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Z Kitchen


BryanZ
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So way after I had supposedly confirmed with kids who are coming on Saturday, I get an email saying one of them doesn't eat beef or chocolate.  This made me want to kill myself.  So no dairy, no pork (a late addition), and for one of the diners no beef or chocolate.

Awesome.

That's not so bad. All you need to do is sub duck or something similar for the beef and ditch the bacon. How about a roasted pineapple-vanilla dipping sauce instead of the miso/chocolate?

I've been playing with the idea of a vanila flavored dipping sauce instead for the one diner but can't figure out how to make it without dairy. Ideas?

One thought would be to take a roast pineapple, puree it with vanilla and thin or thicken it to your desired consistency. You can strain it or not. Perhaps you could take the strained juice and make vanilla-pineapple spheres to be eaten along with a piece of fruit and have them burst open in the diner's mouth. you would probably have a better sense how to accomplish this than I would.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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So way after I had supposedly confirmed with kids who are coming on Saturday, I get an email saying one of them doesn't eat beef or chocolate.  This made me want to kill myself.  So no dairy, no pork (a late addition), and for one of the diners no beef or chocolate.

Awesome.

At this wonderful dinner at StudioKitchen, Shola told a very funny story about a series of phone calls in which the diner revealed ever-limiting and -befuddling dietary restrictions. Finally, he just told her that he was canceling the meal.

Welcome to the biz, Bryz.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've been playing with the idea of a vanila flavored dipping sauce instead for the one diner but can't figure out how to make it without dairy.  Ideas?

infuse oil with vanilla, then emulsify it, for instance with vanilla-infused vinegar/broth/etc?

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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So way after I had supposedly confirmed with kids who are coming on Saturday, I get an email saying one of them doesn't eat beef or chocolate.  This made me want to kill myself.  So no dairy, no pork (a late addition), and for one of the diners no beef or chocolate.

Awesome.

That's not so bad. All you need to do is sub duck or something similar for the beef and ditch the bacon. How about a roasted pineapple-vanilla dipping sauce instead of the miso/chocolate?

I've been playing with the idea of a vanila flavored dipping sauce instead for the one diner but can't figure out how to make it without dairy. Ideas?

We served a vanilla tamarind sauce with dessert that was pretty tasty. The tamarind brings with it a bit of viscosity which, I'd imagine would be somewhat simillar to that of your chocolate miso deal.

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The plates and glasses arrived after all, albeit late Friday afternoon. That was one mini disaster averted.

My guests this evening also arrived. I was a little bit worried since this was my first all-student group, and they had been less than reliable in previous correspondence. Regardless it was a great evening. I think they really liked the food and were interested in talking to me. Since they were students I was really at ease and had a nice time, even if it was a lot of work. All in all good food, good music, good company.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures, as I forgot to charge my camera and taking off time to find new batteries would've been awkward.

From a technical standpoint I found that I'm better off sealing the individual portions of salmon (see menu above) in separate bags as opposed to sealing them all in one. After taking them out of the bath they kind of stuck together, so the presentation wasn't as tight as it could have been. Also, this was the first time I worked completely alone, so clean up was a bitch. The lack of a dishwasher is quite the hassle.

I also have to thank Chefs Talbott and Goldfarb for the indirect inspiration on the dessert course. As usual people got a kick out of the carbonated fruit, and they were seriously obsessed with the chocolate-miso combination. I used Lindt bittersweet (largely dairy free), vegetable oil (again to keep it dairy free), and powdered miso. Chocolatey at first, then a nice finish of rich saltiness.

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So you decided on the chocolate after all. What did the chocophobe think about it?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I tried to offer him a warm peanut butter cookie soup instead. He also doesn't like nuts, so that idea had to go. In the end I just served him some ice cream and he tried a bit of chocolate on top of that, I believe. Kind of a cop out but he really enjoyed the dessert courses, and that's what counts.

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Yeah, I'm going to do a cripsy breast of pan roasted chicken instead I think.  It's safe and tasty.  I would do something like duck or lamb, but I'm scared that if I buy something a little out of the ordinary he won't like it.  I guess I have to make compromises.

Bryan, I don't see why you should make compromises. Accommodations, yes, for food allergies and other dietary restrictions. If one of your goals is to create dishes beyond one's culinary comfort zone, it doesn't help to "compromise" to every person's picky preferences that's mentioned at the last moment. That's the impression I'm getting from these posts.

Are you clearly communicating to others your culinary intentions? From your perspective, are your guests understanding what you're trying to accomplish?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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It's been a long and crazy week, but I'm quite pleased with how things are going. I've done two dinners since my last post and both went quite well. I don't have pictures myself but images from the meals are bound to show up sometime in the coming weeks Once I get a hold of them, I'll try to post them or link to them.

It's quite interesting that each party brings its own vibe to the meal. As much as the food (attempts) to take center stage, it's ultimately the diners that set the pace and feel for the evening. I think that everyone has really enjoyed the food and the experience so that is encouraging. My favorite part of all the meals is sitting down and chatting with my guests afterwards. I hope that aspect of this endeavour continues.

From the technical standpoint, preparing these meals is taking way too much time. I'm not good enough to cram all the cooking into a couple hours, so I end up spending a good chunk of time the night before prepping, and spread out the actual cooking over the entire day. This is not productive and being unproductive is not a good thing.

It's also worth noting that I'm almost scared to push the flavor boundaries further than I have so far. Right now I'm only using modern techniques but haven't gotten that far out there flavor-wise. As I'm talking to people after the meals most of them say they'd rather I not "go further."

As a result of this I'm less willing to take risks. Is this a common problem among people who cook for new guests? At home I'm willing to try anything since I don't care if it ends up not-that-good, but I'm afraid to do that here. Since I don't have the time or resources to experiment extensively on my own, this presents itself as a minor hurdle that I need to find some way to overcome.

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We'll be hitting the Z Kitchen on Friday, and I agree that pushing the flavor boundaries is a risk-reward proposition. I'm all for it, as will a couple of our companions. And as long as the flavors work, it's just fine. But when you start experimenting without working out the flavors beforehand, you run the risk of turning off your guests.

But I'm ready for anything this week, and I'll be sure to report back. Not sure if I'll take pictures, but I'll try to remember to bring my camera. Maybe a tripod, too, to get that "just right" light.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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People do not pay for experiments. Either add an extra dish, the experiment, at no cost or just work on the stuff on the side. With regards to preparing the meals, they should and will take more than a few last minute hours. The key is the planning, prep and organization.

h. alexander talbot

chef and author

Levittown, PA

ideasinfood

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This might be only partially relevant as this experience does not specifically apply to z-kitchen, rather to the hyper-modern movement as a whole. I dined at mini-bar in DC this weekend and had a very enjoyable time. That said, the "pushing of the envelope" was more interesting that satisfying. The words, "that's cool" were uttered far more often than . "wow, that was delicious!"

My point? I was in DC for two nights. One night at mini-bar, the other night we cooked for ourselves. Both dinners were over the top for different reasons. Mini-bar for intellectual reasons, the next night when we cooked for ourselves it was over the top for decadent, hedonistically delicious reasons. Nothing we did on Saturday night was remotely cutting edge or difficult to repeat but all in all, I think it was better.

At mini-bar we were served a number of whimsically deconstructed versions of classic dishes, clam chowder and guacamole for instance. The dishes were very interesting, but as one of the diners said, "The next time I have clam chowder, I don't think I'll wish it was more like this."

The other thing that I noticed lacking from the meal was an awareness of season. I felt the meal prepared was done so without any concern for what was naturally good. As if this meal was about preparation of food more than it was about food itself.

I did walk away from the meal with some great ideas, but firmly feel that hyper-modern culinary techniques may be best carefully applied than relied upon to achieve the ultimate goal, the complete satisfaction of the diner.

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People do not pay for experiments.  Either add an extra dish, the experiment, at no cost or just work on the stuff on the side.  With regards to preparing the meals, they should and will take more than a few last minute hours.  The key is the planning, prep and organization.

This is largely what I've been doing. In attempts to try new things I'm building menus around things I know are largely tried and true and am playing a bit more with other courses. My overall lack of creativity and free time, however, makes this difficult.

I dined at mini-bar in DC this weekend and had a very enjoyable time.  That said, the "pushing of the envelope" was more interesting that satisfying.  The words, "that's cool" were uttered far more often than . "wow, that was delicious!"

I'm sad I wasn't invited. :wink:

I did walk away from the meal with some great ideas, but firmly feel that hyper-modern culinary techniques may be best carefully applied than relied upon to achieve the ultimate goal, the complete satisfaction of the diner.

This is an excellent point, one that I realize more and more each day. With that said, however, it also might impede (but not downright prevent) creativity. There's a fine line to be struck for sure. As an aside,, I'm beginning to find that much of my food, at least in theory, is like that of minibar, just on a much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much lower (read: subterranean) plane. At least I think it tastes good.

I'm looking forward to cooking for Varmint this weekend. I wasn't sure if he wanted to make that information public knowledge before the meal, but now that he has I can share the processes behind Z Kitchen.

My previous meals have been more "private" for other reasons, thus preventing me from talking about or documenting them in much length.

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People do not pay for experiments.  Either add an extra dish, the experiment, at no cost or just work on the stuff on the side.  With regards to preparing the meals, they should and will take more than a few last minute hours.  The key is the planning, prep and organization.

Actually, paying for Bryan to experiment is exactly what I expect my dollars will be doing when I go in a couple of weeks. I expect to get some culinary enjoyment out of this, but let's be honest, I'm going to be eating cutting edge food in a college apartment. To do so under the impression that I'm going to get some comfy food that I know will be right up my alley would be nothing short of naive.

I would imagine that if Bryan truly messed something up, he'd be stand up enough to discount the meal. On the otherhand, I think that in good faith, people should not complain if a well executed dish, "doesn't really do it for them".

In the quest for mind-stretching experiences, we need to accept the fact that sometimes we pay for things that we may have not enjoyed that much. You can't have it both ways.

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On the other hand, I'd expect that these experiments aren't done completely de novo where we're the first to sample something made with a newly tried technique. I know Bryan has done a lot of sous vide cooking and has used some polymers to present food in a non-original state. So I'm hoping that he's going to try those on us. And I hope he's trying to experiment with different flavor combinations. But I wouldn't want to pay him to eat shrimp noodles when he's never tried the technique before.

Fortunately, I've got nothing to worry about.

I did share with Bryan the dietary limitations of our party. The three ladies do not eat red meat, meaning anything mammalian. No beef, lamb, pork, mutton, rabbit, elk, bear, 'coon, or rodent. I cannot eat oysters. Finally, three people do not like cilantro. I don't like to impose limitations on Bryan, but he needed to know that this is not a completely omniverous crew. He's starting to develop his menu ideas, but here's his first set of possible dishes:

Here's a rough idea of courses I'm thinking about making.  I'll end up picking about 3 of these, so if you can structure wines around these courses you'll be good.

-Croquetas/some sort of aioli/some sort of sherry syrup

-Salmon mi cuit (or other moderately oily fish)/braised fennel

-Chicken-skin crusted scallop/citrus beurre blanc

-Squid/stuffed with goat cheese & herbs OR stuffed with braised beef/garlic cream (3 of each per dietary restrictions)

-Chicken breast cuit sous vide OR pork tenderloin cuit sous vide/white wine jus/parsnip puree/roasted veg and/or fruit (3 of each per dietary restrictions)

Dessert will likely include some combination of fruit and chocolate.  Extra courses/amuses won't be too out there, so they won't require individual pairings.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Bryan, do you ever serve soups? Do soups interest you in any way? I'm just wondering because last night I dreamed of eating a green soup with spiced tomato air bubbles served atop it, and in my dream it was spectacular, and the moment I awoke I thought of your apartment.

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But I wouldn't want to pay him to eat shrimp noodles when he's never tried the technique before.

But I have, and they're not bad. I'm aprehensive to serve a dish like that for two reasons. First, it's such a Wylie-classic that I'd feel like I was plagirizing even if I did give him due credit. Second, my only uses of Activa so far have been very subtle. I'm not sure I'm ready or have the confidence to do a more Activa-centered dish mainly because they can be kind of "weird."

Bryan, do you ever serve soups? Do soups interest you in any way? I'm just wondering because last night I dreamed of eating a green soup with spiced tomato air bubbles served atop it, and in my dream it was spectacular, and the moment I awoke I thought of your apartment.

An idea is born. Thank you.

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My dream soup could have been a play on a deconstucted gaspacho, with avocado.

But, I can't recall the soup, exactly, just the spiced tomato air bubbles( a hint of cumin also), the color, the appearance in the small glass, the bursting texture accompanied by the smoothness of the soup... well, have at it, sir, I will read your results with awe.

More Than Salt

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Join the DarkSide---------------------------> DarkSide Member #006-03-09-06

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bryan

the only way to work your way into creativity and production schedules is hyperorganization

i would seriously suggest a vacuum sealer (though i think you already have one)

and an inexpensive chest freezer (129-199 from pc richard etc)

if you structure your production over a five day cycle, you should have enough time to both verify your recipes, and batch up accordingly.

focus on staples that can accomodate "any" diet

e.g. vegetable purees, doughs, creams, reductions.

please feel free to contact me re org/

with regards to lab vs. creativity vs. service

you are not a laboratory, you are a mini restaurant/

if you compartmentalize completely you may be able to acheive your diverse goals and meet your diverse needs, if you make it "one," you will be attempting to do what no chef in the history of cuisine has ever done, let alone a food scientist.

that said, congratulations on your hard work, success, etc.

many can learn a lot from what you are trying to do

cheers

wg

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Bryan sent me the menu for this Friday:

Corn croquetas, caramelized onion and sherry vinegar ailoi

Salmon mi-cuit, braised fennel, raisins, soy sauce powder

Squid, braised beef, garlic cream

or

Squid, goat cheese, piquillo peppers, garlic cream

Chicken breast cuit sous vide, wine jus, roasted vegetable puree

Carbonated fruit salad, miso-chocolate dipping sauce

So, anyone have any tips on wine pairings?

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Bryan sent me the menu for this Friday:
Corn croquetas, caramelized onion and sherry vinegar ailoi

Salmon mi-cuit, braised fennel, raisins, soy sauce powder

Squid, braised beef, garlic cream

or

Squid, goat cheese, piquillo peppers, garlic cream

Chicken breast cuit sous vide, wine jus, roasted vegetable puree

Carbonated fruit salad, miso-chocolate dipping sauce

So, anyone have any tips on wine pairings?

Riesling is always a good choice because it is, basically the single best food wine out there. Nothing pairs so well with apps and meat courses alike. Go down to your boy Chrish's place and grab a bottle of 2002 Nigl Privat Riesling. At $40 it would hardly qualify as cheap, but I had some this weekend and saw god. That tends to happens for me at higher price points than that.

Another thought is a rueda. Much cheaper (I know you well Varmint) but super versatile. Casa Moro is somewhat readily available and really good for the money ($10 or so).

Or are you looking for specific course pairings?

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There's 6 of us eating, so I think I could do a pairing with each course, but I'll pass on the dessert. I was thinking of starting with a chablis style for the croquettes, a dry/minerally riesling with the salmon, a very light pinot noir for the squid (that's difficult with the different fillings), and maybe a syrah for the chicken (as the roasted vegetable puree will add the necessary heartiness.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Had a great meal tonight. Will report the details before the weekend is out, but I will say that this is a high value meal. If you let Bryan push the boundaries, he'll truly impress. If you need to be a bit more conservative, as we did, you'll walk away with a great experience.

There's no doubt that Bryan is a 20 year old student who is trying to impress his guests. Fortunately, however, he has a pretty damn good understanding of food, and despite his immaturity, he can accomplish a ton in his very limited kitchen.

Again, I'll post pictures and details soon, but in the meantime, try to find a way to visit Z-Kitchen. Yeah, the concept is a little contrived, but blame that on youthful exuberance. And then sit back and enjoy the food.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I literally just finished washing dishes. My youthful exuberance is done for the night; I'm quite tired.

Seriously though it was a pleasure to cook for Varmint et al. Each party brings a different vibe and Varmint's was no different. Varmint's comments were some of the most valuable feedback I've encountered so far. Aside from some bonehead service mistakes on my part (the kind that I'm apt to complain about) I think everything went well. I will let Varmint report further.

As an aside, I'm not sure how healthy it is to have both cook and diner posting the same forum, but for now I'll run with it. If it seems too weird I'll just take a couple steps back.

Again, it was great to meet Varmint and I think him for his patronage.

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