Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Foxwoods Recap

Thanks to everyone who made it down to Foxwoods this year! We met some great people, drank some great wine and cocktails, sampled some great cuisine from the region and enjoyed great company. I saw a lot of old friends and picked up some great ideas.

The dish we served this year was a "Soy Cured Salmon, Heirloom Apples(New Hampshire Zestor Apple) Lime & Scallion Creme Fraiche,Local Grown Micro Cilantro"

Although I didn't win this year(or any other year I've played) I enjoyed playing poker again this year at the third annual celebrity chefs poker tournament. The honor to sit at the Table with some of Americas great chefs and restaurateurs is always a great experience. This year I had the pleasure of playing with David Burke,Franklin Becker, Sam Talbot , "Spike" from the latest season of Top Chef and David Rabin president of the New York Nightlife Association and owner of the former Lotus Night Club in NYC, among a few others at the table. I might practice a little for next year( not an excuse at all...)

Thanks to everyone who helped out, Justin( one of our lead line cooks) Matt & Nicole. And the JWU Students, thanks for cutting salmon and julienne apples to order for 3,000 people for 5 straight hours!! The event was a success and we look forward to next year.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall Menu

We launched the fall menu this afternoon at Tastings. Out with the summer dishes until next year, but we are excited about the local squash and pumpkins we have found in our area.

Local Long Island Cheese Pumpkin will be used for our "Curried Pumpkin Soup w/ Pear & Fennel Slaw, Caramelized Peanuts and Fennel Pollen"

We are using a Kabocha Squash for our new Gnocchi Dish, let me tell you that we were not sure how this dish would end up, but Matt found great balance, we decided after the fact that the addition of a crispy braised pork belly would finalize this dish, the "Kabocha Squash Gnocchi w/egg nog froth, hazelnut crumble and local cider glaze", gives a great sweet and sour effect to the pork belly.

We also added a comforting Local Fisherman's stew, with seafood sourced from only the waters off the New England coast, the Fisherman's Stew is cod, scallop, mussels and clams and is finished with a chorizo & saffron reduction. Think rustic rice less Paella.... No fuss here, just a tasty rendition of a classic.

We look forward to also starting to showcase some forward thinking cuisine this week with the use of our blackboard. The blackboard will change weekly and you will be able to find some experimental cuisine that we have been working on. Also be on the lookout for some new cheese selections sourced only in New England.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Upcoming Events

The last couple of weeks have been great!! We have met so many new people coming in to experience Tastings, and we are now going to take the experience on the road.
The 3rd annual Foxwoods Food & Wine Festival is taking place this weekend,We will be participating in the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday & Sunday from 1pm-5pm being held at the new MGM Grand Ballroom.
I will also be playing in the chef poker tournament on Sunday(Noon)hopefully to walk away with a check for $15,000 to benefit the "Grow Clinic for Children" at Bostons Medical Center, the money will help fight the complications that local Boston youth are facing from malnutrition. It is amazing in today's day and age that kids are still having to face not having the right things to eat or enough to eat,it is just mind boggling to me. Click on the link to find out more.
Fresh From The Family Farm
Also From Sunday, October 12 to Sunday, October 19 we will provide you with the freshest ingredients we can get from area family farms including our own Wards Berry Farm in Sharon. We will feature one menu item that only uses locally gathered ingredients and donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of that item to Farm Aid and Chefs Collaborative; two organizations that share one vision: thriving family farms growing good food for all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Matthew Demers Photography

I promised some shots of the restaurant, the food, the patio etc...We were very fortunate to have Matthew Demers be in charge of and conduct the photo shoots. His professionalism and ability to capture exactly what we were looking for shows in every shot. I hope you enjoy these, and in the future please check out the Tastings Web Site for more beautiful shots.

Patio (Gillette Stadium, the Back Drop)

Wine Room

Dining Room

Foie Gras
pickled raspberries/vanilla bean balsamic/Indian spiced pistachio granola

Plancha Seared Shrimp
minted white beans/chorizo puree/garlic air

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Action

The nights are in full swing, the team is learning the menu and cranking out food like you wouldn't believe. As you can see from Saturday nights ticket stack( 360 covers) close to 1,000 small plates left the kitchen with not one food item returned to the kitchen.
This level of execution and volume don't usually mix, but with some very minor tweaks to station set up and prep lists, I think we have it figured out. I'm very happy with the skill level of the cooks and it shows in the work they are doing.

We are already thinking about some changes to the menu as summer begins to wind down and the fall chill is in the air.One thing we did get today is a ZESTOR Apple from New Hampshire. A sweet and tart red apple, with aprox two weeks of availability we are happy to have it grace the menu.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Win for Opening Night

After 4 long months of building, phone calls, thousands of emails and blowing through my rollover minutes on my cell phone, Arguments and on occasion the actual feeling of "what the hell am I doing" we opened to the smoothest restaurant opening I have ever been a part of. When i tell you that I have done my fair share of openings, this was by far the smoothest, most successful opening I have been a part of.
The kitchen was on fire( no pun intended) the FOH was spot on, and the bar was not missing a beat, in fact our only major complaint was that one of plates was to big. If that's the worse that can happen, well I think we did a pretty good job.
I just want to thank my team, Matt & Dione for all the hard work and hours that they have put in (and will continue to put in for the first few weeks) because with out the two of them there is no way we could have pulled it off.
My Wife also deserves a big thanks, to accept another project especially an opening project is a huge sacrifice, and it doesnt go unnoticed. The time that this business takes away from personal family time, especially since Nicole works the complete opposite schedule as I do,I really appreciate your understanding.
And also the rest of the management team Dave & Bryon and of course Mike, Bill & Patti, thanks for letting me be a part of this venture with you.

Now remember, its only been one shift, one service, one night, and with many more to come we are no where near claiming we have a huge success. But if last night is a snapshot of what to expect, all I can say is we are in a great position to do so.... real soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Count down to opening day

Its been over a week since the last post, and the reason why is a good one. We are 1 day away, yes 24 hours from opening our doors to the public. Its been a week and a half of non sop days and nights getting ready, training the staff, cooking the dishes!! Finally cooking the dishes in our kitchen with our team has been the most satisfying part of being in the restaurant.
The team is excited and ready to start pumping food out of the kitchen. I am ready to see all the hard work everyone has put in finally pay off. I know that those of you who have followed this blog up until this point are ready to come in and experience Tastings.
At this point the blog will begin to take a turn to focus on the cuisine. Matt and I will begin to experiment and share with you our trials and tribulations, we will share our vision on what we believe a culinary experience should be, and we hope that we can inspire and educate while having fun.
With the opening so close I will be running around like crazy for the next few weeks, but I cant wait!!! This is what its all about