impression on me.  After many fancy meals, I am rarely impressed and not easily "wowed."  However, my meal left me feeling incredibly inspired.  When I returned home, my head was filled with ideas and I quickly got to the drawing board developing a new summer dessert menu (posts to follow). 

As promised, below is detailed account of our experience at Alinea through photographs.
Thanks to BFF for accompanying me in eating our salaries.  :)

The Kitchen

Steelhead Roe - carrot, coconut, curry

Oyster Leaf - mignonette / King Crab - passion fruit, heart of palm, allspice / Mussel - saffron, chorizo, oregano / Razor Clam - shiso, soy, daikon

King Crab - passion fruit, heart of palm, allspice

Woolly Pig - fennel, orange, squid

Scallop - acting like agedashi tofu "FauxFu"

Dashi for scallop

Otoro - thai banana, sea salt, kaffir lime

Ice - beet, hibiscus, licorice

Ice - beet, hibiscus, licorice

Burn Morels - ramp, fiddlehead fern, miner's lettuce

Hot Potato - cold potato, black truffle, butter


63 ways

Black Truffle - explosion, romaine, parmesan

Squab - inspired by Miro

Anjou Pear - onion, brie, smoking cinnamon

Ginger - five other flavors

Blueberry - buttermilk, sorrel, macadamia

Blueberry - buttermilk, sorrel, macadamia

Balloon - helium, green apple

White Chocolate - strawberry, english pea, lemon

White Chocolate - strawberry, english pea, lemon

The Menu


Revamped || Restyled || Replated

It's not unusual to continue to develop or play with the plating once a dessert is on the menu.  The pictures below are of my Matcha, Rhubarb & Yogurt dessert.  The first is a photo from when it was first on the menu and the last two are from after the discovery of these "doughnut" plates in storage.  Although this replate is a direct result of the introduction of a new plate, there are numerous other factors that can contribute to this continuous evolution.

1.  The Plate - If you have ever worked in a kitchen, you know that the pastry department in most cases gets the last pick of plates.  Luckily, where I currently work, there is enough everything to share, although it may be a challenge to get the plates returned to you.  As I mentioned earlier, we found this "doughnut" plate in storage and when I saw it, I just knew this dessert would look great on it.  Sometimes however, it might just happen with a plate that's been pushed aside and ignored or even a plate you never imagined it on. 

2.  The Rush - There are times when you are in a rush to change something on the menu - a particular ingredient is no longer in season or no longer available.  You may have the flavors of all the components to your liking, but did not have adequate time to experiment with plating.  Eventually #3 will take care of that.

3.  Repetition & Comfort - It honestly takes a while to become comfortable with the components of a dessert and plating it.  Even if you don't change anything in it's plating, your 100th plate will look immensely better than your 1st.  As you are constructing plate after plate, you start to realize what works and what doesn't.  The final product gets the last little tweaks it needs here.  

4.  Recognition Memory - After you've been at it for awhile, you will realize that plating is an art form.  Soon enough a plate will become second nature to you - everything will fall into place every time.  The look of your plate will look effortlessly beautiful and natural as if everything was meant to me exactly where it is. 

***These are just my thoughts, if you you can think of any other factors, let me know!


Part I: Chi-Town

Ah, a major case of writer's block...I started this post about a month ago and it just took me forever to get my ideas organized.  During the end of April, I made my first visit to Chicago.  I must admit I expected more from this city - were my expectations just too high or was it just the circumstances?  The circumstances - a very short trip, overcast and drizzly at times, fatigued from my James Beard adventure, a preconception of Chicago being a culinary mecca and coming directly from NYC, a place that I absolutely love and is the epitome of a major metropolis.  Don't get me wrong, I had a great time with my friends and had an unbelievable meal, but as I hinted to earlier, I didn't feel any of the excitement or hustle and bustle of a big city.

The Aviary - kitchen and cocktails, The Purple Pig, Wow Bao, Gino's East

Unfortunately with a short trip, there are only so many meals that we could have.  The food was a little hit or miss in Chicago, but we stumbled into a few great finds.  Wow Bao offered both savory and sweet steamed buns with a variety of unconventional fillings.  The Purple Pig offered some great snacks to enjoy with a glass of good wine.  We especially loved the Pork Lardo, Pork Liver Pate and Caesar Salad.  The Aviary is definitely the "it" place for hand-crafted cocktails, but don't go on an empty stomach because you will get hungry!  The largest  disappointment was that we were unable to find a decent bakery or patisserie!  On the upside, we already knew where we could get our sweet fix - Chicago is home to Garrett's Gourmet Popcorn and the "Chicago Mix" of Caramel Corn and Cheesy Popcorn is to die for!  Chicago is also home to Vosges Haut Chocolate which is known for its pairing of chocolate and bacon.  My favorites however are the Black Salt Caramel 70% Chocolate Bar, Sunshine Caramels and Toffee. 

Robie House, Cloud Gate, Art Installations

What I can say is that Chicago has been graced with some magnificent architecture and sculptures.  The city is home to numerous works by Frank Lloyd Wright as well as many public art installations.  On my next visit, I plan to take an Architecture Tour by boat.  

A detailed account of dinner at Alinea to come in Part II...


♥ S & G Wedding ♥

10-tier Macaron Tower (photograph courtesy of Bonbini!)
Over a year ago, my friend (who I have know since Kindergarten!) asked me to make some sweets for her wedding.  She and her fiance decided on Macarons and S'Mores - 200 of each.  The big day was fast approaching and it was time to get to work.  

Blue - Gianduja
Purple - Blackberry

This is the biggest Macaron Tower that Bonbini! and I have made.  Luckily, her sister was in town and able to help us.  The 10-tier tower holds 200-250 macarons.  I must admit that we have gotten pretty fast at macaron projects - 250+ macarons in 3.5 hours! 

Macaron Tower from start to finish - batter, filling, sandwiching and assembling
Since work was a little crazy as I was preparing for my vacation, I was running short on time and enlisted the help of my Mom and Aunt to assist me in assembling the S'Mores.  The S'Mores are made of homemade graham crackers, homemade marshmallows and dipped in a chocolate glaze.  Half of them are sandwiched with peanut butter and sprinkled with chopped peanuts.  I must admit that S'Mores can be a bit of a sticky mess, so in the future for large events, I would recommend S'More Pops instead.

Cake-cutting, Dessert Table & Peanut Butter S'Mores
I was lucky enough not only to make some of the sweets, but I was also able to attend the beautiful wedding and got quite a lot of positive feedback!  My friend Stella was absolutely gorgeous - thanks so much for having me be a part of your special day!

Congratulations to Stella & Greg!