Glossary: salami is the plural form of the Italian word salame, referring to traditional cured meats – specifically, ground salted and spiced meat forced into animal gut with an elongated and thin shape, then left to undergo some kind of fermentation process. Salumi refers to prepared meat products generally. Let's see if I use these terms correctly here. (Ruhlman is always lurking.)
I recently posted a comment referring to my love of Molinari Salame as a favorite comfort food. My Italian immigrant grandfather got me hooked on sliced salame as a snack at an early age. Back then, he had Boun Gusto salami shipped in from San Francisco. Years passed, my family moved around, and it became very rare to get ahold of this specific type of dry cured salame. It bore no resemblance to anything found in the cold cut isle, or even a meat counter, not to mention a Jewish deli. Of course, these days artisan salumi can be readily found at specialty markets, and locally produced charcuterie is available if you seek it out… look for posts on these subjects in future.)
I torture myself by having the menu of Thomas Keller's brilliant ad hoc restaurant emailed to me five times a week (they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) – ad hoc's menu changes daily. It is located down the road a piece from Keller's venerable The French Laundry, and it shares in the bounty of TFL's garden, across the street. Saturday's menu started with the following:
Here's another fruity sounding cocktail, but this is pretty damned refreshing. It contains the seductive and fragrant elderflower liqueur, St. Germain. The Jalisco Flower contains fresh ruby red grapefruit juice, blanco tequila, and St. Germain liqueur shaken with ice, then topped off with Brut Champagne.
Since I went to the trouble to make a burger category, I guess I better start filling it.
Man, people do love the Jakes (hmm… no apostrophe?). Since they recently opened one up in Addison, I've been repeatedly invited for lunch – and for some reason have resisted, I mean I really like my Green Chile Swiss Burger at Snuffer's.
Finally, I relented.
My first reward was these addictive Jalapeño Bottle-caps w/ Ranch. "We need two orders, please."
(Sorry – some of these pics are pretty gory). ^ Well, here is The Works: double meat, double cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mayo, mustard, ketchup.
^ The Jakes Special: double meat, double cheese, lettuce, tomato, thousand Island. And; the Chicken Sandwich (tastes better than it looks, I'm told).
These sandwiches suffer from that soggy-smooshy bun syndrome (as do Snuffer's' if they sit too long) but the insides sure are tasty. So… fine, I'll meet you at Jakes.
Can you believe it was only 80° at lunchtime today? Me neither, but here is proof – refreshing open air dining on N. Henderson:
To celebrate the fact that it's only 88° right now (instead of the 104° it's been this last week,) I sat on the patio, caught up on some back-issues of Bon Appétit, and drank a few of these:
I call this a Chelada (not to be confused with the Budweiser offering – or the Michelada on which the canned version is based).
Mexican Beer (here some left behind Modelo), Ice, Sea Salt, Lime. Refreshing as hell! I do like Micheladas as well – made by adding to the above: Clamato, Worcestershire Sauce, pick a Hot Sauce, Maggi Seasoning Sauce (or Soy Sauce as a substitute.) It's heartier but delicious. I get them often at MiCo's, and they have a great one at Pepe at Mito's.
Yesterday morning I saw this tweet go by: Ruhlman was heading off to the Cheesecake Factory to "see for myself." I thought "Oh here we go, this should be good." It turns out he was challenged by author and journalist Kelly Alexander to go eat the Miso Salmon dish and not enjoy it. (Showing here)
^ …yes, there was a wait at lunch.
Grand Lux Cafe was conceived by Cheesecake founder David Overton when approached by Vegas' Venetian Resort, Hotel and Casino to create an upscale version of his chain. There are now 13 locations across the country. I believe Lux's price point is slightly higher and there are only a few dishes shared with the Factory. What they do have in common: a massive menu, generous (bordering on outrageous) portions, and passionate devotees. When I find myself at a bit of a deficit (let's say due to more research of the Burgundy region's white wines) …this place nicely fits the bill.
^ The finish-out carries over from the Las Vegas original. The room is huge and the detail is impressive.
A favorite dish is the Max Burger: Angus beef stuffed with short ribs, etc. – but not today.
^ Short Rib Grilled Cheese: Slow-roasted Short Ribs, Caramelized Onion and Creamy Melted Cheese on Grilled Country Bread, Peperoncini Relish. And the gargantuan Fish and Chips: Fresh Fish Tempura Style, Peanut Cole Slaw, House Tartar Sauce.
The bread on the sandwich was just so and the short ribs, succulent. The fish was well prepared, juicy – the batter crisp and light. And there are, like, six or seven large pieces – insane. I left feeling quite a bit better. Mission accomplished.
It's always a good plan to have a mixologist hanging around, so for this year's Kaboom Town celebration Michael Martensen dropped by to get the evening going. I keep an eclectic selection of booze on hand just for such an occasion.
Whatever… so Craft is in Victory Park, so Colicchio has ventures from coast-to-coast, so he's the co-host of a (pretty fun) reality show… the place is still quite good. My friends and I refer to it as "Crack," as in "they sprinkle crack on each dish as it is whisked from the kitchen to your table." Colicchio's philosophy of attempting to extract the essence of each ingredient seems to be generally adhered to at Craft Dallas. A favorite dish of mine is actually served at brunch on occasion: Hash of Shishito Peppers and Duck Confit – crack.
As it was my friend Michelle's birthday, her husband Jeff got a group of us together for a recent wine dinner featuring Colicchio and winemaker David Ramey in attendance. Tom joked to the packed house that it was great to actually see the restaurant full. I have to agree, it's a truly handsome room – one of my favorites in town – but it's usually a tad less booked than on this particular evening. We enjoyed the energy of the full room.
^ Canapés w/ 2006 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
^ Tai Snapper, Shellfish Ragout & Black Garlic w/ 2005 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros.
^ Pancetta-Wrapped Monkfish, Porcini & Spring Onions w/ 2005 Claret; Roasted & Braised Guinea Hen, Fava Bean Raviolini w/ 2005 Larkmead Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
^ Elysian Fields Lamb, Crispy Belly & Morels w/ 2005 Rodgers Creek Vineyard Syrah; Chocolate-Hazelnut Turnover, Brandied Cherries & Vanilla-Mint Ice Cream… and we drank ALLOT more wine.
^ Crack Packs.
I have eaten here a number of times and Jeff & Michelle are actually regulars. We are accustomed to excellent service and delicious food – during this event we got that, with a few caveats. There were some issues getting the food out in a timely fashion, and in general the dishes later in the meal seemed more on par with previous visits. Our group had a great time, our server knew our party and kept the excellent wine flowing, Michelle got to meet Tom, and Jeff and I enjoyed chatting with the very personable David Ramey (who does a rather nice job making wine).
^ There's Tom after service (far right).
Colicchio says he plans to do more of these dinners, and why not? He's a restaurateur who's presence can pack the house. I think they learned a few things this time around. Based on the winemaker's they pair with in future, I'll likely attend again. Meanwhile, I encourage jaded food lovers to dine here once in a while, and look for that Crack Hash at brunch. I certainly have no problem with celebrity chefs when their restaurants serve quality food. Now I'll pack this post, and go.
So everybody likes sushi these days. Thankfully, most who make this claim have ventured past their favorite gimmicky rolls and have become fans of Nigirizushi and Sashimi. For those interested in delving further, we are lucky to have chefs like Teiichi Sakurai – only too happy to guide the way. While chatting up "Teach" last week at Tei-An he interjects with glee: "Are you hungry? I have something for you." He knows I am as adventurous as they come – and he didn't disappoint.
I was soon introduced to my first course, a squirming baby octopus (tako) contained in a net bag. My friend Scott looked up from his Yamazaki and said – "Uh, cool – are you going to eat that?" "I guess so!"
My delicious little friend returned "prepared" in a small tagine, along with a hot stone. I was meant to enjoy some raw and some ishiyaki style.
Once I could get the tako to let go of my finger and get it on the rock, I was in business! Acquired taste? Definitely, but I found both preparations sublime. Mansion Somme Scott Barber was a good sport and enjoyed a bite – then went back to finding a nice white from Yosuke's nicely chosen wine list to go with our next course: Hokkaido Sea Urchin, 4 Ways.
Uni is absolutely one of my favorite things – and the product from Hokkaido Island is among the most prized. This dish was decadent and heavenly.
Next up: Taira Scallops… just beautiful. Each night Sakurai-San offers a number of uniquely Japanese specials, along with the menu of soba dishes that have earned him national recognition. One can eat dishes as accessible as the clever and luxurious Soba Carbonara – or venture through the ritual of soba (hot or cold) – or experience Japanese tradition and craft with an omakase meal by Teiichi. You simply can't go wrong.
(for more on Tei-An's soba dishes click here.)