Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coming soon...Bistro le Zinc

Bistro le Zinc is set to open within the next couple of weeks at 3714 Macomb St., N.W. Right across from Cactus Cantina. The kitchen looks great.

Getting ready to put the pans to the fire...


To my left is David Ashwell and to my right is John Warner. Both alums of Chef Wiedemaier's establishments. They were hands on from the start, which is always a good sign of things to come.

David will be handling the kitchen and John will be in charge of the FOH.

If you stop in, make sure you tell John and David where you read about it.

I'll let you know about the food in a couple of weeks....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Graffiato...makin' it from scratch

Paul Antolli, Mike Isabella, and me!

Congratulations Mike Isabella and team. You have a winner on your hands. I know that it didn't come without a lot of preparation, sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears.

Putting together a good restaurant is hard. Putting together a great restaurant is much harder. It's the details that make the difference. Mike and his team sweat the details.

The menu is mostly small plates. We started out with the king crab leg, which was kind of a King Crab Casino, with some crab salad to the side. This was the chicken thighs with pepperoni sauce. This is the one that made Gail all flush when she talked about it on Top Chef. I decided I liked it so much I threw it right on my shirt. Luckily, I saved a piece to taste and it was good. Sous vide the chicken then crisp it in the oven. Excellent preparation.

Mike gets his meats from a variety of sources, most of them local. Some were merely good, others were dynamite.

You talkin' to me?

I'm not sure what this is, but Jackie, who was sitting next to me at the pizza bar, ordered it. Obviously there are a couple of slices of lardo, or "white prosciutto" for the people who are uncomfortable with the notion that they are eating pure pig fat. It looked great.

This is the grilled octopus. Perfectly done. Nice char, good sauce, tender.

This is Paul and Mandy...good friends who drove us downtown and joined us for dinner. This is the head-on shrimp. It's served in a beautiful sauce that incorporates the ends and shavings from some of their meats from their charcuterie. Very tasty. Another one of Jackie's dishes...not sure what it was, but it looked great.

This was a slice of the truffled pie with a sunny-side duck egg. My favorite of the night.

A little seasoning...

Here is Mike's Agnolotti, made with sweet corn. Light, flavorful, gorgeous.

Another shot of that truffled pie. I could eat one of these every day....

Family friendly with good desserts? Who knew?

The prices are reasonable, the food is unexpectedly good, and it's a great looking place. Check it out when you're downtown. They open Thursday 6/23 to the public.

If you go, tell them where you read about it!

Until next time....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Home Cookin': How can these ingredients possibly taste this good? Criminy.

This is an incredibly easy recipe. All it takes is patience and some quality ingredients and you've got a dessert as good as the creme brulee served in any restaurant. This recipe should serve 6.Preheat your oven to 300. Let's start with 8 egg yolks (I used 9 because they were smallish), and 1/3rd cup of sugar.Beat the eggs and sugar together until the sugar is incorporated and it's a pale yellow color, like below.

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 and 1 cup heavy cream. Mix well, and let it sit while you put your strainer together. I use a flexible plastic container with cheese cloth on top, held in place by a rubber band. You pure the egg/cream mixture into this and it strains out any egg goobers, shells, whatever, and also serves the purpose of removing any bubble that have want this to be very smooth when you carefully pour it into your ramekins. Have a paper towel under the ramekins in a deep pan in the oven...add enough water to come 2/3rds of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Don't pour the water in until the pan is already on the oven cheating!

Cook for 45 minutes, then carefully pull the pan out of the oven and place someplace to cool. Let it come to room temperature. Take the ramekins and put them in the fridge, covered loosely with Cling Wrap. They're good for a day or two in the fridge.

When you're ready to serve put about a teaspoon of sugar over the top, then burn it with a torch. I have a small butane torch that I keep in my gig bag for just such occasions. As you can tell from the background I actually finished and served these at the pool.

You can put a few fresh berries on top...whatever is in season will do.

Et voila! They disappear quickly.

Even the non-dessert lovers can't resist.

Hope you enjoyed reading!

Until next time....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Home cookin'...what else can I stuff in the smoker?

Let's start with the uncooked...then move to the cooked.
Mike bought a smoker, and for some reason we decided that it would be a good idea to have three people make ribs and just have a big-old pork fest.
By coincidene, there was a bbq sauce contest in the post last week, so I decided to make two of the three top winners. Once was a rather standard mustard-based sauce. The other entailed smoking a bunch of veggies and pureeing them.6 beefsteak tomatoes, 2 green bell peppers...smoked skin side down for 2 hours.Puree in a blender in batches. Pour into a big saute pan. Add 1/2 a diced onion and 2 cleaned jalapenos. 3 tbsp cider vinegar, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 2 tsp tamarind concentrate, 1 head of roasted garlic, salt to taste, 1 tsp rendered bacon fat, cook for an hour over low heat. Puree again, strain, and you've got a killer bbq sauce. It starts savory/smoky, gets a little sweet, then finishes with heat. Awesome. Rub your meat...let it flavorize for 24 hours or so wrapped in the fridge. Then let it come to room temp before you smoke it. Low and slow, that is the tempo. 225 for 3 hours with smoke. Start spraying it with apple juice and cider vinegar about 2 hours in...spray at 3 hours as well, and wrap in foil. Keep it in the smoker at 225 for another two hours, then wrap all of that in a towel and stick it in a cooler for another hour to rest. When you're done, you have ribs so good it'll bring a tear to your eye. For anyone who has wondered where Smelly Salt comes from, this is it. I got 1-1/2 pounds of Malden Sea Salt and smoked it for 2 hours. The Aussies joined us for dinner

Palmer's ribs were the winner of the night. A slightly longer cook time and a saltier rub made the difference. They were kickin'.

My ribs were nothing to sneeze at, but just didn't hit it like his did.

Hillman brought a nice appetizer to the table....seared salt and pepper scallops over mango salsa. Very nice.

Hope you enjoyed reading. If you have any questions about the recipes feel free to ask.

Until next time....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Home Cookin'......and what did you hear, Clarise?

The lambs, Dr. Lecter. But not these lambs. This particular lamb came from Eco Friendly Farms, which is run by Bev Eggleston. These lambs were allowed to be lambs, and they are all the better for it.
My pal Mike and I took a trip to the famers market in Dupont Circle this morning. It was a great day for it. Lots of neat stuff down there. Amongst the neatness was this perfectly marbled rack of lamb, which I cut in to what my son calls, "Meat Popsicles."

I like to marinate my lamb in a mixture of about 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and a couple of sprigs of rosemary. I mash it all up with a pestle, put it all in a bag with the cut up rack, and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge.

I take the lamb out of the fridge about an hour before I want to cook it and let it come up to room temperature. This allows the fat to render more easily.

Crank the grill up as high as it goes, sear the lamb on both sides, then cook over indirect heat for another couple of minutes to your liking. Use the time when the meat is resting to set the table or get your sides put out.

Et Voila!
I served it with steamed artichokes and a plum tomato/scamorza/basil salad I had whipped up the previous day.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time....