Archive for December, 2009
2009 has been a great year for food in Seattle, but with the new year just around the corner, I thought I’d share my
guesses insight into what we’ll see in restaurants and home kitchens 2010. Some of these may be national trends, but as Pacific Northwesters, we tend to be the canaries in the coalmine, especially when discussing what we put in our bodies.
As always, there will be a balance of healthy, socially-conscious eating and perverse gluttony (see Bacon Explosion).
Seattle will go sous-vide crazy
The fancy restaurants have already been doing it for years (though, perhaps illegally). But in 2010, I predict that sous-vide preparations will start showing up on restaurant menus everywhere (like The Keg and McCormick & Schmick’s), not just at cutting-edge gastropubs. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, sous-vide describes a cooking method where food is vacu-sealed and heated very slowly (hours or even days) in temperature-controlled water baths. The method lets cooks achieve heavenly textures not achievable with an oven, stove or fry-o-lator. 2009 saw the release of the SousVide Supreme, the world’s first home-use water oven. But at $499, it only appeals to serious food geeks (even I don’t have one yet). I predict that 2010 will give us the “George Foreman Grill of sous-vide”, an afforable, mass-market water oven, complete with late night infomercial.
Homemade Pasta is the new Canvolution
There’s nothing new about homemade pasta. Nor is there anything new about canned foods. Both are oldschool, inexpensive, and very social ways of preparing food. 2009 gave rise to a huge wave of canning parties, covered under the umbrella movement of “Canvolution”. I predict a similar wave of ad-hoc food gatherings next year, and I think homemade pasta could be the recipe of choice. Making pasta – particularly rolling and cutting noodles – is a fun group activity. Plus, dried pasta lasts forever and makes for a great gift (just like canned goods). Stock up on Semolina flour – it’s gonna be a carb-tastic new year!
Sliders Out, Rillettes In
You know sliders are falling out of fashion when they appear on the menu at Jack-In-The-Box. Although the mini-burgers enjoyed their time in the spotlight at almost every restaurant in the city, it’s time for us to move on to the next “it” dish. My prediction: rillettes. Sure, they lack the mass appeal of a very small hamburger, but these spreadable potted meats are a total rustic treat. The first rillette I ever tasted was a creamy little pot of salmon at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in New York. Let me tell you, it left an impression. Although pâté may be hopelessly off the mainstream, I think rillettes have a fighting chance.
Other Predictions, Hopes and Ramblings…
- Cupcakes are over. And so are the Pinkberry knockoffs. Please, let’s move on.
- Sustainable sushi will be the new norm. With more and more diners checking sustainable seafood watchlists at the dinner table, we can no longer gorge on unagi without social consequences. Bravo to chefs like Hajime at West Seattle’s Mashiko for leading the charge.
- Salts on the rise. Look for specialty salts to play a major role in restaurant menus. Oh, and regular table salt is so last decade. If it’s not Chardonnay-smoked, truffle-infused, or from an obscure seaport town in France, I’m not interested.
- We get it: bacon is delicious and makes for ironic kitsch. Let’s find a new punch line in 2010. How about blowfish?
- Seattle chefs embrace (or at least tinker with) molecular gastronomy. It may not be for everyone, but molecular gastronomy – sciencey food made through extremely geeky methods – is still turning heads around the country. There are a number of brave Seattle chefs are already having fun with science, but in a city with so many artists, I have to believe the best (and weirdest) is yet to come.
Sometimes there’s nothing like a hot plate of lasagna on a cold winter evening. If you’re nodding in agreement, for the love of God, stop buying frozen lasagna! This dish is nearly foolproof, and if you don’t want to make your own noodles and sauce from scratch, you can easily substitute store-bought ingredients. I chose to make mini-lasagnas since I have a set of cocottes (tiny dutch ovens), but the same recipe will work in an 8”x8” baking dish.
Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post, but I was off getting married to the love of my life, Rachel. The wedding was better than we ever dreamed it would be and we’ve spent the past nine days on our honeymoon drinking margaritas and soaking up the sun in Mexico. I’ll post a full write-up when we get more photos back from our photographer. I’d also like to give a big thanks to all of our vendors, every one of whom was amazing!
- The Sorrento Hotel, and Chef Matthew Mina at the Hunt Club
- J. Garner Photography
- Morphey’s Cakes
- Aisle of View planning services
- Forever Yours Music
And if you’re feeling particularly curious, our photographer has a few more shots up on his blog.
More to come soon…
I wish I could take credit for this recipe – the best new thing I’ve tasted all year – but the credit actually lies with two of my favorite chefs in Seattle: Philippe Thomelin of Olivar, and Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez, formerly of Harvest Vine and now playing around at Txori. On the night I first tasted chorizo caramel confit, I had just finished an excellent meal prepared by both chefs on a special evening at Olivar. I happened to be sitting with Jay of Gastrolust.com, and Joseba came over to say hello. Of course we praised the meal, and I jokingly asked, “But where was the chorizo?” Joseba disappeared into the kitchen and emerged a minute later with a plate of sticky-sweet chorizo atop crostini. They were unbelievable, and I’ve dreamt about them ever since. Apparently, Philippe and Joseba had hand-made the chorizo earlier that day and had been cooking slowly in caramel. Philippe generously shared his simple recipe, which I’ve recreated here using store-bought chorizo.
Makes: 24 pieces
Total kitchen time: 1 hour (15 minutes active time)
- 1 lb. dry-cured chorizo, sliced into 1/4” pieces
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 stick butter
- 1 baguette, thinly sliced (optional)
- Pour the sugar and water into a medium skillet with high sides (taller than the chorizo is thick). A non-stick skillet makes for easier cleanup. Do not stir the sugar and water together, just make sure all the sugar is wet.
- Over medium heat, bring the sugar water mixture to a soft boil.
- Stir in the butter until melted. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.
- Add the chorizo and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, up to 3 hours. The longer it cooks, the more flavorful the caramel will be.
- (Optional, for serving) Butter one side of thin baguette slices and toast in the oven or on a skillet. Place each piece of chorizo on a piece of toasted bread and drizzle with the caramel sauce in the pan.
Or, dump the whole pot into a mason jar and serve with bamboo skewers.
This is my new favorite dessert, and a dish that I’ll serve often at cocktail parties. If you’re interested in hearing more about the wonderful dinner at Olivar, Jay has a great writeup on his blog. And, many thanks to Frantic Foodie Keren Brown for organizing the dinner!