March 2009

VERY First Look: Masaryk (Updated)

I'm out on the whole North of the Loop sucks debate. Readers of this blog are well aware of my fave spots about town. I do however own a town home in Addison and walk to work most days to our studios in Addison Circle. Masaryk, the new Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge, recruited our staff and some other locals as guinea pigs for lunch service today… so some snaps:

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The Duck Carnitas Tacos look promising. ^ The Fundido. We sampled some tasty Carne Asada; Tacos al Carbon… but the winning dish:

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Applewood Smoked Bacon and Chipotle Fajitas. Raves on this one from the table.

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HUARACHES 

^Tostaditas de Ceviche; Huaraches Mercad (Corn Masa Discs, Black Beans, Pulled Pork, Chille Pasilla, Crema, Queso Fresco, Shoots).

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The Flan. Three of us don't like flan, after this – two converted. I'll get back over and get some shots of the handsome space and inviting Tequila Bar. A welcome addition to our enclave up North… and no nosebleed.

Why I care to do this: A meal w/ friends… Nobu, Dallas.

I write this blog for friends and family… and I'm happy to note that the league of friends interested in my "Adventures in Food" has grown over the last year. There has been some interesting recent discussion regarding food blogs in general, and the question of journalistic integrity relating to independent "foodie" blogs in particular. I direct my readers to the "About" section at the top right of my blog page.

In this spirit, I publish this post. It's not material with whom I dined, nor the circumstances of the evening (interesting as these details may be). This is all about food porn: my initial concept for this blog. I often delay posts in need of getting details from the chef. Screw it. Enjoy.

I asked "Jet" to join me and some friends for a wonderful, meaningful meal at Nobu… we sat in the back corner of the restaurant, at the sushi bar, and let chefs Matt Raso & Mitsuhiro Eguchi dazzle us, as they do. Showing here:

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It's all about crazy good food and all that is associated with it's preparation, presentation, and consumption. Go forth, be passionate… and eat. I'll do my part to get the taste buds twitching.

Nobu on Urbanspoon

Riffing on Ripert.

In aid of honing my technique in preparing fish – as well as interesting sauces – I recently produced this dish:

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I call it "Chilean Sea Bass w/ Ginger-Cardamom Sauce."  It is somewhat based on Eric Ripert's "Masala-Spiced Crispy Black Bass with Peking Duck-Green Papaya Salad in Ginger Cardamom Broth." But… not.
See, since my copy of Ripert's On the Line arrived, I've been drooling over the delicious recipes, and looking forward to the challenge of the techniques demonstrated. I finally couldn't stand it any longer and ran off to Central Market – brimming with fantasies of inexpensive fine dining and satisfying accomplishment. As this was an exercise, I skipped the salad component to focus on the fish and sauce. The market was out of Black Bass. I scanned the many available options… Chilean Sea Bass! I thought that was un-PC and all… but there it was. "I'll take about… that much." Cool. Looks good. Didn't notice the price. Though nowhere near Le Bernardin prices, the inexpensive home-cooked meal part of the plan just swam off. D'oh!

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To start the sauce, I sautéed sliced Shallots, Garlic. and Ginger in canola oil. Next, Ripert asks that you prepare a Tomato and Cardamom Chutney. So I picked up a prepared Chutney and some Green Cardamom pods from the local Indian market (this is an exercise).

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I added the Chutney and cracked Cardamom pods to the pan and continued to saute. You then add a reduced chicken stock or Jus, simmer, then pass through a fine sieve and keep warm – finish with Lime juice before serving.

Now, the fish. Skin side dusted with Garam Masala, then the whole filet seasoned with Salt and White Pepper, then dusted with Wondra Flour (awesome tip!).

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Into the pan, skin side down (pressed for a bit – so the skin doesn't shrink) Cook 5 mins. Then turned and into a 350* oven. Total cook time about 10 mins – or until a metal skewer easily enters the flesh, and after remaining for 5 seconds, feels just warm when touched to your lip. (THIS is the part of the technique I am trying to master – so easy and foolproof, but you can screw it up!)

And here we go:

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Pretty damn good – even with all the cheating (I know, Eric… I know) – and I'm getting better at my technique. The dish would have come together perfectly with the acid provided by the omitted Duck-Papaya Salad w/ Ginger Vinaigrette… next time!

Hello Dali, Goodbye Johnny!

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We had a cool little send-off get together for John Tesar last night at Dali Wine Bar & Cellar – a few current and some former Mansion peeps, friends, food-whores… John is already running the kitchen of the HOT SPOT Fishtail by David Burke in Manhattan.

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^ Mansion Wine and Beverage Director Michael Flynn, Chef John Tesar, Mansion Sommelier Scott Barber.

Dali is one of my favorite places. I have a jillion pics from my many visits, but had yet to write something up – but this is as good a time as any. 


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Proprietor Paul Pinnel (above) knows of my recently acquired passion for White Burgundy – so there's always trouble when I drop by. While the other revelers enjoyed their selections, my clique and I staked a claim down the bar a piece – and decadence ensued:


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My guest (the mischievous laptoppetite herself) claims now to be ruined – after imbibing such luxury. "Well, ya gotta start somewhere," I advised.


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^B-Rad, JLowe, JT; and Teiichi Sakurai of Tei-An, also located at One Arts Plaza..


We had a great time – then, of course, other shenanigans transpired. 


If Paul will let me back in Dali any-time soon, I'll get with Chef Joel Harloff and feature some of his delicious food. A preview (these from NYE):


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