Cooking with Jason

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tuesday at the Market

I'd forgotten how great a trip to Pike Place Market can be, having not been there for nearly a year (we're in Seattle for a few weeks while our stuff is being transported to California).

Start at the far north end of the market, grab a couple of tamales at the appropriately named Mexican Grocery. Next, head one shop over for espresso at the original Starbucks store. Sure, it's a touristy cliche, but as a native Seattleite and Starbucks regular, I can pull it off. Next continue south for an onion-potato-cheese piroshky at Piroshky Piroshky. Mee Sum Pastries is the next stop; BBQ pork humbow. All this on the same side of the street! Best lunch in town. Finish up with a half-dozen cinnamon donuts at Daily Dozen Donuts. Yum.

But now it's time to actually shop. The entrance to DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine is just across from Daily Dozen. I always wind up buying more than I intended to at DeLaurenti. Today I bought some mild soprasetta to go on a pizza for dinner tonight. Next up is produce at Sosio's, where they always have samples and are happy to chat about produce. I bought some mushrooms, shelling peas, and asparagus (it's a bit early, I know, but it looked decent) for risotto this week, a plum for my son, a couple of Meyer lemons (probably for an adult beverage), and a couple of Pink Lady apples (my favorite).

Mid-week and rain made for a lack of crowds, always a plus. I'd much rather hit the market at a time like this than, say, on a sunny summer Saturday when everyone and his brother is out to see a flying salmon.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dinner at Daniel

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin ’99

Jason: Guinea Hen and Fois Gras Terrine with Poached Leeks, Pickled Chanterelles, Young Watercress, Tarragon Mustard
Carrie: Duck Fois Gras Terrine with Port Gelee, Poached Quince Walnuts, Mache Salad
Wine: Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France

Jason: Peekytoe Crab Salad with Ruby Grapefruit Gelee, Watermelon Radish, Fennel Coulis
Carrie: Yuzu Marinated Tai Snapper with Shiso Cream, Shaved Crudites, Lemon Balm Oil
Wine: Gruner Veltliner, Austria

Jason: Scottish Langousitines with Jerusalem Artichoke, Pig’s Trotter, Caramelized Endive, Roasted Porcini
Carrie: Wild Mushroom Raviolo with Sherry Emulsion, Sweet Garlic Coulis, Parsley-Celery Salad
Wine: Chateauneuf de Pape Blanc (100% Rousanne), Rhone, France

Jason: Paupiette of Dover Sole with Rock Shrimp, Celery Root Mousseline, Marcona Almond Emulsion
Carrie: Chanterelle Stuffed Skate, Creamy Spinach, “Carotte Fondante” Bordelaise Sauce
Wine: Red Burgundy, Burgundy, France

Jason: Duo of Dry Aged Beef: Braised Short Ribs, Red Tardivo with a Bone Marrow Crust / Seared Rib Eye with Sweet Potato Hazelnut “Pomme Macaire"
Carrie: Colorado Lamb Saddle with Anchovy Crust, Stewed Flageolet, Esplette-Ricotta Gnocchi, Braised Romaine Lettuce
Wine: Meritage Blend, Sonoma, CA, USA

Degustation of Cheeses

Jason: Lemon Biscuit with Blood Orange Ginger Sorbet, Darjeeling Mousse, Fresh Citrus
Wine: Late Harvest Pinot Gris. Loire, France

Carrie: Bittersweet Chocolate Praline Cremeux, Amer Cocoa Biscuit, Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
Wine: Vin Santo Reserva, Italy

Orange Madelines and Coffee

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nothing but Napa

OK, that's a lie, because I'm going to tell you about my exam last week as well. To make a long story short, I passed the Level I exam of the Court of Master Sommeliers. It wasn't all that difficult, to be honest. Mr. Weiss' class at school was plenty of preparation; I wish they had just let me take the test instead of sitting through a day and a half of class first. If I take Level II it's a test only, so that's good. I'd much rather study on my own for this sort of thing.

After getting back from the city late Tuesday, I flew to Sacramento Thursday night. The plan was to get a rental car, stay the night in Sacramento near the airport, then drive to Napa Friday and find us a place to live while I do my training at Rutherford Grill. Unfortunately, my flight from JFK took off nearly two hours late, so I didn't land in Sacramento until 1:30am, at which time the rental car counter (I had a reservation, mind you) had closed. I took a taxi to the hotel (thank goodness I booked one near the airport), slept for a few hours, then took a taxi back to the airport to get the rental car. Then, the drive to Napa.

I quickly forgot about my rental car ordeal upon arriving in Napa Valley -- it's gorgeous. Vineyards everywhere. It even looks great now, and there aren't even any grapes on the vines. The city of Napa is much bigger and city-like than I had guessed. It's much more pleasant as you drive north on 29 and go through smaller towns like Oakville, Rutherford, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. I looked at a few places Friday, one good and the rest... not so much.

Friday night, I trekked down to Sonoma for dinner at Cafe La Haye. Norm Owens, who was the sous chef at Canlis during my externship, is now executive chef at a really small place in downtown Sonoma. There are about 35 seats plus four more at the bar, and the kitchen is the size of a closet. He's got two ovens and maybe ten burners, one guy working beside him on the line, another guy doing salads and desserts, a dishwaher, and that's it. It's quite the departure from Canlis to be certain. The food's great, though. I had a treviso salad with candied walnuts, buttermilk blue cheese, and roasted pear vinaigrette. Next, Norm sent me a course I didn't order, crispy sweetbreads on house-ground polenta. Awesome. Then his latest addition to the menu, pork tenderloin with cabbage-apple slaw, whole grain mustard, and a bacon apple cider vinegar sauce. Also awesome. With this I paired a local (or course) pinot noir. For dessert, I had a dense apple cake with whipped cream, and a glass of one of my favorite ports, Warre's 1995 Late Bottled Vintage.

I got an early start today (Saturday), saw a few more places, decided on the good one from Friday, and then did some sightseeing. And by sightseeing, I mean I parked the car in Yountville and then walked around soaking up as much Thomas Keller as I possibly could -- The French Laundry, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, and Ad Hoc are all within a five-minute walk of one another. As it was over 70 degrees today, I grabbed an iced coffee (and a chocolate bouchon, which is like a really dense and fudgy cupcake) at Bouchon Bakery. Upon snooping around the grounds at the French Laundry, I saw the man himself standing in the kitchen. No, I didn't wave or knock on the window and say hi.

For dinner, I decided it was about time I dined at Rutherford Grill. As it was when I dropped in to meet with the GM earlier in the afternoon, the restaurant was packed. I hear them telling people it might be 90 minutes to get a table. Rutherford Grill doesn't take reservations. I was able to grab a seat at the bar, where I dined on a nice thick slice of prime rib with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage, and key lime pie for dessert. Yum.

After dinner, I drove back to Sacramento, where I'm currently sitting in the airport waiting for my flight. Hooray for airports with wireless hotspots.

Anyway, I found a house for us to rent in Calistoga, which is at the north end of the valley (Napa is at the south end). It's about 20 minutes or so from Rutherford Grill, a bit more with traffic, and in a nice quiet neighborhood. I won't be at all upset if we wind up staying longer than the 16 weeks of my training.

Now all we have to do is work out details with the moving company, figure out how we're going to get across the country, and get nice and settled before I start work the first week of April. These are exciting times!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

It's all over

I graduated on Friday with an Associate of Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts. At the graduation ceremony, I received two awards -- the Management Award, for having the best GPA in non-kitchen classes, and the Katherine Angell Scholastic Achievement Award for best overall GPA among all culinary graduates.

Last night, Carrie and I dined at Daniel in New York City. I will post the details of our seven-course, nearly four-hour extravaganza later on.

The best news of all, however, is that I got the job I've been after since November. Hillstone Restaurant Group has accepted me into their management training program as a KMT (Kitchen Manager in Training). Even better? I'll be doing my training at Rutherford Grill in Napa Valley. After 16 weeks there, I'll get a more permanent placement at one of their 40+ restaurants as an assistant kitchen manager.

In a few hours I'm going to hop on a train back to the city, as my sommelier certification class and exam begins tomorrow morning. After getting back late Tuesday night, I'm going to be off again on Thursday, this time on a plane out to California to find the four of us a place to live.

I have no idea what the future holds for Cooking with Jason, but thanks to everyone who has checked in to read my irregularly posted ramblings.