Just served three nights of the new August dinner show menu and to our surprise our guests are getting it. Couldn’t be more of a mixed blend of concepts and flavors but in the end our guests are encouraging us to continue the madness.
We start with a curry lemon marinated piece of fresh seared / oven finished, pacific halibut caught just few miles off Cannon Beach shore; with that some Umbrian lentils (but a Northwest lentil works too, if you can get the grade A’s even better). These lentils with Tilda basmati rice from India made pilaf style with aromatics and herbs and toasted almonds. On this plate is a stack of minted mango chutney that I made a few days earlier to give time for the flavors to meld and we serve a creamy pineapple juice pan sauce over the fish. So there you see the blend of far and near to create this easy to duplicate course.
We could align it to the Northwest a bit more using rice a bit closer to home (almost every continent grows rice). Lenore would always prefer brown rice, but for me, it is Tilda basmati all the way. As I said before we can certainly find a NW lentil, knowing that our farms export out the best grade A, and so what I usually can get are not as perfect as the Italian Umbrian. I like the lentils that hold their shape and don’t become mush. We could bring the chutney closer to home, too, by using fresh peaches instead of the mango; NW peaches are in season right now. The fish could be mahi mahi from Hawaii to match the mango as well as bringing the pineapple cream sauce in line.
I’ve never been opposed to blending concepts, and it seems, according to Lenore that it is a trend with many chefs turning to blending ethnicities on a plate. Jury is still out but since I’ve been doing it awhile now, I guess it is less of a trend and more my style. My Italian roots cannot help but show up even when I am trying to cook a full on Northwest menu, or Thia or Mexican concept. So looks like there will be more of the same before they hall me away.
But wait, I haven’t even finished describing the rest of the meal. Second course is a stacked tostado with the usual suspects (guak, salsa, and some crumbly fresh cheese) and topped with my citrus braised pork belly.
The final course is a quick charred tenderloin steak coated with flavors of Spain spices served with a tamale stuffed poblano peppers . That sounds compatible, but here’s the finish you might not be expecting. On a wedge of fresh seedless watermelon I am putting lime, EVOO, jalapeno, feta cheese, and red onion; topping with cumin whipped cream and strawberry tequila sorbet, dotted with crunchy sea salt flakes.
See what I mean? I told Lenore I am going to tie the whole dish together tonight by adding a quick grilled veg medley after I grill the steaks so I don’t waist those meat flavors left on my flattop (Mongolian style ) grill. The veg should pick up the spice and beef flavors. I think they will compliment both the steak and watermelon.
This morning, I received a text from a frequent flyer at EVOO who said dinner last night was the bomb! Thanks, Lisa, but you may not want to encourage too much of this type flavor explosion. Seriously I couldn’t be happier that after eight years at EVOO I am being trusted with whatever goes onto the plate. No worries, though, I plan to continue listening to our guests.