Monday, December 29, 2008

December Poll Results


First off I would like to thank everyone who participated in the poll, it’s the most answered poll to date. I’m very pleased to see how the poll progressed. It was interesting to watch the numbers add up because the first few answers where of the frequent flyer category, and since I’ve not even been to an airport in over 11 years it was somewhat foreign to me that people might actually jump on a plane for a good bit to eat. In the end things became much more rounded. I"m still impressed with the percentage of people willing to take up to or more than a single day to seek out a dining experience. Personally, I’m a 20-30 minute kinda guy. I feel like with in that radius there is enough to keep my happy. While that isn’t necessarily the right take on the question, I suppose I’d drive up to an hour for something unique. Anything over an hour each way I would rather just turn into an overnighter. Better safe than sorry when it comes to intoxicatingly good food lubricated with a few martinis and a bottle of wine.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Late December Photos

Here is a glimpse of the multi grain pilaf set under a filet of Salmon topped with pistachio beurre blanc. The pilaf and sauce really came together nicely.

Here is a wonderful shot of a Plesant Home Cattle Company hanger steak. There are spiced sweet potatoes under there along with satueed spinach with bacon and onions, drizzled with a fig vincatto. I purchased whole hangers from Fresh Fork Market. The roughly six pound pieces needed considerable butchering, luckily it only took me one piece figure things out.

I'm a fool for long shots with alot of objects in focus. This pic looks alot more interesting if you click on it to enlarge.

These two guys are the rocks of the Nemo kitchen. Like the two wheels in a bicycle, these two guys work together better than Abott and Costello. James, on the left, is the brick from which all things sanation wise come from, but he is also trained to toss all our salads, and not limited to cold food, James also is an excellant baker. His co-worker Shean is our big time pantry man, master desert maker, from scratch dressings and bacon are his specialty. This man is a rare find in this business because he actually cares, and that goes a long, long way. If I'm correct at the time of this picture they were discussing the Maillard Reaction or was is weather the Fahrenheit tempeture scale or Celsius is best to gauge the doneness of their creme brulees, or was it who was gonna salt the driveway? Anyhow, they do an exeptional job, and are greatly appreciated.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Recipe de jour

Something new for your holiday buffet?

I was standing in dry storage at the restaurant the other day brainstorming side dishes for our daily salmon presentation and the first three items I found that interested me were almost empty. There were barely any black lentils, only a handful of wild rice, and a quart container of white beans. Then I decided on a what we’ve been calling a ‘multi-grain pilaf’ and the end product is quite tasty. After adding white rice and red quinoa to the mix there was a good balance of heft and fluff, of bite and chew, and an earthy character that no single ingredient posses alone.

At the restaurant this procedure is easy. I grab five pots, put a cup of each in the pots, top with water, throw them on five burners, and as each finishes it gets dumped into a bowl that goes into the walk-in cooler for proper cooling. This does seem quite unpractical for the home cook so I’ve adapted the following recipe to make this great tasting dish a little easier. I do suggest sharing this as it’s difficult to not make a large batch.

From the grocery:
1 8-10 oz can cooked white beans, drained
1 cup each wild rice, white rice, black lentils and quinoa
water, divided
1 large yellow onion diced
4 cloves garlic
2 red bell peppers diced
1/4 pound butter

Using only two pots, in one pot add lentils and about 4 cups water, once this comes to a boil add the wild rice and cover cooking on low until tender, about 20 min. In another slightly larger pot Sauteed onion, garlic, and peppers in butter until beginning to caramelize then add white rice and 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 min, then add quina and cook another 10 minutes until tender. Finally mix everything together with the canned beans, season with salt and pepper. On a note about the liquid, some of the water can be switched out with chicken stock. Also, if either pot needs more water that is perfect since it’s easier to add than to take away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poll results.

Well, there is little hope left for the foodie this holiday season as the latest poll triumphs Thanksgiving as the most highly exhaulted for those with a culinary mind set. I hope I can get some christmas cookies before they stale, and some chocolates before they melt, and I hope you can find whatever holiday culinary treat you desire both available and affordable in the coming weeks.

Newly Found Show


I happened upon this very well put together show on hulu.com. It is the perfect blend of cooking and food, personalities, great views of famous restuarant kitchens and dining rooms, with interesting conversations. Daniel Bouloud comes off as very human and honest which make the shows all that more appreciatable. There are three seasons available, so I'm currently working my way through them. You can find them here. They are worth it.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Classifieds anyone?

The recent economic downturn has currently made my high paying salary disposable resulting in a downsizing of my income level. With the mutual respect of Nemo Grille I'm currently seeking a position as chef, sous chef, or heck even line cook if it comes to that. I've done my best to keep this blog as an accessory to my resume so if you, or anyone you know might be seeking to fill a position in their kitchen please direct them to me, and don't bother searching for an e-mail, here it is: mikey031@cox.net.

Monday, November 24, 2008

November Pics

We decided to remove the Walleye dish from our menu and replace it with everybodies favorite...grouper! I thought this composition might be a nice cold weather, yet light dish...Seared grouper on grilled romain dressed with an anchovie-lemon aioli topped with polenta croutons, pickled red onions, and marinated tomatoes.
The carmalized cipolline from two posts ago are in the background along with a fingerling potato and Coulrouge goat cheese tart, alongside a grilled strip steak topped with roasted garlic demi-glace.

What ever happened to lobster prices? I don't know but I like it because we where able to offer this one and a quarter pound lobster split and stuffed with lobster fried rice, with roasted claws all in a spicy saffron lobster cream.

These are just some ravioli waiting to be boiled, but I always find it interesting to see what kind of things are hanging around other restaurants, and this picture gives a glimpse of what we have hanging around.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Tuesday in November

News of note is that Bistro on Lincoln Park is open for business this coming Monday, November 24. I personally can't wait to get my feet in the door. I stopped by 2 weeks ago and haven't seen a cleaner kitchen in my life. The idea of the decor seems to bring the park and the dining room into synergy. The long narrow room full of windows that used to be an office is sure to be a hit. Plenty of glass for people watching.

A quick note of praise is also do to Momocho, where Kari and I spent our evening. Happy hour is an obvious attraction as the bar area was full by 5:30. Something that should make every customer, and owner happy! The margaritas where great, and we stuck with the traditional. Guac. was good as usual, especially while the chips are still hot. I liked the tuna taquito, but a few more, thinner slices of tuna would have made me more fullfilled, mentally at least. Kari had the carnitas taquito which was great, the honey-chipotle sauce with was good enough to keep and dip chips into. The chili relleno was good, we split on this though. I liked the cornbread like outer shell, while Kari was wanting something more crisp? The sauce on that dish was the spiciest we had, but eaten as a whole dish it was plesant.

We commited a minor faux pas in asking for the black truffle honey from one dessert be added to our aged manchego dessert. We offered to pay any upcharge, and where presented with enough truffle honey, and liked the combo enough that we ordered more cheese to go with the extra honey. The service was great. I took advice on a smokey tequila and was very happy with the choice. Also the cinnamon and orange with the tequila made us both very happy. If you ever thought about Momocho, don't think twice, just get in the car and go!

Cipolline Onions

The common onion has one or more leafless stalks that reach a height of 2.5-6 feet and terminate in a cluster of small greenish white flowers. The leaf bases of the developing plant swell to form the underground bulb that is the mature, edible onion. Most commercially cultivated onions are grown from the plant's small black seed, which is sown directly in the field. Onions are among the hardiest of all garden-vegetable plants.

Onions are among the world's oldest cultivated plants. They were probably known in India, China, and the Middle East before recorded history. Ancient Egyptians regarded the spherical bulb as a symbol of the universe, and its name is probably derived from the Latin unus, meaning "one." The Romans introduced the onion to Britain and, in the New World, American Indians added a highly pungent wild onion to their stews, ragouts. Curative powers have been attributed to onions throughout the centuries; they have been recommended for such varied ailments as colds, earaches, laryngitis, animal bites, powder burns, and warts.
Pictured are Cipolline onions, an Italian varitey of onion that was brought to North America with immigrants at the begining of the 19th century. Almost all Cipolline seed still comes from Italy.

Cipolline onions are reveared for their flat or saucer shape witch allows for considerable browning. They are considered to be more complex in flavor, usually rich and sweet equally, while staying firm once cooked.
Cipolline onions are one of my favorite ingrediants. While cleaning them is often a daunting task, they are sometimes agressivly priced pre-cleaned. I prefer to cook them in a sautee pan, starting out hot, with a little oil, then finishing with butter at a lower temperature. As you can see these onions tend to get very tender, but hold their shape rather well.
The onions pictured where first used as an side dish to a grilled strip steak. Then they went into a creamy goat cheese and fingerling potato salad. I've pickled them in the past with great resaults as their inherient sweetness plays well with vinager, cinnamon, and clove.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cookbooks

There has been a lot of blog chatter about cookbooks recently, and I'm regretting not leaving my poll available for a longer period. This is the first poll that is completely indecisive. Personally, I'm a picture guy, and good content trumps functional recipes as far as I'm concerned. Unless I'm following a baking recipe, I treat a recipe more like guidelines opposed to directions. As a professional of course, don't try that at home!

On a professional level I've found Culinary Artistry by Dornenburg and Page the single most useful book in my library. There is an assertion of basic cooking understand, but a back to basics approach to building dishes, and menus. This book is a great explination of flavor pairings and seasonality. A more entertaining cookbook and something more for an adventurous home cook is Bouchon, by Thomas Keller. The photos are great, the food is all very approachable, and the few recipes I've followed worked perfectly. Luckily my friend Forest gifted me a copy of Bouchon two years ago, and it's my favorite cookbook to flip through.

What have other bloggers been talking about cookbooks recently?

Ideas in Food looks to go straight digital.

Ruhlman picks out a few of this years highlights.

The young cook gets a few modern classics.

Chadzilla goes deep with an interesting discussion in tow.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Weekly Specials for November 7th

Brazilian tiger fish

Seared Brazilian tiger fish, banana-sweet potato puree, tomatillo salsa,
crushed peanuts and lime.

This is Sean's creation for the most part, with only the slightest nudges this way or that. Cinnamon poached apple salad of spinach, radichio, shaved onions in a sweet champagne vinagrette, dried cherries, goat chevre and Sean's apple chips.

Braised lamb shank, maple glazed beets, herb-parmasean polenta, lamb jus
I kinda rushed the picture of this one as the polenta and jus won't be done till today, but a big hunk of braised shank still has some photogenic qualities.

From last week

Fried oyster over marinated cucumber and topped with
a celery root remoulade and caviar


Lobster ravioli in a fresh oyster sauce of fennel, leeks, onions, tomatoes, fresh shucked oysters and cream surounded by a saffron-cauliflower puree
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Saturday, November 01, 2008

New menus

I'm a big menu fan. I can sit all day reading menus. I guess this alows for me to use my imagination and build a dish in my mind, then see how someone else puts it together eventually. Here are two menus that might be hard to find since neither restaurant has a functioning webpage yet. I'm sure Cory would enjoy some feedback as the BLP menu is a work in progress, you can find him here. And the Roast menu, well that's just plain anticipation relinquished.




Bistro on Lincoln Park
APPETIZERS
Onion Soup Gratinee
A classic rendition
Venison broth, Raclette Cheese
Spanish Black Bean Cake
House-Made Bacon, Pequin Pepper, Cilantro Cream, Creme Fraiche
Warm Goat Cheese Tart
Caramalized Onion, Local Chevre, Greek Olive Tapanade
Chorizo Blini
Spanish Manchego Cheese, Marinated Cabbage, Chipotle Sauce
Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Sesame Tuile, Pommagranite Glazed Pears, Brioche
Seared Sea Scallops
Corn Souffle, Butter Poached Baby Leeks, Crispy Potatoes

SALADS
Bistro Salad
Butter Letuce, Indian Black Onion Seed Vinaigrette, Sunflower Seeds, 24 Hour Tomatoes, Watermelon Radish, Candy Onions
Verts Aux Lardons
Baby Dandelion Greens, House Cured Bacon, Lavender Honey-Dijoin Viniagrette,Poached Egg
Duck Salad
Mache, Cape Gooseberry Vinaigrette, Roquefort, Duck Proscuitto

BAR MENU
Peppered Lamb Sliders
Lamb Demi, Mint Pomme Frits
Croque Monsieur
Duck Proscuitto & Raclette Grilled Cheese
Beef Ragu
Polenta & Parmesan Reggiano
Bistro Bar Steak
Flat Iron Steak & Frits

ENTREES
Vitello Tunato
Seared Tuna, Crispy Sweetbreads and Caper Aioli
Chicken Grand Mere
House-Made Bacon Lardons, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Fresh Peppardell Pasta,
Venison Boloenese
Braised Venison, Venison Ragu & Fresh Fettucini
Pork Tenderloin
Mustard Crusted, Celery Root Puree and Roquefort-Celery Emulsion
Steak & Frits
Hanger Steak and House-made Fries
Duck ConfitCripsy
Truffled Potatoes, Bacon Lardons, Frisee Wild Mushrooms
Sous Vide Salmon
Salmon Stuffed cabbage,Preserved Lemons, Sorrel Cream
Ratatoullie Ravioli
Fresh Herb Pasta Filled with Ratatoullie Components with Hierloom Tomato and Caper Butter

DAILY SPECIALS
MondayBeef Short Ribs
TuesdayFresh Dover Sole
WendsdayCoq Au Vin
ThursdayDuck Shepards Pie






Roast
starters
Roasted Shrimp white beans, pork sausage, tomato broth $11.
Mussels garlic, dill & lemon $8.
Smoked Seafood for two or more $10 pp.
Crispy Chicken Livers soft polenta and mushrooms $9.
Charcutterie for two or more $12 pp.
Stuffed Peppers today’s selection $9.
Beef Cheek Pierogie horseradish & mushrooms $12.
Crispy Fresh Bacon haloumi, pickled tomato, almond $10.
Roasted Marrow sea salt, oregano, capers & chilies $9.

salads
Roast Chop Salad
chick peas, pickled peppers, salami,
taleggio, creamy dessing $9.
Warm Spinach Salad fried egg, mushrooms, bacon &
crispy pig ear $8.
Mixed Green Salad shaved onion, grape tomatoes &
red wine vinaigrette $6.
Roasted Beet Salad goat cheese, walnuts, watercress &
orange-dill vinaigrette $8.

entrees
Roasted Beast of the Day MP.
Braised Beef Short Ribs pickled chilies, salsa verde $24.
Smoked Prime Rib pickled tomatoes, horseradish creme fraiche $26.
Lemon Roasted Chicken arugula, chick peas, yogurt $17.
Braised lamb Shank gremolata, fennel & tomato $22.
Roast Burger bacon, cheddar, & a fried0egg $14.
Roasted Trout almonds, brown butter $24.
Roasted Salmon capers, tomato, saffron & olives $23.
Roasted Whitesh crab, dill, lemon $19.

toppers
Crab BĂ©arnaise $10.
Blue Cheese Onions $5.
Pickled Chilies $4.
Roasted Wild Mushrooms $7.

steaks & chops
* Filet 6 oz. $19.
* Bone in Filet 14 oz. $38.
* Strip Steak 14 oz. $25.
* Ribeye 16 oz. $32.
* Hanger Steak 12 oz. $23.
* Porterhouse for 2 48 oz. $59.
* Veal Chop 14 oz. $36.
* Smoked Pork Chop 14 oz. $24.
* Venison Chop 12 oz. $34.
* Lamb Porterhouse 12 oz. $35.

sauces
$2 ea.
Balsamic Steak
Horseradish Cream
Salsa Verde
Sha Sha Sauce

sides
Rosemary Fries $5. Spinach & Feta Au Gratin $7.
Whipped Potatoes $5. Roasted Asparagus $7.
Soft Polenta $5. Shaved Zucchini & Almonds $6.
Bacon Creamed Corn $7. Mac & Cheese w/ Goat Cheese $8.
Fried Brussels Sprouts $7. Green Beans & Brown Butter $6.

All our meat is hand chosen and naturally raised.
It has been dry aged for a minimum of 21 days and finished with garlic-shallot confit, sea salt and oregano.

.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Restaurant Critic

For longer than I've cooked professionally, I've been intrenched with the unique job of a restaurant critique. My senior year of college I read Dining Out, a Dorenburg & Page classic. From this point on the auoroa of the restaurant critique has mystified me, entranced me, filled my fantasies of a disguised fat man filling his belly with the finest food man has to offer. That's why I found Frank Buni's Q&A such a pleasant read, and hopefully you will too. The extensive answers he provides really give you a glimpse 0f the not so great life as a restaurant critique. Yeah right!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Clam Bake 08

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never been to a clam bake before in my life! I kind of filed the whole idea into the cabinet that has carnival food, sports venue food, and church fish fries. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll dive into a bowl of clams, but the aurora of the bake didn’t interest me much in the past. Luckily I was invited to cook a clam bake, and thus was introduced to what fun a clam bake can be, including the cooking part. These are a few of my insights

The ‘baker’ man and machine:
First you get a propane tank that’s about hip high. Then you hook it up to a unite capable of making a solid blue flame with a 4 inch circumference. Remember that Bunsen burner from high school chemistry, put it on a Barry Bond’s steroid cycle and this is the kind of flame I’m talking about. Over the flame is a sequence of pots that contain broth in the bottom, and in our case two large pots full of clams, and a lid that sits about 6 feet in the air. That’s the machine, Ed was the man. The clams need some care, they need to be cleaned, and bagged for easy extraction. The broth needs attention, and the lid has to be guarded at all time from removal. Ed took care of the clams with the upmost precision. I ate a dozen myself with not even a single grain of dirt. A real accomplishment since we were working with over 600 clams.

The sides/The buffet:
I was able to get a little creative with the sides that normally go with a clam bake. We had fingerling potatoes, creamed corn with panchetta, sweet potato ravioli, foie gras mousse.... see, not your normal ear of corn, baked potato in foil, and pat of butter. As for the buffet someone needs to do a psychological study of how people react to a food buffet. Everyone was hungry, you could sense it. All the food was out on the buffet, steaming hot. Yet no one was willing to be the first one to grab a plate and dive in. Sure there where a few close calls. Where someone sweeps in and takes a look before aborting their mission and returning to the comfort of their table. Groups work better I learned as a small group of 4-5 young ladies approached I made my move...uncovered all the chafers, stuck spoons in everything, and went on to identify each dish. That’s all it took, instantly everyone in a very organized and cautious manner made their way down the buffet line. What a beautiful thing.

A well stocked bar... enough said:
There was a slight chill in the air, the food was not yet consumed, and guests quietly arrived introducing themselfs in low, calm voices. Pour some Jagger down the ice luge on that nonsense! Get the grub, break a sweat, and the clam bake turns into an all out party. Grown men giving each other nuggies, relieving themselves in the bushes, and urging each other to drink more, reminiscent of the last frat party I attended. What a wonderful thing. The somewhat segregated guests came together as one solid mass of happiness as the liquor bottles emptied, and OSU had yet to lose the game. And to think I had the very wrong idea that a clam bake could have anything in common with a church fish fry. I couldn’t have been more wrong on that one.

Opening soon

Even during these tough economic times courageous men are hard at work opening new and interesting venues to appease our culinary consumption. Just the thing is happening with some of my past co-workers, and I can’t be more happy for them. Bistro on Lincoln Park is reclaiming the space previously occupied by Sage. A November opening was planned, so keep checking on their website for more information, or go right to the source. Cory is the Chef de Cuisine at BLP, and he blogs too! How convenient? You can find some of his insight, and currently a draft of the new menu here. It will be fun to see how things come together for what is sure to be one of the most exciting local indie restaurant openings since Lola.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This is not a commercial

Why lead when you can be a follower....of this blog, and all your other favorites. If you were like me you spent 15-20 minutes a day going through the favorites in you browser bringing up countless food blogs that are erratically updated. That is so old school. Blogspot has allowed me to become a ‘follower’ of all my favorite blogs, whether they are hosted by blogspot or not, in one convenient location on my ‘dashboard’. The best part comes with the ‘all blogs update’ feature that searches through all the blogs you follow and shows you the newest posts.

To the left I’ve added the widget that allows you to become of follower of this blog with a single click of the mouse. If you got sick of looking at that cow for a week because you checked in everyday looking for a new post, then this feature is for you. Plus it’s motivation for me to know that somewhere out there in this big world a few people are looking forward to what I’ve got to say next.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Locally raised, yeah right, give me the details....

Pure breed limosine bull raised in the UK.

After going on about my love affair with local beef in the poll results post I decided a little more information was in order. The following profile of Plesant Home Cattle Company was taken directly from the Fresh Fork Market website. FFM has set up a relationship with Plesant Home allowing for other chefs and I to get our hands on smaller amounts of this quality product without having to purchase a whole side of beef. It's a very good feeling knowing where your beef comes from, and how it got to you.

Pleasant Home Cattle Company is a small family farm in Spencer, Ohio – near Wooster. Tony Stoller manages the cattle operation. Though small, Stoller recognizes that he must consistently provide the highest quality product before he can grow his operation. For 10 years now, he has been improving his herd and selling off his 30 to 40 head of cattle as "freezer beef" to loyal customers in the Wooster area. Pleasant Home Cattle Company focuses on natural and sustainable herd management practices to provide the highest quality products on the market at a competitive price.


What’s a "Naturally Raised" Beef Product. Raising a heard "naturally" encompasses the diet and herd management techniques of the animals. In short, a naturally raised product means hormone and antibiotic free diets, and the animals are usually free range. Naturally raised does not have limitations on the diet of the animal other than it cannot receive synthetic supplements in the food. Pleasant Home Cattle Company takes naturally raised further.


Stoller recognizes that to consistently have the best possible product, he must control ever aspect of that animal’s life. This includes its diet from birth to harvest. To effectively manage this diet, Stoller: - Grows his own corn for feed - Feeds the cattle a "finish grade" corn only diet from the time it is finished weaning to harvest. This practice is very expensive. - Mothers on a nutritious, corn only diet have richer milk to feed the calves during weaning - Free range to reduce stress on the animal Because Stoller’s cattle receive a healthier diet, they are healthier animals. Healthier animals resist disease; therefore, they don’t need antibiotics or hormones.


Pleasant Home Cattle Company has worked for 10 years to perfect their herd. The herd is a cross-breed of Limousin and Black Angus. The Limousin is the key to the delicious flavor. The Black Angus is used to increase the size of the animal and to add better maternal instincts – very important of a naturally raised (and weaned) herd. The Limousin breed is native to south central France, particularly in the Limousin and Marche regions. There, the topography is rocky and dry – typical of the Mediterranean region – and not well suited for crops. As a result, the farmers of the region perfected the Limousin breed, which was both a good eating breed as well as a "beast of burden" (work animal). Beginning in the mid-1800’s, Limousin breeds were prominent Best of Show cattle at agricultural shows. Their reputation for solid muscle mass and spectacular marbling soon earned them the reputation as the "butcher’s animal" - a name which Limousin is still referred to in France. Beginning in the 1960’s, Limousin was introduced in America. For the most part though, it was ignored due to the size and productivity of the Angus breed – features that were very important in a food hungry post World War II country. Over 30 years, however, cattleman began to recognize the flavor characteristics of Limousin and it is now a highly desired breed.


At Pleasant Home Cattle Company, Stoller sends his bull to Pennsylvania annually to breed with other Limousin. This process, although very expensive, has helped him build a healthy and productive herd. This is certainly not your traditional Heinz 57 variety of feedlot cattle.

Processing the Animal: This product is processed locally at Whitefeathers in Wooster, Ohio. The animal is dry aged for a minimum of 14 days to concentrate the flavor in the meat. The animal will be cut to our specs. Grading: Typically this product grades out at a minimum of very high choice to prime. Because of the consistent diets and breed, the grading should be very consistent.


Meaty poll results

Coincidence? I think not! I’m chalking this up to great customer research, purveyor selection, trend reading, and awesome timing. This week-ends special entree is a locally raised, antibiotic/hormone free, grain fed strip steak. We will be offering it simply grilled in a 15 oz cut for about $30. This is exactly what the most recent pollsters suggested they would like to see on restaurant menus. I have to completely agree with these results, and my vote would fall in this category as well, and for more reasons that taste alone. Considering price, availability (from the restauranteur standpoint), sustainability, environmental impact, and taste the local, organic beef seems like the best choice.

I’m told that most beef that is cared for the way this local beef is will generally grade out to be equivalent to a USDA prime. So those 5 votes for ‘prime’ can just hop on over with the local gang. Well, those few votes for true Japanese Kobe, while noble in thought, highly unrealistic for the bank account to handle. Even to offer a small steak at cost would produce a sticker shock libel to knock down the inner belt bridge. I am a bit surprised not a single vote for American Kobe. I guess enough people have tried it, and not been impressed with the product as much as the price might indicate. I like American Kobe, I’ve tried strips, tenderloin, sirloin, and short rib cuts, and they are all very good, but not triple the price good. So the math says.... lets pool those prime votes... and 90% of votes go to local, organic, grain fed beef.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Finally brought my camera home......

This is corriander crust duck breast that we served chilled with a rosemary-fig panna cotta and licorice syrup at a benifit for Secon Harvest food bank in Lorian County.

Foie gras mousse, truffle pound cakes, green tomato marmalade, and cherry tomato salad.

This is a surf and turf that went over all to well a few week-ends ago. There was a half lobster on each place as the rest of the meat went into the risotto, with beef medallions and a garlic cream.

Simple boulliabase.
But what I'm looking for is some advice on taking pictures in the kitchen on the go. I'm fairly unhappy with how alot of them are turning out recently. First, with the flash on the picture is very bright, and can't even be fixed later with Picassa. Secondly, if I don't use the flash and find a bright spot in the kitchen there is a yellowish tone to the photo. I'm thinking of taking photos that aren't so close, then croping them later. Any advice would be appreciated for a working environment where I'm likely to have a camera in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other.
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New menu items, photo.



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The day has come.....

Today we are making some serious changes to the Nemo Grille menu. The customer favorites, the staples, and the money makers all stay, but we found a few items to play with and introduce a seasonal influence to the menu. It was not all that long ago, 8 months or so, that we sat down and quietly decided not to decide anything with regard to changing the menu, and that is in part what makes this change so sweet. We have come along way, Nemo Grille and I. We learned about each other, learned from each other, and gained a mutual trust between us. My favorite part of this change is that we have the ball rolling now, we will have to change in the future. When walleye, apples, and butternut squash are no longer the seasonal favorites, things will need to be adjusted. Not only do I appreciate this sense of ‘in the now’ food, but most customers can identify these themes as well, and look forward to change in the future. At least this is how I hope things are perceived. Anyway, let me tell you about a few of the changes....

Sea scallop sliders, coffee dusted scallops, herb profiteroles, celery root puree, apple-coconut-vanilla slaw.


Herb crusted walleye, truffle sachetti, creamy leeks


Butternut squash ravioli, swiss chard, hot italian sausage, white cheddar.


Seared salmon, fried rice, green curry green tomato, sweet teriyaki.


Truffle veal meatballs, linguini, roasted garlic-sage cream.


Seared sea scallops, butternut squash risotto, cider reduction, apple-fennel slaw.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Dry aged beef?


This past week at the restaurant I purchased some 21 day dry aged bone-in NY strip steaks. The one pound steaks sold like hot cakes, and the small bit I did get a chance to try left me wanting more that is for sure. Was it the best piece of beef I’ve ever tasted, not by a long shot. In comparison I was lucky enough to get a sample of a grain fed, hormone/antibiotic free, locally produced T-bone steak, which Fresh Fork Market will begin to distribute, and I found that much more enjoyable, but that’s not what this post is about. The question of what is a dry aged steak, and why bother came up among the service staff. My original answers of concentrated flavor by evaporation where spot on, yet vague, so I decided to do some more research and this is what I found.

Dry aged beef is that which has been allowed to rest at near freezing temperatures for a minimum of 15 days. Most frequently primal cuts are dried, but half animals might also be hung to age. Dry aged beef is a rare find outside of upscale steak houses because the price is significantly higher than wet-aged, normal beef. This is due to the fact there is significant weight loss during the aging process, the length of the process, and loss due to molding. Up to 1/3 rd of the initial weight of the beef might be lost. The dry aging process enhances the beef by three means. First moisture evaporated from the flesh and the beef flavor becomes more concentrated. Second, the beefs natural enzymes have time to work breaking down connective tissue creating a more tender steak, Lastly, mold growth, Thamnidia, in particular, is known to produce collagenolytic enzymes which greatly contribute to the tenderness and flavor of dry-aged meat.


Is dry aged beef just a romantic tale of taking something good and affordable and making it exclusive and expensive, maybe? The good ole boys bloging on Grocer Guy did a side by side test, here is what they thought.

These are a 60 and 30 day dry aged steaks. If nothing else they do look a lot more appetizing that piece of meat swimming in a pool of red liquid.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

End of summer poll results

It was a win by a nose situation, a pure drag race down to the last second. What will we miss the most? And it’s a roll of the dice, an even split, a draw, no one gets their chicken dinner. Or do they all win, and all get a place IN our chicken dinner? I guess that’s a matter of perspective.

By only the slightest of margins we have decided that Ohio sweet corn will be our most highly exulted summer indulgence. Peaches and heirloom tomatoes are right behind, and in their proper place as far as I’m concerned. My personal vote went to the peach because for the past few weeks I’ve had a wonderfully ripe, soft, juicy peach for breakfast, and it will fully enrage me a few weeks down the road when I grab peach from the ice box that is harder than diamonds, dry, and has a flavor reminiscent of a cardboard box. This is what makes all 3 of these local beauties so special, the drop-off in quality is almost unbelievable as we move out of season.

While I like my peaches, I fully endorse sweet corn as the winner. I can think of a great many uses for sweet corn, places where sweet corn either stars or plays a superb supporting role. When I think of peaches, they are best in their virgin state. The fuzzy skin, juice on your shirt, and giant pit are all what makes a peach great. Cooking it, peeling it, puree it, changing it in any way seems to detract from it’s appeal. The same goes for those super ripe, fragile, busting at the seams heirloom tomatoes. They are so very good just sliced with some salt and pepper that turning them into soup, or salsa, or sauce just doesn’t do them justice. On the other hand, corn on the cob is great at a picnic, but that super sweet ear of corn is equally great in a soup, or as a corn cake, or off the cob and sauteed. It’s my opinion that what we enjoy about sweet corn isn’t diminished when we manipulate it, and for this reason it will be mine, and many others most cherished summer indulgence that will all too soon disappear.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taste of the NFL 2008

Last night I was able to represent Nemo Grill at the Taste of the NFL 10th annual celebrity dinner. The goal of the event was to raise funds for the Cleveland food bank, along with other organizations helping to alleviate hunger. The event is held at the Cleveland Browns Stadium on the club seats level. This makes for a great venue, a perfect blend of sport venue, and plush upscale service. It’s equally enjoyable to work the event at this venue since everything there is on such a massive scale.

We offered pork shoulder confit over braised red cabbage. A very flavorful offering when your only presenting people with 2-3 bite sized portions. Everyone seemed to sincerely enjoy it. Most of the people we spoke to where not familiar with the restaurant. Hopefully a few of them that walked away with cards with come to the restaurant in get a larger taste of what we are doing.

The only down side was that we prepped almost twice as much food as we used. There where a lot of people there, and plenty of other restaurants exclaimed how busy they where, but we where slightly disappointed. Our table was all the way at the end of the venue, which wouldn’t be so bad if the venue was a straight and narrow shot, start and end. But in this case an escalator brings people up right in the middle of the venue, which is where all the action is; the booze and wine, the seating, the live and silent auction. You can’t blame them as it’s easy to find everything you need in that area without wandering to the far wings where we waited quietly to dish out our sampling.

Luckily at these event restaurants are more than happy to share with other restaurants and everyone gets to sample each others presentations. While I missed a lot of things I found the veal tortellini from Lago very good. The tuna from Players was full of flavor. The best thing I tasted was prepared by the Cleveland Browns chef’s and consisted of blue cheese risotto toped with a small piece of braised short ribs, tiny cherry tomatoes, and a strip of parmesan cheese. The reserved use of blue cheese added to the flavoring instead of taking over, and the burst of acid from the tomatoes really brought this little sampling together.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Specials for this week-end

Soup: Local Broccoli and white cheddar chowder

App: Foie gras mousse, mini truffle pound cakes, green tomato marmalade, marinated tomatoes

Salmon: Artichoke-red onion quinoa, tomato-corn relish, roasted garlic vinaigrette

Entree: Seared Lake Erie walley, lemon-thyme fingerlings, lobster-panchetta creamed corn

Entree2: Beef tournedo 'surf and turf', grilled medallions, butter poached lobster, lobster risotto, grilled zucchini

Monday, September 15, 2008

Restaurant etiquette

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has had somewhat of an ongoing conversation over tipping, and how that money is distributed. This interesting conversation coupled with the dangerous weather and power outages at the restaurant last night which left us cooking by candle light, without ventilation, for customer who where getting pushy about where their food was, has ultimately lead me to share some of my personal rules of etiquette when I choose to dine out.

If I make a reservation I arrive on time with the correct number of people in my party. I refuse to go to a restaurant within a half hour of it’s posted opening or closing. If I am late, I will do everything I can to not be the last table. From the inside out, I understand by following these rules I will receive the best service available.

Substitutions... if I want to mix and match what I eat, then I go to a buffet. If I would prefer the risotto over the sweet potato hash, then I ask for a side of it. Perhaps if I had an allergy I might be more open minded here, but basically I never ask for substitutions. It’s that much more respectful to the staff.

I adapt to my surroundings. It’s ok to cheer for my team at the sports bar, but that is about it. If my destination requires a certain dress, then I conform to that. I try not to be in the minority with respect to other customers.

Finally, the tip! I believe the tip is a tool to tell the server they did a crappy job. Then again it’s also the best pat on the back. I’m likely to way over tip for good service and inexpensive food. Likewise I’m happy to under tip on good service and over priced food. Unfortunately for the restauranteur, if my service is crap, I won’t return to the restaurant ever again no matter what kind of tip I leave. It’s an easy equation, if the server does a good job, they get rewarded. Since Kari and I are more than likely to know someone where ever it is we go out, more than likely the server. It is always in our best interest to leave a generous tip as we believe it will come back around to us someday. Restaurant employee karma if you will.

Lastly, I push my chair in before I leave. I keep track of my valuables and don’t leave anything behind and if the electricity goes out at the restaurant while I’m are there, I would be understanding.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Two pot sweet corn bisque


In an effort to turn half a crate of sweet corn into soup as fast as possible I devised this scheme to blaze through the whole process. This would work great in the home kitchen as well since we are always in a pinch for a few extra minutes.


Produce
12 ears of corn
1/4 pound butter
2 onions
2 carrots
half stalk of celery
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons whole coriander


First shuck the corn, and separate the kernels from the cob. In pot One Sauteed one onion in the butter, then add the garlic and corn kernels and set heat to low. In pot Two brown off the mire poix and add the corn cobs broken in half, toss in the coriander, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for ½ and hour. Strain the corn broth right into the pot with the kernels, bring to a boil then remove from the heat. At this point we have invested about 40 minutes, not bad.


Using a blender, ideally a vita-prep, puree the soup and strain through a chinois or the finest mesh strainer you have, discard the solids. Season with salt and tabasco sauce.


This is a great vegetarian soup, vegan if you want to leave out the butter. It’s fast, simple, and perfect for our now chilly nights. Corn is as good as I can ever remember right now. I’ve gone through about 6 crates and haven’t had a bad cob yet. If you enjoy the soup and have a little left over it makes a good base for a batch of corn cakes.

Nemo's weekly specials, September 12

Soup: Sweet corn bisque, truffled asparagus.

App: Fresh Ohio Edamame, steamed with garlic oil and sea salt.

Salmon: Seared over basil pesto flavored cous-sous, local baby carrots, and green tomato marmalade.

Fish: Almond encrusted wild stripped bass over garlicy braised greens and creamed ohio sweet corn with pancetta and shitake mushrooms.

Entree: Tournadoes of beef, grilled with spiced sweet potato puree, brocolli-white cheddar bread pudding, poached 'Sarah's farm" farmers egg, truffle oil and black pepper.

Sweet: Ohio summer fruit 'chowder' red and yellow watermelon, cantelope, plums, and blueberries in a vanilla-melon broth garnished with fresh mint.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fresh Fork Market, the new purveyor in town.


I’ve been a huge supporter of local produce, and farmers markets. I shop for myself almost exclusively at the Lakewood Farmers market this time of the year. Unfortunately shopping for the restaurant is a whole different situation. There are things for the restaurant I know I will need, and how much of it, and showing up at the market, hoping to find what you need is not all that fun. Especially when you walk away empty handed. Fresh Fork Market has fixed all that. My second delivery arrives tomorrow, and I’m very happy with how things have worked so far.

Fresh Fork Market is a new purveyor to the Cleveland area. They are currently going through their first Ohio growing season. FFM is a local food distributor. They are working with over 50 small farmers over a 80 mile radius surrounding Cleveland. The customer interface they have created is one of the most pleasant ordering experiences I’ve ever had. Delivery days are Tuesday, and Friday, and ordering deadlines only 24 hours ahead. Upon accessing the FFM webpage you can easily navigate through what is available, order what you want, from which farmer you desire, at a set price. 36 hours later the product is delivered fresh from the ground to your door.

I understand that FFM does not inventory anything. There is not a warehouse with cases of ripening tomatoes, or rotting greens. An ordering cycle would process like this. Product is delivered on Friday. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the farmer takes an inventory of what they will have available for a Tuesday delivery and posts this on the FFM webpage. Customers have until midnight Sunday to place an order made up of the product the farmers will have available. Monday, probably at 1 am, the farmer gets an order from FFM upon which they pick, and pack what’s needed and ship it off to Cleveland where FFM re-packs things for distribution Tuesday. This process is genius. The lack of inventory, the farmer created availability, the ability to complete an order online, all allows for some of the freshest local food to be dropped at my door twice a week.

Who needs a distributor? Not Solomon’s Farm in Avon. For all my chatting up of FFM online interface, I regress to my weekly call to Solomon’s upon which I talk to the person who both planted and will pick my produce. All the while creating an ‘inventory’ and ‘pricing structure’ in their head as we go. Delivery day, well that goes something like this, "if it doesn’t rain tonight I can pick that tomorrow and see you around 6pm" said Solomon’s, and I know if I wake up and the ground it wet, I will have to wait an extra day for my delivery.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Born out of abundance

This interesting dish evolved out of a brainstorm that centered around ordering too many melons, and needing an appetizer special for the week-end. No matter how hard I could have tried, this is something that comes to you while standing in the walk-in cooler staring at the condensation, opposed to sitting with a pen and paper. Plenty of odd dishes with abstract flavor combinations have come and gone with little notice, but customers actually enjoyed this one. We offered this last week-end: Hot Italian sausage, local summer melons, feta, truffle honey, borage flowers, leaves, and pickled stems, finished with fleur de sel.
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Friday, September 05, 2008

Nemo's weekly specials

Chilled heirloom tomato soup, gorganzola panna cotta
garlic oil, cherry tomatoes.

Grilled bistro steak, baked ohio sweet onion, spicy red skin potato salad
roasted garlic-goat cheese spread

Seared salmon, saffrron rice cooked with nuts and dried fruit,
creamy leeks, herb coulis
Also in the works but pictureless include:
App: Hot italian sausage, watermelon, feta, borage, truffle honey
Entree: Herb crusted walley, sweet corn-potato croquette, beer braised carrots,
spicy vegetable relish
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Slow Food Nation; Mission Accomplished?


Last month I posted some of my personal comments on Slow Food in response to a NY Times piece that previewed the Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco as well as criticized the organization rather one sidedly. After reading the NY Times follow up articles on this event, I feel reluctant to be so critical of Slow Food.


From reading a few reviews of the event a lot has been accomplished from it. Slow Food vaulted itself into the national spotlight, even if short lived. This introduced a lot of people to slow food who might not have otherwise given the principles much thought. The physical event itself brought many different people together and broke down a plethora of boundaries that people abide by unwittingly. Farmers got to mingle with customers not just chefs, and customers got to see raw product, and examine it’s path before it got from the restaurants back door to the plate. Social and economic communities mingled together reminding each other to recycle, or compost, or shop locally. These were the reasons the event was put on, and the message was presented as planned. Only time will tell how responsive people will be. Just reading about this happening encourages me to examine Slow Food a little deeper, and more open minded.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nemo pics


This is where mashed potatoes come from!




Herb crusted walleye, lobster mash, horseradish-tomato relish.


Tempura fried shrimp, green curry aioli,
soy roasted pineapple are hidden in there.


My ride to work. Not bad, 20 minutes, 3 lanes, and
not alot of traffic as you can see.
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