And just like that, the 670 square foot 1 bedroom 1 bath condo I called home for 3 years is in the rear view. On to bigger (literally) and hopefully better things.
More space along with a gas range and a four burner grill has lead to multiple impromptu dinners and one official kick off Tasting Room event.
The Deep Sea Challenge was actually a last minute request from a friend who was about to go out ocean fishing and crabbing. He couldn't promise me that he'd come back with anything but would let me know approximately 3 hours before dinner was to be served.
Sounded like a fun challenge. Out went the invite email and in came the RSVPs. Menu...TBA.
I hedged my menu with fresh hamachi for the appetizer and shrimp and mussels for the Cioppino but otherwise was at the mercy of my buddy's skills with a rod and reel.
Luckily, he came back with ten rockfish and six dungeness crab and I had prepped appropriately.
Final menu for the Deep Sea Challenge
Avocado, Champagne Grapes, Red Chili, Sea Beans, Black Sesame
Grilled Dungeness Pops
Miso Grilled Rockfish
Japanese Sweet Potato Puree, Soy & Seasame Gai Lan
Candied Walnuts, Vanilla Ice Cream
In the end, the event was fun but very much a challenge. Not knowing what proteins I was going to be dealing with until a couple hours before guests showed up was nerve racking. I suppose it's a similar feeling Iron Chef contestants get before the chairman yells, "Allez Cuisine!" minus the threat of Jeffrey Steingarten criticism.
So now the new kitchen has officially been broken in and I look forward to many more dinners in the near future.
Dear Hungry Friends,
I'm very excited to report that I've taken on a new enterprise which should positively impact the next Tasting Room event. As a few of you may have heard, a friend and I have started an import business specializing in French truffles. We've now begun selling black winter truffles to fine dining restaurants in the Bay Area. I'm also planning to get back into the cooking instruction scene with a truffle cooking class at a nearby restaurant.
Of course, I would love to share this experience to all of you as well. So, ChefBarrsCreations is happy to announce, we will have our first Truffle Tasting Room this Friday!
This event is open to everyone but may not be for everyone. If you don't like truffles, you probably shouldn't come to this event. If you do like truffles, you should come. I can guarantee that this will be the most truffles you have ever eaten in one sitting.
January 25th, 2013 Menu:
Mache Salad with Truffle Vineagrette
Cornish Hen with Truffle Butter
Truffle Creme Brulee
Due to the high cost of the ingredients, this event will be $50 (cash, credit card, PayPal). Feel free to bring a bottle to share.
Sorry for the last minute invite and I hope you can join us.
The butterflies began to flutter in the pit of my stomach as we turned off the highway. Wide angle views of open vineyards and hazy mountains gave way to dense branches hiding groves of trees.
"Chêne!" exclaimed Guy in French as he navigated the Volkswagen. They were in fact Oaks. But as we drove further, I realized something about the trees - they were all the same size...and in perfect rows. We were in a truffière. This was someone's truffle farm and we were going on a cavage.
As we followed closely behind a miniSUV with completely tinted out windows, I could barely make out Billie and Athis, the two Lagottos in the back. They were eagerly waiting to be set loose to do what they were bred to do - hunt truffles.
We parked the cars and released the dogs. Immediately, their noses dropped to the tilled soil and off they went. We were each handed a steel crowbar for digging by our cavage host and told to stay close to Billie.
"She's better at finding truffles but when she does, she prefers to eat them."
Athis doing his thing
Less than 5 minutes into the trek, Billie begins fervently digging. We run up to her, dodging the flying dirt, and kneel down around her. A moment later, she lifts her face, which is already covered in chocolate colored dirt, and clamped between her teeth is a grape sized nugget. Our host wrestles the prize away and gives Billie a well deserved doggie treat. Immediately, she presses the truffle to her own nose. Eyes closed, she expertly analyzes the aroma. She opens her eyes, brushes off the truffle and hands it to us. "Melano," she confirms.
Billie just found the highly sought after and arguably second most expensive truffle variety in the world - the Black Diamond - tuber melanosporum.
We spend the next few hours repeating this process and pulling up ripe truffles from the groves. Our host keeps them in her satchel along with an endless supply of treats. As dusk set in, our breathe appeared and fingers and toes began to ache with the cold. I felt the chill creep up my sleeves and down my collar but could not stop smiling. We finished the day with over 3.5lbs of harvest - a small fortune.
The unforgettable day was capped by a feast of freshly sliced truffles on buttered bread and a sprinkle of sea salt paired with a glass of champagne.
Simplicity at its finest.
With the changing of seasons here in San Francisco, I've been inspired to also change the format of the Monday Night Dinner Party. I’ve always enjoyed the large common table events but as our head counts approached 14-16 guests and our staff count remained the same (2), I began to lose touch with the purpose of these “semi-underground” supper club dinners. The FOOD!
I’d like to announce the next set of events from Chef Barrs Creations. This is a concept I’ve been working on for the last few weeks and am very excited to share this smaller, more intimate setting with you.
The Tasting Room
3 nights available - sign up for the nights you are free and you’ll be notified within 24 hours which night you have reserved
4 guests per night
5-7 courses with pairings
$30 – no byob unless you feel like it (Cash or Paypal firstname.lastname@example.org)
Same location – 451 Kansas St Unit 451
RSVP* TO SECURE A SEAT
Saturday, November 17
Sunday, November 18
Monday, November 19
Course one is served at 7:30pm
See you in the Tasting Room,
Some of the dishes we ate in one week.
Malaysia - the melting pot of Asia. With influences from nearby Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisine, Malaysia truly is a foodie destination. I was fortunate enough to make it to three very different cities during my week long stay.
Kuala Lumpur, or better known as KL to the locals, is the capital city and exactly what you'd expect. A downtown area filled with shopping malls, luxury goods, high end restaurants and 5 star hotels. If you told me I was in Shanghai or Singapore, I wouldn't have doubted it. Although, all these major Asian cities have one big difference compared to their western counterparts - street food!
Peripheral streets and alleys are lined with food stalls displaying colorful arrangements of non matching plastic tables and chairs -- you know, the kind of chairs that buckle the moment you lean the wrong way. Patrons range from mothers feeding babies one noodle at a time to businessmen in suits shoveling down bowls of rice covered in spicy curry.
One somewhat well known food street within walking distance from the heart of downtown KL was Jalan Alor. Little did we know, but unavoidably could tell, it was the peak of durian season in Malaysia. The popular variety called Cat Mountain King seemed to be available at every fruit stand in the city which is why I mistakenly assumed Malaysia had an open sewage system. Anthony Bourdain, a actual fan of durian, states that it makes your breath "smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother." With that description in mind, I steered clear of the stuff. I had more important things on my mind - like beef noodle soup.
Kansas City has its ribs, New England has its lobster rolls, Ipoh has its salted chicken. Based on a few local recommendations, we walked to Taman Jubilee which was about 20 min from our hotel in search of the famous dish. Not only did we find it, that's all we found. We made it to a street corner where all four corners where restaurants serving the same pre-fix meal. Bean sprouts, salted chicken and your choice of rice or rice noodles in broth. The easy part was choosing which one to to go. Since all the seating was outside, it was obvious which place had the most customers.
We finished the trip in true vacation style at a resort on a small island off the west coast of Malaysia. Pangkor Laut Resort is a privately owned island only reachable by a reservation and chartered boat. Since the rest of Malaysia was so affordable (food was a few dollars a meal), we decided to splurge on a very luxurious sea villa which we booked a month in advance.
The food on the island was on par with what you'd expect from any fine dining restaurant (and priced equivalently). Scattered around the island were 6 or 7 restaurants representing various cuisines. I'd say this portion of the trip was more about the experience on the island than the food. 82 degree water, beautiful sunrises, and tennis with the local wildlife.
Maybe it's the endless possibilities of fillings or maybe it's the lard - for whatever reason, I've been on a tamales kick lately.
Pictured below are the Chinese 5 Spice braised chicken tamales Karen and I made for Mothers Day. I'm very jealous of Karen's mom for having an 18" diameter dual rack steamer - actually I'm jealous she has the kitchen space to store one.
Basic Tamales Recipe
(I excluded the filling, use whatever filling you'd like. Leftover braised meat works very well.)
1 1/3 cups lard or solid vegetable shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 cups freshly ground masa dough for tamales, or make masa dough with 3 1/2 cups harina mixed with 2 1/4 cups warm water
2 cups chicken broth (homemade if possible!)
Thoroughly mix lard, salt and baking powder in large bowl until fluffy (an electric mixer comes in handy for this). Beat in fresh masa or masa harina mixture in batches. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups broth. If dough seems firm, beat in broth a couple tablespoons at a time, to soften.
Spread 2 - 3 tablespoons of dough on soaked corn husks and spoon your choice of filling. Roll up the husk and tie off the ends with strips of corn husks.
Steam for ~1 hour or until dough no longer sticks to husk.
Earlier this spring, some friends introduced me to a place that I’m sure many of you have heard of or experienced already. A magical place lined with picnic tables and charcoal grills. A place where the streets are paved with pearls. Well, mostly crushed oyster shells but I’m sure a few pearls could be found.
I’m talking about Tomales Bay Oyster Company near Point Reyes!
I’d like to propose the first off-site MNDP on Sunday, April 15th. So technically, it’s not an MNDP at all but depending on the number of people interested, there will still be a menu (possibly plated) with a secret ingredient of – oysters, duh. Sunday is supposed to be sunny and warm in Point Reyes so bring sunblock and your favorite beverage as we will be outside all day.
The event will go from 1pm – close (around 5pm). We will plan carpools accordingly.
Please also note in the comments section if you are available early to help set up.
(no limit to this event)
Suggested donation is $25 and BYOB. (Cash or Paypal to email@example.com)
Last Friday's Beer Night was a success!
Thanks to all who helped in the process as my usual front of house was not available. Photos of the event here.
I've been pinging the masses and have come up with the following theme for next Monday's dinner: Say Cheese! Each course will have a flavor profile that exhibits a unique cheese and will be paired with a wine brought by YOU. I will notify the individual wines that we'll need and again, no obligation to spend more than $2 on your bottle.
This is the first event where the attendees will be given direction on which type of wine to bring - hopefully with a positive result! Also, a previous brainstorm session had agreed on the theme "Drunk and Full of Cheese" which would be pretty much the same idea.
October 24th Menu**
Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad
Porcini Queso Fundido
Aged Cheddar and Broccolini Soup with Parmesan Kale Crisps
Gruyere and Fuji Pub Burger with Polenta Fries
6:30pm We Cook (come at 6:30 if you want to cook with us)7:30pm We Eat (come at 8 if your lazy and just want to be fed)
Suggested donation is a bottle of wine and $20. (Cash or Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hope to see you Monday!
*You may RSVP with a +1, +2 etc. Due to the space restraints, I'm limiting these events to 12 guests (plus me and KK!).
**Menu subject to change based on market availability of ingredients and chef ambition on a Monday afternoon
Inspired by the upcoming FNDP - Beer Night III, I've updated the Beer and Wine Pairings section of chefbarrscreations.com.
So it's been like a million years since the last MNDP, I know, I'm sorry, I'll fix it.
Fall is here and so is a famous LA Celebrity. Her name is Katie Killebrew but she's better known as Punky. I promised her a dinner party next time she was in town so, HERE IT IS!
Due to the B.A.C. caused by the last Beer Night dinner, it has been decided that future Beer Nights will have to take place on Fridays.
FIRST 12 GUESTS TO RSVP* SECURE A SEAT (RSVP Here)
October 14th Menu TBA
FYI - Beer Night consists of all four courses containing beer and paired with beer - it gets messy...
6:30pm We Cook (come at 6:30 if you want to cook with us)
8:00pm We Eat (come at 8 if your lazy and just want to be fed)
No need to bring wine this time as there will be beer pairings. Suggested donation is $20. (Cash or Paypal to email@example.com)
Hope to see you Friday!
*You may RSVP with a +1, +2 etc. Due to the space restraints, I'm limiting these events to 12 guests (plus me and KK!).
**Menu subject to change based on market availability of ingredients and chef ambition on a Friday afternoon
He who eats alone, chokes alone.