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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by gfron1

  1. To answer your first question, and pull in Jim and Kerry's comment - it doesn't really matter how you do it - just as long as the mold is truly clean. I believe an impeccably clean micro fiber can do the same as cotton and alcohol. And Jen Caldwell is correct...if I could have perfect temper and scraping skills as her I would likely not need to ever clean my molds...but alas. I store my molds stacked vertically on a shelf. Not wrapped nor covered. Just vertical. I'm in a clean commercial kitchen though so our dust level is low since we're in constant clean mode. My heart molds that only get used once a year get wrapped in cling film between seasons. And I've used both alcohols. They dissipate regardless. This picture is a good example of what I"m talking about. This is from my work in the Andrey class. Look at the variation between the different colors (and hence the molds and their cleanliness). In my last Coppel class she had us all clean molds. When she got to the ones I cleaned she held them up and said, "Oh, we missed this one." I hadn't missed it. Now, it could just be how bad my eyes have gotten since I turned 50, or I often blame my big fingers for making it difficult to get into the mold to give it a really good shine, but it made it clear that what I thought was clean, wasn't. And that was with the molds in her shop, not my shop (worth considering when we think about Jen's technique.) So, I look at it this way - the alcohol and cotton is about doing the crude work of removing cocoa butter. The micro is about finishing the job. In this picture I only cleaned the red mold well...the rest would pass by my old standards, but not anymore.
  2. Great job and great summary of all the tips posted here for so many years! My two comments. First, I agree with Kerry that I never heat before backing off, and I keep my room colder than most in this forum so I don't feel it is a necessary step. Second, i'm not sure you were crystal clear on your polishing. I used to use cosmetic pads, and at Melissa Coppel's suggestion, went back to cotton balls. I use two balls at a time and do at most three cavities with them, flipping it over at some point. Melissa corrected me here too on my last workshop saying that if you keep using the same cotton then you're just moving the cocoa butter from one cavity to the next. She says one ball per cavity...I'm too cheap for that, and I'm not the top chocolatier in the world. I'm not sure why you prefer vodka over alcohol, but I use alcohol only. I think with those two tips you'll see your shine become perfect on the next round. FWIW, after I do the alcohol thing I do one final rub down with THESE fluffy microfibers that I keep fastidiously clean (no fabric softener).
  3. You better! I served a whole round of menu based on our conversation during sorghum season!
  4. Yes, whenever this happens to me its for this reason, in combination with my room being a touch too cold. When I re-warm the chocolate to the high end of the range everything comes out fine.
  5. Interesting. I thought, at first, that you had linked the wrong article 🤣
  6. Well...that slow restaurant month of January wasn't slow and it's gone and February is looking packed. This morning I have a rare quiet morning to think and evolve some dishes (much needed). Tapped my maple trees on Friday and will gather my buckets on Monday to start the boil down. HERE'S a local NPR interview I did where I chatted about the indigenous peoples and the enslaved of the Ozarks. And HERE'S a fun podcast I did talking about zero waste in our kitchen. On my recent trip to Portland to see my spouse on the other side of the country - I drove seven days - and had time for the first time in my life for focused podcast time (let's here it for the amazing Dolly Parton's America podcast...amazing!), came back planning to do my own with a couple of friends who will be perfect muses to banter about socio cultural issues of the Ozarks, framed within Ozark history, and capped with a bit of cooking and recipes. Stay tuned...why can't I just let myself rest?! Spoon Licker #1: Rutabaga milk jam with acorn juniper crumble.
  7. This response doesn't surprise me. We hear something similar all the time, and in part, its because no one has done quite what we're doing. I think for my intern, I'm hoping to help him craft a more powerful week than just some time in a library. I really want to make some connections with faculty and staff that might have a more lasting impact.
  8. One of my restaurant's history interns was awarded a grant to study at Harvard during his spring break in February. He has a few leads for their food archive, but I'm wondering with the expertise and breadth of knowledge here if anyone knows of any professors or other resources that he could reach out/plan for on his visit. So much to share with my friends here...so little time...but I will as I'm able in the Bulrush thread
  9. Very confident - it was in one of the dated family journals that we regularly reference.
  10. Right now we're in the midst of all of the end of year lists. It's so clear to me now how much folly it is to make these lists. When we're on top, of course, I think the writer is spot on. And when we're second, (or worse, grouped with all of the other non-firsts) naturally I cant believe the writer is so off the mark. How do you compare an intellectually compelling fine dining tasting menu to an upscale neighborhood joint or an Asian fusion fast casual? You can't, but they do. Anyway, it's the business. So that was all going down while you visited and posted your comments above. And I can't tell you how much I appreciated the return visit - like seriously, anyone with any amount of time on eG knows that this restaurant and my last are intricately tied to the eG community. So, to a few of your comments: •From day 1 I've argued that food should drive the experience and not the description of the food. Increasingly I'm feeling like that was a poor decision. I may even try doing expanded menus for the rest of the year. There's not a dish on this list that doesn't involve koji or various forms of fermentation, alongside the vast local sourcing that we're doing. Not that it's about getting credit, but reading all of the end of year lists, and seeing your descriptions, I think I need to offer more details. •That Turd course continued to evolve. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's version. I finally removed the autumn olive which had been the driver, because it's just too challenging to work with. I'll find a new home for it where it's not the lead, but the follow. •The bok choy was a pickled julienne atop the oxtail. I'm hesitant to add anymore or it'll take the richness:acid ratio off, but it was there. •And thanks for your comment on the dessert. I think you forgot the essence of wet earth It's ridiculous but it smells so good!
  11. I don't remember what I said anymore other than that you need to be sure to get the right one. There's drinking match and cooking matcha.
  12. Here's our most recent coolness. A bankruptcy proceeding from 1831 showing the liquor inventory of a bar AND a loan proceeding for a seed store from 1842 that lists all of the seed varietals from that period! Found at the Recorder of Deeds Office, Archive Division. In other news...and related...we're getting a second intern from St Louis University's History program to help us out.
  13. I use tongs, toss in cardboard box that I can shake them in, then hit them with a blow torch to burn the stickers.
  14. I can't believe how cool our project is getting! This is a document my history intern found last weekend. Today I attended an archivist association meeting and was told that the Recorder of Deeds for St Louis had a bankruptcy proceeding from a seed store in 1837 that lists the inventory including 10 pages of seed with specific varietals listed. I get it next week!
  15. I have gone through about 4 gallons since we opened...so ideally your source can do bulk. I would take as much as you can bring me.
  16. I got there this morning already. If they're willing to engage I can participate with them like I do my other contacts.
  17. gfron1


    I don't serve it but it is very authentic to what I do. The folk wisdom is to boil 2 or 3 times with no lid; boil, rinse, repeat. I don't bother because there are plenty of other greens to make for people not to like. As for confusing with elderberries...not even in the same ballpark nor season. Study the shape of the berry clusters to make ID easy. And then realize that elderberries came and went back in July and here we are in September... If in doubt, throw it out. Everything is edible ONCE.
  18. Alright...where to begin?! (or continue) After the last review we got our others: Sauce magazine - a local food publication Riverfront Times - alt weekly with critical reviewer and over the weekend we were named the best new restaurant (Best in Class) in St Louis magazine's biannual listing...essentially the best of the past two years! That's not digital yet, just print until next week. Each review had a little tidbit or two of Midwest Nice critique, and we've responded to each, as we felt each had a kernel of truth. To Ian's review mentioned last time I posted - we've significantly upped the anty on the dessert construction. Now, I still don't know if he was criticizing or just using the adjective "haute," but it I view that term as an insult to my food so we remedied it. Sauce mentioned our lack of Missouri wines. Well, show me one that works with my food and I'll serve it, but in the meantime we found this amazing little off-the-beaten-path meadery in the Ozarks that has some dry meads, and now we're the only restaurant in the state serving it. And RFT suggested that the price was too high for many people from the Ozarks (I know her well enough that I didn't read that as a serious criticism), so we are now offering a Bit Of Both Worlds experience where you can get both food from the bar and tasting menu, with drinks for a fraction of the price. I feel like our food just continues to mature as our larder matures. And we're able to gauge crowd response to the food and adjust. One of the things I'm most happy with is that my sous, Justin, seems to finally be walking the same path as me. His food has always been stellar, but much more traditional. His last few new courses get at things that are important to me but not as easily teachable - whimsy, surprise, completeness of textures, cravability. He's currently featuring cabbage - sassafras butter sous vide cabbage wedge, finished on the grill for a good char crust; sauerkraut cream, pickled apple spheres, parsley oil and crisped ham hock bits. Who knew you could be blown away by cabbage...and this coming from a guy who would be happy to have stuffed cabbage rolls on his death bed. We're still struggling to get customers to eat at the bar. The media just wants to focus on the sexy aspect of the tasting menu. So now I'm focusing all of my media efforts on the bar. Just this morning we were on our local CBS morning news show. Next Monday we're on our local Fox channel. We've been working on gathering our farmers for next year. The goal is to grow historic crops that have been lost to time and productivity/fashion that we've found in our research. I have over a dozen farms just waiting for us to tell them what seeds to get. I the same light, we got a new history intern from St Louis University. He's been going back and transcribing all of the documents that my research uncovered, and coding them. Now he's starting to do new research based on key words i've provided him. Here's what I sent him: So it's exciting to me to get back at the research angle. Just today I got an angry email that we are satan incarnate because we're serving walleye...well, let me just show you the message: I was excited to here about the concept of your restaurant on Great Day St Louis, until I saw you was serving walleye. Walleye has never been in the water of the Ozarks. Walleye is Native to deep water lakes in northern US and in Canada. There are no waters in the Ozarks that are deep and cold enough for walleye. A fish commonly found in the Ozarks is goggleeye. Pronounced gag-ga-lie. So now I am disappointed. I think you are misleading people. You need to do more research. My family had lived in the Ozarks since 1820 so I am well aware of Ozark Native cuisine, plants and animals [sic] to which I responded: Thanks for the info. When we make claims such as that, it is always based in some form of research. And while our research is constantly happening (ie, we are regularly updating our info), I'm curious how you square your experience with the MDC: https://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/2014/02/show-me-walleye This article, was in fact, our source for this decision. Early on we were doing pond fish, but obviously that wasn't sustainable for a restaurant, whereas walleye gave us more bang for the buck. As I stated on the web portion of the show, for legal reasons we source our walleye from a distributor who gets it up north. But if we are incorrect about them being native, please help me understand what I am missing in our research. The only thing I can think of is that you are stating that they are native to northern Missouri. Let me know. And I do want to state clearly - we don't expect to be perfect in every choice we make. We're doing our best. We do have some legal restrictions like where we can get our meats from. And my family's experiences and many of my sources may not jive with yours. But we are working our butts off to continue to gather info both from books and individuals' families with long histories in the Ozarks. We're trying to do this right and we're a very small restaurant, so this has never been about getting rich. We rely on folks to feed us info and correct us, so my response to you is sincere - if we are wrong, we need to know it so we can fix it. (sorry I can't fix the formatting now...) @kayb My sorghum farmer had a bust year because of the flooding. All he's getting is vinegar. If you know of anyone I've been planning to do your family tradition for fresh sorghum...but I gotta find some first and they're all pressing right now! In personal news, my spouse, Tyler, accepted a job in Portland OR as Conference Minister of the United Church of Christ - sorta the equivalent of a bishop. Yes this sucks that after 19 years together we'll be doing the long distance thing, but it's unavoidable right now. I keep reminding him that if I could live at my restaurant I would. There simply are not enough hours in the day...and I've always been a workaholic. Gonna stop there because I have an Imo's pizza on my table now and while the rest of the world hates St Louis style pizza...it's like milk from my momma's bossom!
  19. Hey everyone...i'm alive, and i'm forcing myself to take a day off so I can finally share more with you all later. It's been a fast and hard 6 months!
  20. Bought on Amazon: California Air Tools CAT-4620AC Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 2.0 hp 4.0 gallon Aluminum Twin Tank Electric Portable Air Compressor, Silver
  21. I don't know if he gets the concept or not because he's also limited by word count and we're a pretty concept dense restaurant. BTW, thanks to the feedback from the eG group we modified our portions including downsizing the entree (@ChrisHennes) and making the dessert more delicate and plated. As a result we added a course, but it was too much food so we dropped another (the peach and chanterelle pate which just wasn't clicking withe guests).
  22. I've gotten to know Ian fairly well over the past three years. He is not big on desserts, nor carbs, and it's clear from his reviews he is impressed by fussy service, which we very consciously do not do. One of our goals is to define what service and restaurant experiences should look like in 2019, which to my way of thinking does not include servers hovering around my table refilling water after every sip. He, like others, is having a hard time defining or understanding our big picture efforts.
  23. And we aren't done yet for the day - HERE'S a story that released today on Vice.com
  24. Our big local review is OUT I love that my staff's response was to immediately start dissecting the review and our operations to figure out what we need to do to be a 4 star restaurant.
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