Kicking Off a Summer on the Road
There’s nothing like grilling to take our minds off of this recession and officially start the summer. Heart, tongue, marrow bone, and sweetbreads are all great on the grill and cost less per pound than the more traditional tenderloins and ribeyes. Be sure to read our article on grilling off-cuts—just in time for your Fourth of July menu or any summer day.
With the solstice on June 21, the longest day of the year is upon us as we start our summer travel and final few months of planning for the International Chefs Congress in September (check out the formidable and growing line-up and purchase tickets here).
Our hectic travel schedule has brought us to Boston to scout for our New England Rising Stars (at least two more upcoming trips to the northeast are in the works) and we’re in the final weeks of tastings for New York Rising Stars.
We’ve begun tasting for our 2010 San Francisco Rising Stars, so if you haven't already - please send in those nominations. Last week we were there for the Chefs to Know Book Panel at Omnivore Books. Nate Appleman, Traci Des Jardins, Robbie Lewis, and Richard Corbo participated in a lively panel discussion about the industry. They talked about the economy, what’s working and what’s not to keep them ahead of the game, and how they’ve been living and breathing sustainability.
One of the highlights of our time in San Francisco was catching up with former Rising Star Mourad Lahlou at Aziza. His chef de cuisine Luis Maldonado prepared a sexy mackerel dish with potatoes and mussel stock that was rich and buttery without being heavy. And Pastry Chef Melissa Chou prepared a spectacular dessert with chocolate, goat cheese, and a cinnamon chocolate spice cake that was chocolaty and spongy. The creamy goat cheese wonderfully offset the sweetness of the chocolate.
We also visited Chef Jenni Lorenzo at Fifth Floor where we had Seared Duck Breast with Honey-Glazed Dates, Kohlrabi, Sesame Seed Puree, and Duck Jus. The wonderful textures came together to create a memorable dish, from the soft dates to the crunchy kohlrabi to the lightly roasted radish to the skin of the duck that was wonderfully caramelized.
At Charles Phan’s newest project Heaven’s Dog, Mixologist Erik Atkin mixed us amazing cocktail called the Bumble Bee with rum, lime, honey, egg white, angostura bitters, and orange peel. It was creamy, sour, luscious, and just rolled off your tongue.
We visited with Chef Jason Berthold of RN74, Michael Mina’s new wine bar concept. The walls have French-style train station signs that constantly flip, revealing the names of wines on their list. We had a spectacular Hamachi Sashimi with Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, Green Apple Relish, Pumpkin Seed Puree, and Lime that was pure joy.
Chef Michael Tuohy, formerly of Woodfire Grill in Atlanta, recently opened Grange in Oakland. He served us wonderful Wolf Farm Pigeon Breast Rillettes, Anson Mills Farro, Riverdog Spinach, and Rhubarb Jam that was gamey and woodsy with fabulous textures. Our whirlwind SF trip also included stops at The Slanted Door, Contigo, and Conduit.
Then it was back out to Napa and Sonoma for our 25th Rising Stars Gala. We re-visited both Janine Falvo of Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar in Sonoma, CA and our Rising Star Hotel Chef Jesse Mallgren at Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, CA, both of whom are in our ice cream á la minute feature. To view a video of Chef Falvo churning the ice cream in the kitchen and Chef Mallgren’s French maitre d’ performing the dish tableside, plus recipes and tips, check out our liquid nitrogen feature.
We had one of our most successful Rising Star Galas yet. Rising Star Chef Nick Ritchie told us how honored he felt to be amongst his fellow Rising Stars. And Jeremy Fox, Rising Star Chef of Ubuntu put it succinctly: “I really enjoyed myself…this may be cheesy, but thanks for making this so fun.” The Jade Range favorite dish contest award went to Matt Spector of JoLé’s chicken-fried sweetbreads, marking the first time offal has stolen the show at one of our galas.
At the after party at Bottega Michael Chiarello gave an impromptu and heartfelt speech congratulating the Rising Stars and their achievements. He talked about how this industry accepts anyone, no matter their nationality, the color of their skin, or their gender, and that it rewards based on hard work, not on how much money you have or where you come from.
Never ones to shy away from a good wine-related challenge, 20 sommeliers from restaurants and wineries from all over the region attended our blind Napa Sonoma appellation tasting led by Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth at Restaurant Cuvée. The best wine tip we heard all night was: “Don’t look for the answers in the glass, ask yourself the questions”.
And speaking of wine, take a moment to tell us what you think about wines in your restaurant to enter for a chance to win a culinary trip for two to Las Vegas! Take our Wine Survey here.
If you’re in the Bay Area, be sure to join San Francisco Magazine for food and drinks at the Best of the Bay Event this Thursday, June 25.
As always, we love hearing from you! Be sure to become a fan of StarChefs on Facebook and follow me on Twitter to keep up with where I’m going and what I’m eating.