Friday, December 21, 2007

Sushi Revolution

Went to the newly opened "Sushi Revolution" the other night with my friend Kevin, located in a strip mall near Car Toys and the Tacoma Mall.

I'm not sure it's a revolution, but the trendy concept ("The Largest Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant in the Northwest!" gushes their website ) has a series of conveyor belts moving small plates of freshly prepared sushi snaking through the dining room around a long bar and several booths. Diners grab color-coded plates off the conveyor belt at will--not unlike pulling a seat up to the luggage carousel at Sea-Tac airport to dine—but a lot more tasty!

We were amazed with the conveyor belts [very cool!] packed with sushi rolls, tempura, edamame, sashimi, seaweed salad, nigiri, spicy tuna, and on and on, and how many actual plates of sushi were circling the dining room.

The plates are color coded and pass by in dizzying array. They cost from $1 for the cheapest plate to $3 tops.

Believe me--with the variety the bill can grow fast. Kevin & I both felt like we were in a competition with the couple seated a few seats down from us as their stack of plates grew taller it made us want to out-do the competition.

By and large the place is much less expensive than most sushi joints, and since a roll is like 2-3 pieces instead of the usual 5-6, you can taste more--almost like a "tapas" sushi experience, or the trendy small plates style of eating that I so love.

Also--with the really cool conveyor belts looking almost like freeways bumper to bumper full of delectable choices--it would be the perfect choice to take a group for a party –or-- to introduce your children to their first sushi experience since (especially the guys) will appreciate the cool, high-tech conveyor belt system.

Our waitress was very friendly and full of information. We asked her to make recommendations and she had several rolls made for us that were not in circulation that were delicious. So ask!

We split 3 tall Japanese beers, and were stuffed for $50. A bargain.

Although the ambiance is sort-of lacking, and a feeling of "under-finished" permeates the place... I’d go back-- especially if the group has a budget to consider.

Recommended for a fun party with a group, and for children's first sushi-experience…
Or just to say you’ve: “been there—done that”, once.

Not Recommended for sushi snobs, purists, or anyone where ambiance matters

Service personable and friendly. Steered us in good directions. Knew her stuff.
20% tip she deserved it.

Hours of Operation:
Monday through Sunday 11:00am to 9:00pm
5225 Tacoma Mall Blvd. Suite #D101Tacoma, WA 98409.

Pacific Grill Pasta Sauce (Winter)

A rich tomato sauce perfect for Fall & Winter

Approx Serving Size: 12 Preparation Time :0:30 plus prep.

1/3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil -- or more to taste
1 each onions -- peeled and diced
2 ribs celery -- diced
1 whole carrot -- peeled and diced
1 small can tomato paste
4 cloves garlic -- chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh marjoram -- coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil -- coarsely torn
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes -- scant--to taste
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano -- crushed
1/4 tablespoon dried thyme
2 cups red wine (whatever as long as it's worth drinking)
28 oz ounces San Marzano Tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar-- (if needed to taste)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil -- to taste; reserved

Add oil to deep pot and gently heat.

Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook until onions are softened and

Add chopped garlic, dried herbs, chili flakes, and tomato paste and sauté
until tomato paste looks "clumpy". Do not over-brown the garlic.

Add red wine and reduce by 1/3.

Add chopped San Marzano tomatoes with their liquid. Add the sugar.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat, cook sauce for approximately 15-20

Add salt and pepper to taste taking care that the sauce is not too spicy from
the chili flakes. (HINT add seasoning if sauce tastes bland by first adding some salt & pepper to a small taste of the sauce—NOT to the entire pot. Then if you decide it needs seasoning add to the rest of the sauce. Then you don’t accidentally over-season the whole recipe!)

Add the fresh marjoram and basil off the heat, but while the sauce is still hot and stir.
Stir in the reserved olive oil.

Taste the sauce.
If it is too sweet-- add a splash of good vinegar to re-balance the sauce (much like a wine that is out of round). If it is too acidic, add a pinch more sugar.

Cool sauce.

NUTRITION INFORMATION APPROX Per Serving 71 Calories; 2g Fat (30.6% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol;114mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Apple Sauce with Fennel

Serving Size: 8


5/8 fluid ounce extra virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb -- diced
6 apples -- peeled cored and chopped
1/8 pound unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 pound light brown sugar
1/16 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup apple cider
1/8 cup Tuaca liqueur


In a large pan add the oil and heat. Add the fennel, and saute until
golden brown.

Add the butter and let it brown slightly, then add the apples, and saute
for 2 minutes or so.

Add sugar and spices, and cook for another minute.

Add the cider and Tuaca (be careful not to ignite if cooking over gas.)

Continue cooking until apples are soft but not too muxhy.

Cool thoroughly, and refrigerate until needed.

Gently reheat before serving.

Nutrition Information

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 262 Calories; 10g Fat (34.1% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 43g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 20mg Cholesterol; 28mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1 Fruit; 2 Fat; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Christmas Eve will soon be here..."

We will be serving lunch & dinner on Christmas Eve until 8pm

If you would like to see the complete Christmas Eve Menu click here

If I was dining I would be tempted by the "Bling" Blini--cold smoked salmon on red pepper buckwheat blini, served with fresh American "sevruga" caviar & horseradish crème fraîche.

Then I would definitely have the Christmas Tangerine Salad with black olives & white balsamic tangerine vinaigrette.

The hard choice would be between the Main Courses—would it be the more traditional roast Prime Rib with Yorkshire pudding? Or the Lamb loin with Aaron’s delicious celery root gratin?

As a child growing up in an Italian family full of good cooks (yes my Mother’s parents both immigrated from Sweden so we suffered with lutefisk on the table also) but we all really most identified with the Italian side of the family.

When Christmas drew near Dad always brought home the wooden box of those delicious tangerines with their exotic spicy perfume. When I was really young the tangerines all had seeds but soon this other variety --Satsumas--appeared with the seeds somehow mysteriously gone. Stranger still-- they were so easy to peel—my brother Steve & I would try and see who could best peel their tangerine-- and try and keep the peel in one piece. I am sure I always won—but I am equally sure Steve would dispute this solid fact. Satsuma tangerines or mandarin oranges have been cultivated in Japan and China since ancient times. Their arrival coincides with the holidays and as soon as I taste the first tangerine of the season I start thinking about those Christmases long ago…

Our Christmas Tangerine Salad is based on the cooking principal of contrasting tastes: Since the tongue only has four tastes: salt, sweet, sour and bitter [and a 5th if you count “savory” or umami] food always tastes more “involving” in the mouth if you can activate all these taste sensations in one dish.

I think that is why the Asian cuisines always seem so delicious to me—they contrast sweet & sour, hot & sour, and vary the textures like soft scallops against crunchy snow peas.

Our salad attempts to do the same: something sweet & sour –that the Satsuma’s provide; something salty—from the pungent black olives; and the buttery sweet Reggiano cheese from Italy with its beguiling crunchy/salty granular texture. Put this on top of a bed of peppery baby arugula leaves, and you have a very delicious salad. We make a vinaigrette from white balsamic vinegar [another sweet & sour component] and blend it with some freshly squeezed tangerine juice. Dee-lish!

You can find our Christmas Tangerine Salad on our Menu Supplement for the next couple of weeks while tangerines are at their peak.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gingerbread Pudding Cake

Gingerbread Pudding Cake
this pudding/cake hybrid oozes an intense, sticky syrup that is great with a big dollop of whipped cream. Fantastic for the holidays!

1¼ hours plus 20 min prep

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon
ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon
baking soda
1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon
1/4 cup
unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup
2 tablespoons beaten
1/2 cup
1/2 cup
3/4 cup packed
light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups
hot water
5 tablespoons
unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8 inch glass baking dish. Whisk flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and salt in medium bowl.
Using an electric mixer, beat 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in egg. Stir molasses and 1/2 cup water in a 1 cup glass measuring cup.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, butter mixture and molasses mixture together beating to blend. Repeat until all separate mixtures are now one and transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top.
Stir 1 1/2 cups hot water and melted butter in 2 cup glass measuring cup. Carefully pour over top of batter (don't worry, there will be lots of liquid on the top). Bake until gingerbread is cracked on top, about 45 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What I'm eating right now

Here are a few current favorites of mine on our menu:

Soup -When the weather turns cold my thoughts drift towards warming comfort foods like stews & braises, and I am always asking our chefs to make some cozy soups. The other day I asked our Executive Chef Aaron Valimont, to make lentil soup. It was absolutely delicious [I had two bowls for lunch and another for dinner!]

But my favorite from the last few weeks was when I asked for Beef & Barley Soup. Aaron cooked the barley in a rich stock and for the beef used roast prime rib. There were lots of diced vegetables, and the broth was redolent of Italian parsley & fresh thyme. A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and lots of fresh cracked pepper was a great finishing touch. I called my Dad [a lover of great soups] and had him stop by to get some of this delicious soup, and Dad [a tough customer he] loved it.

Dale Chihuly came in for Lunch that day, and ordered a quart of the Beef & Barley Soup to-go [before he had even tasted it].

After he had a bowl for lunch he ordered another 2 quarts of soup To-Go! How gratifying a compliment to Aaron's great touch with soups!

"Fork & Knife Sloppy Joe" -from the Bar Menu--this is a variation on my mother's fantastic pasta sauce she would cook for 2 days before we headed up to our Mt cabin in Packwood to go skiing at White Pass--Mom would make a great "spaghetti sauce" and then brown off some thick-cut meaty Country-style Pork Spare Ribs. Then she would finish cooking the ribs in the pasta sauce. We would ride to the cabin with those ribs in a casserole pot on the floor of the car. I couldn't wait to come in from a long day skiing and have a big plate of spaghetti with the marinara sauce and those delicious ribs—meat falling from the bone, so tender and flavorful! The Sloppy Joe is a variation on her sauce from my childhood--but now we make it with pulled pork shoulder cooked in our Winter marinara sauce, and served over thick-cut rustic grilled sourdough bread, showered with shaved reggiano cheese. A great comfort food dish for these chilly nights, and an homage to mom's great cooking!

Crudo -the first dish I ever made that was written about [in the Los Angeles Times] when I was Chef of Michael's restaurant in Santa Monica was described in the article as "the earth meets the sea". We had received some exceedingly dark red ahi tuna--it reminded me of good beef it was so red-- so I decided to serve it simply, and treat it like beef carpaccio: fresh raw Ahi, some julienned black truffles, a sprinkle of sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, shaved reggiano, and some Italian parsley leaves scattered over the top with a crack of fresh pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Astonishingly simple & delicious.

That was back in 1981 but the dish is as delicious now as it was then. I was so excited to be written up in the LA TIMES. And their description rang really true—the dusky earthy truffles up against the pristine freshness of the sea as embodied by the tuna, with a sweet & salty touch from the reggiano. Back then Italians considered it heresy to serve fish with cheese [and still do]. But the raw fish trend right now on menus all across the country-- called Crudo in Italian-- blends Mediterranean flavors with raw fish, instead of using Asian or Japanese flavors.

I remember when I first did this dish at Michael's that a customer asked for soy sauce to dip the raw tuna in. I lied and told the waiter to tell the guest that we were out of soy sauce as I didn't want them to ruin the fresh black truffles. [Thank God he enjoyed the dish!]

Friday, December 7, 2007

Recipe for Gingerbread Pudding Cake

The current issue of Bon Appétit Magazine, dated December 2007, has a beloved holiday recipe for Gingerbread Pudding Cake that our Beach House Pastry Chef, Diane Terry, used to make at our (now closed) restaurant The Beach House at Purdy.

The recipe is located in the Reader's Favorite Restaurant Recipes, and is quite an honor for Diane, as you can imagine the number of requests the culinary magazines receive in any given year-- plus-- the recipes have to be tested and past muster with the editorial staff of the magazine.

So Congrats Diane!