Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fresh or Frozen

In our quest to find the highest quality products from the New England region we came across a small scallop company out of Stonington CT that sells sea scallops, beautiful, large, dry and sweet. The flavor and texture are unlike many scallops I have tried in the past. Firm,silky smooth texture and a delicate sweetness only found in the high quality freshest scallops on the market.
Bomster Scallops out of Stonington CT are one of the best scallops I have ever used......and the catch here is they are frozen!?
But before you stop reading and tell me Im crazy, and that I live and work near one of the largest scallop ports in the world(New Bedford), you have to pay attention to the story.
The condensed version:

sea scallops, unlike smaller bay scallops, live in relatively deep waters scallop boats typically go out for ten days or more at a time.

Scallops can’t survive long out of their briny bath, so crew members shuck their catch as soon as it’s hauled on board. Standard practice, is to then wrap the scallops in canvas bags and store them on ice. By the time the boats dock, the scallops at the bottom of the hold may have been sitting in melting ice for a week or more.

Seafood suppliers buy the catch and all too often subject it to a further indignity: a soaking in sodium tripolyphosphate to cut down on moisture loss in frozen seafood, but the chemical can also be used to get scallops to absorb extra water. This “wet packing,” as it’s called, increases the scallops’ weight—and suppliers’ margins. I believe it gives the scallops an off flavor and may mask the signs of spoiling.

Bobmster Scallops Story
Working side-by-side at two metal troughs, each member of a seven-member crew cuts the circular white abductor muscle from its shell. It takes about a second and a half to shuck each scallop. The scallops are quickly rinsed in ocean water, then vacuum packed and laid in a single layer on metal pans. The pans slot into an industrial freezer that can reach 20 below in a matter of seconds.

The packaging seals in the natural juices, while quick freezing means ice crystals don’t have a chance to form, compromising the texture. The flesh is never exposed to fresh water and never treated with chemicals. Virtually a product that when defrosted properly has the same charecteristics that it had on the boat.

So far I have not been able to get any of my friends to tell me by taste test which scallop is frozen and which is not....but in all honesty the scallop that they all say has a better texture and flavor......Bombster

Stonington Seafood Harvesters, Stonington Town Dock, 4 High Street, Stonington, Connecticut, 860-535-8342.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amazing VIP Dinner

Not every day that I can say I had osetra caviar, sevruga caviar, white truffles, kobe beef, live sea urchin and more in my walk in at the same time for one dinner......but last night I was able to say just that.
Picture this....Monday holiday, 11am, phone call from one of the owners letting me know that a vip will be in for dinner at 7pm with 4 guests and he wants the best of the best. Knowing this person( and a heads up from one of his right hands) I knew that that meant the finest ingredients known to this season.
Great.....?! Monday holiday and 7 hours to source fresh white alba truffles, kobe beef, live sea urchin etc....and not to mention that we had one of the best weekends we've seen in a while, low on prep, and two of my top guys out of the state.
Called my sous chef and told him to prepare for a crazy day, call in one of my line cooks and get to work on writing a menu.
The menu: the day I should have a camera....none in sight!

Damariscotta River Oysters (cava mignonette)
Osetra Caviar & Sevruga Caviar Tastings (4oz each)

Live Sea Urchin & Braised Fennel Soup (served in shell)

Crispy Veal Sweetbread, smoked gala apple puree, pickled gala apples, vanilla balsamic

Foie Gras "PB&J" Toasted Brioche, Marcona Almond Butter & Fresh Tempranillo Grape Jam, little bunch of fresh Tempranillo grapes

Rioja Risotto(made with red rioja wine) parm foam, fresh white truffles (2oz)

Kobe Beef Tenderloin, last of the season corn puree, trumpet royale, cilantro salad

Spanish Cheese Tasting(sheeps milk Manchengo, mountain goat cheese,Galician Cream) membrillo

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fun Tailgating Video for HOW2HEROS


Matt & I shot some videos fro how2heros last week. A little out of the norm for cuisine style, but we had a blast shooting our version of great tailgating(with style) recipes!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Heirloom Harvest Week Oct 12-18


The purpose of the 2009 Grow-Out is to celebrate and raise awareness of agricultural biodiversity, while promoting the development of markets for locally-raised, regionally-significant, heirloom produce in New England.

The Grow-Out project is run with a belief in the power of community building and celebration in growing and enhancing local food economies. Twenty-eight farmers and thirty-five chefs in Boston, MA; Portsmouth, NH and Providence, RI are participating in the Grow-Out this year. Each farmer is growing some of the sixteen varieties of regionally significant, heirloom vegetables chosen for the project. Seeds were donated to the project by Seed Savers Exchange, Fedco Seeds and Old Sturbridge Village. Farmers are “growning out” these seeds and participant chefs are buying the produce, featuring and celebrating it on their menus. To read more about the project, farmers and chefs, check out the Chefs Collaborative blog.
Heirloom Harvest Week is a celebration of New England’s agricultural heritage, biodiversity and farmer-chef connections. On October 12th – 18th, all the Grow-Out participant restaurants in Boston, Providence and Portsmouth will have one or more items on their menu highlighting and honoring locally grown vegetables from the project. Stop by to eat delicious food while supporting your local restaurants and farms and celebrating New England’s agricultural heritage.

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We will be serving the following dishes & cocktails at Tastings

Boston Marrow Squash Flan
Simply Fried Jimmy Nardello Peppers (heirloom sweet pepper)
Sweet Siberian Yellow Watermelon Cocktail titled "Nice Melons" (by mixologist Scott Shoer)

Monday, October 5, 2009

LOLA DUCK


The LOLA DUCK is here and I made sure I was the first to order some in the Boston Area!
A true heritage breed duck, bred from a domesticated White Pekin and a not-so domesticated Mallard. It is truly unique and the very first project of its kind taken on by Hudson Valley duck farm. I am always looking for regionally local,Lola ducks are bred, hatched, raised and processed in Ferndale, NY.
The flesh of the LOLA DUCK is dark red/crimson in color and has a rich gamey flavor and texture reminiscent of squab. This bird is far leaner than is Pekin parent. The fat that it does have is rich in duck-fatty flavor. They are air-chilled, which is the proven hands-down best and cleanest way to process poultry.
The LOLA DUCK grows slowly. Definitely SLOW FOOD! It takes 12 weeks to get to its weight of 3 lbs, which is almost twice the time as it takes to raise a 5 lb Pekin.
The inspiration to produce the LOLA DUCK came from Normandy, France, best known as the region which exports the delicious apple brandy, Calvados. Their ducks are not commercially exported and therefore less is known about the rich diversity of heritage breed ducks. Every cluster of villages has its’ own unique style. Every farmer has his own unique breeding stock and there is a centuries-old tradition of raising artisanal heritage breed ducks.
A first of its kind in the US!