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gfron1

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Posts posted by gfron1


  1. 46 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

    Likely the white chocolate put in behind was not warm enough.

    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.


  2. 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.

    SpoonLicker.thumb.jpg.4a49f36652f559f28a67a8255393becf.jpg

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  3. 4 hours ago, heidih said:

    So Hazel's  reply:   I'm a bit nonplussed.  What does he mean by a food archive?  If it were some special collection of documents in their library system, I would suggest he search https://library.harvard.edu.  Otherwise, I would see where the leads he already has take him.

    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.

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  4. 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

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  5. On 1/5/2020 at 9:42 PM, Chris Hennes said:

    If the recipe was really from the 1830s it can't have been baking powder: the first baking-powder-like product didn't come around until 1843, and it wasn't really widely available until the mid-1850s. See this interesting Smithsonian Magazine article for details. @gfron1, how confident are you in the date on that recipe?

    Very confident - it was in one of the dated family journals that we regularly reference.


  6. 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!

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  7. On 12/3/2019 at 3:55 PM, Jim D. said:

     

    I am not sure, but I think @gfron1 posted on the subject of matcha (perhaps in this thread) saying that he had found the amount that would be palatable (maybe "tolerable" is a better word).

    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.


  8. 3 hours ago, teonzo said:

    You should see this person as a potential powerful ally, not as an enemy, even if you are right and he/she is wrong. His/her comment should be read like "I'm following every single detail of what you are doing because I REALLY CARE, you made this minor slip and I wanted to take the time to make you notice it". If this is his/her only complaint then it means that everything else is perfect even after being scrutinized with a magnifying glass, so you should be proud of it. And you should try to become friend with him/her: if he/she took the time to write you for such a minor detail, then if you befriend him/her he/she is going to be a living advertiser of your restaurant (for free), which is always the best form of advertising for every business.

    I got there this morning already. If they're willing to engage I can participate with them like I do my other contacts. 

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  9. 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.

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  10. 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:

    Quote

     

    You focus on the Missouri Historical Society database and libraries and I focus back on Little Rock. For both of us we're looking for...
    1. Not printed books unless they are issued pre-1870 and document livestock breeds, produce/grapes varietals or any information on indigenous or enslaved peoples.
    2. Counties. The researcher I talked to with MO Historical Society said that our best bet would be to look up by town or county, versus Ozarks as a search term. So for you I would focus on the attached map. That is not fully inclusive of the Ozarks but we need to limit ourselves if we're going to keep this manageable. Further I would really focus in on the counties including and below Shannon and Green Counties. I know there's a lot of heritage work around those areas. Remember that searching by towns/cities in those counties may net results too.
    3. Topics. We are most interested in these terms (and I'm sure you can think of other synonyms) - food, cooking, farming, hunting, agriculture, trading, indians, native americans, slaves, recipes, seeds, crops, heirloom, preservation, pickling, plantations. Based on my experience those words won't get you far, but they are ultimately what we're looking for. My experience says that if you can find a hand written letter from any of those counties, pre-1870 they will be short enough that you can read to scan for these terms (which likely will have not been coded for the database). The older the better because those are the folks who are writing back home to tell people what they're growing and trading. It might be worth asking just about plantations to see which ones existed and if they have any written documents.
     
    That's probably all the guidance I have because my best luck was just having them pull boxes off the shelf and me reading through very quickly for anything related to food and drink. As you have now seen, sometimes it's just one word or a very brief mention. Rarely is it a complete explanation or description. But those brief snippets are enough for us to work with. My other hope - if you decide you want to stick with this - and we continue to think about a potential book, is to start allowing your mind to develop higher level categorizations. My dissertation was completely qualitative, and that involved transcribing and reading thousands of pages of notes. In the process my mind would start to recognize patterns and topics which ultimately became the format and narrative path of my dissertation. You don't need to know how to do this because your brain will do it for you as it subconsciously unclutters your thoughts.

     

    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!

     

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  11. On 9/3/2019 at 4:30 PM, Desiderio said:

    Old post, but I was wondering if you could share what model did you get. I am still with my little Badger, which has been getting super hot lately and yesterday while I was using it, was spaying moisture (I wasn't using the bottle with colored CB, but just the air from the top portion of the bottom fed mini gun), so I am not sure whats the deal with that. Michigan is humid and my new kitchen doesn't have an ac vent and it gets warm and super humid. Also I have noticed your gradient are pretty smooth, of course due to user skill, but I wondering what do you use for airbrush. Again, I am super behind on all matter of chocolate and colors right now. Trying to catch up 😛

    Thank you!

    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

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  12. 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).

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  13. 16 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

    That reads to me like a politely stated "I'm not a dessert guy". I have no idea if that's the case or not, just has that feel to it. If it is the case, nothing's gonna make him be a dessert guy. But if you're not a dessert guy, why include the dessert as part of your review? A restaurant has no control over whether or not a person is into dessert, they're just serving you what you ordered (the tasting menu in this case, which includes dessert). Or maybe I'm just overly touchy on that subject because desserts are what I really enjoy doing and I got a bit fed-up with the dessert backlash thing where everybody was suddenly too cool for cake and ice cream and complained about silly things like "well the candy was delicious but it was sweet". :D

    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.

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