WD-50: Now that’s service

Well, I got my hat back. Nice. So the score is,

Me 1

Remember, I lost my hat at Momofuku. The one that Kim made. They looked and looked but couldn’t find it. Too bad.

They, meaning Rachel, also sent me the tasting menus. Very nice of them. It’s nice to see that top to bottom, WD-50 is about service. Just like us. Natch.

Artists Week is in full swing

Still time to sign up for the 3-day option. I opened the first night’s dinner with a dish I’ll be doing next year.

1. A salad as a gelee with a tomato puree and some tomato leather, dried tomato jerky, on top. (Actually, last night, I did shaved tomato but it’ll be going to the leather.)

2. A veggy course en papillote.

3. A salmon duo: salmon mouse, baked salmon with my maple marinade, and a honey, maple, garlic tuile.

4. Cheese course. (I didn’t do this last night.)

5. Meltaway trio: Dark mint chocolate, milk chocolate kono praline and a white chocolate and peanut butter.

Pictures to come. I’m opening the pool tomorrow, btw.

What is Molecular Gastronomy?

Molecular Gastronomy is the application of science to culinary practice and more generally gastronomical phenomena. See Wikipedia for more information on molecular and physical gastronomy.

This isn’t that new either. One could even argue that all cooking is molecular gastronomy because all cooking and all manipulation of food is the application of scientific principles to cooking. And how does this differ from Food Science? That is, the fake chemically food found in Burger King or other fast food products?

These questions can best be answered by the Statement on the ‘new cookery’ written by Ferran Adria of El Bulli, Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck, Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se, and writer Harold McGee. To sum up: “Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity; our cooking values tradition, builds on it, and along with tradition is part of the ongoing evolution of our craft; we embrace innovation – new ingredients, techniques, appliances, information, and ideas – whenever it can make a real contribution to our cooking; we believe that cooking can affect people in profound ways, and that a spirit of collaboration and sharing is essential to true progress in developing this potential.”

That don’t sound like no Burger King or McDonald’s.

For me, since I change my cuisine and my menu every year, molecular gastronomy allows me, using nontraditional means, to create new flavor combinations and textures. In other words, what I normally do with my more traditional cooking but in a less traditional way.

Since, unlike many chefs, I understand why flavors taste as they do, why cooking does what it does, I am always doing “molecular gastronomy.” It helps to be a scientist or have a scientific background.

However, since I’ll be showcasing some new dishes and some new techniques, I’ll be going to a four course menu, with maybe a cheese course, since you know how I like a good cheese course, so that may be 5 small courses, each about the size of an appetizer, on those days when the theme kicks in. On the other days, it’ll be more traditional cooking and only three courses.

For those that don’t know, what I normally do here, every year or sometimes even every season, we have a theme. This year it is upscale comfort food. Last year it was Spanish and Latin American and the year before that it was Southern Italian. Usually, I have 3 dinners a week that are theme based and the other 3 dinners are my signature dishes. So, next year, we’ll have Molecular Gastronomy for two or three nights and the rest will be the standards.

And as you know, every Sunday I serve the maple salmon each year with a different preparation. Next year I’ll be doing salmon two ways. One way will be grilled and the other will be as a salmon mousse. It’s incredible. You’ll love it. I’ll be doing a maple garlic tuile to go with the mousse.

And the desserts will be fabulous. I am doing one molecular gastronomy dessert now. It seems strange to be talking this way, but appropriate. My warm chocolate foam is just that. Also, the dacquoise with the amaretto caviar is also an example.

Truffle oil? Not in my kitchen.

Well, you know my Mac and Cheese with truffles? (Rigatoni stuffed with mascarpone, St. Andres, Fontal, Parmesan, cognac cream sauce etc.?) Those are real truffles. Winter in the winter and summer in the summer. All from France. Could I make it with truffle oil? Yes. Would you like it? Probably. Would it be as good as real truffles? I think not.

You may not know this but truffle oil is fake. I’ve known this for years and have used it. You may have had truffle oil on a breakfast egg dish at the inn but we always tell you it’s truffle oil. It’s rare but I do like white truffle oil on my fried eggs. Oh, and those eggs with the black truffle flavor? Those were done naturally. When I buy fresh truffles, I always put them in with the eggs to give the eggs that great black truffle flavor.

Here’s an article on this subject. It’s hard to believe that many chefs don’t know that it’s fake, as the article points out, and it’s still amazes me that chefs would combine real truffles and the oil. Ouch.

Next year when my theme is molecular gastronomy, will I be using truffle oil? Hmm. That’s a great question. It’s just one more chemical after all. Let me say, probably not. Ingredients are still just that. If I do, however, I’ll tell you.

WD-50: Review

Well, what can I say. Kim and I went out to NYC. First we drove to the Hamilton House, Alexander Hamilton House, and checked in to our B&B. They have 8 rooms.

Then we took the metro-north to Grand Central, got lunch close by, mistake. We should have eaten in the terminal or went downtown. Then we went downtown and met my brother John, no not John the waiter, my younger brother Johnny, at Pegu Club for some drinks. I gave our waitress a couple of melt-aways, the mint dark chocolate and the Kona praline milk chocolate. She loved them.

I gave John and Carla a box of chocolates and some nougats and the milk chocolate melt-aways. We had our drinks, not bad not too expensive, especially for NYC, and then took a cab to wd-50.

Let me start out by saying it’s tough to do molecular gastronomy because you have to get the flavors just right. How do you compare someone’s traditional cooking, say March, in it’s prime, about 10 years ago, with something completely nontraditional? What’s your reference point? The answer is, the only reference point, taste, mouth feel, overall happiness during and at the end of the meal.

This was fantastic. In all senses of the work. It was very good. Even great. My favorite dish, with the pairing, was the Fois Gras rice crispies with the Valhrona chocolate and the riesling. My favorite without the pairing was the only dish with no pairing, that was peanuts and a gelee. I don’t have the menu infront of me and forgot what was in it exactly. Kim’s was the sweetbreads. No surprise there. She loves sweetbreads. They were great, too.

Least favorite was the soup with the make your own noodles using a squeeze bottle. Good but not great. The desserts were very good as well. The first dessert was great. The licorise made the chocolate sing. Kim liked the avacado with the chocolate. Thing about that, chocolate, avocado and licorise. It was inspired. Not so much the second dessert. I can’t even remember what it is at this point.

How does this compare with Tru? I thought that the savory portion of the meal was better than Tru. (Kim didn’t think this. She liked Tru better.) Though, I was very happy that Tru had a cheese course. The dessert and pastry portion was better at Tru. Ms. Gand can’t be beat unless it’s by the pastry chef at Jardinere in the 90’s. I think she is now at Rubicon?? But this guy is young. So, we’ll see. He worked at Tru. You can’t out-do your boss!

The service was great at both restaurants but Tru is more formal and how can you beat sweeping? However at WD-50, we had great conversations with the people around us. We brought our friends to Tru.

WD=50 is a great place to talk to Chef’s and culinary students. We met a savory and a pastry chef and a student at the L’Ecole Francaise. Upshot of the evening, I gave the student a Kono Praline milk chocolate melt-away and she said that it was the best thing she’d eaten that night. Ooops! Sorry Wylie.

I gave M. Dufresne and his pastry chef a box of chocolates and confections. I hope they liked them. I gave the waiter a bag of the milk chocolate melt-aways. Ditto.

In the end, the plates were cooler at Tru and what, no flat spoons, no fish spoons at WD-50? Sorry, Bill, I forgot the spoon review. Kim is pushing on. Me? I’d go back. It was also less expensive than Tru. But who’s counting?

And don’t forget about Painters Week/Artists Week/Quilters Week

Spring Artist’s Retreat
All Media: May 20 – 26, 2007
All Levels
Studio and Outdoor

Artists’ Retreat is a time for artists to get together and work with their favorite medium, with no set program. If you’re self-motivated and could use time to concentrate without instruction, or if you have a friend you want to spend time with, or you just want a relaxing art vacation, Artists’ Week is for you. Take advantage of the stunning Spring green of upstate New York, or work indoors in the air conditioned Carriage House Art Studio. Maps to local sites are available to guide you to some of the popular scenic locations. We now offer a 6-night or 3-night option. See our Aritist’s Retreat Enrollment Form for retreat pricing or call us. Contact us about scheduling your own retreat.

Esterita Austin – The Misty Fuse Muse

Creating and Painting a Pictorial Quilt for
3-D Illusion

Esterita Austin
May 31 – June 3, 2007
Medium: Fiber
Level: All Levels

In this workshop, Esterita shows you how to create 3-D pictorial quilts. She demonstrations how to use her easy fusible techniques with Misty-fuse and textile paints to create custom fabrics just right for details, shadows, and highlights. You will learn simple techniques that bring 3-dimensional life to your quilt images.

Learn to make use of those multi-colored, multi-value, textured, and specialty fabrics while developing pictorial quilts from your favorite photographs. Esterita will supply you with a guide for taking photographs and a complete supply list for this workshop.

This workshop has an additional materials fee of $20, paid directly to the instructor, for a kit that includes textile paints, brushes, Misty-fuse, Transdoodle transfer paper, and paper goods.

Internationally award winning quilt maker, designer, and teacher, Esterita Austin is best known for her series on stone and architectural motifs. The use of textual and dimentional imagery has given Esterita’s work a unique sytle. She brings creative energy to her workshops, stimulating the imagination and invigorating the soul.

Katie Pasquini Masopust: Photo Op!!!

And the star of our show is Katie!

Katie gave an impromptu knitting lesson after the group returned from a field trip after class to a local yarn shop, Country Wool (ask them about the adventures they had on the way there — something about a road closed due to a family feud!)

Here are some of the groups color composition exercises.

Everyone gathered on the front porch to knit and enjoy a glass of wine before dinner.

More composition exercises. Fun!

And roasted coffee beans in Australia…I mean, the Australian contingent…I mean, well, here is another picture!

It’s OK, she’s from Australia. Thanks for the coffee! Nice! OK! Here are more pictures.

Bottom line, folks, look at the fun! Just look. You missed it! Top line, sign up now!

Pot Roast

Well, this year, I’m bringing back the Stracotto recipe that I used the first year with some slight changes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

1. Brown half a beef shoulder, boneless, or some part thereof. All sides
2. Put many cloves of minced garlic and oil olive in a roasting pan. I use about 10 or more cloves, saute until soft. Also, diced up an onion and saute that was well.
3. Put the beef in the roasting pan and then put in beef stock, or you can use beef broth in a can if you wish, until half covered. If using stock, add salt to season and then add pepper. If using the broth, just season with black pepper.
4. Add 1 1/2 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms and 1 ounce of dried morels.
5. Cook for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the cut, at 350 F.
6. Tent the meat. Blend the cooking liquid, make sure to scrape as much as possible into the blender. Reduce on the stove and add a medium roux to thicken.
7. To serve pull apart the meant with two tongs, don’t cut, pull, and then cover with the gravy.

There you go. Questions? It’s easy.