I'm getting ready for this week's event and it has made me think about how I cook. What makes me different? Why would people want to come to my house and eat?
That led me to think about restaurants in the area. A lot are chains, or farm to table. A few are ethnic themed. We even have some that are getting national acclaim. But I am still confused. Maybe it's just me. Am I missing something?
It feels as if restaurants are 1) doing their thing, whatever it may be, to just do it, i.e. farm to table, and forgetting to be creative and actually make the food interesting or 2) catering to the lowest common denominator.
I don't want to do any of that. Modernist techniques are in my kitchen but I don't do it because I can like one very popular restaurant in Robbinsdale does. Fresh and local ingredients are on my menus but I don't think it's ok to just put them on the plate and ride the fact that it is local, like a very popular Cafe in Minneapolis does. I'm not saying these restaurants are bad, just missing the point. Again, I could be wrong. Maybe freezing your taste buds off with a piece of frozen food is worth the laugh of blowing smoke out of your nose.
Planning a Modern Mexican menu has its challenges. How do I surprise people as well as educate them about the cuisine in a new way? How do I present that without breaking the tenants that I stated above?
The reason I started doing this was to present interesting food that I felt was missing in town. We have a lot of good food. I just don't want it to be boring.
My family and I have made sausage since as long as I can remember. Always fresh or cold smoked. Today my father and I embarked on a new mission. Dry cured Salumi. That salty, tangy, meaty goodness you see on charcuterie boards, good sandwiches and just laying next to cheese on the cutting board.
For days I have been prepping a room in my basement to be our cantina, the place that will be a little warmer and a little more humid, to hang the sausage. As it needs to hang 4-6 weeks, the atmosphere must be near perfect. A lot is going on in these little guys. Bacterial growth to kill all the bad stuff. Moisture loss to preserve the meat. Mold growth to make sure there is a protective barrier for the final product.
We made a basic Italian Salami with red wine, garlic, and black pepper as well as a simple Sopressata with white wine, garlic, black pepper, paprika and Chili flake. I also made a bunch of Lardo, a cured pork fat, the other day too but that won't be ready for 6 months or so.
Needless to say from the pictures, it looks amazing. And if the smell in our cantina says anything, everything is working out beautifully.
Keep you eyes open. In 6-8 weeks, this stuff will show up on a menu. Can you say Italian night at Scherzo?
I'm trying to do something cool and fun. There are massive gaps in the menus in the cities. All my menus are built to fill those gaps.
I have a strong background in Cajun and Creole cuisine and it has always confounded me that the cuisine really hasn't expanded beyond a small radius outside of Louisiana.
I'm working on a family style menu based on lesser known Cajun and Creole family favorites.
First off is the famous Commander's Palace Turtle Soup. You won't find this anywhere and it is amazing. I served this 16 years ago, at my restaurant in northern Minnesota and it was a surprising hit. Sold out (3 gallons) on the first night! Have to thank Bob Miller for making that happen.
Second course is the spring mix with cane syrup vinaigrette, spiced pecans and crispy sweet potato. Sweet, rich and delicious.
Oysters Mosca is the third and most exciting course I want to serve you. Broiled oysters with garlic, butter and seasoned breadcrumbs served with Spaghetti Bordelaise. Is it different from a Minnesota dish? Of course! That's why it's not on the Minnesota cuisine menu I'm planning. It's pure Italian New Orleans and it's to die for.
The main is Pork Tenderloin with Collards, Cornbread and a Creole Mustard. Just great Creole soul food.
Now dessert. Satsuma Upside-down cake with sweet cream, satsuma sorbet and candied peel. Not your run of the mill New Orleans dessert but a favorite nonetheless.
Sound good folks? What do you think of the menu? Space is limited for all of this goodness!
So we're on our way. Things are getting organized and slowly, but surely, coming together. Some final decor and organization and we should be ready.
AND LOOK AT THIS!
I'm growing lettuce, beet, arugula, dill, basil, parsley, nasturtium, and pea. If they grow, we'll have some awesome vegetables for dinner.
Anyways, gotta get back at it. I have a soup technique I need to test before I do the wild rice version of it!