Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Working Copy of Wine Dinner Menu

Red, white and blue

Day Boat Scallop
Green curry, micro Thai basil
Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling, Oregon 2007

Chicken of the woods and chanterelles, fresh thyme pasta,
Oregon truffle butter,baby arugula, parsley coulis
R. Stuart “Big Fire” Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2006

Quinault River King Salmon

Penn Cove mussel nage, sea beans, wild steel head roe
Cooper Mountain Pinot Noir Reserve, Oregon, 2007

Pork Two Times
Tenderloin medallion, carnitas of suckling pig,
wild blueberry jus, spaghetti squash
Three Rivers Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, 2004

Prime Beef Tenderloin

Dry aged, Wisconsin bleu, wild huckleberries, mashed golden potatoes
Rex Hill Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve, Oregon 2004

Peach crisp, peach crudite au chocolat
Pacific Rim Riesling Vin de Glaciere, Oregon, 2007

Some thoughts on the menu:
The scallops we've been getting in are wonderful and I wanted to show them off. I was looking for a little heat to pair with the Riesling so I'll accent with a green curry sauce (don't worry it won't hurt). The natural sweetness of the scallop should find it's way through the heat and really pair well with the wine.

We inherited a nice dough roller from TYR so you'll be seeing more pastas and dumplings appear at Sebastian's. I've been playing with ravioli and had great results. The peppery flavor of the arugula and the parsley coulis should go great with this Pinot Gris. It's not too "green" so the butter and truffles will go nicely as well.

The King salmon we get from the Northwest is beautiful and is a natural with the light Pinot Noir I'm serving with it. On paper this is the "foodie' course.

Pork is king in the chef world these days and I have a local source for suckling pig. Once I get around the dirty look the dead piglet gives me it should be delicious. The wild Northwest blueberries should bring out the berry notes in the lighter style cab I'm serving with it.

Ah, beef. Prime beef or Kobe style if I don't have to mortgage the house to buy it. I'll top with a mild Wisconsin bleu cheese (thanks Jeff) and some wild huckleberries. The Pinot going with this one is BIG. One of my favorites. This is the course I would be looking forward to.

This dessert wine is best suited for fruit and I thought peaches would be perfect. Dessert wines are a guilty pleasure that I wish we would sell more of. BTW, I've got some nice ones in the cellar that aren't on the list if ever interested. Word of caution, they're not cheap.

The Wine

Sat down with Bob and Richard from L'fet Bank Wine distributors to taste and choose the wine for the upcoming wine dinner. We tasted two pinot gris, two rieslings, an unoaked chardonnay, two pinot noirs, a cabernet and a syrah. The Cab and syrah were from Washington state the rest Oregon. Of the pinot gris I opted for an old favorite that used to be on our wine list. I had forgotten how much I liked it. There were supply issues at the time so we had to remove it from the list. I'm not sure but I might pair it with some truffled ravioli. Of the rieslings I went with the one that would be considered less food friendly. A little sweeter than the other but I know my customers and they would prefer the sweeter one. (After all this is Wisconsin) I'll pair it with a little spice and natural sweetness. Of the pinot noirs I went with the fuller of the two. Still on the lighter side but will match up well with the king salmon I have planned. The cab was also surprisingly light. Right now I'm leaning toward pairing it with pork done two ways. It is light enough to be followed by another pinot noir. I was looking for something big enough to pair up with beef, a milder bleu cheese and huckleberries. The pinot I'm serving with that course we didn't taste. I'm familiar with it and I predict will be the hit of the evening. A big bold pinot. I also didn't have to taste the dessert wine. I'll be experimenting with the pairing in the next couple days.

I ended up having to add a wine for a total of six. I'll also serve an amuse to start dinner making a total of seven courses.

A little on the food:
I'll be getting in super fresh king salmon from the northwest as well as huckleberries and truffles. I hope to find a mild artisan bleu cheese from Wisconsin if not I may go with Maytag. For the pork two-ways I hope to line up some suckling pig. I'm a little concerned about this because of my love for animals and the "baby" pig is going to be hard to look in the eye. I'll be playing with peaches for dessert and will add a touch of chocolate somewhere. Some people just have to have their chocolate.

I should have the menu firmed up by the end of the day. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Well, Well, Well.

I have to admit to reading Ruhlman's blog from time to time. I read with GREAT interest the issue of "the tasting menu". It seems Marco Pierre White doesn't approve. So now the hippest in the food world are second guessing themselves. And here I thought that MPW was a goof. A former hot shot chef (who I never heard of BTW) who's cashing in on his reputation. I'm glad to see he's jumping on Salty's wagon. Old school has never gone out of fashion. It's the most fashionable who recognize that.

MPW you need to come to Cbass for honest food.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wild Ravioli

Another installment on classic food and preparation. You could have this dish anywhere in the world and it wouldn't or couldn't be any better. I made some large ravioli using homemade pasta, wild mushrooms, fresh herbs and two kinds of cheese, goat and Parmesan.

The sauce is a very simple saute of freshly picked garden tomatoes, olive oil, onions, garlic, S&P, and fresh basil.

The mushrooms used were chanterelles and chick of the woods.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wine Dinner Oct 6th

We've finally set the date for our next wine dinner. It will be held on October 6th, with a pre-tasting at 6:00 p.m. and seating promptly at 6:30. The wine dinners consist of at least six courses with appropriate wine pairings. The cost is $90.00 per person all inclusive. This dinner will feature wines from America's Northwest.

The Distributor: L'eft Bank Wine Co
The first step in composing a wine dinner is to choose the wine distributor. We've done many wine dinners and often use the same one or two merchants. This time around we wanted to give one of our favorite distributors a chance to showcase their wines. L'eft Bank Wine Co. is a small locally owned company that is very easy to deal with and has an excellent Racine sales rep. They also have a nice Oregon and Washington State "book". Picking the date depends heavily on the schedule of the distributors representative that will be presenting the wines at the dinner.

The Date:
We also have to schedule around any currently scheduled special events being held at the restaurant, personal commitments and staffing levels. We try and stay away from Holidays and we need time to promote the dinner. October 6th is a little earlier than we typically would schedule but had to accommodate other commitments.

We got into the habit of doing the dinners on Friday nights but decided to move them back to Mondays. We've been trying to build Friday sales and don't want to stop the momentum. Also Fridays eliminated a few larger groups that used to attend the dinners They are fellow industry employees. Most work Friday nights.

The Wine:
Usually we'll pick a general theme for the wine. A single maker, a region, a style or a single importer. I think the Northwest has some great wines that also happen to be great food wines. I think something a little off the radar screen will be fun and educational for everyone. We've picked the wines we want to taste and will make those decisions on Wed. the 17th. We'll taste about 10 wines and settle on five or six. If we feel we need to taste more we will. We'll be tasting pinot gris, riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, cab sauv and a pinot noir ice wine.

The Food:
I've alreadyn formulated a general menu that I will will aim the wine selections at. I can tweak each dish or the menu according to what's discovered at the wine tasting. I also have a great purveyor in the Northwest that I get extremely fresh fish from and great produce. Anything from razor clams to huckleberries is available to me. Look for various wild mushrooms, sablefish, wild salmon in some form. One thing I know I'll need is a big cab for the final "entree" course.

The Dinner:
Usually 70 or so guests will attend. It's challenging feeding 70 people a six course dinner. I'm old school so nothing gets pre-cooked before hand. Once the amuse rolls it's a sprint. Lots of plates, lots of glasses and lots of silverware. The dishwasher is probably the busiest guy that night.

The Customers:
Most attendees have been to one of our dinners before. Some have been to all of them. Most are regular customers and some come only for the wine dinners. All have fun. By the third course the room is noticeably louder. By the end of the night it sounds like a big party. These aren't snobby affairs they are a great experience that's alot of fun.

I'll be posting about the wine dinner as we proceed with the planning. I'll include my notes about the wines after I taste them tomorrow.

If you are local and didn't already recieve an e-mail about the dinner contact me and I'll make sure you are on our e-mail list. salty@saltyskitchen.com or through our contact page at sebastiansfinefood.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Day

The day, not today but more accurately the date. This day in time.

I've had a busy day but in the back of my head it was there. A couple people mentioned it, but seemingly didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want this day to go by without reflecting on it. So as I sit here at the end of this infamous day with tears in my eyes. I recall the feelings of seven years ago. First hearing about it as it happened on the radio. Then minutes later watching it live on TV. Thinking to myself that those towers were going to come down. And to my horror minutes later they did. As I sat there by myself watching I had one thought in my head. I wanted to be there. Not on the street looking up but in the stairwell racing up. I knew what those guys were thinking. I knew they doubted they would ever see their loved ones again. I knew they were doing their jobs no matter what. I knew they wanted to do what they were entrusted to do. I knew they were about to make the ultimate sacrifice. I knew I wanted to be there.

There is a saying on the fire department that you offer when departing company with a brother. "See you at the big one". It's in reference to catching up with old partners and friends when you go to a really big fire. Half the department may be there and you see alot of old faces. I imagine I'm not the only former or active firefighter that wishes he was at "the big one". Those of us who weren't there missed the biggest one of all time and in some bizarre way are jealous of those who were. That includes my 343 brothers who didn't make it back down those stairs.

May God give peace to your loved ones.

Someday I will see you all "at the big one".

Challenging Eat local

Ah, never mind. Rant deleted.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chx Ballantine (Ballotine? Gallantine?)

As part of the "Eat Local" event this week I thought I'd break out the ole Ballantine. A deboned chicken that's stuffed, rolled and sliced. I picked up all the ingredients at local farms located between my house and the restaurant.

For ballantines 0r gallantines (Gallantines are served cold but the method is the same.)you have to debone the bird in a way that leaves it intact as possible. I roast the bones and make a chicken demi to serve with it. I had some fresh thyme in the garden so I infused the demi with that. The filling is made with ground chicken, organic eggs, local vegetables and seasoned with parsley and thyme from the garden. I posted a video of the process on youtube and it should be on my video bar. I'm a little out of practice so the video is a little long.

The way I prepared this dish is exactly how someone would make it in the country side of France today or two hundred years ago. It doesn't get much better. No nitrogen, no xanthan gum, no trapeze to present it on. Straight forward simple food made with fresh local ingredients. That is my definition of world class cuisine.

Call me old school, I don't mind.

(Editor's Note: I'm amazed how many people find this site by googleing "gallantine". For those of you who would like to see a video of de-boning the bird for a gallantine go to youtube saltydog55252)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


With harvest season here I thought I'd make some fresh pasta to help highlight the fresh flavors of the season. I like a nice rustic egg pasta.


Two special weeks are happening in September. During the second week we are participating in the "Eat Local Challenge". We'll be featuring at least one dish consisting of local ingredients. It's harvest season so look for great produce, salads and free range "Chicken Ballotine". A ballotine is a whole bird that is boned and stuffed. The trick is to de-bone it in such a way that you leave as much of the bird intact as possible, stuff it and slice it like a loaf of bread. It's a great presentation and perfect for dinner parties. I'll try and video the de-boning method and post it in the video bar. I'll also be previewing the dish this Friday evening as part of our prixe fixe Friday menu.

During the week of the 21st we'll be participating in "Dine Out America". A portion of the week's sales will be donated to Share Our Strength to fight childhood hunger. I'll be running some interesting specials that week to try and reward our diners for doing their part to end childhood hunger.

I'm looking forward to both weeks. We hope to see you.