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!]


JohnI said...

Great Blog fellas! I'm going to bookmark it immediately.

How about sharing the recipe for the winter marinara?

We'll be seeing you soon. Til then, Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to have missed you when we were in the other night. Our meals, as usual, were fabulous. I'm making a pork roast tonight and would love to serve your apple/fennal dish with it. Will you share the recipe? I'm saving up my best surgery stories for when I see you again.
Peggy Keller

ChefGordonNaccarato said...

Hey "Scrubbie" sorry I missed you the other night

Peggy you have the best surgery stories ever!

And yes you can have the recipe...let me find it and I will post in a few minutes!

ChefGordonNaccarato said...

Apple Sauce with Roasted Fennel

Approx Serving Size: 8

5/8 fluid ounce extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 fennel bulbs -- 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


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 mushy.

Cool thoroughly, and refrigerate until needed.

Gently reheat before serving.

Nutrition Information

Per Serving (approx) 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.