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12th July 2012

Question

Anonymous asked: It was nice meeting you Tuesday/Wednesday at Spirit House! That's you right? (that's my question) - Elizabeth Chou

Yes although I’ve abandoned this blog.  Facebook me? http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6309104

1st August 2011

Question

Anonymous asked: This is Short Rib.....Would You Ever Consider Investing in a catering business, to maybe becoming a bit larger in the future into maybe owning your own restaurant =) =) =)

LOL what kind of scam are you trying to get me to invest in now?  Details please.

27th July 2011

Post

Update: Why I haven’t Updated This Blog

So my attempt at a foodblog suddenly stopped at the end of February due to change in my employment.  For about a year I was working with the Flying Pig Truck to help spread their awareness, serve some pork belly buns, and hopefully to work in the cafe that we were working together to open.  That never happened for me because I became weary of the charade at my job.  Sure I had some great times and even got on TV.  Below I was at a filming for a segment on Oprah and had a chance to meet Susan Feniger and Mary Sue, they are such nice people too!

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I was also on the Travel Channel, seen in the clip driving the truck http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_1b9duv0kg

I met alot of awesome truck owners and met some nice customers from time to time.  Got to see Los Angeles from a perspective I never thought I’d see both good and bad but mostly positive.  

It was crazy and I basically ended my employment on a high note with that Providence dinner.  Other than that I also got a puppy a month prior and she has been quite a hassle but I’m learning that I actually have a capacity for compassion… sometimes.  Butters is her name and she is annoying when chicken is involved.

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After I left The Flying Pig I was planning on taking a break and slowly start looking for a job.  Within a week I found one and it was a big turning point in my cooking career, as in a real cooking job one that I was lucky to get without ever having attended culinary school.  The place is called Rivera and has been my workplace for the last 5 months.

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It’s a dream job in terms what I have been able to learn.  The kitchen is very modern and has all tools one needs to create great food.  It was a bit overwhelming at first and I am still making some mistakes but learning from them.  So I’m at a crossroad at my life where I’m not sure if I want to continue this life of busting my ass in the kitchen.  It’s a tough life and I’m not ready to give up on it yet but at the same time I’m not sure if I feel like moving forward.  Need some time off to figure things out.  Hopefully that means more cooking at home again, working on my own ideas and recipes, and spending more time with family, friends, and dog.

28th February 2011

Post with 1 note

Providence

Sometimes you cannot understand what you have not tried yourself.  A dumb girl at once told me she doesn’t believe that offering smaller portions and raising the prices is a way to eat in a restaurant.

One who is of lower income means cannot assume that what is out of reach does not mean it is not worth reaching for.  Maybe if some people did not go out clubbing on weekends spending $100+ on drinks they could learn to appreciate fine dining.  Fine dining should not be a show of class but a form of appreciation for the culinary trade, to celebrate those who have achieved great skill in preparing intensely focused food and exceptional service of which the synergy creates perfect dining experience.

But enough of my social commentary on most of Beer Belly America, this was the time for my own foray into Michelin star dining.  The restaurant of subject would be none other than the amazing Providence, helmed by Michael Cimarusti.  Unfortunately the lighting was very dim inside so I was shooting at 1600 ISO (without flash) at f/1.8 which meant focusing in the dark was a pain. As you will notice the focus may be off in some pictures but as usual click them to view the larger version of them.

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Originally we had plans for the 5 course tasting menu which I had mistakenly thought was priced at $65 (that was the anniversary price) but was actually $95.  In comparison the full 9 course tasting was $120 so we opted to go all out.  We begin with an amuse bouche of 4 items.  

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From left to right:  Frozen mojito (like an adult icee), gel spherification of a tequila sunrise, a micro gruyere roll, shot glass of parsley soup with a parmesan foam and port wine reduction at the bottom.

It was a good start to the meal, I especially enjoyed the port wine reduction at the bottom of the shot glass which lit up my taste buds.

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1st course to arrive was a kanpachi sashimi with rice crackers over creme fraiche.  The addition of lime leaves added a nice citrus element to the dish.  Rice crackers provided a good contrast in texture while the kanpachi and creme fraiche went well together resulting in a creamy mix.  I wouldn’t have though of ever using creme fraiche with raw fish.

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2nd Course: Santa Barbara sea urchin with champagne butter and egg topped with micro croutons.  I have to say the presentation and plating was really something for this.  Being that its served in an eggshell which rest on a metal nests on top of a real cross section of a tree.  I thoroughly enjoyed this dish as a fan of uni this had to be one of the best preparations of uni that I have ever had.  The server recommend we mix it around a bit while it was still hot to keep that creamy egg yolk from setting and becoming firm.  The micro croutons added a nice crunch to the very creamy texture of this course.  I wish I had an entire bowl of this dish to scoop up with some nice crusty bread.

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3rd Course: Nancy’s Scallops with dashi, buckwheat, and napa cabbage - I don’t know who Nancy is but these scallops were of great quality.  Unlike the nasty STP treated ones you get at most supermarkets this scallop was firm and not overly moist and unusually very meaty in texture.  A great sear on the outside and cooked just barely under medium the other components help to bring this dish all together with a nice floral element to it.

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4th Course: Wild striped bass with nori, cannellini beans, and lemon brown butter sauce - One of the weaker savory courses of the night, it wasn’t bad just wasn’t very impressed by the rustic nature of it.  Seemed more like a home cooked kind of dish but nonetheless it was tasty.  I did not really get any nori at all and the brown butter sauce was a bit too strong.  I like butter and all but the fish should have been the star.  The inclusion of fresh thinly sliced scallion strips on top provided a nice freshness to the otherwise butter heavy dish.

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5th Course: Tasman Sea Trout with fennel, beets, blood orange - A strange dish in components I was pleasantly surprised by how it all went together.  The beets were mild in flavor and very tender yet not mushy.  The inclusion of a blood orange added some acidity.  The sea trout was cooked perfectly with that nice balance of firmness and oiliness to it.  The fennel I believe was found in the fresh dill sprigs and in the foam.  Finally the dehydrated trout skin added a nice crunch to this course as it desperately needed some texture other than tenderness.

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6th Course: veal tenderloin with braised daikon disc, chanterelle mushrooms, radishes, black truffle fondue, and veal jus - main components but it all worked together well.  I enjoyed eating the chanterelles with the radish and a little bit of the tenderloin.  I liked the tenderness and perfectly cooked tenderloin but veal tends to be a very mildly flavored meat and tenderloin is the least flavorful cut.  I felt this course was designed for those who must have some meat, I would have preferred another fish course or at different cut of meat altogether.  The black truffle was a little lost to me and the daikon disc turned out to be a tad too salty. 

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Cheese course: A wide variety of cheese, none of us at the table were experts so we let the fromager choose for us.  I must say he gave us a nice variety to try and there were definitely some highlights.  

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Candied apples, apricots, walnuts, and figs were provided along with some slices of some sort of wheat nut bread.  In the middle was an American goat cheese and it was super creamy and my favorite of the night.

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1st Dessert Course:  Lemon tarragon sorbet over a yogurt foam - A nice palate cleanser but overall it was an underwhelming desert.  The sorbet was too tart but I appreciated that the tarragon was subtle.  The yogurt foam underneath was good but it was out of place with the lemon sorbet in my opinion.  

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2nd Dessert Course: Banana bread pudding, barley ice cream - This was a real dessert now, the bread pudding was everything I want in banana bread but without the carbs, this was more like a mousse/foam of banana bread.  The barely ice cream was very subtle in flavor but the toasted nuts underneath really helped that while adding texture.

Alternate Dessert Course: My dining companions opted out of the barley ice cream because they feared it to be too much barely flavor for them.  Honestly I don’t know why as this alternative I found to be a little strange.  I don’t quite remember exactly what it was but it was some sort of ice cream with tapioca pudding, a fruity gelee of some sort, and some sort of crumble.  I like to think I chose right.

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We end the night with some mignardises, small confections to be eaten after dinner.  I wasn’t too found of the chocolate marshmallow nor the fruit jelly but at least the micro macaron was a nice way to end the night.

In the end I think my case for fine dining stands.  This is not something I would eat everyday even if I had the money.  The meal alone took 3 hours but even in this economy as we see many mid casual restaurants pop up (many of which I am grateful for), fine dining has it place in our culinary world.  It is not something that can nor should be phased out because it is a place we cooks should strive to go for excellence.  That is not to say excellence cannot be achieved in a 50’s style diner but in all honesty where else can we find customers who are open minded and willing to pay a lot of money for food from cooks who are willing to use the best ingredients and cook to the best of their abilities.  

I make the minimum wage but even a lowly cook like me knows how to save his money.  The case I make for fine dining can be formed into a sports analogy for those who need it.  The rich can afford court side season tickets and experience greatness everyday and most of us have to save money to watch one game and probably in a much worse seat, but it is for the experience so that we can go watch athletes perform their best in the best environment.  You can go watch a street court game for free but are you going to find players who have honed their skills for years and to play with the best?  Providence is a perfect example of excellence in this city and I know I will be back for more of this experience in the future.

Tagged: ProvidenceTasting menuMichael Cimarustiseaafood

20th October 2010

Question

Anonymous asked: what camera do you use to take these shots?

Nikon D90 with a Nikkor 35mm f1.8 lens

11th August 2010

Post

Testing a New Steak Method

I normally don’t peruse food blogs all too much, in fact the main food blog I browse is Tastspotting which is a melting pot of the food blogging community.  I recently stumbled upon a very popular blog and her most popular post was this salt breakdown method for steak.  I love steak but I have a tendency to buy some $20/lb stuff when I do.  This was a good way to test out a cheap rib eye I bought from the Korean-Japanese market in Little Tokyo for $5 to the pound. 

Here is the link to Steam Kitchen’s recipe: Here

So here is the steak in question resting in salt and some black pepper.  I left it there for 30 minutes because I was impatient.  After rinsing, I definitely did notice the meat was considerably more tender but the connective tissue and fat holding it together in the middle got a bit too loose so I have to be careful handling it.

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So after the sear and finishing it in the oven I basted it in some herb butter and allowed it to rest. 

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Since I love one bowl meals, especially rice bowls I decided to slice it up for a steak and egg rice bowl.  Overall I think I will definitely try this method for different cuts of beef.  Nothing more satisfying after a tiring day of work.

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10th August 2010

Post with 1 note

Pork Tenderloin Cooked Sous Vide

For those of you who are not familiar with sous vide cooking techniques but are interested I would greatly recommend reading these two sources:

Educational sous vide guide: http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html

Some sous vide primers from the blog of two FCI scientist: http://www.cookingissues.com/primers/sous-vide/

Because there are some known and hazardous risks associated with sous vide cooking it is important to read the sous vide guide thoroughly to know what you would be getting yourself into.

My equipment: A SousVide Magic (~$130) and a old rice cooker.  Its very simple to use, the SousVide Magic controls the power draw of the ricecooker to control the heat generated and thus controls the water temperature to one-tenth of a degree fahrenheit accuracy.  Not shown is a FoodSaver vacuum sealer which one can purchase from various retailers, I bought mine from Amazon for about $120.

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Here we have a pork tenderloin, known to be a bit flavorless and tender only if cooked properly.  With sous vide cooking it is possible to cook something to perfection without much experience.

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After trimming, searing, wrapping in bacon I sealed it with some shallots, home grown sage and rosemary, and salt and pepper. 

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I set the SousVide Magic to 145 F and leave it there for about 3 hours.  I normally set the temperature a little lower than what I would normally want because after taking it out the bag I normally finish it on the pan to give it a nice color and thus that will bring up the internal temperature more.

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As you can see below it does not come out of the bag looking tasty but a nice butter brown in a cast iron pan helps with that.

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Don’t be alarmed at the pink color, it has been cooked to safe temperatures.  Sous vide cooking normally produces meats that look rarer than they really are.  I do not know the scientific explanation but I suppose it would be that since the meats juices are not allowed to leave and evaporate out, like in traditional cooking methods, the dead red blood cells may end up staying inside the interior of the meat.  I have no idea if this is true but either way it is safe to eat as pale pink pork at 145 F is considered safe.

The tenderloin was served on top of a pineapple chutney that was cooked down with tomatoes, shallots, garlic, salt, sugar, and crisped up bacon bits that I reused from wrapping the tenderloin,

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9th August 2010

Question

Anonymous asked: Have you ever cooked with chocolate or cocoa?

I’ve heard that using dark chocolate/cocoa powder for chili is a nice touch but honestly I’m not much of a chocolate person.  I would like to do more pastry work but its a different concentration in cooking and not something I want to focus on extensively.

4th August 2010

Post

Spectacular failure!

Sometimes you try your best to make a dish that looks good on the plate but you may forget to taste as you go.  I’ve made this mistake in the kitchen both at home and at work before.  Always be mindful of what you are cooking.  Become complacent and your food will suck.  Consciously active cooking, in my opinion, is the key to improvement and it is something I strive for. 

So how did I fail?  I did not taste and over salted without trying to correct it. 

The dish?  Braised short ribs served over a yukon gold mash mixed with a gold bell pepper coulis.

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Start with a great ingredient, so I gotta remember to respect it and use it more carefully to achieve my goals.

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Braising in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, sake, mirin, black pepper, sugar, and pearl onions.  I probably should have not salted the short ribs before I seared them off.

Next was to char the orange bell peppers, peel them, and puree, strain, and reduce it.  Yes that is a ghetto super large Mexican burner.  Yes it is freaking awesome and my wok heats up in a second with it.  I’ll post of a video of me cooking fried rice with it sometime to show how superior it is to a conventional stovetop even though the stove next to it can do 18,000 BTU’s.

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Eventually that bell pepper coulis was mixed in with a yukon gold mash that was seasoned with butter and salt.  Why no black pepper?  I hate seeing black specks in my mashed potatoes, thats why.

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At least it looked nice on the plate, next time I’ll try a more classical braising recipe instead of some random Korean one on the internet.  Until next time readers, at least I tried and I know I’ll do better next time.

4th August 2010

Question

Anonymous asked: Do you ever make desserts?

actually I’ve been working on making macarons but they are tough to get right, I’ll post pictures of them eventually once I am satisfied.