Friday, May 29, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden Update

Four beds remain un-planted. One bed has to be mended which is going to involve moving some dirt around. We'll plant the others as soon as weather and schedule permit. The planted beds are doing well. After going through a little shock the plants have new growth and seem to be adapting to the environment. I've got some weeding to do as well as some cultivating.

Unfortunately I'm losing the battle with the bunnies. I installed another wire fence around the lettuce beds and sprayed what smells like coyote piss around the perimeter (Note to self, stand up-wind when spraying)to no avail. They are enjoying the sweetest and most tender green lettuce. They don't like the red. I've seen birds hanging around the garden but I think they're looking for worms.

We're harvesting chives, chive flowers and asparagus at the moment. Another week or so I can start clipping lola rosa and red leaf lettuce. Unfortunately when I tilled the beds I forgot about the asparagus. I went a little too deep and probably disturbed some roots. We're getting asparagus but we should be getting more. It will be a little while before the two beds recover. Other than that I'm seeing some real positive growth. The beans and squash are really enjoying themselves and the cukes and toms are reluctantly putting forth effort.

After this rainy week I'll really have some weeds to pull.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Liked This One.

Mahai mahi stuffed with summer truffle with alder smoked paprika beurre blanc, purple sticky rice and a blend of petite mache, red amarynth and frilly mustard.

Tie the roll with kitchen string, dip the ends in seasoned flour and pan sear each end until golden. Finish in the oven.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Salty's Media Room

I decided to start a separate place to post photos, videos and sound recordings. Salty's Media Room will be a place for posting multi media. Salty's Kitchen will still have photos but not nearly as many and will be centered on the kitchen, food and the restaurant life. The Media Room doesn't have a theme. Any media regardless of subject may be posted.

I also like posting photos in a "post" as opposed to a separate gadget in the side column. As a post you can click on the photo for nice close-ups. I can also search the photos by title.

Currently I have some new spring garden photos posted. You can follow the link on this page or go to

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Garden

The garden is nearly in. We have only four more beds to plant. Currently there are 18 beds planted. Below is a list of what is currently planted in order of abundance.

Burpee Big Boy Tomatoes
Italian Basil
Burpless Cucumbers
Red Romaine
Butter Crunch Lettuce
Gypsy Yellow Peppers
Sweet Chili Peppers
Lola Rosa Lettuce
Kentucky Blue Beans
Hot Banana Peppers
Ruby Red Cabbage
Stonehead Cabbage
Serrano Peppers
Brussel Sprouts
Habanero Peppers
English Thyme
Golden Lemon Thyme
Lime Basil
Cinnamon Basil
Bloody Butcher Tomatoes
Acorn Squash
Butternut Squash

Now we have to keep the critters out. Large and small. I couldn't help but notice the huge deer tracks going through the beds before we planted and the bunnies love the tender lettuce. This year we've doubled security and enclosed the lettuce beds with another fence. We already have one encompassing the entire garden that in years past didn't do the job.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Momofuku Ko

If you’re not a New Yorker or a hardcore foodie you may not have heard of the hottest restaurant in New York City. Momofuku Ko, the latest James Beard award winner for Best New Restaurant in the United States and the most coveted reservation to be had in the city. Not only because Chef and co-owner David Chang is one of the hottest chefs going right now but also because the restaurant only seats 14 guests. In a metropolitan area of almost 19 million people you can imagine it can be tough to get in.

To understand “Ko” you have to understand it’s truly a chef’s restaurant. Everything is focused on the food and those who make it happen. The 14 seats are at a raised counter that surrounds the cooking line. The line is the typical sized line you’d see in thousands of restaurants. Instead of preparing the food and placing it in the “pass” for the servers to pick up it goes directly to the customer. The cooks prepare, serve and explain each dish. The “servers” clear, pour wine and take care of the bill. Two servers, three cooks, 14 customers. Like I said, it’s a chef’s kitchen. The walls are plywood, no art no fancy finish. . The music is loud and alternative, the cooks control the selection and volume. Again, it’s a chef’s restaurant. It’s almost anti customer. It’s like Chang’s revenge. “His rage against the machine” and the scary New York dining scene. A fucking jungle.

The night I was there I was seated near the chef I assumed to be Chang but to be honest I can’t be sure.(The chef spoken of is Peter Serpico, Co-owner and Chef de Cuisine)I don’t follow the chef scene and am not familiar with most of the “star” chefs. He was Asian and in charge. Whoever it was, his mood was best described as brooding. All the cooks were silent and emotionless. They weren’t quiet because they were in deep thought, christ, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were blaring over the speakers. I think it’s because they simply don’t want to talk to the “fish”. To break the ice I asked Asian dude what kind of yanagi he was using and he replied, “What? Do you mean what brand”? I said “yes”. “I don’t know”. Huh? The tattooed boy in the middle had a western handled Misono sujihiki and the boss is using a traditional Japanese knife used for sushi and he doesn’t know who made it? I don’t know a single cook who owns a yanagi and doesn’t know who made it. I guess he just didn’t want to talk. I didn’t detect a smile the entire time I was there. If you’re going to remove barriers why not take advantage and interact with your customers? Especially if you have the time to do it. There was no “rush” in this restaurant. The pace was slow and easy. Quite frankly too slow and easy. It would drive me crazy. When I noticed the cooks familiarity with the menu I asked how often it changed. “Seasonally”. No wonder they looked board. They’ve been cooking the same menu for weeks at an agonizingly slow pace. If you’re expecting to see sparks and razzle and dazzle in this kitchen forget it. If you thought you’d chat up the cooks forget it. If you didn’t know what to look for the show could be boring. For most I’m sure it is. Some folks I noticed were intently watching the cooks and others could care less. I was watching. Closely.

The Food: (I elected to have each course paired with wine)
I didn’t take notes and there is no printed menu. So my recollections may not be perfect.

Grilled octopus with miso aioli and asparagus. Black pepper biscuit and salted pork rind. (Although they called it cicerones?)
The octopus was grilled perfectly, good flavor and tender. I thought the miso aioli was a bit tame. The black pepper biscuit was killer. No shortage of butter I’m guessing. Moist and flavorful.

Long Island Fluke sashimi style with whipped buttermilk, poppy seeds, chives and white soy sauce.
The fluke was excellent, super fresh but I have to question if anything caught off Long Island is kosher raw? The whipped buttermilk was a match I’m not sure about. I guess it’s a kin to pickled herring in cream sauce. A classic here in the Midwest and probably most likely in the Big Apple as well. Very heavy on the poppy seeds as well. I’m not a fan of poppy seeds.
A nice German white, a Gavertz I think.

Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin), English peas, some kind of seaweed in chilled dashi broth.
Nice flavor in the dashi, not too strong, uni freaks me out a little but was the best I’ve had.

Snail sausage, mounted butter sauce, hand torn Pecorino, chives
This one was right up my alley. Excellent pasta, and I really enjoyed the sausage. He used chicken and pork fat for the base. Nice mild flavor. Probably why they paired it with a sauvignon blanc. I didn’t care for it but I’m not a SB guy.

Lightly smoked soft boiled chicken egg, American Sturgeon caviar, onion soubise, mini potato chips
One of the best dishes of the night, I didn’t detect much smoke in the egg but it was cooked perfectly, the yolk oozed out and was covered with the black caviar. (Which was surprisingly good) The onion soubise just tied everything together. Man, the soubise was good! I watched him make it and mounted it with a shit load of butter. (Not a bad thing in my book) Oh, and the potato chips added the texture, an integral part of the concept. Simply excellent!
A kick ass New Zealand Chardonnay

Lychee gelee (jelly), shredded torchon of foie gras and pine nut brittle.
A sleeper. The pretty bowls couldn’t disguise this unattractive but delicious dish. At first I had my doubts but once you combined the three ingredients it was excellent. The rich buttery foie with the cool sweet jelly and then the crunch and sweet pop from the brittle. Yeah, it was good.
A sweet German, A Riesling I think.

Soft shell crab, fresh heart of palm, celery, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning.
Nice balance in this dish. I loved the straight forward approach. It hit damn near every taste bud in the mouth. I watched as middle guy thinly sliced the palm heart but unfortunately they prepped the celery ahead of time. It was sliced super thin the length of the stalk. Mandolin my guess. Both were tossed simply with fresh lemon and a lttle Old Bay. Beautiful crisp salad served beneath the crab. My only problem was with the texture of the crab. They sautéed the crab but they use the technique of tilting the pan at a 45 degree and cascading the hot oil over the crab collecting in the bottom of the pan and repeating rapidly. I think it doesn’t get the crab as crisp as a traditional sauté but that might just be me.
An excellent sake

Fried boneless Short ribs, grilled ramps, spring “alum”(?) and veal reduction.
They sous vided the short ribs for 48 hours and then chilled them. At service they take an 8 ounce chunk and throw it into the deep fryer for about four minutes. Then they slice it serve it with the ramps and a funky green sauce (Spring alum?) and nap some veal reduction over the top. Woah! It may have been the best tasting beef I’ve ever had. Incredibly flavorful and tender as hell and still medium rare to medium. Man, it was good.
A very nice Zinfandel.

Cream cheese encased guava sorbet.
I’ll be borrowing this one. They wrapped the excellent sorbet in cream cheese. It was a great look and a nice contrast.
A sweet white

Poppy seed ice cream with lemon curd.
As I said before I’m not a poppy seed fan. I will admit it was interesting paired up with the lemon curd. Again a nice contrast.
A sherry I think.

All in all an excellent dinner. Also a rare chance to see into one of the hottest kitchens in America. I wish the cooks would have been more approachable but I admit I’m a little jealous of the fact that they don’t have to talk if they don’t want to. Kinda like “don’t poke the monkeys in the cage”. I felt the value was good as well. Essentially 10 courses for $100. The wine pairing was $85 and excellent. I love the fact that it’s casual. I also like Chang’s straight forward style. I love the atmosphere and will try and return. If I do I’m going to be poking the monkeys.

There is no doubt that it’s a chef’s restaurant.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New York Dining

I happen to be making a short trip to NY this weekend. The big dilemma was what restaurant to go to. I also would be dining solo which limits my choices. I don't want to be sitting in some stuffy dining room staring at the ceiling. Thankfully a guy I know out there told me about Momofuko Ko. It may be the hottest restaurant in the country right now. It already was sizzling when it got the James Beard BEST NEW RESTAURANT award this week. If it's not the hottest restaurant right now it's definitely the hardest to get into. It only seats 14. All the guests sit at "the bar" which surrounds the open kitchen. As one reporter noted,"you can see the beads of sweat on the cooks foreheads". You can't call them, you can only make reservations online and only a week in advance and only if you register with a credit card. If you don't show it will cost you $150.00. Reservations for 1,2 or 4 only. The race for reservations starts promptly at 10:00 am every morning. By 10:00.01 the reservations are gone. If you delay hitting that key for a milisecond you are out of luck.

I scored a reservation this weekend. I think years of PC gaming has finally paid off. It is going to be an interesting experience.

I'm sure I'll have plenty to say when I get back. If I'm lucky I'll get some good photos as well. (They don't allow them in "Ko")