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eG Foodblog: Ling & HhLodesign - The cool kids at Belltown Lofts


hhlodesign
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Now for the post on local food markets.

How many of you out there remember television or print ads in which a price would be mentioned followed by the qualifier "Slightly higher west of the Rockies" (or "Slightly higher in the West," or sometimes even "Slightly higher in the West and South")?

That phrase came to mind as I saw the pictures here, which I assume are from Pike Place Market--please correct me if they're not:

We got a flat of these for our Iron Chef battle  :laugh:

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That is exactly what I would say if I had to pay that much for local peaches in season.

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And these are conventionally grown, right? No special treatment?

We bought some meat here...

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Meat prices appear more in line with what we would pay for similar quality in Philadelphia, though those pork spareribs are nearly double what most butchers sell them for around these parts (maybe that's because there are several large pork producers in southeastern Pennsylvania) and the prices for the Angus Beef strips are about 50% higher than what you'd pay for a similar grade of meat from Harry Ochs in the RTM.

Is all this due to the cost of taking stuff over the Cascades? Is Washington's peach-growing region that much further from Seattle than Lancaster County is from Philly? (I guess it is.) Is the season shorter? Some other factors come into play?

Edited to add: That's not to say that everything is cheaper in Philly. If you look at the latest posts to the regular Reading Terminal Market update on the Pennsylvania board, you will see that Washington State produce is indeed cheaper in Washington than it is in Pennsylvania, and that there are some local products that are just as costly.

Peaches, however, are not among those items.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Both the first courses were nicely presented, and I too liked the peach "foie gras" -- maybe we should suggest this item to some Chicago restaurateurs?

If that happens, the Chicago City Council will vote for putting a ban on peaches. Those poor Chicagoians need a break. Give peaches a chance. :laugh:

Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Very difficult indeed. For me, definitely Iron Chef #1 wins on presentation. However, as a food combination, I find the first tasting menu sounds a little too rich for my taste: stilton biscuit and gorgonzola polenta. The second menu reflects a sense of late summer - starting gently with the sweet corn soup w/peach frois gois, then building to the pulled pork sandwich with a peachy twist and a ending with a refreshing deconstructed bellini.

Iron Chef #1 - presentation 9, Originality 7, Concept 7 = 23

Iron Chef #2 - presentation 7, Originality 8, Concept 9 = 24

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It is hard to judge based on photos without getting a taste, but overall chef #1 had a slight edge for me. Chef 2's corn soup with the peach "foie" was a killer idea, looks great and almost pushes him/her over the top, but I agree that Chef 2's sandwich could have used another element in the plating. Great idea and nicely executed.

Chef #1: 9 points.

Chef #2: 8 points.

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Please forgive this question if it seems stupid; I've eaten peaches, but never foie gras.

Is foie gras similar in texture or taste to peaches? I see the presentation of the seared peach looks like a classical presentation of seared foie gras, but is there another connection?

Otherwise, all dishes look incredibly scrumptious. I must have been out of North America for too long, I was surprised to see "Holy Shit" on a public sign. I don't want to sound like a prude, but is that no longer considered...er...(this sounds so lame) cursing?

No, don't get up, I'll check myself into a nursing home.

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Is all this due to the cost of taking stuff over the Cascades?  Is Washington's peach-growing region that much further from Seattle than Lancaster County is from Philly? (I guess it is.)  Is the season shorter?  Some other factors come into play?

A lot of it is due to the Market mark-up. :wink: The Pike Place Market is rarely a place for bargains on anything, great quality yes, low prices, no. You could buy more or less the same peaches at neighborhood farmers markets for significantly less.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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It's tough, so I'll go course by course.

My overall favorite dish is IC #1's starter. The combination of flavors and textures just jumps out of the picture and right into my mouth. IC #2's starter is very cute and very neatly executed, but I'm prejudiced by a detestation of ginger Altoids, plus the photo perhaps is not doing justice to the color of the corn, which looks a bit washed out.

For the mains IC #1's flavors sound right on, although the presentation is a bit squishy-looking, and I'm not sure what the green drizzle is. It is the nature of pulled pork to be unphotogenic, however, and IC #2's is equally so, and I won't add or subtract from either on texture. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I'd be equally happy eating either one, but I do give a slight edge to IC#2 for "showing the work." I can see more clearly the thought and planning that went into plate #1 - this one's really close, though.

For the desserts, I have to say that the bellini wouldn't do it for me, too minimalist, more of a pre-dessert bite. The tart is gorgeous, although I'm not sure about the mint ice cream with curry, caramel, and peach. Might be one of those things you just have to taste.

I think the bottom line for me is

IC#1 - 8.5

IC#2 - 6.5

I feel like there should be some extra mention of challenging circumstances - sharing a relatively small kitchen, judges all from a high-zoot restaurant kitchen, the need to compete without breaking up, and all that. Kudos to both of you for what looks like a lovely meal!

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Lorna and Henry,

Even though I know who made what (and yes, it is obvious with just the plating) I think I'll break down my vote as follows (can I be the proper looking old gentleman in the glasses? I don't remember what he was... a scholar? :wink: ):

Starter:

Iron Chef #1: Not a huge huge fan of strong cheeses, but I know I would enjoy the flavour and textural contrasts of the flakey (it does look so!) biscuit juxtaposing the smooth and light avocado cream. In addition, I would also appreciate the strength of the tangy gastrique that accompanies this dish. As it hits high on my scale of requirements: texture, flavour, colour contrast, this dish gets top marks. :smile:

Iron Chef #2: Although the dish and simple plating of this starter are comforting and "light," I fear that I would tire of the sweetness of the dish and the monochromatic nature of the soup. Kudos on the use of MG and the beautiful even scoring of the peach. If there was good bread with this... but I digress. (If you didn't already know, I love bread (ha ha, maybe Iron Chef #1 did her research - which is key to winning on the show! - and used this to her advantage. :laugh: )

Main:

Iron Chef #1: The appearace of the dish is messy, although rustic, almost a don't-be-afraid-to-dig-in-becauce-you're-not-messing-anything-up sort of call. Again, good use of the three factors noted above that are key to winning my tastebuds over. However I feel this dish maybe a little too heavy although the pickled items should aid in helping create an appetite (it's a Chinese thing, eh?).

Iron Chef #2: I like the idea of the pulled pork sandwich. It's in this preparation that you can take advantage of the goopy sweetness of the peaches (as a BBQ sauce). As much as I don't appreciate one American Iron Chef's over reliance on creative sauces, I really do think the use of ripe peach in sauce form is key to this competition. That said, I am sure I'd enjoy this dish (looks slightly lighter) maybe based on nostalgic reasons. I do think, however, that if you were aiming for a finer dining experience (to match the rest of the dishes you were presenting), that a grilled brioche roll might have served you better. Plus, where are the fries?? I would have done some spicy seasoned sweet potato fries here!! (No sweet potato fries, no bonus points. Ha ha).

Dessert:

Iron Chef #1: Presentation is lovely and the use of curry to spice (yes, pun intended) things up was creative. The mint ice cream looks like a sploge of speckled sour cream, and unless that was intentional, it really doesn't pair well with the neat plating of everything else. Bonus for carrying on the theme and great use of the golden rules to win over this judge's stomach. However, by this course I wonder if I could stomach something that is on the denser side as the filling mains were right before this... oh wait, it's me we're talking about. The bottomless pit. And there weren't any sweet potato fries (JK). Ok, never mind. :raz:

Iron Chef #2: JK about the sweet potato fries (well, not really, but I won't hold that against you. Kee kee). I love, love, love how you finished things off with a play on the use of MG as you did in your first course. Bonus points for keeping things light after so many dishes (unless your judges have huge appetites). The prosecco snow sounds fabulous and I am a big fan of bellinis. I know I might be greedy, but just a small spoonful? I agree with an earlier judge that this might be appropriate for a palate cleanser.

Overall score:

Given all the comments above I'd give IC#1: 8.5 and IC#2: 7.5 (I lied, the lack of sweet potato fries really did you in)

I commend you two for taking on this challenge. I've been threatening it with my friends, but the lack of a kitchen stadium to work in is really discouraging. I think it would be funny if you did cook this all within 1 hour (which I know wasn't the case) but then again, you didn't have sous to bark orders at or an unlimited budget. When I saw your menu, I was wondering what you might have done if you got a little piece of "free" foie (such that it wouldn't be counted in your $50 budget) as it has appeared on your past menus.

Edited by Renka (log)
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First of all, love the Iron Chef idea. I've always thought it would be a fun evening among friends, and it looks as though it was, indeed. Funny how easy it is to figure out who's who, even for a sometime eG lurker like myself. (The dessert gives Ling away, and the "foie" and foam blow Henry's cover.)

I have no business judging this, but what the hey?

To me, Iron Chef #1's cuisine reigns supreme, 9-8, although if I could taste (actually, scarf down) just one of the dishes, it would be Iron Chef #2's corn + "foie."

Finally, allow me to pile on the praise ... great blog so far. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

dlight

Seattle, WA

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...the need to compete without breaking up, and all that...

:laugh: someone needed to point that out! i can imagine ling lording (ladying?) this over henry for years to come! "but who won the iron chef? need i remind you?" :wink:

i think that the starters and desserts for both iron chefs were amazing in presentation and concept. the mains were both a little off kilter in presentation and maybe didn't fit the style of the overall meal even though they fit the criteria of using peaches. although i agree with some that said the deconstructed bellini is a bit small (henry, we know you don't love sweets as much as your counterpart), i really like the idea of light "crisp" desserts over a heavy ending to a meal.

by the way, i don't think there was foam in the dessert as everyone upthread is implying...the prosecco snow is a granita, right? correct me if i'm wrong.

i'm going to go against grain:

IC #1: 8.5

IC #2: 8.75

i think it was definitely close. oh, and to add to all the comments above about the two of you "hookin' up" on eGullet...i saw that coming a mile away during henry's blog! how fun and how happy for both of you.

this blog is surely the eGullet virtual social event of the season!

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Since taste and immediate visual access to the dishes are critical to judging (i.e. you had to be there), I am going to forgo assigning points. I have to wonder, for example, if the mint ice cream melted due to delays/haste in photographing. It's not as grave as cutting a baby in half, but I would also not wish to favor one of this kind, talented pair over the other.

However, I have to laugh about the hush-hush business that accompanied the scrambling of the menu and the anonymously posted photographs. It looks as if I was not alone in being 100% accurate in identifying the authors of each dish as soon as the menu was posted.

Here's my best Simon Cowell Does Paula impersonation regarding:

First courses

1: Truly inspired combinations. I love the idea of the peach and avocado together and think the biscuit offered the critical element of contrasting texture that the blue-cheese loving Lorna always considers crucial to a dish. I also think the Peach on Peach a nice touch. (Had to look up the word "gastrique"; thanks for the lesson.) The Stilton seems a bit pitchy to me, a bit too much & out of place with avocado and peach. I'd like to see for myself if the quality of the avocado was too similar to the peaches in mouthfeel (:rolleyes:) or if there might be more integration of the peach and avocado elements instead of merely pairing the two. Avocado slices under the gastrique? This avocado preparation, but on top of gastrique?

2: Absolutely lovely. Pure. Simple. Elegant. Clearly the work of someone who pretends to not care much for vegetables but really speaks their language. How many people can pull off a sense of humor while being so mature and sophisticated about it? With the second course as it stands, I'd say a coarser puree would be in order: more chowdery. However, that would not complement that distinctive island. Color, here, too, holds its own against the visual impact of Lorna's striking bright green and peach secondary-color pairing. Given the second course's bun, the wedge of cornbread is not missed..too much [edited]. Quibbles: While ginger and peach I adore, does the ginger sing harmony with the corn [edited]? When diners try to cut into the faux gras with their spoons, do they splatter soup all over their fronts? Only quibbles. This dish shines for me.

Second courses

1. I wanted to try this as soon as I read the menu. Ribs are Lorna. I was curious about the "crisp Gorgonzola polenta" and a little skeptical. Sounds like frico with a taco chip. ("Simon!!!") Soft polenta marries ribs well, nonetheless the finished dish looks classy and homey. Again, I'd leave out the gorgonzola. Oh, but, I do want the ribs slathered in peach. Were I Lorna, I'd knock on Daniel's door and borrow a sauteed scallion bundle or baby arugula leaves to "go with." I'm assuming the photo does not do the dish justice and bet we'd all salivate were we the giggling Japanese actress.

2. At least there are vegetables here in the slaw. I want to know more about the slaw: the way it's prepared, what's in it, what role the peach plays, etc. Nonetheless, I agree with others. This definitely speaks to Henry's strengths, but it doesn't match the elegance of his bookending dishes. (I'd also want some home-made potato chips or quick pickles on side.) Doesn't mean I don't want to eat it. Seconds, please.

Desserts

1. Stunning. Mint doesn't spring to mind with peaches, but it is a wonderful combination. Caramel is perfect with peaches. Does it go with mint? I suspect the peaches are there as the Ryan Seacrest of the production, making them get along. Curry? I don't know :hmmm: Yet, I gotta say, I am intrigued and want to investigate. What skill! Look at that tart shell, that glossy goo!

2. Very pretty. Pared down. Bauhaus without the austerity; the foam lightens and brightens. The Italiophile goes for the traditional, original Bellini ingredients. Good choice. I need a little something extra, equally light, such as an almond tuille with a few scattered raspberries to dip in the white bubbles.

All in all, I have no doubts about the reasons the score was so close. It's not just friendship. I cannot imagine accomplishing all this beautiful food in the little time the two of you gave yourselves. And at the end, I would like to know more about those stunning peaches.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Interesting that everyone just assumes that IC#1 is Lorna and IC#2 is Henry, without actual confirmation from either one of them. And then, Renka says this:

Lorna and Henry,

Even though I know who made what . . . (ha ha, maybe Iron Chef #1 did her research . . .

...which is a strong indicator of who IC#1 is!

Plus the other giveaway was Lorna commenting that the peach "foie" idea was actually a Ferran Adria recipe, which of course, is her way of outing Henry's originality LOL :rolleyes:

Born Free, Now Expensive

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Interesting that everyone just assumes that IC#1 is Lorna and IC#2 is Henry, without actual confirmation from either one of them. And then, Renka says this:
Lorna and Henry,

Even though I know who made what . . . (ha ha, maybe Iron Chef #1 did her research . . .

...which is a strong indicator of who IC#1 is!

Plus the other giveaway was Lorna commenting that the peach "foie" idea was actually a Ferran Adria recipe, which of course, is her way of outing Henry's originality LOL :rolleyes:

:blink: OOoooops!

Is it too late to say, um, I think, or um... nevermind.

I guess it would be too late to go back and edit out my last post... :sad:

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I will neither confirm or deny the identities of the ICs.

Great feedback from everyone. Thanks for taking the time.

I should point out how the judging was done.

Each course was rated between 1-10 from each judge. Taking into account originality, taste, and presentation. However no guidance as to how much to weigh each factor. 3 courses each times 5 judges equal a total of 150 points availiable from the "live" judges.

At the end of the "live" judging round it was a virtual dead heat. We thought about going to Katherine Harris to decide who was in the lead. :biggrin:

An extra 10 points are available as the average from the "virtual" judges. Making a total of 160 points available to each IC. So for those of you who opted not to award points, know that they do count. In fact, it basically comes down to you guys!

Thanks again for all the feedback! :smile:

We'll post judges comments after the voting has closed.

Edited by hhlodesign (log)
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Both the first courses were nicely presented, and I too liked the peach "foie gras" -- maybe we should suggest this item to some Chicago restaurateurs?

If that happens, the Chicago City Council will vote for putting a ban on peaches. Those poor Chicagoians need a break. Give peaches a chance. :laugh:

Don't get me started on this one!

Last time I talked about this, I got censored! :hmmm:

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:laugh:  someone needed to point that out!  i can imagine ling lording (ladying?) this over henry for years to come!  "but who won the iron chef?  need i remind you?"  :wink:

Hah, I was just thinking the same thing … my parents (jokingly) do the same thing ("Well who tried to pitch a tent in a valley during a rainy Scottish winter?" "Who once tried to make their own beer in the basement and decided to 'kick it up a notch' by doubling all the ingredients except for the water?" &c &c)

What was the peach foie gras like taste- and texture-wise? It looks great, but did it taste as cool as it looks? And can we get recipes (or guidelines) for the stilton biscuits and avocado cream? They look fabulous.

Votes:

IC 1: 8.5 - The first and last courses look really great. Interesting and sophisticated, but tasty-looking.

IC 2: 8 - Everything looks good, but I wasn't as excited by it. Also, I love sweets, and a spoonful of sorbet for dessert vs a tart? Sorry, no contest :raz:

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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I must have been out of North America for too long, I was surprised to see "Holy Shit" on a public sign. I don't want to sound like a prude, but is that no longer considered...er...(this sounds so lame) cursing?

No, don't get up, I'll check myself into a nursing home.

Heh. In most parts of the US, and indeed in many outlying parts of the greater Puget Sound area, a grocery sign with an expletive would still be considered, well, blasphemy. But in liberal Seattle itself, especially in the character-drenched Pike Place Market, I bet it only gets a few raised eyebrows and a bunch of giggles--especially when it freaks the tourists. :laugh:

Edited by mizducky (log)
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Thanks for all your comments! We (OK, I) decided that we're now going to visit our favourite place for bread in Seattle (Are you reading this, Renka? :wink: ), so we're going to be gone for a bit. But how nice to wake up this morning and read all your comments! :wub:

First courses

1: Truly inspired combinations.  I love the idea of the peach and avocado together and think the biscuit offered the critical element of contrasting texture that the blue-cheese loving Lorna always considers crucial to a dish.  I also think the Peach on Peach a nice touch. (Had to look up the word "gastrique"; thanks for the lesson.)  The Stilton seems a bit pitchy to me, a bit too much & out of place with avocado and peach.  I'd like to see for myself if the quality of the avocado was too similar to the peaches in mouthfeel (:rolleyes:) or if there might be more integration of the peach and avocado elements instead of merely pairing the two.  Avocado slices under the gastrique?  This avocado preparation, but on top of gastrique?

RE: The stilton, avocado, and peach gastrique course was the only course of the evening to score a perfect 10 from a judge. Charles's comment (aka the Rosanjin scholar) wrote this bit of wisdom next to his score: "A darling combination! But the peach gastrique makes it work."

I think both our presentation for the main course suffered b/c two of the judges were a bit late, and the kitchen was slammed (yes, SLAMMED! WITH FIVE DINERS IN THE HOUSE!! :laugh: ) The gorgonzola polenta kind of fell apart in the pan (it was fried in duck fat, and the Iron Chef had used too much liquid in his/her polenta before chilling it in the fridge.)

I must say that it is a lot harder to try to cook two separate menus from start to finish in Henry's small kitchen than it is to cook one, multi-course menu together. We do the latter all the time, and although the kitchen still gets really messy, the pace is a lot less frenetic.

See you soon! And keep the votes coming!

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I must have been out of North America for too long, I was surprised to see "Holy Shit" on a public sign. I don't want to sound like a prude, but is that no longer considered...er...(this sounds so lame) cursing?

No, don't get up, I'll check myself into a nursing home.

Heh. In most parts of the US, and indeed in many outlying parts of the greater Puget Sound area, a grocery sign with an expletive would still be considered, well, blasphemy. But in liberal Seattle itself, especially in the character-drenched Pike Place Market, I bet it only gets a few raised eyebrows and a bunch of giggles--especially when it freaks the tourists. :laugh:

I should note that the front of the sign called them, "OH MY GOD!" peaches. The back of the sign (facing the inside of the store) read, "HOLY SHIT!" peaches.

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