Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer Hiatus

I'm heading down to Grand Cayman tomorrow to work at Michael's Genuine Food and Drink Camana Bay for the summer. Expect a decrease in posts between now and August. Have a great summer everyone! :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brooklyn's Treats

Liza de Guia is a food blogger who makes 6-7 minute videos that profile small shops in and around NYC. Her site, Food Curated is dangerously addictive. Below are a few of my favorites.

Justine Pringle and Andy Laird co-founded Nunu Chocolates in Brooklyn, NY.

The Self-Taught Chocolatiers: NuNu Chocolates from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Nekisia Davis makes artisanal granola at Early Bird Granola.

Early Bird Granola: A Salty, Sweet Step Towards Mindful Eating from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Keavy Landreth runs Kumquat Cupcakery.

Re-inventing the Cupcake: Kumquat Cupcakery *food curated* from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Finally, Liz Gutman and Jen King founded Liddabit Sweets in 2009 and have become known for their homemade versions of Mounds and Snickers bars.

Liddabit Sweets: Small Batch Candy w/Unique, Nostalgic, Seasonal Flavors from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Definitely four great reasons to head down to Brooklyn next time you're in NYC.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Everything Bagel

This is a dish served at WD~50 that has all the flavors of bagels & lox. Pretty damn clever.

On the menu this dish is listed as "Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese, red onions."

The "bagel" is actually everything bagel flavored ice cream. Everything bagels are toasted, chopped, and steeped with hot cream. The infused cream is then used to make an ice cream that is set in savarin molds.

The ice cream is airbrushed with an edible carmel colored paint and rolled in poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and dried onions.

The salmon is made using a Japanese technique called furikake. It's poached until well done, shredded, and cooked with mirin, sake, and soy until dry and airy. The onions are pickled (they have a very aggressive flavor when raw). Since the everything bagel is a creamy texture, the cream cheese is made crunchy. The cheese is combined with methylcellulose and dehydrated into a chip. Finally, the dish is finished with wood sorrel, a lemony herb that takes the place of a traditional chive.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mast Brothers Chocolate

These guys are doing small batch chocolate making in Brooklyn, something that's practically unheard of because of the labor involved and time required. Cool stuff.

75% Madagascar dark chocolate sprinkled with fleur de sel? Sign me up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cornell Underground Garden Party

The Cornell Underground is a group of students (hotel, architecture, design) not technically affiliated with the university that host once-a-semester dining events. Previous dinners have included a seven course meal served in a space literally created from the ground up by architecture students and a whimsical evening of 'flavor tripping' in a venue that looked like it came straight from the Willy Wonka set. The group is veiled in mystery, and to participate one truly has to "know somebody." Luckily, I knew somebody.

This semesters event, labeled as a Garden Party, took place yesterday evening in the Cornell Plantations. My sole responsibility for the dinner was to help prepare food, but I'll try and explain what the guests experienced from the bits and pieces I overheard.

100 guests were selected from throughout the Cornell community (students, parents, professors, etc) and given an elaborate invitation--a small wooden box, inside of which was growing wheat grass, and etched into the lid was a message informing guests to meet in front of the Cornell Dairy Bar around 3:45 pm. The 100 guests were led on a walk through the plantations, where they toured the herb gardens (all herbs used for the meal came from the herb gardens) and snacked on herb tea popsicles (made by yours truly).

The guests continued through the plantations, eventually arriving at a large gazebo, inside of which was a bar and jazz trio. Guests had their choice of horchata (see previous post) or a mojito-like cocktail using mint, lavender, and lemon-verbena. Guests could snack on popcorn, some flavored with truffle butter, some with cayenne pepper and chili powder. After a bit of mingling, a gong was rung and guests were led to dining table.

In the middle of the plantations, on a small slip of land separating two ponds, was a 100 foot long table, made of a single piece of wood, four inches thick, and supported by saw-horses. Excuse the language, but the table was fucking magnificent. The pictures below really doesn't do it justice. Some hotelie knew of a lumberman in a nearby town who just happens to own the largest mill in the U.S., and voila, a 100 foot table was born.

50 guests sat on each side, and dinner was served.

The first course was a collection of spring vegetables, served on a large slate, family style (one slate for two people). The vegetables included grilled asparagus with a pistachio sauce, pickled zucchini, pickled daikon, picked carrots, pickled green beans, marinated beets, pickled ramps, almonds, and a salad of arugula, manchego, and cucumber. The picture below is mid-plating.

The main course was Kobe beef (with a sauce made from pan drippings, truffle butter, onions, garlic, red wine, and piment d'espelette) and caponata (an Italian dish that includes eggplant, raisins, red onions, and various spices).

Dessert was again served on the slate and was a baba au rhum cake (a yeast cake soaked in rum syrup) served with whipped cream, a rum sauce, crystallized flowers, freshly picked flowers, chocolate powder, and praline. Again, the picture is mid-plating.

After dinner, guests could enjoy a fire pit, fire dancers, a hookah, and a guitarist/singer performing.

The entire event was put together on a $5000 budget (100 guests who each payed $50).

All the food was prepped in a frat kitchen and driven to the plantations.

I wasn't in many pictures, but I can say with certainty that once I got to the plantations, saw the event space, and wound up in front of an eight foot charcoal grill tending to $700 worth of kobe beef, I was grinning from ear to ear. Definitely a better way to spend my Monday than studying for finals.

*All photo credits go to Crystal Calabrese


Made/tasted this for the first time yesterday.

It's an incredibly time consuming process involving cooking, pulverizing, and straining large amounts of almonds, lime zest, cinnamon sticks and rice, but it's worth it. The spiced almond/rice milk is blended with simple syrup and a bit of heavy cream and served over ice. Absolutely delicious, especially in warm weather. Next time you're in a Mexican restaurant, definitely order a glass.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Food Memories

The weather was great today, and I couldn't bear the thought of spending all day in a library, so I went on a 5 hour, 14 mile walk around northern Ithaca. I started thinking about flavor memories (well actually, here was the real train of thought: dishes at MGFD that will be served at Camana Bay this summer --> Hedy's Childhood Treats --> chefs that try to evoke "childhood memories" in their food --> the legitimacy of a "childhood food memory" --> what, if any, are my food memories?). I didn't come up with any answers as hackneyed as standing at the counter while my grandmother taught me how to make *insert cultural dish here*, but I did think of a few interesting examples.

First memory of being "taught" to cook: Grandfather (mothers side) teaching me how to fry tilapia (pat the dry fish, flour, egg wash, breadcrumbs).

Dishes I associate with my "childhood": Mother making chicken cacciatore, chicken with rice and cream of mushroom soup, rosti, french toast, beef stroganoff.

True food "memories": staying at a friends cabin on the Hood Canal in Washington and picking oysters straight off the beach. We cooked the oysters on a wood grill and topped them with lime juice and tabasco. I can still taste them, they were that good. Also on the Hood Canal--using the friends boat to go crabbing and eating crabs for dinner that had been out of the water for an hour. I can also distinctly remember being at this same friends house back in Redmond, Washington and trying Brie for the first time.

Random Note: at one point in my walk I realized I was in the nearby town of Dryden (where the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is located). By the lab is a walking path, and by the path is a cairn designed by the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy (I studied him in an architecture class this semester). The picture is below.

It's pretty cool--about 6 feet, 4 inches tall, hollow inside, and made without mortar (the piece is held together by the downward pressure of the stones).