Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ermite, Douanier, Riopelle, oh my.

Really this is quite a pig out of beautiful artisan Quebec cheeses. It just makes me smile to see it. Producers who really care about the product they produce. These are just fantastic cheeses in their own right. In no particular order they are :
Clos de St Ambroise
Du Village
Le Cendrillon
and Cendre De Lune

Small fortune for a customer's cheese course. I hope they are as happy as I am at the sight of these cheees.


Pushing Further

After making the Tobacco Blackbery dish by Grant Achatz several times in the past few weeks, I finally found what I wanted out of this dish. To me (and I don't have anything on the originator of this dish), this dish was missing something. It took quite awhile to figure it out. We were discussing how this dish gave you a sense of having just had a glass of red wine and a fine cigar (providing you use a good one for the dish). What more could there be? Well for us it was more about the wine then the cigar. Something to balance that tinge in the back of the throat you get from this dish, much like an actual cigar. What was the elusive idea.
Really think about. Any cigar (of quality) that I have ever had was accompanied by a fortified wine. Port mainly. Having made the dish again today, I ws struck with the idea of incorporating some port. Some ways we will try tomorrow will include a port foam. This is not my favorite idea, as there is already a foam or air on tomorrow's menu. But also due to the fact that it would possibly obscure the blackberry's visual glory. Another would be to make a port reduction and sweeten slightly to be used as a glaze or sauce to be plated under or squeezed over the disc of tobacco on a chinese soup spoon. And then an idea we won't get to tomorrow, but the one I feel will yeild the best result. Simply a layer of port gelee through the middle of the tobacco. This way the port becomes an intricate visual presence, but also give just the right flavor balance (I hope) to the bite.
We shall see.


I really liked the idea of the oreo stick, but have come up with a more refined version we will start working on tomorrow. It will start with a dense chocolate brownie. It will be cut into a small cube and topped with a cherry gelee with a creme de cacao cherry set in the middle of it. We can then cut a shape to match the brownie. Not done yet I say. Really if it was just that well who cares, but... We then will make a cream foam incorporating the insides of a dozen oreos. And of course the smoked oreo cookie crumb.
Can't wait.

Smoking Gun

I just got my hands on the "smoking gun". Yes I know what some of you are thinking. But really and truly I won't use it for that. I am though excited to find some time this week to smke everything I can. Starting with chocolate and maybe some tuna belly. Any how stay tuned for fun smoked food.



So after perusing the pages of Alinea the cookbook for the last month or so, it was time to make some of my own concepts and not just work on Grant Achatz food. TO start with I was going to try and come up with a use for some vanilla vodka we had made some time ago. The regular Smirnoff stuff you can get at the liquor just wasn't vanilla enough for us. So we took all the scraped vanilla beans we had on hand and put them into the vodka. 2-3 weeks later.....voila, a nice brown liquid that is overwhelmingly scented by vanilla.
While passing ideas around I was struck by the idea to make a "screwdriver" with this wonder liquor. And wouldn't you know it, it tasted just like one of those orange julips I got as a kid at that big orange thing in Montreal. Only this one had booze. So the only logical thing for us to do was make an orange julip bite.
We started with setting some vanilla vodka spike OJ with agar. We filled a mold only half way and let this set. We also prepared an orange cream, also set with agar to go over the first layer. Once the two layers had fused we removed them from the mold and finshed the dish with Kumquat jam and orange foam.
Wow. It tasted really great. We will deffinitely be amking this again.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Food... Stick... Good

Pretty much says it all doesn't it? I mean really how long was I going to wait to open the ffridge and find something to put on a stick. Well not long enough to finish dishes actually.
Fumbling around in the fridge I come accross some rounds of brownie and the chocolate stewed cherries for the top. One more thing or two. Smoked oreo soil and some smoked vanilla maldon. Hmmm. Yummy
The second has some red cooked pork belly with miso butterscotch and grains of paradise. Pig on a stick with salt and sweet, what more can you want.
We shall have to see.....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Kitchen Tools

Never thought I would have one of these in my kitchen. Well with more time on my hands for other things. Fun projects get to be finished I always try to come up with new ways to present food. One method I found was really neat. And involved eating food from a stick. Something everyone loves to do. C'mon you know you like it....
One inch plexi with holes cut to fit standard bamboo skewers. The look is really sleak. I wanted to make one kind of industrial, hence the plexi. And one rather organic with wood and angular skewers coming off of it. More like nature, and use both in one service to highlight two distinct bites. Maybe to art as food. I don't know, but it was a cool idea in one of my more contemplative moments.

Now how many cool bites can we put on sticks?

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Avenues

With the arrival of the Christmas busy season, and our second year coming to an end. It was time to start getting the ducks in a row and marketing ourselves better. To accomplish this task we have hired a new catering director. Someone who will help make the Essence name more known. She has a wealth of experience at helping service industry companies take the next step. And we are proud to have her on our team. Look for continued good things from our team. And with more time on my hands some really fun new food and service ideas. All of which will be posted right here as we accomplish them.
Oh yeah who is she....well stay tuned and see for yourself.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cube Gallery

Last night we had the pleasure to cater a party at Cube Gallery. Absolutely amazing setting for our food. The reception was for a retirement party. Great fun was had by all. We hope to be back there soon, as the venue really does justice to our service. Thanks to all who attended and of course a big thanks to our host for having Essence take care of the food.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Governal Generals awards cocktail party

Just getting back from a party for a Governal General awards receipient. Lots of fun, and some interesting bites:
Wild mushroom cube on polenta with goat cheese and crispy leek
Grilled chipotle shrimp with avocado and serano
Seared beef on tapenade and crostini, parmesan and micro greens
Pan roasted cubeb pepper chicken on parsnip and celery root fritter
Red cooked pork belly bites with daikon and apple slaw, miso butterscotch
Plantain beignette with cajeta and sugar spice.

All fun bites with lots of bold flavors.
We also worked on one we have been testing for a while now. House duck prosciutto wrapped fig with double smoked duck bacon and gorganzola. Finished with a sherry vinegar reduction. The picture is a little fuzzy but you get the idea. Really tasty.

Be sure to check out our pictures in the Citizen next Saturday in the "Arts" section.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Bites

With all the new reading material, we have been working hard on some new bites. This one is a hard sell as it's raw beef. But we couldn't resist. The dish was born out of the need to use some quail eggs that were cooked sous vide at 66 degrees. The texture of the yolk is melt in your mouth luscious. We decided that some organic beef tenderloin would produce a nice tartar to contrast the texture of the yolk. A little parmesan and some black truffle and voila, a very fun little bite.