Friday, September 17, 2010

shaker's, of the remaining arnold hadd

a bearded and very intense man, brother arnold hadd is one of the few (3) remaining shakers in the world and he is also the acting spokesman for '...the remaining few...'.....! he is the managing urban steward of the shakers remaining 1800 acres.... here is a look into the daily life at the protestant manastic sect's hilltop village in southern maine.... being one of three remaining shaker chefs this chance meeting and conversation meant the world to me.....! brother arnold's daily chores may consist of raising, drying, packaging and selling shaker medicinal & heirloom culinary herbs . caring for the pasture raised sheep (30+), highland cattle (9), and 3 pigs . tending the 1900 antique apple trees in the sabbathday shaker orchard . maintaining the farm equipment and historic village buildings that date back to 1760.... brother arnold chose raising highland cattle as part of the community's heritage 'grass-fed' beef program........ he says '.....these heritage breed cattle have retained their instincts, they are easy calvers, great mothers, tremendous foragers and grow well on the sabbathday lake shaker villages less than ideal pastures...... brother arnold raves on about the cattle saying '...queen elizabeth II maintains a herd of 400+ highland cattle and if you are invited to her balmoral castle, that is what will be on your plate... caught '...out in the world...' brother arnold is picking pears (mighty early) from an heirloom tree planted over a century ago in the center of 'the least of the mother's beast in the east'... sabbathday lake shaker village... I approached and asked him if he were one of the remaining few........ he said "I am"....! we immediately went deep into conversation about the pears, my connection to the shaker community, being one of three shaker chefs in the country and his daily life and eating habits at the modern day village... for a devout foodie this meeting will be remembered for many years... live long - live strong brother arnold hadd, you are forever in my thoughts.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

sustainable single-estate peppercorns

we take the black peppercorns on our counter for granted... but this pantry staple was once so deeply coveted that the king of europe launched voyages (including the one that led columbus to america)to find better trade routes to india with an eye toward controlling the crop... in the middle ages, rent could be paid in peppercorns instead of cash... (my landlords always like benjamins) when the visigoths held rome ransom, they demanded gold, silver- and 3000lbs. of peppercorns.....! beyond its heat and sharp bite, black pepper also enhances our ability to taste food, stimulating our salivary glands so we experience flavors more fully... this sensational effect only comes from freshly ground pepper... once the hard, black shell of the peppercorn is cracked open, its aroma immediately starts to fade, and most of its flavor and scent disappear within a half hour... replacing your pepper shaker with a good pepper mill is one of the simplest way to enhance your everyday cooking... parameswaran's special wynad estate peppercorns ($30 for 200gr / 7oz) unlike most black pepper, which comes from multiple plantations, this organic, hand picked black peppercorn is grown on one estate on the wynad plateau in kerala, india... using only sustainable, fair trade black pepper cultivation to produce these black pearls of heat has proven worth it for chefs and old-school diners that still love to pile down steak a'poivre......! being that we should be conscious about all of the products that line our kitchen shelves, chefs and home cooks alike never take the time to think about the daily ingredients that have had an effect on the worlds markets and food supplies... this pepper is a blend of two varieties of black pepper- karimunda and panniyur which are grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers... the peppercorn berries are allowed to ripen to maximum size and flavor, then picked by hand and sun-dried... even more important these bad-boys are vacuum-packed on the estate to preserve freshness and flavor to avoid the typical ills of transport... this peppercorn berry sports a rich, deeply complex, beautifully floral, with a ripe, floral, lavender-like warmth... flavor that is earthy and smooth with moderate heat that builds gradually, but not ferociously......! the most commonly utilized in the kitchens of america is the tellicherry peppercorn and is still considered to be the world's finest pepper... named after a port town in the state of kerala on india's malabar coast... do a quick bit of research on the most mundane of products in your kitchen and you will be surprised to learn more about them and their checkered past.....!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

windows on the (79)

the north tower had a restaurant on its 106th & 107th floors called WINDOWS ON THE WORLD, which opened on april 20th 1976 (the day my son zander was born, just 33yrs later).... the restaurant was developed by Joe Baum at a cost of more than $17million... aside from the main restaurant, two sister foodservice facilities were located at the top of the North Tower... there was also a premier wine school ran by OG oenophile kevin zraly... in the year two thousand, its last full year in operation, Windows on the World reported revenues of $37million, making it the highest-grossing restaurant in the US... new york has many bars and restaurants with views of the city. Windows was something else, a restaurant that seemed to be suspended between earth and the heavens above... for this is where all 79 of our departed foodservice brothers & sisters are peacefully resting...... from 107 stories, the views extended for over 90 miles on a clear day..... the windows were something else themselves. they ran from floor to ceiling and thoroughly intensified the giddy sensation of soaring over the island of manhattan... diners lusted after the tables alongside these windows, and the made men of the city enjoyed them nightly do to WHOM they were (RIP- J. Gotti)......! these tables offered the ultimate NYC experience, sitting high atop the world's tallest, most powerful city, a-number 1, top of the heap... it may merely be a footnote to a national calamity, but the collapse of the WORLD TRADE CENTER'S two 110 story towers ended an era in NYC dining........! the two restaurants and bar on the 106th & 107th floors of 1 World Trade Center- Window's on the World, the Greatest Bar on Earth and Wild Blue- employed over 450 people.... seventy-nine were on duty Sept. 11th..... some were doing prep work for the evening, others were serving the 500 people at a corporate breakfast... all are still missing... Window's on the World, originally attacked as elitist- it was a private club by day and evolved in to the most talked about white tablecloth establishment by night.....! the restaurant was never cheap, but it wasn't intimidating either... the Greatest Bar on Earth was alittle loud and wild, especially on Thursday nights.... Wild Blue, by contrast was one of the most charming & romantic restaurant in NYC, a 60 seat cozy cocoon in the sky.......... and then in a blink of an eye it all disappeared............! he departs from this earth like an arrow... although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it... if he were not falling, he might very well be flying... he appears relaxed hurling through the air... he appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion... he doesn't even appear intimidated by gravity's divine suction or by what awaits him......! some people look at this photo see stoicism, willpower, a portrait of resignation; others see something else- something discordant and therefore terrible: FREEDOM.....! there is something almost rebellious in the mans posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it; as though he were a missile, a spear, bent on attaining his own end..... he is, fifteen seconds past 9:41a.m. EST, the moment the photo is taken, in the clutches of pure physics, accelerating at a rate of thirty-two feet per second squared... he will soon be traveling at upwards of 150 miles an hour, and he is upside down... seeing that this man is wearing a kitchen workers uniform- our praise and prayers are with him, (the other 78 WOTW employees) and ALL 9-11 victims that we lost this day nine years ago........ are not forgotten

Flo's Hot Dogs.................some kinda good

friday the 13th...... august 2o1o- the lines today were stupendous, we waited over 45 minutes for our 4 dogs with mayo, flo's relish and celery salt...... being a rhode islander the celery salt hit home..... providence style... the dogs were extra snappy and the bun a steamed pillow of white trash split top dough that tied the entire experience together... listening to gail bash the tourists is even better... a cold ass can of moxie helped us wash down the steamed tubes of swine... SNAPPY, SNAPPY, SNAPPY........! these dogs are phenomenal - ultra snappy and super juicy these natural casing pups are steamed to order, tucked into that soft new england style bun. if you are a Flo's regular you will then have the whole thing slathered with mayo, famous Flo's relish and that RI celery salt dusting...... catsup is NOT available.... the secret must be in the incredible dogs and that damn relish that isn't really a relish at all... this secret 'relish' concoction is more of a spicy and sweet chutney... (onion, molasses, tamarind and other chutney flavors shine through) these natural casing 'snappers' are available all over maine and new england in both regular and bright neon red. the reds mostly related to maine... but Flo's (and gail's) treatment of the hot dog is unlike anything else in the entire galaxy......! with august being the month after national hot dog month (july) I thought that I would start off with the dog that gets my vote for best in new england if not the world... mind you I have experienced NATHAN'S, PINK'S, GRAY'S PAPAYA, SUPER DAWG, YOCCO'S, THE VARSITY and RUTTS HUTT: but Flo's Hot Dogs on route 1 in cape neddick, maine, is not only the best hot dogs I've ever had , but an overall mind blowing experience in itself..... maybe after another 100 years of gastronomic service will bring gail a well deserved james beard award (watch out rob evans)........!

smoked coffee...............................yeah smoked

in the beginning I just didn't know how popular this muddy elixir would become.......! working together heather and I began our smoked coffee journey one day on a visit to watch a friend micro-batch roast some indian monsooned malabar beans...... this coffee is unlike anything else in the country- it is smoked over organic applewood from a MOFGA certified organic apple orchard..... this coffee contains NO fake liquid flavoring agents...... it is 100% smoked over that kick-ass organic applewood in an actual smoker.... I have spent many months developing this very unique coffee and after countless test batches, we have finally found the perfect roast to be used for smoking..... it took even longer to discover the best smoking method, time and wood type to use with this bean... once we roast the indian monsooned malabar beans we place them in the smokehouse to let them slow-smoke... the resulting coffee is pretty much unlike anything we have ever tasted... the smoky flavor is very subtle from the first sip, and comes out in a big way in the aftertaste... it is smooth enough to be drank JOHN WAYNE style, but strong enough to handle some organic pure cane sugar and local cream... slow smoked over raven hill orchard's organic applewood is when some kind of magic happens.... when placed in a room with other coffee beans this bean has presence... you just notice it... plump, dark, aromatic and shiny... the brew whether french press or commercially dripped is every bit as aromatic as the beans are... it is very difficult to distinguish what the aroma is because it is different than what you expect from coffee.......! the smoky smell is definitely there... we have had several reputable new england chef's do a sensory evaluation and the results are the same... smoky, swanky, smooth and unexpected... as we taste further we find the first sip to be intriguing, full bodied and rich with a taste that you can't identify... and then the full smokiness of the elixir hits you in the aftertaste kidney.... pow-bam-wow-yee-zip-dam... yet very smooth and nice with hints of earthy ripe fruits... think of eating ripe muscadine grapes while sitting next to a campfire and you will get the idea... it is the lapsang souchong of the coffee world, but not as in your face as the tea... this coffee's smokiness is subtle, yet how intense... this coffee would pair well with stinky cheese... smoked coffee is more like a coffee tryst- one that you flirt with on occasion for variety and excitement, but not something you would brew day after day for breakfast.... smoking batch after batch you can see the subtle nuances and characteristics shine through in each batch... we are proud to have been involved in creating this very exciting new caffeine elixir.......!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cattails....................(typha latifolia)

The common cattail is one of the first wild edible plants that all hikers should familiarize themselves with. It not only has several edible parts, but there is some part of the plant that can be harvested for food during any season. In addition, it has other uses as well. In the spring you can find a cattail swamp and cut the fresh tips of the plants from the mud. Rinse them in some safe water and they are edible either raw or cooked. Once you know the plant, identifying the new shoots is no problem. The stalks and dried flower heads of the old plants are always around. In the summer you can first harvest the tender stems. The lower several inches will be white and ready to eat. If you pull slowly, they will often come loose at the base. Raw, they taste something like a cucumber. Cooked, the taste is more like corn. Later, the green flower heads can be cooked and eaten like corn-on-the-cob. By mid-summer the yellow pollen will be falling from the spike atop the flower heads, and can be shaken into a paper bag to use in thickening soups or even mixed with flour for making bread. In the fall you can still locate the cattail by the the old stalks and dig up the rope-like roots that cris-cross the swamps. Clean these, mash them in water and let the mix sit for a few hours. What you'll get when you pour off the water is a gooey mass of starch at the bottom of the container. this can be used to make a bread of sorts, or just put into emergency soups. In the winter you can get the roots. just as in the fall, provided the water or mud isn't frozen. Sometimes you can dig into the muck and find fresh new tips of the plants to eat as well. This is especially true as you get closer to spring. New plant tips, tender parts of the stalks, flower heads, pollen and roots- five edible parts, and at least one available in each season. But that's not all. The 'fluff' of the mature flower heads was once used to stuff life jackets, and is still perfect as an emergency insulation. If you are lost and without sufficient clothing you can fill your jacket with it. Use it to make a warm mattress as well. Cattail flower head fluff is also very flammable. Break open a mature flower head (available almost any time of the year) and make a pile of it. Then strike a match to it, or even a good spark, and it will burst into flame. The tight heads are often dry inside even after heavy rain, making this a great survival tinder. The leaves are long and flat, which makes them easy to weave into simple mats for sitting on. These mats can be used to serve food too, or as a barrier between you and the ground in an emergency shelter. For many centuries they were also woven into baskets and other containers. The stems were used for weaving and other purposes as well. The common cattail is not only one of the best wild edible plants, but one of the best wilderness plants to know for many other purposes. How many other plants have five edible parts and several parts that are used for a variety of survival needs? Best of all is the fact that they can be found in most wetlands across North America. As a chef that has grown up respecting, foraging and exploiting wild edibles like cattails, I try to put them on my menus as much as possible...... Going out to a fine dining restaurant in any major city you can find clabber pork & chicken, as well as sea salt from millions of years ago; but can you walk into the same restaurant an experience a wild edible like cattails......? I didn't think so........ enjoy your clabber pork & chicken (corn of any kind was not intended for farm animal consumption, this is the genetic modification done down on the farm, isn't it....?) this sounds as good as farm raised fish (ie: salmon) that have been fed corn- and we all know that fish aren't meant to consume corn either....... The resurgence in 'EATING LOCAL' has people talking about foraging and gathering, so get out in the woods and find your food........ Being that our roving rural supper club (TNEF2FP) is parked at an organic apple orchard, the cattails up in the pond are prime for pickin'..... Since they are far from the road (automobile exhaust- yum oh) we will harvest them and feature them on our MAINE GAME DINNER and our NEW ENGLAND GAME DINNER menus.... I love to introduce diners to these type of wild edibles that are not seen or found in the 'big city' restaurants of today's chemical driven chefs that still purchase their beef, chicken and pork from the same conglomerates they purchase their toilet paper from......

the world's biggest meat ball....................!!!!

breaking news out of new hampshire, yeah the granite state- new hampshire.....! Nonni's Italian Eatery in the state capital of Concord, New Hampshire has a new claim to fame.. The Italo/American restaurant and its chef/owner formed a monstrous 225.5 pound meatball that has been declared a world record by the Guinness Book of World Records.. Matthew Mitnitsky, owner of Nonni's Italian Eatery, says he vowed to capture the world record because he wanted to bring the meatball back to the East Coast because that's where it originated... He wrestled the title away from the American West Coast, where a 198.6-pound meatball had taken top honors... Once the celebrations were over, Mitnitsky and his staff broke up the giant meatball and repackaged it into small portions to give to the local soup kitchens....! I am more than sure that there are hundreds of thousands of oversized Italian grandma's turning over in their graves......! we are very thankful that the soup kitchen will be able to feed NH's hungry for at least 3 or 4 years.....! all hail the big ass meatball...