Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Tasting

We're getting to that time of the year (and we still have months to go) which taxes our ability to put fresh and local ingredients on the table. We're having to get creative with storage vegetables, winter greens, and items from the pantry.

Sopa de Ajo, Chorizo, Chorizo Oil

Stuffed Mussels, Chickpea Salad, Safrron Aïoli

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Scallop, Sweet Potato Purée, Black Truffle Beurre Blanc

Five Spice-Orange Pupusa Stuffed with Duck Confit, Curtido

Ballotine of Quail Stuffed with Pork/Pistachios/Cranberries

Rabbit Bourguignon, Broccoli Raab, Rabbit Demi

Venison and Cavolo Nero, Five-Spice Black Vinegar Sauce

Risotto of Thai Purple Rice, Coconut, Persimmon

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Another Tasting

Here are photos from another recent tasting. Couple of ideas that I would like to remember here, especially the mussel soup, the kale salad, and the rabbit Bourguignon in pastry.

Deconstructed Paella?
Mussel Soup. This dish started with a color, saffron, chorizo oil against a golden soup. From there it morphed into something of a deconstructed paella. The soup is salsify with saffron, mussel broth, and a little cream. The main garnish is a mussel salad: mussels, EVOO, Sherry vinegar, garlic, roasted red peppers, and diced tomatoes. The minor garnishes are chorizo oil, crispy chorizo, and socarrat—the crispy rice bits from the bottom of the paella pan.

Kale Salad
Kale Salad. This is a blatant rip-off of a wonderful salad that Kelly White of Glen Manor Vineyards served me a few days ago. She's a great chef and this is a fantastic must-remember salad! It is tedious to pull off the tender, frilly edges of the kale, but after that, it is child's play. Garnishes for the salad include crispy pork belly bits, crispy bacon, grated pecorino, dried sweetened cranberries (Kelly used currants), roasted butternut squash, and croutons fried in bacon fat. To this I added some bacon fat, EVOO, lots of lemon juice, a touch of maple syrup, salt, pepper, and some minced garlic; and, surprise of surprises: I adjusted it to taste!

Rabbit Bourguignon
Rabbit Bourguignon. We are blessed with lots and lots of rabbits and so we struggle to find good ways to use them. And among the dozens of ways, we really do love this one. The trick, to sell rabbits in our market, is to take it off the bone, something that is anathema to Europeans who are used to rabbit on the bone. Once we take it off the bone, it is formless and we struggle, absent the bones, to give it form and definition on the plate. Wrapping the rabbit in pastry is a great and tasty way to present it. We have cooked the rabbit in the traditional Burgundian style with bacon, onions, mushrooms (cèpes or porcini), and Pinot Noir. A little of the reduced braising liquid serves as a sauce and some tiny Brussels sprouts serve as garnish.

Veal Shank Puttanesca; Black Barley Barlotto
Veal Shank. We lucked into some tiny veal shanks and so we did a take off on ossobuco, braising the veal in a puttanesca (spicy tomato with anchovies, capers, and olives) sauce. Rather than risotto milanese, we did a barlotto, black barley cooked in the style of risotto. Good hearty food, but culinarily unmemorable.

Pawpaw Parfait
Pawpaw Parfait. Back in the fall, we collected a lot of pawpaws and froze a lot of pawpaw pulp against the day when there wouldn't be a lot of local fruit with which to work. This parfait looked a lot nicer in person than it does here: you really cannot see the ruby red of the cranberry jelly layer that sits on top of the pawpaw panna cotta layer. On top of the cranberry layer is a layer of vanilla custard, a sprinkle of crunchy granola, and a whirl of whipped cream. Surprises: hidden in the middle of the panna cotta is a chocolate truffle and hidden in the vanilla custard is a swirl of orange cream cheese.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chef's Tasting

We've done a lot of tastings recently, but I haven't posted many pictures mostly because the dishes don't have striking color this time of year like they do in the summer. Long gone are the gorgeous reds of ripe tomatoes and peppers, the bright green of peas and snow peas, and the delicate yellows of squash blooms and corn. In now are the browns, rusts, tans, beiges, and whites of our winter vegetables and while they are not as photogenic as their summer cousins, they are equally delicious.

Without further ado then, one of our most recent tastings:

Charcuterie Trio
Charcuterie Trio. In the foreground you see a veal tongue terrine set in aspic with a lot of fresh parsley à la the French classic jambon persillé. In the middle is a swirl of rabbit liver mousse flavored with Cognac and on the far end, a terrine of ground Berkshire pork shoulder flavored with all kinds of delicious bits.

Cauliflower, Maitake Mushrooms, and Leeks
Cauliflower and Leeks. These are two vegetables that many people pass over without a second thought but which are incredibly fun for us chefs to work with. The cauliflower has been roasted to the point of caramelization and then made into the silkiest of sauces: it is really something you just want to wallow in! The leeks have been creamed and then wrapped in phyllo for presentation purposes, and these little triangles are decadently delicious. Crispy maitake mushrooms and dots of truffle-infused balsamic vinegar complete the plate, the earthy mushroomy flavors playing off the rich creamy cauliflower and leeks, and the vinegar delivering the acid that keeps this dish from being cloying.

Scallop, Pork Belly, Sweet Potatoes, and Black Truffles
Scallop and Pork Belly. Not too much original here, but this is a damn fine course that I would be happy to be served at a restaurant. Scallop on top of house-cured pork belly on top of a silky sweet potato purée, all napped with a tart black truffle beurre blanc.

People always ask me how to make pork belly, thinking that they are going to make it at home, but then start wincing about the time I get to the third of the fourth cookings! We cure it for a length of time dependent on the thickness of the belly, then brown/damn near char it in a very hot oven, then braise it, then refrigerate it, then confit it under duck fat, then refrigerate it under duck fat for a long period, then slice it, and pan fry it. Sure, you can do it at home but why would you want to? You can achieve 90 percent of the results with a much simpler process and that it good enough for home. The extra pain that we go through to make it the very best pork belly you've ever eaten, you should leave to us.

Duck, Rabbit, Spätzle, and Brussels Sprouts
Duck and Rabbit. It's winter and for some reason, the cute little brussels sprouts keep making us think of schnitzel. Here, we have taken a tenderloin off of a rabbit and the so-called tenderloin off a duck breast (the little tender piece on the under side of the breast) and pounded them side-by-side, slightly overlapped, so that they form a single piece of schnitzel from two very different meats. They're breaded in a five-spice panko and served with sweet and sour sprout hash and orange spätzle. I thinly sliced the sprouts, some shallots, and some of my house-cured pancetta. After caramelizing the pancetta and shallots, I added the sprouts and cooked them until bright green, just a few seconds. Then into the pan with a tiny bit of butter, a pinch of sugar, and a taste of white balsamic vinegar. Done and delicious! Even so-called sprout haters love them this way!

Pork Cheek, Grits, Gremolata, and Pork Jus
Pork and Grits. We serve a lot of pork and grits in various guises, mostly because how insanely good is the combination of any kind of pork with corn? This is a slow-cooked Berkshire pork cheek, crisped in a black steel pan, on grits, topped with gremolata, and napped with what we call "pork goodness," the juices left in the bottom of the pan after cooking our pork belly.

Venison, Flower Sprouts, Blueberry Salad, and Tasmanian Pepper
Venison. It's venison season once again and we are working our way through a few rear haunches. I seam out the legs into individual muscles and then break those down into steaks which I marinate for a couple of days. Then I grill them, very, very rare. Here you see the grilled and sliced venison plated with a dried blueberry and celery salad, and the first so-called "flower sprouts" that I have ever seen. These are a new (and according to the farmer that grew these, not very stable) cross between brussels sprouts and kale. The resulting plant has a long central stalk like a brussels sprout plant, but instead of miniature cabbages, it has little broccoli-like whorls of leaves without any sign of a bloom. These were deep purple before blanching and now they are very deep forest green. Despite their novelty and interesting appearance, I have already told the grower that they are not worth growing again: the flavor is not as good as either of the parents. She said, "good to know; they are a pain to harvest." And so it goes.

Chocolate and Cranberries
Chocolate and Cranberries. Being just after Thanksgiving, we have lots of cranberries in the cooler, looking for ways to get on plates. I made a bunch of them into a delicious whole berry jelly (or jam, if you are so inclined to call it that). This dessert starts with a simple disk of flourless chocolate torte, then a layer of orange cream cheese, a layer of jelly, and finally a swirl of cream cheese. This rich but not very sweet dessert I designed to go with a glass of Malbec. I liked the pairing a lot.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012: The Alien Ingredient Series

Each week of 2012 here at One Block West Restaurant, we are aiming to find, use, and document two new-to-us (aka "alien") ingredients for a total of 100 during the year. I have worked with hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of ingredients from all over the world in the past 30 years of cooking. But a quick trip through our new international food market here in lovely Winchester, VA reminded me that there are hundreds more ingredients out there that I have never worked with.

So the crew and I are on this mission to document what we find and are using, to not only broaden our own knowledge, but truth be told, to have some fun too. We love surfing through markets for cool stuff. We're just like kids in candy stores!

The 2012 Alien Ingredient Series

1. Dwarf Truffle Peaches
2. St. Germain
3. Culantro
4. Epazote
5. Banana Flower
6. Dragon Fruit
7. Pickled Eggplant
8. Coquitos
9. Buddha's Hand
10. Nilgai Antelope
11. Cancha/Maíz Chulpe
12. Tteok
13. Silkie (Black) Chicken
14. Choclo
15. Fresh Green Chickpeas
16. Spondias/Mombin/Jocote
17. Jackfruit
18. Guava
19. Shungiku/Tung Ho
20. Okinawa Sweet Potato
21. Lotus Root
22. Guaje
23. Rau Răm
24. Kinh Giới
25. Ngò om/Rice Paddy Herb
26. Khao Thong
27. Rambutan 
28. Artichoke Stems
29. Korean Melon
30. Goose Eggs 
31. Longan
32. Fresh Lychee
33. Mamoncillo 
34. Dosakai
35. Wax Apple
36. Chipilin
37. Tasmanian Pepper Syrup
38. Lentil Shoots
39. Sweet Lime

Alien Ingredient #39: Sweet Lime

Sweet Limes: Don't Bother
I've tried a lot of citrus in my life and here's one that is new to me: Citrus limetta, the so-called sweet lime. Sweet is right. It is super sweet. And it doesn't have any citric acid to balance that sweetness so it comes off like really insipid orange juice.

The juice has orange juice notes with perhaps a touch of citronella (lemongrass) coming from the rind, but no detectable acidity.

We were going to use these in an upside-down cake just like we use Meyer lemons and blood oranges, but no. These guys went in the trash. Bummer.

Vote: Yeah, nope! No acid, no joy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yet Another Tasting

As fall became official yesterday, we trotted out another really seasonal menu for our latest Chef's Table. We didn't put a lot of thought into this menu—in fact, we were barely functional and running solely on coffee at the time we scrawled this menu on the back of a used menu out on the deck yesterday morning. Thank the culinary gods for coffee!

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup. The first of these sunflowers arrived this week and we have been talking about soup ever since. You see the soup realized as a take on sopa de ajo with bread, roasted garlic, and pimentón. The croustade is topped with a tangy salad of tomato, pickled and truffled green peaches, and crisp bacon, the tang coming from sherry vinegar.

Beet and Goat Cheese Empanada
Beet and Goat Cheese Empanada. We got to talking about beets and Tony said, "I wish we had some phyllo or puff pastry." I offered to make puff pastry, but I was never clear on what he wanted to do with it because it then clicked for me to make a batch of my awesome-if-I-do-say-so-thanks empanada dough. The beet garnish is dressed with a syrup of Tasmanian pepper; the frisée is dressed with a classic and highly tangy mustardy vinaigrette; the plate is dressed with both sauces.


"Bouillabaisse." An overabundance of beautiful peppers was the spark for this deconstructed take on a classic. Saucing the plate are an addictively garlicky sauce rouille, extra virgin olive oil, and a reduced saffron-laden fish broth. The traditional croustades have been reformulated as crispy bits fried in olive oil with garlic and basil.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Loin of Rabbit
Rabbit Loin. There is nothing new in this dish really. We do it fairly often in the fall and winter. We pound rabbit loins and stuff them with greens (cavolo nero in this case) and local goat cheese, the whole being rolled in prosciutto. The sauce is a sweet potato cream.

Sweet Potato and Cranberry Risotto
Sweet Potato and Cranberry Risotto. We've been talking about this dish for months now and finally all the ingredients aligned with weather cool enough to serve this. The risotto base starts with onions and sweet potatoes and we add cranberry juice instead of stock. Dried cranberries get added along the way. The risotto is finished with maple syrup and brown sugar instead of butter and cheese. On top, you see a slab of house-cured pork belly that we candied in maple syrup, a fresh fig, a bit of blue cheese, and some candied walnuts. This dish was custom designed to pair with an awesome tawny Port.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Another Tasting

And the fall dishes keep coming. This tasting is all about two things: comfort and flavor. No boundary pushing, no fancy food, just pure flavors, simple presentations, and awesomeness of ingredients.

Chowder/Lentil Shoots/Scallop/Black Truffle Beurre Blanc

Duck Confit Pupusa/Orange Salad

Crispy Cavolo Nero/Grits/Quail Stuffed with Cannellini, Smoked Sausage, and Sage/Cacciatore Sauce

Corn-Thyme Crème Caramel/Pickled Figs/Duck Breast/Tiny Green Beans/Tasmanian Pepper Syrup

Orange Polenta Upside Down Cake/Coconut Sorbet/Crème Anglaise

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Alien Ingredient #38: Lentil Shoots

Lentil Shoots: A Beautiful Garnish
One of my growers brought me a flat of microgreens that I had never seen before and asked me, "What is it?" I tasted a couple shoots and they start a touch bitter then finish distinctly green chickpea. Some tasters said they tasted like green peas, but these sprouts taste more chickpea to me. And they look like a legume as well. She told us that these are lentil shoots.

Vote: with a beautiful texture and a pleasant pea flavor, what's not to love?

Alien Ingredient #37: Tasmanian Pepper Syrup

Tasmanian Pepper Syrup
My specialty goods sales rep called me and said, "Ed, you buy some crazy stuff. You should try this stuff we just got." And he's right, I buy crazy stuff, especially if I have never tried it before. I just have that itch to taste as many foods as I can before I die.

This is a syrup made from the fruit of a small shrub (Tasmannia lanceolata) native to Tasmania and southeastern Australia. This fruit has been used as a black pepper substitute.

When I first heard about the syrup, I thought "duck." And then I tasted it. It combines the flavors of black pepper, cinnamon, and red wine, all of which we use today to garnish our duck breasts and lots of other things.

And most certainly, this syrup will go with the duck breast on our menu this evening. And equally most certainly, I will not pay $13 again for a tiny quantity of a syrup that I can easily imitate by adding black peppercorns to our current red wine-cinnamon syrup recipe.

Vote: delicious! But I can make a gallon of similarly flavored syrup for the same price.

Alien Ingredient #36: Chipilin

Chipilin: A Legume from Sothern Mexico and Central America

I was trolling through the market a few weeks back and I saw some mangy looking plants with leaves similar to peanuts, but they were in too sad a shape to bring back to the restaurant. And they were not labeled. I saw a guy with some in his basket, so I asked him what they were and what they were used for. Alas, he spoke no English, but still I managed to learn that they were called chipilin and were used in chicken soup.

I finally found a beautiful bunch that I brought home with me to check out. It turns out that I was right in thinking peanuts; chipilin is a perennial legume of the Crotalaria genus. We checked it out raw, quickly stir-fried with garlic, and boiled as a pot herb. The color is beautiful and we could see where it could add greatly to the presentation of caldo de pollo, but the flavor just isn't there. It is a very neutral and fairly boring green leafy vegetable.

Vote: a very pretty leafy green but extremely uninteresting in flavor. Give me spinach or pea shoots!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Early Autumn Tasting

I know that it's not fall yet and won't be officially for another couple of weeks, but mentally, Tony and I are off creating fall menus already. As much as we love tomatoes, squash, squash blooms, and peppers, we are ready for the change to game, mushrooms, braised dishes, conserved pork products, and bacon, bacon, bacon.

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Goat Cheese-Stuffed Figs

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Goat Cheese-Stuffed Figs. This is not an earth shattering new dish, but it is wonderful nonetheless for having been made with local figs and local goat cheese. Next up, we're already scheming to make our own prosciutto when it gets cold enough. Served with a glass of prosecco, these are a great start to any meal.

Sausage and Eggs

Breakfast. Yet another in the long list of dishes that we have so titled, this one starts with a bed of chanterelle buttons cooked up with our bison and our venison sausages. On top is a spoonful of oeufs brouillés, duck eggs with chives and a splash of cream that have been whisked over a water bath until just set, more like a heavy sauce than traditional scrambled eggs and so, so much more sinful. Maple syrup around the edge adds a sweet note.

Truffled Steuben Yellow Eye Bean Soup; Potted Confit

Beans. Definitely my favorite dish of this whole tasting, and for being a soup, the most complex to make. My guests for this tasting are frequent diners and lovers of cassoulet, and so I worded the menu in such a way as to make them think that this course was going to be cassoulet. The beans are my favorites, Steuben Yellow Eyes, soaked overnight, drained, cooked to tender, and recooked with the juice that comes from roasting our pork belly (what we call "goodness"), mirepoix, smoked Surry sausage, garlic, thyme, bay, rosemary, and sage. It's all blitzed in the big Vita-Mix and passed through our finest chinois for an ultra-silky texture. Thinned, splashed with a touch of cream, seasoned, and lavished with a big spoonful of chopped black truffles, this is a soup for the culinary gods. Served with a croustade topped with potted confit. We finely chopped some of our duck confit and pork shoulder confit, then mixed it with softened butter, nutmeg, mace, and fresh thyme.

Braaied Skilpadjies

Skilpadjies. You South Africans might recognize the minature skilpadjies that we braaied on a skewer and served with geelrys. The rest of you see small tortoise-shaped patties of minced lamb and rabbit liver wrapped in caul fat, which have been grilled and served with a fragrant yellow rice and a green tomato ketchup. Somebody brought us a bunch of green cherry tomatoes from a field that needed to be tilled under for fall crops and so we made a big batch of spicy green tomato ketchup from them.

Corn Crème Caramel with Duck Breast

Duck. Here's another savory crème caramel. I just love the silky texture that it brings to a dish. This one is made from fresh corn flavored with thyme. You also see grilled Moulard duck breast, baby brussels sprouts, and a fresh fig. I made a jus (almost a consommé but I didn't technically clarify it) from more pork belly goodness, defatted Surry sausage jus, and star anise. This jus I spooned over so that its salty essence could marry with the caramel giving a delicious sweet-salty contrast with a haunting star anise note to bring out the spice in the accompanying Barossa Shiraz.

Pawpaw Panna Cotta

Pawpaw. We've been fortunate this year to have a local forager supply us wild pawpaws which have a banana-melon-mango flavor very similar to jackfruit. But pawpaws are a gigantic pain in the ass to prepare, unlike jackfruit. Here you see a plate with pawpaw purée, crème anglaise, and maple syrup on the plate, with miniature pawpaw panna cottas scattered about. Though it's hard tell, the large ball is a ball of coconut sorbet rolled in crushed black walnuts, with an oatmeal lace cookie sticking out of it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vegetarian Wine Dinner

Each August, we hold our annual Harvest Dinner to celebrate the hard work of Beth and Gene Nowak at Mayfair Farm. Beth and Gene supply the vast majority of produce to the restaurant and this is our way of saying "Thank you!" for all that they do for us and for our community. The dinner is made, as much as is feasible, exclusively from products from their farm. And because they produce no meat, the dinner is vegetarian.

This year, our dinner was almost entirely vegan although that wasn't a criterion in designing the menu. It was an artifact of our taking a tour through Asia with our dishes. This was our seventh Harvest Dinner and after working with the same vegetables and fruits each August with the same American/Western European mindset, we needed to do something entirely different. And so we embarked on a tour of Asia.

Melon Soup with Lumpia
Filipino Melon Soup with Lumpia. The soup is made from cantaloupe and cucumber and seasoned with a few aromatics and a touch of chile. The lumpia are filled with a mixture of red and green cabbage, onions, green onions, and carrots seasoned with soy sauce.

Vegetable Satay with Peanut Sauce
Vegetable Satay with Peanut Sauce. We marinated strips of eggplants, yellow squash, and green squash in soy sauce and garlic, then grilled them. When cool, we threaded them on skewers in the manner of satay. The plate is finished with a peanut sauce (natural peanut butter, hot water, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sambal oelek, palm sugar, and a lot of lime juice to balance).

Building the Eggplant Bánh Mì

Eggplant Bánh Mì
Grilled Eggplant Bánh Mì. We decided since we were doing tasting portions for a crowd to build our bánh mì on grilled focaccia for ease of handling. The large eggplants were sliced; marinated in a slurry of kaffir lime, Thai basil, cilantro, ginger, and garlic; then grilled. We have developed our own style of dressing bánh mì: we first brush the bread with the same slurry that we marinated the eggplant in and then we drizzle the bread with a sweet and spicy chile sauce that we make in house. The layers are pretty traditional: cucumbers, lots of cilantro, and carrots. We don't pickle our carrots in any way.

Soba. One of the beautiful things that we got from Beth was a haul of cheese pimientos, red peppers so called because pre-annato they were used to color orange cheese. Another was some really pretty broccoli. For some reason, they both triggered visions of soba in my head. So here we have buckwheat noodles, green onions, peanuts, broccoli, cheese pimientos, and white sesame seeds in a dressing of rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.

Green Vegetable Curry on Thai Fried Rice Cake
Green Thai Curry. Curries are never beautiful dishes, but they are so fragrant and so delicious. We made a classic Thai fried rice by first frying a shallot-cilantro-Thai basil paste in oil and then frying the vegetables and rice. Then we added egg to the cool fried rice and made rice cakes from that, cakes that we subsequently re-fried. On top is a curry of a eggplant, squash, the broccoli stems from making the soba, yellow peppers, and cherry tomatoes. The curry paste we made very heavy on kaffir lime both for color and for fragrance. We finished the curry with huge handfuls of cilantro and Thai basil leaves. The tricky part of this dish, because it is vegetarian, was getting the flavor just right without the use of fish sauce.

Plum Clafoutis
Plum Clafoutis. This is another in a series of experiments in making gluten- and dairy-free desserts. To give our clafoutis an Asian feel, we made it with rice flour and coconut milk. Quite delicious if I do say so myself and really wonderful when paired with an Orvieto Amabile.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Another Tasting

With a menu that changes every night and tastings happening all the time, the only way that we can remember what we cooked is to document it here. Sorry if we are boring you with all these pictures!

Tribute to Summer
Tribute to Summer. When squash blooms and tomatoes are in season, we just have to serve them. We have waited patiently all year for them and now is the time to celebrate them. On the left of the plate is a squash bloom stuffed with grated squash that we have cooked down for hours with heavy cream and seasoned with dill, feta, and basil. We beer batter the bloom and lightly fry it. Served with two goat cheese mousses: one with pesto, the other with sun-dried tomatoes.

On the right you see slices of fresh tomato, fried green tomato, and fresh mozzarella that we make in house each day. I still haven't figured out how to photograph these long plates so that they look good. Sorry, I'll stick to my night job.

Rockfish with Corn Chowder

Rockfish with Corn Chowder. Finally, big rock season opened on Long Island and we were able to get the first rock (striped bass) in months. Rockfish is the king of the American table for good reason and although I am very happy that the fishery is so tightly controlled, it means that we go long periods (spawning season in the summer especially) without being able to get any. We used this beautiful 15-pounder to showcase our crop of new fingering potatoes, white corn, and my new batch of house-cured pancetta. I was so disappointed with the commercial pancetta that we have been getting that I started curing my own from Berkshire pork bellies and the end result is so good that we are never going back to commercial pancetta.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Rabbit
Rabbit?!? That doesn't look like rabbit! We're guilty of a little food trompe l'oeil here in that we have taken rabbit and made it look like a steak. Our rabbit farmers are almost drowning us in rabbits this summer and we are constantly looking for ways to use them. In this case, we braise the rabbits in white wine and herbs, debone them, cook the braising liquid down with cream, sauté some mirepoix, and mix the rabbit, sauce, and veg and let it chill in the cooler. Then we form the chilled rabbit into little steak-like patties and wrap all sides with prosciutto. Served on a bed of carrots, leeks, the last of the early peas, and brussels sprouts petals finished with a splash of rabbit stock and cream. Off the hook good!

Scallop-Stuffed Morel, Corn Crème Caramel, Pork Belly Jus
Morel. We're having a weird year this year in that we're able to get beautiful morels all the way up into August when we should have switched over to chanterelles some weeks ago. Don't knock it. Morels have chanterelles beat hands down. This is admittedly a dish that is a little bit out there but I think all the flavors work well together. The morel is stuffed with a scallop and chive mousse, so you get a sweet oniony contrast to the crispy earthy morel, floured, egg washed, floured and lightly fried, then oven-finished. The morel is sitting on a classic crème caramel—that's right, a classic dessert—made from a white corn custard flavored with chives. The custard is totally savory, only the dark caramel on top adds a touch of sweetness, other than the natural sweetness of the corn. The chives echo the chives in the scallop mousse and the caramel contrasts with the naturally salty pork belly jus. The jus is the good stuff left over in the bottom of the roasting pan when we finish cooking the pork bellies for our regular menus. We have thinned it to reduce the salt level and fined it with egg whites to clarify it.

Eggplant Purée, Pork Belly, Quail Egg
Pork Belly. Almost no menu here is complete without pork belly. This dish is a blatant rip-off of the Turkish classic Hünkar Beğendi, eggplant purée topped with lamb. The eggplants were grilled, puréed, and mixed with a classic Mornay sauce made with hard sheep's milk cheese. Topped with crispy pork belly and a poached quail egg. Just sinful!

Lamb Loin, Tomato Salad
Lamb Saddle. While we were over in the Mediterranean, we also took a stop in North Africa. We had just got a lamb in, so I boned out the saddle and marinated the whole loins in ras el hanout, sumac, and touch of smoked paprika. The loins were simply grilled to rare, sliced, and fanned over a salad of fresh cherry tomatoes, house-cured preserved lemons, Niçoise olives, fresh chickpeas, mint, tomato vinaigrette, and a touch of hummus to bind the salad.

Panna Cotta with Blackberries and Anise Hyssop
Panna Cotta. Down on the plate you see a ribbon of three flavors of panna cotta: blackberry, apricot, and blueberry, three of the most abundant fruits right now. The plate is garnished with a little quick blueberry jam, apricot coulis, oat and sunflower seed granola, crème anglaise, honey-lime blackberries, and anise hyssop.