November 2009

Don’t start with me… My turkey rules.

(re-posting for your Thanksgiving enjoyment!)

You see, most everyone who has tasted my holiday turkey agrees that it pretty much is the best thing going. So you'll have to take note now, as I will probably be mean and take it down before next Thanksgiving – because, frankly, I don't need the competition. You may find the following disturbing – but these are the waters. You have been warned.

The Secret

^ I refuse to debate – so brine. I always buy the Williams-Sonoma Brine-of-the-year – it's my own holiday tradition and always just lovely – for $16. NOW: The Secret. That's right, get a tub of DUCK FAT. I heat the tub gently in warm water until it turns to liquid.

Stick It

With a sturdy injector (again, Williams-Sonoma) start stickin'. At least three good doses in each side of the breast, and a couple in each thigh. It's awesome – the bird swells in a great way! It's just not right when you think about what you're doing – but go ahead. You will notice some fat seems to be collecting under the skin as the meat seeps – perfect. I had a split holiday this year, so I did a small 10-12lb bird this time – usually do a 20lb+. You'll end up with about half to 3/4 a tub IN the bird, then slather the rest on the outer skin. (I usually have two tubs, keeping one cool so the fat is solid for spreading on the skin.)

Now, I just follow Alton Brown's classic turkey roasting guidelines - I've tested others, his method is best.


^ Stuffed with aromatics (Apple, Onion, Cinnamon Stick, Rosemary & Sage).

Basically, you form a foil cap over the breast before you stick it in the oven – then remove it for the first step: Roast for 30 mins. at 500°. You'll then have this:

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…good. Now put the foil cap back on the breast and back into the oven, (now at 350°) and roast until the internal temp of the thickest part of the breast reads 158° via a remote thermometer. NEVER open the oven door. Ever. Let it rest 15-30 mins under a foil tent, the bird will continue to cook and bring the internal temp up to 165°. The problem with most turkeys is that they are left in the oven far to long (those little red pop-up things go off at 180° – guaranteeing a terribly dry turkey).


^ And here we go – it's unreal. The moistest-est turkey ever. No lie.


Oh, I also like to make my own Jellied Cranberry Sauce – recipe on the bag, but I pass it through a chinois and get amazing results – even the haters agree! Have at it kids… and again – you were warned.

In the Kitchen: Chef Bruno Davaillon at The Mansion

Here we go:


Bruno has arrived. We dined with some media types on Tuesday night, then returned with friends on Thursday. Between the two visits, we’ve sampled nearly the entire new menu – check it out below.

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But first, I want to give a big shout-out to my buddy Eric Brandt who, while retaining his title as Executive Sous Chef, has led the kitchen at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek with grace and skill for the past nine months. He is a class act.


^Exec. Sous Chef Eric Brandt and ^Chef d’Cuisine Jason Maddy remain in the kitchen under Executive Chef Bruno Davaillon.

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Let’s start off with a bang! (No, that’s not for us…) But Bruno asks “How many at your table?” – and whips up 5 of these:


^ Amuse Bouche: Hamachi with Green Apple Mustard, Daikon, Cucumber, Apple, Jalapeño Milk. It’s killer. “That’s going on the menu,” he says.

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^ Shrimp Cocktail – Horseradish Panna Cotta, Spicy Tomato Syrup; ^ Maine Lobster Salad – Tomato Confit, Caviar Cream.

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^ Components of the King Crab and Butternut Squash Soup (poured at table); and the accompanying King Crab Spring Rolls.


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^ Potato Gnocchi – Artichoke Barigoule, Pancetta, Basil; ^ Wild Mushroom Risotto – Duck Confit, Aged Parmesan.



^ Eric Brandt’s Tartare of Spicy Ahi Tuna and Hamachi with Yuzu Vinaigrette and Jalapeño; ^ and his Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras – Roasted Texas Red Pear, Cornbread and Coriander Honey.

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^ Day Boat Scallops – Cauliflower Composition, Ice Wine Vinegar Emulsion; ^ Coriander and Chive Crusted Monkfish with Lobster Minestrone.

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^ Eric’s Pan Seared Wild King Salmon – Horseradish Apples, Celery Root and Parsley; ^ and new, Chorizo Crusted Atlantic Halibut – Stuffed Piquillo Pepper and White Bean Puree.


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^ Duo of Prime Beef Ribeye and Brisket Short Rib – Potato Fondant and Gorgonzola Cream.

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^ Bison Tenderloin “au Poivre” – Autumn Vegetable Fricassee; ^ Roasted Veal Loin – Crispy Sweetbreads, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Fig Chutney.

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^ As I document the goings-on, Mansion Wine & Beverage Director and Sommelier Michael Flynn drops by with a spot of wine. Meanwhile my table-mates consume most of my delicious Lobster and Cavatelli Pasta – Pancetta, Peas and Mint (hence no photo).

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^ Bruno prepping the “Special”…

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^ Sous Vide of Pheasant Breast – “Sausage” of Pheasant Leg, Foie Gras and Pancetta, rolled in Pistachios. With sautéed Green Cabbage, White Grapes and Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Roasted Quince and Seckel Pear.


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Bruno’s additions to the Dessert Menu: ^ Mansion “Candy Bar” with Lemon Thai Basil Sorbet; ^ Maple & Macadamia Nut Napoleon with poached Seckel Pear.

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^ Apple Seven Ways – I had this twice. That’s, like, 14 apples. (‘Apple Composition’: Apple Clafoutis, Poached Apple, Apple Sorbet, Compote of Granny Smith’s, Green Apple Foam, Crisp Apple Wheel, there’s another one in there, too…)


^ Lingering after service.

So…? Well, it’s no secret that I am a fan of this place… and I am very excited about the food I enjoyed on these visits – as were my dining companions, as are the staff. Bruno – the man, and his food seem a perfect fit for this elegant and evolving institution. I hope to see you here. On this particular evening, I joined some friends at The Mansion’s Wine Chat, hosted by Michael Flynn each Thursday at 6:15:


It’s fun, educational, only $25 and you never know what Michael is going to break out – typically four or five wines are offered, on a theme. I famously missed the wines of Burgundy one week, and have yet to hear the end of it! Read more about Wine Chat here.

Mansion on Turtle Creek on Urbanspoon

In the Kitchen: 10th Annual Stephan Pyles Celebrity Chef Dinner

It’s nice when in the course of helping a friend in need, you get to run around the kitchen at Stephan Pyles.


I’ve been damn-near fooded out this past 10 days (and just wait for this week) and was not planning to attend Pyles’ 10th Celebrity Chef Dinner benefitting the Stephan Pyles Culinary Scholarship at The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas. But one call from a sick friend later – I was wandering over from The Winspear to check out the festivities.

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^Stars and Bubbles: Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Sparkling Wine. I like this stuff just fine.


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^ The chefs: Exec. Chef Matt McCallister – Stephan Pyles; Stephan Pyles; Coner Seargeant; Zach Townsend – Pure Chocolate Desserts by Zach; Exec. Chef Vijay Sadhu – Samar by Stephan Pyles; Exec. Chef Tracy Miller – Local; and Exec. Chef Jason Dady – Chef/Owner The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, San Antonio (et alii). Pic at right: Ninth Annual Stephan Pyles Culinary Scholarship Cook-off winner, Thomas “Coner” Seargeant of the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin. (Photo: Aimee Olson)


^ Vijay Sadhu’s South Indian Crab Soup with Garam Masala, Coconut Curry and Mustard Seeds – paired with Montinore Estate, “Borealis” White Blend, Willamette Valley 2008.

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^ Local’s Tracy Miller prepares Pan-seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Scratch Texas Toast with Vanilla Bean steeped Eden Creek Gala Apple, Currant Sauternes Compote. Paired with Planeta, “Cometa,” Fiano, Sicily 2006.


^ (L) Jason Dady, (C) Stephan Pyles Exec. Sous Chef Bradford Hodgkins (R) Managing Director George Majdalani.

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^ Jason Dady and his Sous Vide of Main Lobster Tail with Deconstructed “Chowder.” Paired with Mer Soleil, “Silver,” Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands 2007.

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^ Preparing Pyles’ & Matt McCallister’s Juniper-Scented Venison with Vanilla Compressed Honeycrisp Apples, Celeriac Tart Tatin, Cranberry “Air,” Cranberry Fruit Roll-Up. Paired with Justin, “Savant,” Cabernet Blend, Paso Robles 2006.

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^ More action; and the Flourless Chocolate “Intense” Torte with Citron Joconde, featuring Valrhona Taïnori Pure Origin Grand Cru Dark Chocolate (Dominican Republic) by Executive Chef/Chocolatier/Owner Zach Townsend – Pure Chocolate Desserts by Zach. aired with Jam Jar, Shiraz, Western Cape 2009.


I love this room, particularly in the fall and winter. This was a great way to miss a Cowboys game. I thought the chefs and wine guys rocked this one out… and I’ll be back to sample more of Matt’s food.

Stay Tuned… Chef Bruno Davaillon in the house.


Had a rather lengthy and fascinating chat with the new guy after service this evening (about stuff that matters… and food as well). Rosewood got him here and he's game. Dallas, he's ready to play – don't be lame this time. Let's go!

The dude earned a Michelin star, while doing 100,000 covers a year. The tranquility of the patio at The Mansion is a world away. This could, potentially, be quite fun.

More with Chef Bruno Davaillon to come.

Fall Lunch at York Street, Dallas.

The unassuming culinary home of all that is good and right:


After kibitzing with Sharon Hage Tuesday night at Charlie Palmer's, thoughts of her Sweetbreads and her Butterscotch Pots de Crème were nagging. Before I knew it, and scant hours later, Linda texted that she'd been dismissed from jury duty and was sitting down to lunch at York Street – I was there in record time.

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^ The Avocado "Side"; and the Axis Venison Chili, graciously split three ways.

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^Risotto – house made Veal Sausage, Reggiano; and the Veal Sweetbreads – melted Cabbage, Bacon Pan Sauce.

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^Duck2 – soft poached Duck Egg, Duck Tongue Salad, white Toast. (heh… schwing!)

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^Butterscotch Pots de Crème; the Bread Pudding. Just terrific.


I adore this restaurant. Eat. Here. Now. York Street serves lunch only on Wednesdays. Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday.

York Street on Urbanspoon

Charlie Palmer drops by The Joule – Dallas chefs follow suit.

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My quest for exceptional cured meats has me lately hovering around the kitchen of Charlie Palmer at The Joule. Of interest last night was the 'Pigs and Pinot' dinner offered this week as it features "Pork Trio," not to mention Grilled Pork Belly. Chef Palmer was in town for a couple days pimpin' his new "Charlie and Clay" private label wine – so, seemed time for a post. Oh, and some friends dropped by as well.


^Executive Chef Scott Romano (center), and Charlie Palmer (right).

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^Executive Chef Scott Romano in his kitchen.

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^The Pork Trio, consisting of: ^ Sautéed Head Cheese;

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^Country Pate; ^Foie Gras and Pork Jowl Terrine.

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^Pork Trio at the table. This is a killer dish.

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^Grilled Pork Belly – Apple Soubise, Clementine, Braised Red Cabbage. This dish will kill you!

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^Grilled Pork Belly; and from pastry chef Ruben Torano: the Poached Comice Pear – Chevre Sorbet, Red Berry Compote.


^Kent Rathbun, Michael Abruzese (late of Il Mulino, now at Bella Bar), Charlie Palmer, Yutaka Yamato of Yutaka and Sharaku, Jeff Harris (Executive Chef, Craft Dallas).

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^Dean Fearing, Charlie Palmer, Sharon Hage, Tim Love. …and many others. We also caught up with Mitsuhiro Eguchi and the newly engaged Matt Raso of Nobu-Dallas.

Small Plates were passed, including:

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We were talking with the lovely and talented Sharon Hage about what's doing for lunch this week when Chef Romano brought out this number for her to sample:

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^It's a sous vide Squab dish: Porchetta / Braised Leg / Brown Butter Spaghetti Squash. Amazing. 

Sharon helped style the dish for my photo, then grabbed us some forks and bade us 'Dig in!" 

Big fun, kids. And, Sharon, see you soon!

I blogged Luscher’s The Grape and lived to, well, blog about it…

You may be aware of the flap caused by this post over at Hiller's blog recounting The Grape chef/owner Brian Luscher's feelings on early reviews and casual food blogging.


I kinda agree with him. I started this blog primarily to showcase the food I like to eat in a way that allows others to experience what it really looks like on the plate, at the table. I go to considerable trouble to be unobtrusive while getting the goods. I use a very small camera that is good in low light (NEVER use the flash) and have some skill in image processing. This allows my peeps to see what they are missing! Generally, the only consternation involves my dining companions enduring the obligatory snaps. "Can I eat now, BRAD!"

My readers also understand that I do not do criticism – it's a food porn blog, with a tale here and there.

Well, Brian and I get along just fine. I was at The Grape during that whole Pat Sharpe Burger business and hung around for an early dinner last summer. I thought it would be fun to share the snaps… (Notice the "dreamy depth of field.")

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Brian and I are cooking up a fun post for the future – stay tuned!

Grape on Urbanspoon

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