Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Minor Tweaks

Changing the "Fruit of the Sea". It's been Thai style for awhile. Going to serve it with a little pasta and a light tomato sauce with garlic, fresh basil, truffle oil and some shaved Parmesan. I want to do the sauce "ala minute", I'll play around with it and see how it works. A little more main stream but I know I'll sell the hell out of it.

Also changing the Veg dish. Wild mushroom-miso broth with grilled tofu, spinach and broccoli. I may drizzle a little truffle oil on it as well. No matter what I will not be selling the hell out of tofu. (my wife likes it. Love you honey!)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Title Photo

The two knives in the photo are Hattori's KD series. The one on top is a 210mm gyotu. The style is what is commonly referred to as a chef's knife or French knife. The lower knife is also a Hattori. A 180mm santoku. The bottom knife once looked like the top knife. The dramatic Damascus pattern clearly visible. The KD series of Hattori's are special and of course expensive. They are hand made using multiple layers of steel, hammered together after leaving the forge. It's not a pretty job nor are the conditions comfortable. The process of forging the knife is one of the reasons these knives should be used and not hidden away in the knife kit. It's a working man's tool. I like the contrast of the two knives. The top one is new and the other is five years old. It's obvious that knife gets used. Alot. Maybe not every day but on the busy nights, the special dinners, first night of a new menu etc. It was with me went I went out to CIA Greystone, it was with me when I drove across the country this summer,(You never know when you might need a job.) I took it to New York. When I need to be at the top of my game the Hattori santoku is there. The fact that it has lost it's luster has not affected it's performance. The weight and balance are perfect, the handle lies gracefully in my hand and it stays sharp forever. The knife becomes a part of me. Just like the guy said in Zen and the Art of War, you shouldn't have to think about your movements, skills, or tactics, they are so natural the process is removed from your mind to allow it concentrate on other more important matters. Just like the swords of the samurai, a chef's knife should act in the same manner. As a matter of fact the process of forging a Japanese knife is much the same as for a samurai sword. The knife needs to fulfill it's purpose.

I'm also practical about the usage of expensive knives. The gyotu hasn't had the pleasure of much use. The knives obviously start looking tired after a while. Why dull the two beauties at the same time. It will see use when I send the santoku in for a makeover. It will be brought back to it's original luster and in the mean time it will be exciting breaking in the gyotu. I've used it a few times, I really like the shape and has a extremely sharp and hard edge. No cutting up lamb racks for this knife. And after being stroked by a soft towel a few hundred thousand times it will also loose it's luster but it will be a much better knife for it.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Just got back from a short trip to New York. The chef where my daughter works was presenting a black truffle dinner at The James Beard House. As a Christmas gift to ourselves my wife, daughter and I made the trip to attend. For those not familiar, the James Beard Foundation is exists to promote the culinary arts in America. They present annual awards to chefs, authors and restaurateurs. It is considered the equivalent to the Oscars in the restaurant world. The James Beard house is their headquarters. They present dinners there featuring the finest chefs in America. It is "ground zero" in the culinary world.

The chef, Adam Siegal from Lake Park Bistro was kind enough to accept my offer to help out in the kitchen. As it turns out I napped instead. (don't ask) I'm sure he was happy about that, I got the impression he thought I was a rube. We attended the dinner and had a great time. The food was excellent and had great conversations with our table mates. I'll go into more details about my impressions of New York and it's dining scene soon. I wanted to post a few photos in the mean time. A slide show has been added.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's New

I have been catching my breath after the holidays so I haven't had the desire to post. Not that much has been going on anyway. I don't like to write something just for the sake of writing. (Although it may seem like it)

Just got back from an exploratory trip to a vacation spot here in Wisconsin. We've been considering opening a seasonal restaurant there. The last time we were there for pleasure we spotted a tired restaurant that was priced to sell. After careful consideration we will most likely not do it at this time. The economy isn't the greatest, costs are rising, the labor shortage and the distance has made us think twice. We feel we'll be needed to pay attention to our existing restaurants in this time of economic turmoil. If it's still for sale after the national elections we may still consider it.

We'll be going to New York for a dinner at the James Beard house next week on January 23rd. We'll be there attending not cooking. The chef where my daughter works will be staging a truffle dinner. It was a good excuse to go to the big apple. While there I hope to check out some culinary hot spots as well. I'll take plenty of photos and post them here.

As far as work goes, some menu tweaking is in order as well as an update to both wine lists. I want to add some French Burgundies and maybe some Italians. Our clientele is increasingly foreign and on expense accounts. They don't seem to care for American wine. I had one big shot who flew three cases of wine with him on the corporate jet to serve while he was here. (Not sure if that's legal)

Slow season at #2. I just tweaked the menu to make it less labor intensive and we now close between lunch and dinner. During the cold winter months downtown is a ghost town. It happens every year. Thankfully our private dining facility associated with #2 keeps us afloat during this time.

I lost my ace saute man at #1 so I'll be pulling a few more shifts on the line. I'll miss the guy. He went back to Mexico and may or may not return. He's been working for me for a few years, young and cocky but he can back it up. One of the best I've ever had. (I've had many)

If anyone out there has any New York suggestions please feel free to offer them in the comment section. I just wish we'd be going on Monday so we could catch Les Paul at the Iradium (sp?)Club. I have a photo of him and me that I'd like him to sign. It will go with the guitar (a Les Paul) that he has signed.

BTW, you can see my ace saute man, Heriberto, on the staff Christmas video located below. He's the guy with the curly hair standing at the "Mexican" table.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

NYE Menu

We don't get crazy with the NYE menu. Remember it's all about logistics. Plus the crowd isn't really the "foodie" type.

The night went beautifully. We set a new sales record at #1.

New Years Eve 2007 $48.00

~~ First Course ~~
Crab Cakes
Champagne beurre blanc
Caramelized Onion Tart with Goat Cheese
Cumberland sauce
Shrimp Tempura
Kung Pao sauce
Pot Stickers
Asian style pork stuffed dumplings, apricot sauce

~~ Second Course ~~
Lobster Bisque
Rich lobster tomato-cream soup
Walnut, Pear, Gorgonzola
Balsamic vinaigrette
Baby Spinach, Pecans and Goat Cheese
Raspberry vinaigrette
Mixed Greens
Shredded parmesan, herb buttermilk dressing

~~ Third Course ~~
(Add a five oz. lobster tail to any entrée for $14.00)
Lime butter, mango-pepper slaw, wild mushroom risotto
Smoked tomato beurre blanc, wild mushroom risotto
Pumpkin Ravioli
Sage butter sauce, parmesan, asparagus
Lobster Tail
(Additional $10.00)
Nine oz cold water tail, broiled, served with mushroom risotto
Rack of Lamb
Basil demi-glace, gruyere mashed potatoes
Filet Mignon
Béarnaise, demi-glace, gruyere mashed potatoes

~~ Fourth Course ~~
Chocolate Decadence
Raspberry Layer Cake
Baked Alaska