Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Three Latest and Best

Buttermilk Cornbread in the Edge Pan: Any recipe that says "first, melt one stick of butter" is OK with me. And that's exactly how my mother's buttermilk cornbread recipe starts. The lovely thing is that the melted butter goes in the pan before the batter and becomes the outside of an incredible, brown, buttery crust. Just perfect for the edge brownie pan. Cooking times needed a little adjustment, but otherwise, wow, so many edges!

Ingredient of the Week -- Brussel Sprouts: Yes, I know brussel sprouts are seriously old school (and some consider them seriously gross) but it's coming up on fall and holiday time and, well, maybe it's the Anglo Saxon in me, but I always crave these little round balls of cabbage-y goodness. Plus, I love the way they grow on a tall stalk. My favorite way to cook them lately? Cleaned, then sauteed in butter, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg, then cut in half and steamed all the way through. Mmmm. Brussel sprouty goodness.

Chaine Dinner at the Columbia Club: Sunday night, had a very lovely, black-tie dinner from executive chef Doug Knopp who came to CC from the late Restaurant du Soliel at the Conrad (post-Jonathan Wright). It was a well thought out dinner and Chef Knopp is clearly a well-trained and highly-skilled professional. (One rarely sees classic techniques anymore more such as the tiny-dice, brunoise.) As a layman, I can only imagine doing 8 courses for a group of serious foodies, industry professionals, and chefs is a little stressful. There were a few execution problems (like the consomme with small diced root vegetables in a glass too narrow for the soup spoons we were given) and a couple of dishes that needed work (like the too-intense, foie gras mousse in a soft cream puff pastry and the roasted endive too bitter for the tuna tartare riding along), but overall the result was delicious. There were flashes of brilliance in the subtlety of the fish course (citrus marinated salmon, sliced scallops, and caviar in aioli) and the formal white-glove service. While the perfectly crispy tempura manchego with a thick, sweet balsamic reduction was the best of the starters, the espresso powder and cocoa-crusted veal tenderloin was the best dish of the meal. Fantastic, perfectly cooked, and so tender, you didn't need a knife. My other favorites of the evening? The Oregon Sunset Bay goat cheese (star of the cheese course), and the five spice ice cream (although mine was melty) with a perfect pairing of a semi-sparkling Malvasio. My favorite wine of the night? Tyrrell's Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2002. Overall, a very successful -- and delicious -- evening.

Two Minute Warning: I don't know why I do this to myself. I *know* the food ends up disappointing me every time I have brunch at Scholar's Inn, but somehow I always get sucked in by the drink specials -- and brunches feature half-price champagne cocktails (although Mimosas are full price.) I know this popular downtown restaurant is a favorite spot for lot of brunchers, but all I can say is "why"? I always just feel suckered in and mad at myself any time I actually *eat* there. Plus, the scary seafood brunch specials always make me think of leftovers from Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. (I know, I know, stick to the benedicts and pancakes.) This week what did I try? The Chicken "Pot Pie" which was really baby carrots from a bag, peas, a little celery, cubed cooked chicken and a generic cream sauce in a bowl topped with a square of puff pastry. I'm not sure how it was actually cooked or assembled but it looked thrown together on the spot, and it was cold instantly. My friend was smart and stuck with an eggs benedict although it looked like the potatoes had been waiting for a while. Add that to a 10 minute wait for a reserved table when lots of empties were in clear view, people standing around complaining tables weren't cleared when they just didn't do it themselves, long waits for servers, only one kind of bread left ... you get the idea. And in what world do canned mandarin oranges belong on any plate as fruit? Apparently, only in the world of Scholar's Inn. Thank goodness they always have some kind of cheap half-price drink special going. A champagne buzz can cover a multitude of sins.


scubachef said...

"the espresso powder and cocoa-crusted veal tenderloin was the best dish of the meal"

Chef Hardesty at Elements had an espresso- (and maybe cocoa)crusted venison tenderloin on the menu around winter of last year. It was one of the best dishes I've had in town since the closing of Something Different. Hope it shows up again this year.

Russ said...

We are fans of the sprouts in our house, though generally for convenience's sake, my wife uses the frozen variety. I will pass along the nutmeg idea... I think she just uses butter

P.S. Nice to see that you have a name (re: your Indianapolis Monthly article). I thought perhaps you were a fan of the brains, like those served on sandwiches up in Goshen or maybe consumed fresh by the undead...

Shelly said...

I love brussel sprouts! I like them sautéed with a little pancetta and golden raisins...that is from the Barefoot Contessa, but I go light on the seasoning...her actual recipe sort of covers the flavor of the brussel sprouts...I like to taste mine!