Saturday, August 20, 2005

Food Notes: Dinner in August

A few weekends ago I had 10 or so friends over for what wound up being a test kitchen dinner. Here are the dishes along with some sourcing and prep notes, wine notes to follow:

Hog Island (big) and Kumamoto (small) Oysters
These came from Berkeley Bowl, but I prefer to get them from Hapuku Fish Shop in Market Hall where they tend to be smaller. In my opinion, a better size for raw eating.

Strawberry Puree and Cucumber "Spaghetti" with Chopped Olives and Basil
This recipe came from a New York Times Magazine article on Patrick Mikanowski (already archived, requires purchase), and was adapted from his book "Uncooked". The sauce was a straight puree of hulled strawberries --which i picked up at the Grand Lake Farmers' Market-- with salt and pepper to taste. The Cucumber Spaghetti was made with a Mandolin, but could also be food-milled. I goofed up and didn't buy seedless cucumbers - this complicated preparing the spaghetti a lot.

Raw Scallop and Salmon with Passion Fruit, Shiso, and Lime Zest
From the same NYT Magazine article as above. Think this dish was the most interesting but also could have easily been a bunch better: More shiso, more lime zest, more red pepper flakes. You can find shiso at Berkeley Bowl (to the right of the potatoes along the eastern wall) in small bags for just under a dollar. You can grab Passion Fruit there too. They are on a stand in the middle of the produce area, along side the other semi-obscure tropical fruits (Star Fruit, Horned Melons, etc.).

Zucchini Carpaccio with Tonnato
Tonnato is basically aioli with tuna and anchovies blended in. This is a dish that they were serving at Dopo a couple of weeks back, but before I could taste the zucchini version they started serving the tonnato with roasted peppers. The Dopo recipe starts with their tuna confit, which I prepared according to a Govind Armstrong recipe with mixed results (cooked too long and at too high a temperature). Most tonnato recipes found online recommend a canned tuna, I'd like to try it with the bulk Ortiz Tuna that they sale at Market Hall. I've since tried the sauce over oven roasted tomatoes and that worked pretty well too.

Grilled Honey Glazed Chicken with Green Pea and Mint Sauce
A Boy Meets Grill recipe compliments of the Food Network. Thought this sauce was good, but the honey didn't really come through, the vinegar was too prominent, and it should have been blended more. Also, the chicken didn't really glaze. Think the alcohol consumption to this point was impacting the attention I paid to the chicken.

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