A few weeks ago, I posted a salad recipe that I had developed for a client. That recipe, as so many of my recipes often do, involved the use of a Very Special Ingredient: Strawberry White Balsamic Vinegar. Or, as it’s now commonly referred to ’round these parts, “strawbalsamic”.
That vinegar is so smooth and sweet, you can practically drink it. So let’s drink it already.
These two cocktails are in the spirit of the shrubrenaissance that’s been sweeping the bars and blogs of our nation lately. Our strawbalsamic, though, is much less sweet and less complicated than many of those shrub syrup recipes. Because with cocktails, there’s no time to mess around. Simplicity is key.
I mean, there wasn’t even time for a garnish. We’re on a tight schedule around here.
Could you make that salad without strawbalsamic? Yes, absolutely. Can you make these cocktails without it? I don’t recommend it.
Making the vinegar (recipe here) will take ten minutes of your time (including washing the strawberries, plus the hands-off time needed to steep), and will reward you for weeks: in cocktails, in green salads, to brighten up grain-vegetable mélanges, or anyplace you might use lemon juice and don’t mind a bit of fragrant strawberry.
The vinegar recipe calls for a food processor, which I used because I have one; but I imagine you could get the same effect by smashing the hulled berries with a potato masher or fork. Or shoot, just chop them up with a knife. Don’t let a lack of power tools scare you off. This one’s too good.
If you're a purist (or don't have a cocktail shaker), you can stir this drink together over ice, then strain into a glass. I like my drinks shook.
I tried this with both rye and Bourbon, and thought they were both delightful. Use something that has some personality to it. The Bourbon version is a touch more sweet, but not at all in a cloying way.
Recently, a dinner party client requested a strawberry salad for the meal I was cooking for him. And I don’t know the last time you searched for “strawberry salad”, but 99.99% of the recipes out there involve two things:
2. Poppy seeds
Not that there’s a thing in the world wrong with a good strawberry-spinach-poppy seed salad. It’s a lovely little thing, simple, tasty, and pretty, which is why it’s ubiquitous.
But my clients don’t pay me to make exactly what the next guy is serving. My clients hire me because they want something bespoke, something more thoughtful. And I thought I could do better.
So I brainstormed. At the top of the page, I wrote “NO GODDAMN SPINACH OR POPPY SEEDS”, just in case I needed a reminder. I laid out some flavors: watermelon, arugula, pistachios, lime, balsamic vinegar, mint, shallot, cardamom, vanilla.
Peppery arugula made the base of the salad, while chopped watermelon and strawberries marinated in a bath of lime, herbs, shallot, olive oil, a splash of vanilla, and this incredibleStrawberry White Balsamic Vinegar that I discovered from Our Dearly Departed Gourmet Magazine. If you try nothing else from this recipe, make that. You could practically drink it.
(Note to self: develop cocktail recipe using Strawberry White Balsamic Vinegar.)
The pistachios got candied with some egg white, sugar, and a heavy dose of cardamom. They might seem like a fussy afterthought, but they go a long way towards tying everything together. Besides, crunchy bits are requisite on moderately-fussy salads like this. (And they’re a lovely little snack to boot, if you happen to make extra.)
These pictures are from the test run I did many weeks ago, and I can just about smell it through the screen. This is one super fragrant salad, y’all.
We paired it with a punchy rosé, and oh my goodness if you make this salad, you really ought to have a bottle of rosé on hand. It was one of those situations where one legitimately could not tell if the wine was making the food better, or the food was making the wine better. There was a lovely roasted salmon too, but it became incidental.
My client, by the way, was thrilled. And so was I. I think you will be too.
Strawberry, Watermelon, & Arugula Salad with Cardamom-Candied Pistachios
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
If you choose to make the Strawberry Vinegar (which you absolutely should; recipe linked below), plan a little in advance, as it requires at least 1 hour to make. You can make it well in advance, and it's wildly versatile, so you have very little excuse.
If you don't have time for that, though, I specify white balsamic vinegar, only because regular balsamic vinegar will muddy the appearance a little. If that doesn't bother you, by all means use regular balsamic vinegar.
This strikes me as an ideal picnic salad, or contribution to a potluck dinner. While the strawberries and watermelon marinate in the dressing, that gives you ample time to get to, you know, wherever you're going. Once there, serve them with the arugula and the pistachios. Wham. You look like Martha Stewart.
1. Preheat oven to 300° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk the egg white with the water until foamy. Whisk in the sugars, cardamom, salt, and pepper until combined.
3. Add the pistachios and mix until coated.
4. LIft the pistachios out of the bowl, letting any excess liquid remain in the bowl, and spread in an even layer on the prepared pan. Do not crowd the nuts (use a second pan if necessary).
5. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until the nuts look dry, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking and clumping together. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
To Make the Dressing:
1. In a large bowl, combine the Strawberry Vinegar (or white balsamic), shallot, mint, basil, lime zest and juice, vanilla, and cardamom. Add a three-fingered pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
2. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil (it's okay if it doesn't emulsify). Taste. If the dressing seems too tart, add additional olive oil one tablespoon at a time until it tastes more balanced. When it tastes good to you, proceed with the recipe.
To Finish the Salad:
1. Toss the quartered strawberries and diced watermelon with the dressing in the bowl. Let stand for at least 10 minutes at room temperature, or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
2. When ready to serve, add arugula and toss to coat with the dressing. Divide into bowls or plates, top with Cardamom-Candied Pistachios, and serve.
I made some food recently. Maybe you’d like to see it?
This was a smoked duck and soba noodle soup, made with an ultra-reduced rabbit and pork stock, and garnished with a heavy hand of cilantro and green onions. AKA: stuff I had sitting around in the fridge (one of the perks of my job).
That stock was so thick with gelatin from being so concentrated, it did that gorgeous thing where it makes your lips all sticky, and you just sit there pressing your mouth together like a dweeb for five minutes just to feel it.
It’s a fried egg! Can’t beat a fried egg. This one seems to be on asparagus. I actually have no recollection of cooking this, but I like the photo.
We snagged some of that phenomenal Copper River salmon when it was here, and served it with a raw kale-avocado-lemon salad.
Here are some blueberries. They were lovely, but I didn’t do anything with them worth noting.
There’s a new recipe coming soon. I think you’ll like it.
I know it’s probably dreadfully boring, and I promise this isn’t going to become a blog about rusks. But I thought I’d share photos from the Official Launch of Good Hope Rusks last Sunday at Dose Market, just in case some of you were interested. Hope you don’t mind.
Did I mention you can now order rusks online? Because you can order rusks online. That is all.
(And now, back to our regularly scheduled food programming.)
We had a Launch Party at a fabulous little restaurant, just the two of us, because I’ve never had a Launch Party for anything and it seemed like a wonderful thing to do.
Man, was it ever.
There was Champagne. Lamb sweetbreads with sorrel, asparagus, and feta. A hedonistically lush foie gras torchon. Crisp-skinned trout and lentils. After-dinner drinks. And there was an impeccably textured cream cheese panna cotta with strawberry compote and housemade graham crackers. With a candle, even. I love that restaurant so hard.
Introducing Good Hope Rusks, my updated take on a traditional South African rusk. What’s a rusk? It’s a crunchy, baked biscuit, and it makes a fantastic breakfast or snack. Coffee or tea is almost required with these guys, but they’re still awesome on their own.
If you think it sounds and looks like a biscotti, you’re nearly right. They’re made in a similar way, but are much less sweet. (Aside from being low in sugar, mine are also 100% whole grain, and come in three! cool! flavors!, but who’s counting?)
I first discovered rusks in 2009, during a little bread-making project I was undertaking that year. Then last year, a dear friend of mine (who happens to be from South Africa) and I were talking. I mentioned my pipe dream of selling my very own packaged food. She mentioned her erstwhile plans to make and sell the rusks she often makes for her family and friends (somehow, running her own Interior Design business and raising two awesome kids and modeling and being generally kick-ass got in the way).
We’re smart ladies. We put two and two together. A star was born.
Many months later, I’m ready to run these rusks up my flagpole and see if anyone salutes.
This Sunday is the official launch date, and if you’re in Chicago, you can come see (and taste) for yourself. I’ll be selling my rusks for the very first time ever at the always-fabulous Dose Market on April 15!
Even if you’re crazy and don’t want to come see me and my rusks, you really shouldn’t miss all the other incredible vendors (see below for a full list). Did I mention that there’s free cocktails, from one of Chicago’s top new restaurants (first come, first served)? Because there’s free cocktails.
Tickets to Dose Market are $10 at the door, or $8 if you buy in advance. But I’ve managed to swing two free tickets to Dose Market to give away to one lucky Chicago-area reader! Yep, it’s one for you and one for a friend, because sharing is awesome. It’s my very first giveaway ever, yay! *kermit arms*
How do you get these 100% completely free tickets to the coolest monthly party around? Just leave a comment below! In the comment, tell me what you think of Good Hope Rusks. Give me the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. Love the look? Think it sounds interesting? Hate the whole thing? Leave a comment! (FYI, since you have to include an email address on the form to post a comment, there’s no need to publicly share your email address.)
Jump on this one fast: the contest ends on April 12 (Thursday night) at 11:59 pm, Central time! It’s only open to Chicago-area readers — or I guess anyone willing to drive/fly/walk to Chicago this weekend. I’ll assign each comment a number in the order it’s posted, pick the winner via random number generator, and announce the winner on Friday. The winner will be notified via email.
I’d love to see you all on Sunday! If you can’t make it, though, you can stay in the loop with Good Hope Rusks on Facebook and Twitter.
So there you have it. Good Hope Rusks. I hope you love ’em like I do.
This sauce is something I mentioned in passing ages ago, but I assume nobody took much notice of it then. And honestly, I almost forgot about it myself.
Flipping through my omnibus notebook now and then, I’d notice the quickly scribbled recipe – a vague list of ingredients, really – and remember how good it was. I’d then remind myself that I should really collect the recipe gems out of that notebook at some point (which I will probably never do). And then I’d proceed to go about my day, tra la la, recipes forgotten and languishing.
But in the span of the last week or so, I somehow managed to accumulate an embarrassment of herbs: basil, chives, dill, thyme, mint, and four (four!) bunches of parsley. Clearly, some sort of fridge-cleaning pesto was in order. And lucky me, I had just seen that salsa verde “recipe” again.
Originally inspired by the brilliance that is Ideas In Food, it’s an Italian-style salsa verde, parsley-forward, thickened with bread and spiked with vinegar, and not a lick of olive oil. The result is a bright, punchy sauce that goes fantastically with eggs, grains, vegetables, and just about everything else I’ve slathered it on.
I suppose you could throw in some olive oil if you really had your heart set on it, but the beauty of this sauce is its crisp freshness. Oil, I think, would weigh it down, deaden the clean flavors. Fat carries flavor, yes; but sometimes flavor is already there in abundance and needs no outside help.
This is one of those play-it-by-ear recipes. This may terrify you, or excite you. I am in the latter camp. Measurements are all approximate, based on what I used, which was based on what was kicking around in my fridge. Use whatever you have, or whatever you like. It’s your sauce.
For the fresh herbs, I used: 1 large bunch parsley (picked from the stems, please), 1/3 cup mint, 10-15 chives, 2 tablespoons basil, 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, and 1 tablespoon dill. And I deeply regretted that I didn't have any cilantro. I understand salsa verde is traditionally made with mostly parsley, but let's not stand on ceremony.
Me, I like this sauce with a pretty decent heat level, provided here by half a marzano chile. Remember, every chile is different, and you can't remove it once too much has been added in. Start with a little, and add more as you like.
If you don't have panko, use slices of whatever bread tastes good (crusts removed). I always have panko, and would rather use my bread to accompany dinner instead of using it as an ingredient.
1/3 cup panko, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
About 3 cups mixed fresh herbs, loosely packed
4 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Fresh chile to taste, chopped
1-3 anchovy fillets, to taste
About 1/4 cup water, or as needed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Mix 1/3 cup panko with the apple cider and sherry vinegars. Stir in enough water (2-4 tablespoons) to make a slightly-thick paste. Set aside.
2. In a small food processor (or mortar and pestle), purée the herbs with the scallions, garlic, chile, and anchovy. Scrape down the sides of the processor workbowl.
3. Add about half of the vinegar-panko goo, and 2 tablespoons of water. Purée again briefly, and check the consistency. If you'd like it thinner, add more water. If you'd like it thicker, add more panko (vinegared, or plain). Season with a pinch or two of salt and some black pepper.
4. Give it another whizz, then taste. The vinegar flavor should be very present, but not overwhelming. Correct the seasoning as needed with more vinegar-panko goo, chile, salt, and/or pepper. Thin as needed with more water, or thicken with more panko. Add some more herbs if you need to. It'll taste okay at this point, but you should really let it stand at least 1 hour at room temperature before using. Store in the refrigerator with a little olive oil drizzled on top to help keep the color fresh and green (or use it all up in a few days, like I do).
Some scenes from my wild New Year’s Eve, pleasantly spent at home in the company of a slightly under-the-weather boyfriend. I lit candles, and put on a dress and heels, because it just isn’t New Year’s without some fancy-pants luxury. He put on a suit, bless’im.
First, a Sazerac…
…which went nicely with the requisite black-eyed peas and cabbage (for luck and money, respectively).
Breaking with tradition, I made corn-buttermilk popovers instead of cornbread to posh things up a little. These didn’t quite pop over perfectly, but they tasted good all the same.
We watched a movie, and shook up another cocktail to toast with at midnight. After some Auld Lang Syne, it was video games until bedtime.
No cabs. No crowds. No hangover. Simple. Easy. Perfect. Exactly the right start.
My oh my, I haven’t given you all a recipe in ages, have I? Poor darlings, here you go.
Over dinner the other night, I helped a dear friend brainstorm ideas for her family’s Christmas feast. They planned on salmon, but needed ideas for something festive to dress it up. Fennel immediately sprung to mind, in a sort of raw relish, with a heavy dose of lemon.
Which would be, you know, okay, but it’s not good enough. Not for Christmas.
A quick google didn’t turn up exactly the soignée dish I had in mind, just page after page of fennel and cucumber summat-er-other. I wasn’t inspired at all until one word caught my eye: beets. Yes! Beets! Fennel and beets! Anise-y crunch with earthy sweetness. Perfect.
I wrote my friend an email, containing a sort of recipe that came out as a stream of consciousness, as I pictured what I might reach for were I making it right then. Roasted beets. Raw fennel, small dice. Toasted fennel seeds. Shallot. Lemon. Garlic. Olive oil. And loads of herbs. I was confident.
Of course, I had to try it out for myself. (Can’t let everyone else have all the fun, right?) A couple of filets of sockeye later, cooked according to my latest go-to, foolproof, perfect-every-time method, which you should absolutely try as soon as possible, my confidence turned into unabashed pride.
It’s crunchy, it’s sweet, it’s raw, it’s roasted, it’s bright, and it’s just killer with a fine piece of salmon. It’s exactly what I was going for.
Here’s hoping it can liven more than one holiday table this year. Bon appétit!
This relish is stunning served with a simple roast salmon, though I suspect darn near any fish would work quite well too. I can also see this as an hors d'oeuvre, with crostini and a tangy goat cheese, or even as a topping on those dreadful endive boats (if you insist on using them).
You may notice that the recipe calls for golden beets, while I clearly used red beets in the photos; if you don't mind a little staining, it doesn't matter which you use. Use both, if you like.
If you can, make this several hours or even a day in advance. It's one of those recipes that drastically improves with a little rest.
3 large or 5 small beets (preferably golden)
1 medium shallot
1 lemon (preferably organic)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 to 8 tablespoons olive oil, to taste
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup minced fresh mint
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 whole fennel bulbs, with leafy tops attached
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Scrub the beets well, and trim the leafy tops which are hopefully still attached (save those for eating another time). Wrap each of the beets tightly in aluminum foil, and pop in the hot oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how big they are. Small ones will, of course, cook faster.
2. Meanwhile, mince the shallot finely and put into a large bowl that won't stain (you know, glass or metal). Zest the lemon into the bowl, and squeeze in all the juice.
3. Smash and peel the garlic clove, chop into very small bits, and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Using the side of your knife, smash and scrape the salted garlic into a paste. Add this paste to the bowl, along with the Dijon mustard.
4. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the olive oil. Use only enough to take the harsh edge off the dressing, while still letting the lemon flavor shine. This doesn't need to be perfectly emulsified, so don't worry about whisking it to perfect smoothness.
5. Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat for a minute or so, just until fragrant. Either throw them in whole, or crush them up in a mortar and pestle, depending on preference.
6. Chop the thyme, mint, parsley, and a handful of fronds from the fennel; add to the bowl.
7. Remove the tops from the fennel, and any brown spots on the outside. Cut the fennel into a small dice, and add to the bowl with a few grinds of black pepper. Toss well, and let stand until the beets have finished roasting.
8. When the beets are done (they will feel slightly soft when squeezed through the foil), let cool until they can be handled. Peel the beets, chop into a small dice, and add to the other ingredients. Toss together, and taste to check the seasoning. Correct as needed with additional salt, pepper, olive oil, and/or lemon juice.
A banana bread muffin, split, toasted under a broiler, with fancy butter and a cup of tea. This is a breakfast for a gray, rainy day, one that never manages to crawl above the mid-40’s in temperature. Three months from now, these temperatures will feel positively quaint.
This is my all-time favorite banana bread. It's not too sweet, it's not too rich, it's full of banana flavor and a little nuttiness from the whole wheat flour and flaxseed. It toasts gorgeously; and though it doesn't need it, a little pat of butter is a luxurious accompaniment. Some days require luxury.
If you'd like to make this into muffins, increase the oven temperature to 350º F and bake for about 30 minutes. I always seem to get 15 or 16 standard size muffins out of each batch.
127 grams (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting the pan
85 grams (2/3 cup) whole wheat flour
25 grams (1/4 cup) ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
148 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
1 cup smashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and sprinkle with flour. Shake the pan around to coat evenly with flour, then turn the pan upside down over the sink and knock on the bottom to remove any excess.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, whip the eggs and sugar together until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes. In a liquid measuring cup, smash the bananas until smooth (a fork works well here). Make sure there's at least 1 cup; if it measures more than that, don't worry one bit. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and stir until combined.
4. Add the banana mixture to the eggs and sugar. Mix until just blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Stir together just until the flour is moistened and no large pockets remain; do not overmix. Transfer batter to the prepared pan, and lightly smooth the top.
5. Bake at 325° F until golden brown on top and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool briefly in the pan before removing to a rack to cool. Excellent served warm, or sliced and toasted.
I’m back home, after eleven days in New Orleans. It’s not a very long time on paper, but time can be quite subjective, especially when returning to one’s hometown after a long absence.
The first weekend was spent attending the International Food Blogger Conference, or, affectionately, IFBC NOLA, at the Hotel Monteleone. I met about a million wonderful, kind, talented people, people I wish lived close to me so that we could become better friends in real life. I learned loads about ways to improve my blog, my photography, my writing, and, yes, my life online and off.
I hope you don’t mind if I bore you with details about the food, rather than rehashing the nitty-gritty educational part of the conference. I think that might be what you’re here to see anyway.
The organizers of IFBC managed to get fourteen local restaurants to showcase samples of their menus for us, at receptions on both Friday and Saturday. And, like any good food blogger, I shot first and ate later.
The good people at Wines of Navarra provided a couple of bottles of wine for us to taste on Friday night.
Accompanying the wine, Muriel’s restaurant provided us with their signature shrimp and goat cheese crêpes, a gorgonzola tart with berries and pecans, and proscuitto-wrapped asparagus.
Following the wine tasting, I embarrassed myself a little when I saw Chef Susan Spicer standing basically alone (alone!) next to a full table of canapés: one of smoked salmon mousse, and the other of duck prosciutto with a pickled cherry.
I made sure she knew my mom is her biggest fan, especially of her sweetbreads. (My mother cannot eat a sweetbread without appending, “…but Susan Spicer still makes the best in the world.”) I promptly took a picture with her on my phone, texted it to my mom, and forgot to mention to Chef that I have garnered much accolade using recipes from her cookbook for clients of my own.
This shot of the duck prosciutto features the assistance of Andrew Scrivani, who set up the lighting. No effort or expense was spared in the preparation of this shot; all three votives on the table were used.
Eating my way around the room, I enjoyed the following:
Kurobuta pork cheeks with tomato jam and black eyed pea purée, from La Petite Grocery. The pork was just out of the fryer, crisp and hot, the interior full-flavored and rich.
Spicy tuna tartare with avocado and microgreens, from Ste. Marie, a new restaurant that I’m going to have to try properly the next time I’m in town. I appreciate it when something described as “spicy” is legitimately spicy; this tuna certainly was. They also served an excellent pappardelle with rabbit ragu that I neglected to photograph.
And then, I left to go to dinner with my parents.
Because, you know, there wasn’t enough food.
Friday morning came maybe a little too bright and early, and morning sessions were followed by a lunch reception. The first thing to catch my eye were the oysters.
A boat full of Gulf shrimp and Gulf oysters, glistening and briny, shucked by the good people at Royal House.
I prefer to not exercise restraint around oysters, particularly Gulf oysters, when I have been without them for a long time.
I wanted to put that little boat on wheels and drag it around with me for the rest of my trip. Later that day, the inimitable and delightful Poppy Tooker urged us, in a talk about sustainability: “Eat it to save it.” Well, last week, I saved the hell out of some oysters.
There were po-boys, too, in fried oyster and shrimp, on proper Leidenheimer po-boy bread. Sandwich shops of the nation, take note: without this bread, it is never a po-boy. No substitutes for this bread are acceptable. And “dressed” means only mayonnaise (preferably Blue Plate), lettuce (shredded iceberg), and tomato (Creole, ideally). Pickles are occasionally allowed, but you’d better know what you’re doing.
This was alligator and andouille gumbo, from the classic Parkway Bakery.
The fine gentlemen from Abita Beer made sure our glasses never ran dry, with pours of their flagship Amber, and SOS, a nicely bitter and refreshing pilsner that generates 75 cents per bottle for the restoration of the Gulf coast following last year’s BP oil spill. And if you’ve never visited the brewery itself, I highly recommend it. You’re handed a go-cup when you walk in, and are promptly shown where the open taps are. Oh, yes.
Later that afternoon, I sampled what I’m still shocked was my first ever Ramos Gin Fizz, from the famous Carousel Bar downstairs. It was… frothy.
I switched back to Abita Amber after, half wishing I had ordered the more lusty Sazerac instead of the fizz.
That night, the Monteleone prepared us an extravagant wine pairing dinner, with ingredients one doesn’t usually see in menus for over a hundred people.
The first course: crabmeat ravigote, on cucumber gelée, topped with shrimp and rémoulade sauce, paired with a vintage Spanish cava. The crab was sweet and wonderfully lumpy, and the gelée was full-flavored, though perhaps it had a bit too much gelatin. Crab and champagne are a natural pair, no exception here.
The entrée: beef tournedo (tenderloin), topped with foie gras and black truffle, served with endive and beets, paired with a red blend from Italy. It was a lily guilded thrice. I don’t really understand stacking up three luxury items, when the textures don’t necessarily go well together, even though it’s a classic dish. All the ingredients were delicious, but the beets were my favorite part of this plate.
The dessert: white chocolate crème brûlée, with berries and pulled sugar garnish, paired with an incredible Muscat from Australia. The crème brûlée was set in a sort of tart crust, not something you typically see, but it was really lovely. Unfortunately, the pretty pulled sugar was a sticky reminder why those garnishes do not work well in areas of high humidity. Muscat is my favorite dessert wine; this one was complex, and caramel-thick in the best possible way.
Oh, and after all this wonderful food? Chef John Besh delivered the keynote speech of the weekend. I adore his restaurants, and cannot commend the man enough for his ambassadorship in promoting New Orleans and Louisiana. I have a professional crush on this guy.
The remaining sessions on Sunday went by too fast, and IFBC NOLA was over.
And then, the rest of my trip back home began. More on that later. Stay tuned!