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REPORT: Chili Fest Plus! Silver City/Hatch

47 posts in this topic

I'm getting the topic kicked off although my time so far has been spent in the kitchen so I have experienced much of the weekend. Chris Hennes and Misstenacity showed up almost at the same time last night. I scurried them off to the tamale/tortilla workshop while I kept prepping for the tasting dinner tonight. I heard many pics were taken so I'll let them talk about the workshop. They'll be off for the Chile Fest in just a bit. Many, many more details to com.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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I scurried them off to the tamale/tortilla workshop while I kept prepping for the tasting dinner tonight.  I heard many pics were taken so I'll let them talk about the workshop.  They'll be off for the Chile Fest in just a bit.  Many, many more details to com.

Chris did take quite a few photos while explaining that he was no match for the tamale prepping. I made a good dozen and all of them were corrected in varying degrees by Consuelo. :-)

The food was amazing - we were warned that it could be just our fresh tortillas and beans since the tamales of course needed steaming. however, Consuelo had made a bunch ahead of time, plus there was guacamole, chorizo and sauce for the tortillas to make Sonora-style enchiladas . . . and margaritas with tangy potency from Tyler.

Needless to say there really wasn't a good reason to have had gelato before the workshop, but I did anyway, since Alotta Gelato is better than the inferior stuff in Albuquerque.

On the way back from Hatch to see the Silver City gem/mineral show and cool our heels before gfron's big "show" tonight. Oh, and I've barely eaten so far today. *grin*


"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

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Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

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Quick update before I head off to get into slightly nicer duds for dinner.

We stopped in Hatch yesterday for the World's. Best. Bowl. Of. Green.

This was at B & E Burritos, a teeny dive of a joint, and the only scenery you need is this:

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....and then later we had to have some gelato, at Alotta Gelato.

Choc-coconut + chocolate:

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Pistachio (the BEST):

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More later.... :-)


"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

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Wow that was a quick stay. After downpours this AM and a killer diner breakfast (killer in the sense of "families and grandmas" atmosphere rather than the food), we're about to head northward, this time towards Reserve for about 60 extra miles and some different scenery than I-25.

I have a sack full of tamales and treats from another eGulleteer, and a red chile brownie from the festival yesterday - yum!

:-)

Dinner photos from last night will wait a little.... sorry.


"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

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I am having huge pangs of envy. I feel I am missing a fantastic adventure.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Talk about teases! I'm just waiting to throw my head on a pillow again! What a fast weekend. I have absolutely NO PICTURES! So when Andrea and Chris get home, they'll have to do that work and I'll post my details. It really was a great weekend. Andiesenji's snacks (the ones that Andrea referred to) were wonderful. Since I never had time to sit for a full meal, I lived on her pistachio balls and candied ginger yesterday. I would love to have find out more about the balls - I just know that I can fit 5 in mouth comfortably.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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Let there be tamales!

(aka Silver City, night one)

We convened on the neighborhood home of Consuelo and Tom, high on a hill and lovely in decor. Immediately the prep work was beginning, even as Tyler arrived with margaritas in a pitcher and no limes, which Tom was dispatched to retrieve. Even with that addition they were rather strong cocktails - again I was reminded that I'm a cheap date. :blink:

First, the knowledgable Consuelo preps her kitchen island:

gallery_12424_6190_71779.jpg

Next, we all try our hand at patting the masa into place, after some tips from the master (click link for youtube video):

Hilarity ensues as some of us really aren't that good at all (me, a few others I won't name) as well as those of us who learn quickly (Tyler) all crank out several specimens - each one of which is "adjusted" in some way by Consuelo. Even the one from Tyler she said was "perfect!" :biggrin:

So that we wouldn't starve (ha), the steamer was opened up to reveal already-made tamales just finishing their cooking:

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A quick demo of making corn tortillas followed (no pics), and those were assembled into Sonora style enchiladas with chorizo, beef, tomato sauce, and cheese:

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Our completed tamales and their filling sat waiting to be frozen for later cooking by us as well as many of Consuelo's neighbors and friends:

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Enormous bowl of guac ready for fresh tortillas and chips:

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Pile o' tamales:

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Hot steamy tamal-on-tamal action:

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Lonely and blurry tamal on my plate:

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Consuelo enjoys a hard-earned stiff margarita and husband Tom chows down:

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In attendance were Chris and Karen, myself and Dave (who arrived later), Consuelo and Tom, Tyler (no gfron as he as cooking) and two other ladies whose names I've already rudely forgotten.

The highlights were Consuelo's constant wisecracking - she's quite a sparky woman, the really great tamales with rich pork filling and very thin masa (even though I do like a lot of masa these were still great), and the ancho-parmesan flavored corn tortillas hot off the dry griddle.

Afterwards we all toddled off for a nights' rest before the chile fest in the morning.


"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

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After misstenacity's report I don't have much to add except to echo her comments, so I'll just add a few photos onto the pile before we move on the reporting on the Chile Festival in Hatch the following day and the wonderful dinner that followed.

Consuelo uses the Morrell lard, but says that freshly rendered would be even better. She also reconstitutes the masa using the heavily-seasoned pork-cooking liquid, rather than just water. The masa harina she uses is the regular kind, not the one labeled "for tamales" and she makes it much softer for tamales than for tortillas.

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I'm a sucker for avocados, so I feel obliged to include the guacamole prep:

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Consuelo showing the appropriate amount of filling:

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And the proper folding technique:

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Just can't get enough of that "hot tamal-on-tamal action"? Here ya' go:

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I now have enough tamales in my freezer to feed me for the rest of the week!


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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The next morning we got up and drove two hours to Hatch, NM, the self-proclaimed "Chile Capitol of the World!" :

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The main event was held at the local airport just outside of town (and was apparently sponsored by Bud :smile: ):

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Despite the overcast weather (it's monsoon season in NM), plenty of people showed up for the festivities:

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They were coming to see these beauties:

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...and maybe some of these...

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There were people around making more:

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And some dried powder available as well:

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But of course the real highlight of the festival is hiding in these bags:

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One of the greatest smells ever invented, roasting green chiles:

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All to get one of these:

gallery_56799_6196_4179.jpg


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Nice shootin', there, Chris!

Obviously having a killer camera helps a little bit with the low light photos (I'm using a 7MP point-and-shoot with a maximum "lens width" of 38mm) - my dinner photos are going to be horribly dark, so I might wait to see what comes out of Chris's batch.


"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

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Lovely photos guys. Makes me hungry (sic) for more!


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Nice shootin', there, Chris!

Obviously having a killer camera helps a little bit with the low light photos (I'm using a 7MP point-and-shoot with a maximum "lens width" of 38mm) - my dinner photos are going to be horribly dark, so I might wait to see what comes out of Chris's batch.

I wish I could take credit, but almost all the photos from the tamale workshop were taken by my wife while I carefully "studied" Tyler's margaritas :smile:. This batch is from me being a pest at dinner, however, harassing the other guests with constant flash photography. The sacrifices I make!! :biggrin:

I'll start out with the main set of photos of the food itself so you can get a sense of the food, and move on to the "action shots" in another post (there were a couple courses that were a bit complicated!!). I'll also let gfron1 do the talking about the food, just giving the titles he gave each course here.

First, the menu that was at each seat (18 in total):

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Course 1: Pixie Stix

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Course 2: Pan de Vida

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Course 3: Roasted Corn

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Course 4: Sushi Nofishi

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Course 5: Tuna Tempura

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Course 6: English Channel

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Course 7: Bison Under Pressure

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Course 8: Summer Fruit

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Course 9: Curso Queso

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Course 10: Tooty Fruity

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Course 11: Tamal Dulce

gallery_56799_6196_10679.jpg

Course 12: Margaritas

gallery_56799_6196_68815.jpg


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Action Shots:

Course 1: Pixie Sticks

gallery_56799_6196_102570.jpg

Rob had a syringe full of gelatin-clarified green chile essence that he added to the glass before we drank them.

Course 4: Sushi Nofishi

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There was a green chile "caviar" added right before service.

Course 5: Tuna Tempura

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From a diner's perspective this was the most complicated dish: the presentation involved lighting a piece of chile on fire at the table, then covering it with what looked like a hurricane lamp glass. The smoke from the chile wafted up and scented the "tuna" tempura, which was placed across the opening to the glass.


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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My comments:

gallery_56799_6196_59173.jpg

This menu was inspired by Hatch Green Chiles. I didn't want to beat folks over the head with HGCs but I wanted the food to play off of the experience of the morning at the festival. As much as was possible, I wanted to source my products locally. Here we go...

Course 1: Pixie Stix

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Let's just start it off with straight HGC! I gelatin clarified roasted HGC, eye dropped it into tart Granny Smith juice and a sprinkle of wasabi. This was served in a long tube that reminded me of those Jumbo Pixie Stix when I was a kid - you know, the ones where we ate 2 cups of flavored sugar in one fell swoop.

Course 2: Pan de Vida

gallery_56799_6196_103946.jpg

Chronicled HERE, this is my sourdough shaped into chiles. I've had such amazing success with this sourdough and I owe much of it to hummingbirdkiss. This was the first time I made a small bread out of it, normally making batards.

Course 3: Roasted Corn

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This was the course I was most looking forward to making. A piñon tuile with a roasted sweet corn panna cotta served with fresh garden tomatoes and a piñon horchata soup.

Course 4: Sushi Nofishi

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I pureed HCGs, added a bit of egg white and corn syrup, spread them on a silpat and slow baked at 175F until dry. I then cut them into nori squares, added hitomobore rice, fresh mango and some sodium alginate HGC caviar from my gelatin clarified batch. It would have been more visually stunning if I had used my non-clarified chile.

Course 5: Tuna Tempura

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I'm starting to have fun now! I wanted folks to expect the fish tuna, but instead I took prickly pear tuna (which I had been playing with HERE). I seeded them, stuffed them with chuchupate, an indigenous herb infused into local honey, white chocolate and topped with blueberries. I tempura battered and fried them. They were served on top of an oil lamp chimney, which had an Everclear soaked square of green chile at its base. The burning chile gave a brief, but dramatic moment, but what I really wanted was that whisp of roasting chile. HERE'S my experimentation with fire.

Course 6: English Channel

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I had many failed trials HERE. I ended up with beet soaked tapioca pearls flavored with rice vinegar and soy sauce (ala TheSwede), set over a soft poached Guinea Fowl egg and a bit of gold leaf for good measure.

Course 7: Bison Under Pressure

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This is the only course where I felt out of my element and it showed in the results. Sous vide bison tenderloin pan seared to finish with a molè verde, homemade ravioli with pancetta, parmesan and piñon, a light limoncello butter sauce, and a smear of morel infused ganache. The ravioli was the only self-anointed disaster of the night.

Course 8: Summer Fruit

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I roasted some of my garden tomatoes, skinned, pureed, seasoned, gelified every so slightly. I served it with 25-year balsamic (guests said it was lost in the overall dish) and powdered basil oil.

Course 9: Curso Queso

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Whiskey cheddar fondue with fried cornbread and microgreens. Just a transition course.

Course 10: Tooty Fruity

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Hungarian sour cherry stuffed bao/bun served with lemon chantilly soup and sour cherry geleé cubes. I was afraid that this might be too bulky at this point in the meal, but none came back, so then I was worried that it wasn't enough food...so...

Course 11: Tamal Dulce

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I re-created my dish from the Iron Baker Challenge and made the orange infused masa tamale with mincemeat filling, pan seared to finish, served with sage/agave ice cream (very melted in this pic).

Course 12: Margaritas

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A little after dinner drink. I had been chatting incessantly with Kerry Beal on this since I had never made a pate de fruit. In the end it was exactly the finish to the meal that I wanted. Margarita pate rolled in sugar, salt and lime zest.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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Stunning!


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Stunning!

I think you'll recognize these next few shots :smile:. andiesenji could not join us in person, but she managed to be with us just the same, by sending along these delights ---

gallery_56799_6196_60517.jpg

gallery_56799_6196_104576.jpg

gallery_56799_6196_26719.jpg


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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The ginger was my breakfast today and the pistachio balls were my lunch on the trail - very addictive!

I'm happy they are being enjoyed.

In cooler weather, as around the holidays, they can be dipped in chocolate!

I can't have chocolate but I have friends who enjoy it.

My version of the "energy bar" in bite-size portions.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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That's awesome Rob. I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time, I even have several fully developed menus filed away, but I never seem to get around to it. Time at the restaurant, catering jobs, keeping up with my cycling, mountain biking and running (more like walking right now, dealing with a nasty bout of plantar fasciitist), conflicting schedules of potential guests, etc... cop-outs, excuses and justifications, oh my. Anyway, everything looks great and I don't doubt it tasted at least as great as it looks. That roasted corn dish is a work of art and the many creative ways you used the chile is really cool. This is inspiring, maybe I'll get off my arse and do something one of these days.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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And now you can see why I really wanted to consult with you - many techniques and flavor combinations that are right down your alley. Unfortunately, I just couldn't make the time to send you enough info to get the help.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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The roasted corn dish and the cornbread fondue were my favorites. I know the cornbread was a toss-off in-between course, but the cheese you chose was so wonderful that I can't help but list it as one of the best of the evening. Hard to go wrong with a good sharp cheddar, in my opinion. And the tomatoes you used with the roasted corn were so perfectly ripe and fresh that they really did remind me that the tomato is really a fruit. I've never experienced tomatoes used in a so nearly sweet manner, and they were wonderful. And the tuile was perfect. And pretty cute, to boot :smile:.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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It turns out I do have a few pics. Here is my prep on the green chile nori.

First I juiced one pound of roasted, skinned chiles:

gallery_41282_4708_23183.jpg

Added one egg white and a T of corn syrup (for flexibility), spread on my silpat as evenly as I could without leaving holes:

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And the final result:

gallery_41282_4708_49454.jpg

Very flexible, and mostly stable green chile nori. I thought it was beautiful.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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Here's my pate de fruit margarita mis en place:

gallery_41282_4708_8174.jpg

Minutes before I ran out the door from my cafe kitchen to the site (10 miles away), here are my stuffs - everything got numbered by course and labeled so I would have no confusion during service, especially with all of the tubs of juices and clarified juices...they started looking the same. You can also see at the top of the poster paper that I only had one course that I was still drawing out (earlier drafts had everything drawn) - that was the Tuna Tempura. That course really stumped me as to how to get the flame from the kitchen to the table. I ultimately trusted the knowledge of the group with my star servers - John, Mike and Cathy, and my sous, Alysha (all were rock stars that night!). They decided to light the flame at the table and have all servers work one table together for that specific course.

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And finally, did I mention that I had a cater for 240 wild strawberry macarons for the same night. Only about 60% were this pretty. The rest weren't...had to give a discount.

gallery_41282_4708_12648.jpg


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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      Chorizo, mozzarella and cherry tomato with a balsamic reduction, and crostini with stracchino and saltwater pearls.  The chorizo and both cheeses were - again - made at Pen-y-bryn.
       
      After a suitable interval we repaired to the dining room:
       

       
      James offered a short but thoughtful wine list, and we went with this:
       

       
      When one is in Otago, one must drink Otago, don't you think?  It was a good choice; warm and fruity and a good match for what followed.
       
      First, cocoa-nib rubbed North Otago venison carpaccio, served with confit cherry tomatoes, sumac-sesame-pinenut soil and balsamic caviar:
       

       
      This was a beautiful dish in every way.  Although our first meeting on eG was in the chamber sealer topic, I hadn't been aware quite how modernist James's cooking was (he told me later he likes to include modernist elements, but may dial it back depending on his audience.  He didn't have to hold back with us).  Ashley was able to chat happily about maltodextrin and spherification - I flatter myself she enjoyed having people there who knew what she was talking about!  But as the eG modernist community knows, it's not all about appearance; the food has to taste good.  And this certainly did.  If you're wondering, the white thing is a coconut sphere.
       
      Then, after a lovely mixed fruit sorbet with triple sec, the main course.  Sous vide confit Canterbury duck leg with crumbed quenelle of pommes sarladais, sorrel gel, baby bok choy and haricots verts, and port wine sauce.  And look at the plate:
       

       
      This was another lovely dish.  The duck was just as tender as you'd hope, with just the lightest crisping of the skin.  The potato quenelle was possibly the best of its type I've had, and the dots of sorrel gel provided a nice bitter note.
       
      We had to finish eventually and it was in fine style, with passionfruit-lemon tart with crème Chantilly and vanilla-poached tamarillos (the photo was taken before the tamarillos went on):
          Again, delicious.  A shortcake-style base with delicious thick cream, complemented beautifully by the berry (I think) sauce and tamarillos.   After this it only remained to return to beside the fire in the drawing room to join some new friends we'd made on this trip.  A very lovely evening.   I can thoroughly recommend Pen-y-bryn for a luxury stay if you get to this part of the world.  I have only one criticism - it's completely ruined me for staying anywhere else.  Thanks, guys.  We'll be back.
    • By Kerry Beal
      And so it begins...
       
      I arrived in Las Vegas at 10:30 or so this morning, picked up my rental car and hastened over the the Tuscany Suites to meet up with Chocolot.  After a brief cruise through all the loot that she had accumulated for the workshop we headed out to do a few errands.  We checked in with Melissa and Jean Marie to check that all was well for later in the week and to enjoy a little look around the facility.  I also had to deliver several bottles of wonderful looking paté that Alleguede had made for Jean Marie (I kept one bottle here for snacking purposes this week).  There was serious drooling going on over all the equipment they have available for us to play with.
       
      What was to be a quick stop at Chef Rubber took a little longer than expected - there is a lot to look at there!  And to buy!
       
      We investigated a couple of thrift stores - notably the Habitat for Humanity Reuse to grab a couple of items that will show their usefulness later this week.
       
      And for dinner we hit Lotus of Siam.  We know that we are going back there this week - but it is a place I've wanted to check out since FG wrote about it a few years ago.  And you can never eat too much Thai can you?
       

       
      Jasmine tea for me.  
       

       
      Chicken larb.
       

       

       
      Khao soi - noodles with a red thai sauce.  And the condiments to go with them - some sort of pickled green (perhaps mustard), onion and of course lime.  
       

       
      Pepper garlic shrimp - didn't see a table without this one!
       

       
      And fried rice with veg and egg. 
       
      Right now Ruth is cruising the internet reviews to see what we should order when we return there on Thursday.  
    • By Bu Pun Su
      French food is my favorite cuisine and l’Arpege is my favorite restaurant. Currently, entering the 4th year that I haven’t returned to l’Arpege (Since ’06, I usually make an effort to go there at least once every 2 years). At the very least I had a chance to savor Alain Passard’s cuisine in late ’12 when he became a guest Chef at Beaufort hotel Sentosa – the most memorable part was when Alain personally cooked 2 Brittany lobsters for me. Fortunately, Singapore has a restaurant owned and run by Passard’s apprentice & his former sous chef, Gunther Hubrechsen. Therefore, whenever I crave for (home-style) French cooking that’s light, delicate and delicious, I often come here. Similar to my Les Amis’ experience, I’ve actually been here about 4 times since 2008 but never wrote a (serious) review even once. As a matter of fact, Gunther’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore
      I had dinner at Gunther’s in the same week as my meal at Les Amis. On purpose, I ordered carte-blanche here with similar budget to the Les Amis’ degustation menu. I wondered how these 2 elite gastronomy restaurants (cooking nouvelle cuisine without any molecular element) would fare against each other. A short comparison in a glance,
      Les Amis = 7 courses including one dessert. 2 courses with caviar and 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, lobster and wagyu beef
      Gunther’s = 8 courses with a dessert. 1 dish with caviar and also 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, gambas and wagyu beef
      Anyway, I ate and enjoyed very much the following stuffs at Gunther’s (my top 3 dishes):
      1st: cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar - the restaurant’s most well-known dish and Chef Hubrechsen should be proud of it. It’s the 3rd time I savor this dish; it’s still very delicious – the flavor, the smells, the texture and all other elements were spot on. High degree of consistency...
      5th: carabinero gambas with tomato rice – given how far Spain from Singapore is, the kitchen did a good job in preparing this prawn. I tasted the gambas’ freshness and sweet flavor; it’s well-seasoned too. The Japanese rice cooked with the prawn’s stock and tomato was pleasant except I prefer rice with firmer texture (like in risotto or paella)
      6th: grilled scallop with black truffle – the main highlight of my meal. The Hokkaido scallop was juicy and tender though not as tasty as the one I had at Les Amis. However, it’s well-enhanced by the sublime and sweet caramelized onion below as well as the pungent winter truffle aroma and flavor on top of it. I liked the onion very much here – a good example how Gunther brought out the essence of its ingredient; possibly the closest one (in terms of ‘deliciousness’) to the Passard’s perfect onion gratin with parmesan that looks deceptively simple
      What makes Gunther’s special is that the talented Belgian chef-owner is capable of generating many different kind of ‘unassuming’ dishes and elevating them to higher level using no more than 3 fresh produce on each plate. It seems modest at times, but actually quite sophisticated. Let me describe a few more dishes I had,
      4th: roasted garlic with onion essence – if I had to pick one dish I like the least, it’s probably the one. The roasted garlic had smooth texture and good smell, well-integrated with mascarpone sauce. However, I found the (garlic) portion was too big. After consuming 2/3 of them, I just swallowed the rest (almost no chewing) so that I wouldn’t be too stuffed and/or dilute my palate for the next dishes
      7th: Char grilled wagyu beef in bordelaise sauce – this was the main course served in a nice portion with a right amount of “fat”. Delicate Japanese beef was generally a safe choice; the chef didn’t do too much and just allowed the natural flavor of high quality wagyu to shine. The sauce and the grilled corn were precisely executed. Nothing wow but it’s hard not to like Japanese beef J
      8th: Truffle parfait – dessert. It’s a soft and light vanilla ice cream served with rich chocolate brownie and topped with aromatic smell induced by the Perigord truffle (having slight peppery taste). I hardly eat dessert with truffle in it. This one was sweet and rather delicious
      There were a couple more dishes I had and you can see/read them on the picture link below. For the meal, I drank 2 glasses of wine. The first glass was 2010 Vincent girardin chassagne-Montrachet; it’s rich and creamy with buttery aromas. The second one was 2009 Black quail Pinot noir; it’s medium bodied with dark berries delicate fragrance and dry finish in slight acidity – a quite refined pinot noir that surprisingly went along nicely with my scallop dish (of course, better with the beef). Oh before I forget, this place only offers one type of bread and butter – to be exact warm mini baguette and salted butter served at room temperature – simple but good; I ate 3 baguettes if not mistaken. The meal ended with a petit four consisting of a green tea macaron and canele – both were fine.
      It was a quiet evening, about half of the restaurant’s capacity was filled. Probably most people were still busy to attend reunion dinner with their friends and colleagues. The dining room decoration was minimalist dominated by dark grey color for the walls (some paintings were hung on them) and medium lighting. This way guests would not feel overwhelmed and the food took center stage. The staffs were polite and helpful without being intrusive. Besides the sommelier, one friendly “Indian” maitre d’ and the greeter, most of restaurants’ FOH staffs were relatively new. Chef Hubrechsen, usually visiting the dining room to greet guests, explained that the staffs turnover at Singapore restaurants were still very high; he even did not have any permanent sous chef assisting him in the kitchen. So the good thing is that it’s almost guaranteed Gunther himself would always be in the kitchen daily to ensure food quality.
      I gave my overall meal experience at Gunther’s nearly 94 pts (a good 2 ¼* by Michelin standard) and it meant about the same level as Shinji by Kanesaka Singapore and Eric Frechon’s Le Bristol, seriously. Another lovely meal, and overall it ranked as the most memorable one I’ve ever had here. Well, there was no bad meal experience at Gunther’s. Hope I can return again sometimes next year, even better if not on my own expenses. Lastly, I prefer this place over Les Amis by a small margin. Check here for pictures, https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/GuntherSRestaurantSingapore#
    • By Kerry Beal
      Today we started out with a trip to the college to start getting ourselves set up for tomorrow. Then at 10 am we met at ChocolateFX and started our tour. Of course hair nets are obligatory if you are going to go into a food manufacturing facility!

      Wilma and Art had the small pan set up so that we could pan some raisins.

      Here's Pat (psantucc), with beard appropriately netted, applying some chocolate to the raisins.

      Ava (FrogPrincesse's little one) preparing to add more chocolate, Kyle helping and FrogPrincesse awaiting her turn.

      The fancy packing machine.

      Listening with rapt attention to Wilma explaining the making of ganache truffles in the round silicone molds.
    • By offcentre
      Gravetye Manor is a magnificent country house hotel that has been tucked away just south of East Grinstead in Sussex for over 400 years. William Robinson, who bought the property in the late 19th century, created the magnificent gardens, including the walled vegetable garden that used to supply much of the restaurants fruit and vegetables in times gone by when we actually used to have a summer.
      Peter Herbert bought the house in 1958 and created one of the first and still considered amongst the best country house hotels in England. It is still privately owned, now by retired fund manager Jeremy Hosking - a founder of Marathon AM, a $46bn investment fund, who bought the hotel out of administration in 2010. Perhaps its proximity to the Bluebell Railway was a deciding factor. Mr Hosking has what might be described as a healthy love of trains, owning a not insignificant amount of steam locomotives which are loaned out to various heritage railways throughout the UK.
      The house itself is in the middle of the rolling sussex hills, down a mile-long driveway which takes you through some of the 1000 acres of gardens. Inside its just what one would expect and want to find in such an establishment...faultless classical English upper-class style.
      A very friendly welcome from the maitre-d introduced us to our surroundings and swaddled us in the inglenook luxury of one of the 3 drawing rooms, where we took an aperitif. Some canape's were brought along with the drinks - a perfect cylinder of duck pate with little spheres of orange balanced atop; a smoked salmon and cream cheese lasagne and a very rich camembert with some brittle pastry dippers. All very nice.
      Three menu's were presented - a set 4-course table d'hote menu at £40; the a la carte and a 7-course tasting menu priced at £85.
      It was my birthday.
      We had the tasting menu.
      Provenance and and locality are obviously very important to the chef. The 5 or 6 main suppliers are listed on a front page of the menu and all were within a 25 mile radius of the hotel.
      Bread was a choice between sweet onion rolls, sourdough and focaccia, all homemade. I took rather a liking to the sweet onion rolls and took slight advantage of the generosity of the bread waitress who seemed to appear every few minutes offering more.

      I thought the room itself very attractive. Perhaps 10 tables, well-spaced in the main room, and a smaller room with 4 tables adjoins this.
      we ate
      Longhorn Beef, jerusalen artichoke and spring truffle. Upon completing the dish I asked how the beef had been prepared and was told by a rather too enthusiastic waiter that the chef dusts the beef in icing sugar before searing. There was a slight sweetness that I had put down to the wonderful tender beef itself, and I was a little disappointed to be told the chef dusts it in bloody sugar first. Anyway, a pleasing start to the meal, the artichoke and slivers of truffle being very happy bedfellows to the beef.
      Hebridean Langoustine, Carpaccio of Middle White pork brawn and parsnip. This came as a thin rectangle of brawn upon which sat a single langoustine cut in half with a frothed shellfish sauce with parsnip crisps and slivers of parsnip that had been poached in butter. The sauce was extremely rich and strikingly pink, the buttered parsnips having fantastic sweet flavour.
      Spiced Rougie Fois Gras, pain d'epice and prune. A thumb-sized cycliner of fois gras parfait with some bread crisps, prune emulsion and prunes. Nice fois gras and combination of flavours. Simple dish, nicely constructed but did little to show me what they can do in the kitchen.
      Ash Cured Line Caught Haddock, slow poached Gravetye egg and granola. A fantastic dish of very strong flavours. Now, I have never had a slow-cooked egg before so am not sure if the white was in fact just egg white, or had been replaced by something. It had a wonderful texture of fluffy yoghurt. The granola gave a nice crunch and sweetness to the dish, which was required to counter the incredibly strong, salty flavours of the fish, presented again as as a cyliner. Taken together, this was a fabulous plate of food.
      Milk Fed Lamb, tomato, polenta and garlic. A waitress brought a gleaming miniature copper pan of fantastic...I'm going to call it gravy. Another great dish, the lamb came with a small twist of kidney, a rich and sticky garlic clove and a breadcrumbed cheesey-potato thing (is there a name for these?). Rich and satisfying, this was up there with the haddock for pure eating pleasure.
      Artisan cheeses in miniature, frozen grapes and walnuts. Very nicely presented on a slate with a small glass cloche, the four cheeses were tiny slivers. I could definitely have eaten more. The frozen grapes were a nice touch. despite the punctuation on the menu, the walnuts were not frozen!
      White Chocolate and Green Olives, lemon curd. A cracking desert. Another cylinder, this time of white chocolate ice cream, was held off the plate by two pyramid wafers with bits of green olive and drops of lemon curd. Another first for me, the slightly salty olives with the sweet ice cream was a great flavour combination.
      Coffee & Petit Fours. Top quality coffee. A huge box of chocolates was brought to the table with a selection of truffles, white and dark chocolates.
      Overall a very good meal in beautiful surroundings. Service was very good throughout. A bottle of £35 wine (as you can imagine very much at the cheaper end of the list) and the bill was £250 for the two of us.
      I would return. I am not sure I would opt for the tasting menu again though. This was my first tasting menu and I do like the format. My only reservations are that for £85 I am not convinced these dishes offer great value for money. There was not a great deal of luxury ingredients included nor was I wowed by the effort involved in most of these dishes. That said, it was a very enjoyable meal.
      I'm still pondering on this. I feel that I need another tasting menu or two, perhaps at the Ledbury, for comparison. Purely for educational purposes, of course.
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