Posts Tagged ‘truffle oil’
After a leisurely day in Santa Monica, we retreated to Sonoma Wine Garden for wine and snacks. Located on the deck of Santa Monica Place, a building originally designed by Frank Gehry and recently renovated. ‘Cradle‘, a sculpture by Ball-Nogues Studio, is suspended from a blank exterior wall. Dozens of polished stainless steel spheres are clustered in a provocative shape.
A chalkboard on a wine barrel at the entrance enticed passers-by with happy hour, live music and wines of Washington!
To the right is the dining room, and to the left is the bar. The surrounding patio is tiered with plenty of space for lounging in the glorious SoCal weather.
Wooden blocks stamped with wine logos dangled in the gentle breeze, an optical illusion is created with angled mirrors.
Candles flickered and outdoor heaters switched on, it was a beautiful evening to be dining al fresco.
In need of some rest after a day in the sun, Sonoma Wine Garden had a casual atmosphere with a bar menu and an extensive wine list.
We ordered a bottle of 2008 Fogdog Pinot Noir, a robust Sonoma Coast red wine.
We nibbled on marinated olives and truffle fries. Glistening globes of green olives were served in a recycled glass jar. They were mild and aromatic, with small pits.
Golden and crispy, the fries were perfumed with the earthy tones of truffle oil and topped with Parmesan and parsley.
Fairy lights twinkled in twilight as I reflected on how much I miss natural light.
One last glance at the horizon and we exited into the night.
Sous vide is synonymous with molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine. I know the basic concept is to poach food in vacuum sealed bags at a controlled temperature for consistent cooking, to retain nutrients and enhance flavours.
But sous vide has always conjured an image in my mind of scientists in stained lab coats and oversized goggles, distilling and decanting between technicolour beakers, with evil intentions.
Commercial sous vide machines are expensive and the SousVide Supreme was developed for the home kitchen. A local company, CEO Bob Lamson was optimistic that the seed has been planted for ‘Seattle to become the sous vide capital’ and to be at a leader of small appliances innovation, citing Nathan Myhrvold, Tavern Law and Crush as examples of Seattleites championing sous vide.
After much trial and error throughout the design and build process, the unit was rigorously tested by Heston Blumenthal before he launched it. The Fat Duck has more than seventy sous vide machines in its kitchen!
Bob extolled the quality of taste and texture of sous vide food, and stated that vegetables cooked sous vide is forty percent more nutritious than boiling and twenty percent more nutritious than steaming.
The water oven is easy to use and temperature can be set in Celsius (I still can’t convert °F!) or Fahrenheit. Ingredients and seasoning are vacuum sealed in pouches that can be prepared quickly, making it convenient and is also energy efficient.
There were many questions about what could be cooked in the SousVide Supreme. Meat, vegetables, fruits, stocks and cocktail infusions were all mentioned but the most decadent recipe was replacing the water with butter and cooking a whole lobster in it!
Bob shared with us an anecdote of a customer returning the product with a note declaring it the ‘worst deep fryer ever’. It’s not a Crock-Pot and it’s not a deep fryer! There is a perception that sous vide is complicated or hifalutin, and Bob was emphatic that it is scientifically proven to be a safe method of cooking.
Chef Sharone Hakman of MasterChef fame entertained us as he cooked a seven course tasting menu. He was engaging, amiable and knowledgeable. Sharone and the team from Duo Public Relations had been preparing the meals for several hours. We shared the dishes family style and there was an abundance of food!
Our first course was a refreshing wild hibiscus spritzer infused with raspberries and rose water.
The second course was wild king salmon with fennel, radish and turmeric butter. Succulent and flaky, the salmon was fresh and simple. Cooked sous vide and then braised, the wedges of fennel held its shape.
There were audible gasps when Sharone presented the 61 degree eggs, glossy and wobbling on a plate. A little jet lagged, I forgot to ask how the shells were peeled! The eggs were scooped on asparagus, drizzled with truffle oil and served with brioche croutons. Silky, crispy, crunchy, the textural combination was bursting with sunshine.
Chicken breasts were cooked sous vide and Sharone seasoned and seared them for presentation. Sliced and rested on pea purée and parmesan crisps, the chicken was tender and juicy. The highlight was the pea purée – vibrant in colour and taste, the sweetness contrasted with the salty cheese wafer.
Sharone displayed a tray of sous vide short rib with pride. The sliders are his favourite and the short ribs are marinated in his own brand of sauce, Hak’s BBQ.
Rich and sticky, the thick protein was tempered by the coleslaw. Perched on a stool far from the kitchen bench, I struggled eating this without making a mess! The chipotle bourbon sauce was scrumptious and I’m craving carnitas tacos with the gifted bottle of Hak’s BBQ sauce!
The final savoury dish was coffee and pepper crusted filet with fig infused Pinot Noir reduction.
Sous vide is ‘forgiving on the backend of cooking’ and the filet was evenly medium rare.
There was silent appreciation from the crowd as Sharone cut into each filet, the thick medallions of filet were a beautiful blush inside.
Rarer than I prefer my beef, I sampled a small portion and it pairs well with the fig and wine reduction.
As a child my mother would poach pears for me when I was ill. Warm and soft, they’re a healthy comfort food. Atop mascarpone, this adult version is poached in Zinfandel and dusted with cinnamon.
It was a fun, informative and delicious evening, learning and eating sous vide.
Sincere thanks to Myra Kohn for hosting, Bob Lamson for his insights, Sharone Hakman for his culinary expertise, and Duo Public Relations for organising.