Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Post Ranch Jasmine Leaf

The jasmine vines along the wall going into the kitchen are beginning to turn red.  I spotted this mutant heart-shaped leaf this morning and couldn't help but stop and snap a photo.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Local Rooster and Cockscomb

Last week a local rancher called to ask if I was interested in six adult roosters.  Apparently they had become a noisy nuisance and she was ready to get rid of them.  Rooster has never been high on my culinary priorities list, but the opportunity to work with fresh cockscomb was intriguing so I agreed to take them off her hands.

Cockscomb, the crimson flame-like crown on adult roosters, has long been a delicacy in Europe, but is essentially forbidden in North America due to certain butchering stipulations imposed by the FDA.  While the odd cartilage-like appendage does not offer much in the way of flavor, it provides an interesting texture and presentation to modern dishes.  Coq au Vin, a dish popularized by Julia Child in the 1970's is the most well-known of rooster recipes.  The dish maintains some popularity in the US, but given the scarcity of rooster is now largely prepared with chicken. Cockscomb was a traditional garnish for this braised rooster dish, and could also be found in traditional dishes from Piedmont to China.

Tonight we decided to pay homage to long-standing culinary tradition with our own version of Coq au Vin using roots from the garden and local rooster.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Miraval's Chef Series

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending a weekend down in Tucson, Arizona at the Miraval Resort & Spa.  They're putting on a Chef Series and were kind enough to invite me down for a weekend of cooking demonstrations and a special five-course dinner alongside their own  Executive Chef Justin Macy.  Here's a link to Miraval's photo blog with pictures documenting the weekend.

Thank you to Miraval for including me in this wonderful event! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013


One of our cooks brought in a large bag of freshly harvested acorns from the Southern Sierras today.  They are beautiful specimens, large and heavy with a meaty interior.  This week we are going to work on making pasta using toasted acorn flour.  Two fun facts about acorns:

- Often times you will see certain jays and squirrels burying food.  I have always thought they were rationing it for the winter, but it turns out there may be a more important motivation.   Burying acorns in the wet earth helps leach tannins from the nut, so an acorn that has been buried for several months will taste better than a freshly harvested one.  Tannins, besides tasting bitter, also inhibit humans and animals from metabolizing proteins.

- Oaks are finicky trees and some species only produce nuts sporadically every few years.  Native Americans would use controlled fires to clear the area below the oak trees, simultaneously fertilizing, eliminating pests and competing plants.  This practice helped boost the yearly acorn harvest.  From my own experience walking around Post Ranch, I have noticed that loan oak trees tend to have far more acorns than oak trees growing in close proximity to each other.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Midnight Malbec

This is truly a wonderful time to experience Big Sur and the Central Coast.  We get the best of fall with its crisp mornings and vibrant foliage without the dread of winter blizzards.  The local wine harvest is in full swing and by all accounts is shaping up to be an incredible year.   You can see towering stacks of grape bins outside of wineries waiting to be crushed and trucks loaded with newly harvested fruit.  Freshly squeezed juice coming off the presses is sweet and simplistic, but quickly transforms in bubbling cauldrons, swimming pools of purple pulp heavy with the smells of yeast and fermentation, a deluge of aroma only alluding to the complexity of the finished wine.

On a recent evening I was fortunate to dine at the Cachagua General Store, having dinner with a well-known local wine maker, Damien Georis (for those familiar with this blog, he also created the clever reclaimed Post Ranch water bottle light fixture which I've included again below).  After dinner he had to get back to work and was kind enough to let me have  a sneak peak at this year's wine production. Here you can see him breaking up a raft of fermenting malbec.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tuna with Matsutake

White Soy Marinated Tuna with Matsutake Mushrooms, Finger Lime and Pine-Roasted Kabocha Squash

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pacific Pampano

This morning I was surprised to see a basket of tiny fresh Pacific Pompano at the wharf.  These tiny silver iridescent fish were once quite a delicacy with the local Italian fishing community.  Unfortunately, along with many other small-bony fish, pompano have lost their local popularity and are now sold almost exclusively to Asian markets in the city. It is likely that this was such a small catch it didn't warrant the fisherman taking it to the city - so I jumped at the opportunity to bring a large bag of these tiny fish back to Sierra Mar for tonight's amuse course.  We fileted each fish and fried the backbone, head and filet serving them with licorice pickled mango and sea beans.