Friday, May 28, 2010

Japanese Style Crepes

As mentioned in the last post, my life has started to resolve around crepes. 17 years ago when I began my journey in food my mind could not even fathom that I would wake up everyday on a quest to develop the worlds finest crepe company. I have been researching, testing and developing what I believe to be the answer to the alternative to the traditional sandwich. But I cant take the credit, and like many things these days I have to tilt my hat to the Japanese.

 Imagine a French crepe - taken down a few notches on the snootiness scale. The great thing about Japanese crepes is they are just a casual handheld product. You buy them on the street from little shacks, they come with so many different possible fillings, and in Japan they make them on the spot and then hand them to you like an ice cream cone. They taste basically like a French crepe - with a few minor differences. There's less butter used in the batter and most important to me all the fillings are fresh and/or raw - not cooked or processed.

 The Japanese love their street food, so they just borrowed the idea from France and added their own twist. They've turned it into fine fast food. Or as Larry David once wrote, "not fast food, Jerry. Good food, quickly."

The summer menu is under development for a June release. Some of the crepes served in the Japanese style we have finalized are ....

Westfiiefd Farms Goat Cheese & Crispy Organic Mushrooms
 truffle honey , baby arugula

Taleggio & Ugly Tomato

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blood Crepes & Pork Skin

So the new venture at Pejamajo is going really well....up to my chest in crepes and enjoying the challenges that are in front of me.
But Ill admit I have been having withdrawals of house made charcuterie, fresh truffles, Kobe beef, sea urchin, roof top herbs and whole animals ready for butchering.

But Ive discovered crepes to be fascinating...not only in flavor & versatility but in ways that crepes are prepared around the world.From France to Japan and Dubai to America crepes are really a vehicle for any type of filling you want, much like the American sandwich.

One of the most fascinating crepes I have discovered come from Galicia in Spains North West region of the country. Blood Crepes (Filloas de Sangre)are made exactly like a traditional crepe only you omit some of the milk and replace it with pork blood. Usually made in the winter when pigs are slaughtered and fresh blood is available, these crepes are a regional delicacy.

This recipe is a work in progress so you'll have to fool around with it.

1 l. milk,
4 eggs
1 glass of pork blood (6oz or so)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 lemon (zest only )
AP Flour
Pork Fat
Method: beat the eggs and add the milk, salt, lemon zest and a teaspoon of cinnamon.Gradually add flour to form a loose paste, add pork blood, mix well until you have a loose pancake consistency. You will have formed some lumps, pass through a sieve. Heat a crepe pan or frying pan, spread pork fat with a fork,allow to melt and pour crepe batter in to form a thin layer.
Cook until easily seperates from the pan on each side....sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar for a sweet version or do as I do....crushed chicharones ( fried pork skin) for an amazing and different pork experience.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pejamajo Cafe & New Harvest Coffee Roasters

One of the selling points for my new position was the opportunity to head up the development of our private label coffee program at Pejamajo Cafe. I was thrilled when I found out that New Harvest Coffee Roasters out of Pawtucket RI was currently sourcing and roasting our blends. Simply put...New Harvest cares about their coffee and they want yo to care about it too. New Harvest is an Artisan coffee company who pays attention and is involved in every step of the artisan coffee chain—from growing to harvesting to processing to roasting and finally to brewing.

The roastery and offices use zero-emission electricity produced by 100% renewable sources through their membership in New England Green Start. They use an innovative Catalytic Oxidizer to eliminate the smoke produced by the roasting process while using 65% less fuel and producing two-thirds fewer greenhouse emissions than conventional pollution-control systems. They are aggressive recyclers, finding new homes and uses for everything from wood pallets to burlap bags.

We blind tasted our current Pejamajo blends today and learned a great deal about not only organic blends and fair trade...but what we found to be the most important was a direct sourcing program. Lets face it getting certified organic or even finding a fair trade product is getting easier to do and as much as I am glad to see this becoming main stream it also leaves you to wonder about the certification process, is it getting easier? If big box stores now carry a "cheap" certified organic and fair trade blend...where is the quality.

With direct sourcing New Harvest is out sourcing beans direct from small & large family run farms across the globe, focusing their energy on finding the highest quality coffee beans in the world. Hand in hand with this comes most likely an organic product being purchased using fair trade and sustainable you get the best of all worlds.

One of the most exciting things we spoke about today was a trip this coming winter New Harvest is making to Guatemala ( where I was born) to search out new farms that could very well end up growing coffee for us at Pejamajo. The connection between Pejamajo and the farm will be the most direct connection you can find, farmer to roaster to our cafes. There was even talk about the possible opportunity for us to actually get the opportunity to go and visit the very farms and meet the very farmers who will be growing our coffee.

Click here to learn how to care and handle your coffee properly

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fine Fast Food

 Many of my friends have been puzzled at my decision to move from high end dining to what I call upscale quick service or "fine fast food". I have taken a corporate chef/director of culinary & beverage position for a upscale casual crepe cafe and bistro "chain" called Pejamajo Cafe.

I enjoy having a life and spending it with my wife and children. I have been in the restaurant grind for almost 18 years and I am making a decision for my family for the first time and not for me.

I enjoy the challenge that is take a small company and be part of a team that is attempting to grow this into a National & International business with multiple units around the world and in the retail market.

But those are not the only reasons.....

I challenge you to think about this and think about it seriously, why cant fast food be treated with the same standards as fine dining?

 Just real food, from real farms that use sustainable practices cooked by real people who care about what we are doing. Ingredients driven by seasons, changing as needed to allow you to always experience the best possible product we can offer.

Our food will have integrity and be treated with respect. Our food will be seasoned properly and will be cooked with care. Our food will be thought about and not just thrown together. We will think about taste texture, temperature and appearance. The difference is that we will provide for you a meal with the same standards as any of the finest kitchens in the world .....quickly and consistently at any one of our locations you visit.

Chef David Chang (Momofuko) is the pioneer in my mind. And what he has done for the quick serve restaurant is prove that fast food can be fine food. He has paved the way for restaurants in this country  to provide a quick meal without sacrificing quality and beliefs.

Fine Fast can be done