Monday, March 23, 2009


Well, spring break is over and, as the old timers used to say when I first moved here, you could fire a cannon on Main Street and not hit anyone. Just like that, the Texans are gone and what we made in just over a week now has to hold us through what is historically two of our slowest months. All that while opening a new place and keeping my crew employed at their accustomed rate. Fun, fun.
Had a mildly disappointing day in the menu testing department today. I tried an idea for potato wrapped halibut that I saw in the March edition of Bon Appetit, but it was a flop all the way around. First, I live in a hole where neither halibut nor Yukon gold potatoes are available without special order, so we made do with flounder and white potatoes; second, wrapping a fish fillet in slices of potato layered to look like scales is way flippin' harder than it looks; third, I frakked up and had the oil too cool when the (barely) wrapped fish hit the pan and the seam on the back didn't sear shut as it was supposed to. The end result tasted like what it looked like: oily fish draped with undercooked potatoes.
Although fish and potatoes are hard to come by here, I was able to pick up some nopales, prickly pear cactus pads, at the store. I'd never worked with them, but had heard that they should be treated much the same as okra. The pads at the store were all pretty limp and the end results were less than great, but I'll try again with fresh pads. Raw, the pads taste like watermelon rind and they are viscous like okra. Dusted with cornmeal, salt and cayenne, they are pretty tasty. I think we'll try them in soup and see if they share a similar thickening ability with okra while losing some of the slime, sort of a nopales gumbo.
The potato wrapped fish being a flop, Brett tried wrapping the filets in poblano and green chiles and making fish rellenos. These were better, but the strong peppers overpowered the mild flavored fish, so we'll have to work on that a little more before writing it off. We also tried wrapping with squash, but it just snapped in half. Maybe if it was par-cooked.
One thing that did work pretty well was spinach and oyster mushrooms sauteed with chorizo. I'm planning on trying a variation of that as one of the veg dishes: mushroom and spinach enchiladas.
Just noticed that Bon Appetit has a full page ad for Pizza wonder they're not trustworthy.


-Sarah- said...

mmmm, gumbo. What's this new restaurant you're "cooking" up (hardy har har)

Eric said...

Haha, I'm calling it New World food in an effort not to be pigeon holed into one style. We started with the idea to do Southwest, but it's overdone around here, and overdone poorly. Same with Mexican, although several of the dishes are Mexican influenced, because people here have a tendency to dismiss any new Mexican restaurant.

Maria said...

So, what is your favorite thing to cook?

Eric said...

I think, Maria, that I would have to say that Pizza Margherita is my favorite thing to cook. So simple, but the they play off of each other...are just so damned good. I love to watch people try it for the first time and see their eyes light up and know that, yeah, they get it.