Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where Have All the Good Eaters Gone?

I'm feeling really happy about getting slammed last night for the first time in months, but also feeling a little depressed at the same time. This past week, I put a lot of effort into designing dishes that you can't get just anywhere else, but customers largely ignored those dishes this weekend, going for safer options, things that they already know that they like. Where's the spirit of dining adventure?

Food Arts publishes a semi-regular column called "Hits and Flops" which details chefs' dishes that really took off and those that really didn't. Here's my weekend list of those that went nowhere.

Terrine of Local Lamb Flavored with Pistachios, Dried Cranberries, and Marsala

It's no secret that I love to make charcuterie and this terrine was particularly nice, studded with veal tongue, and enriched with rabbit liver. And the plate doesn't look too bad either, does it?

Gravlax of Steelhead Trout on Scottish Oat Cake with Sour Cream Drizzle and Capers

I had an extra side of Steelhead, so I decided to do it gravlax-style, cured with white pepper, dill, sugar, and salt. And it turned out great: the texture is finer and silkier than Salmon. Thinking back to foods that I like to eat with a glass of Scotch, I just had to make a Scottish oat cake to go under the rosette of Steelhead.

Grilled, Teriyaki-Glazed King Oyster Mushrooms

These big meaty King Oysters were just calling out to me, "Grill Me!" So, I did, and with sushi and more specifically unagi on the brain, I made a teriyaki glaze for these mushrooms. So good!

Mâche and Persimmon Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Hazelnuts

This is quite possibly one of the most striking salads that I have designed (though I can see it in the spring time with Johnny Jump Ups mixed in with the mâche). It's also extremely tasty, but way too weird for local tastes.

Prosciutto-Wrapped, Goat Cheese-Stuffed Loin of Rabbit

This dish was really slow to move, but we finally sold through it last night. You like goat cheese and chicken breasts don't you? You love ham on everything. Then why not the same treatment for rabbit? As delicious as it was striking on the plate, this dish was a tough sell with customers. The legs went into the gratin that accompanied the loin. Everyone who ate this dish loved it, but it deserves to sell better.

Just where have all the good eaters gone?


  1. The Gravlax turned out very beautiful!

  2. Here's one now, who is officially starving after reading this post!

  3. Hi Chef Ed! I started to preface this with "you have no idea..." when I stopped myself and thought: yes, he does. It kills me to see all that beautiful, inventive food not being appreciated. I live just west of Richmond. My husband (who turned me on to your blog) and I bemoan constantly how there's such limited choices for restaurants like yours. Chains, chains, chains! There are some great things downtown, but it's a bit of a hike and the parking is a hassle usually. Anyway, we at least, are with you in spirit on this one. I'm guessing that people are sticking with their "safe bets" as they're being more deliberate about spending. But still..... mache, persimmons, goat cheese and hazelnuts??? What those people are missing.... Keep the faith. The "good eaters" are still out here :-)