Thursday, March 29, 2012

Elements of style...

elementsplural of el·e·ment (Noun)

  1. A part or aspect of something, esp. one that is essential or characteristic.
  2. A small but significant presence of a feeling or abstract quality

On a late afternoon, I finally took the trip to Elements in Princeton, a restaurant that has been open since 2008. My trip was long overdue...inspired by a brief interaction with chef/owner Scott Anderson on Twiiter. Elements has garnered a reputation as one of the very best in New Jersey.

 The definition defines the place. Each aspect of a dish played a unique role, often surprising, always intriuging.

 On the menu, a composed salad consisted of burdock, spelt, apple, goat cheese and duck prosciutto. A suprising combination of sweet flavors and creamy textures, beautifully arranged on the plate. Pieces of torn bread tasted of chocolate. A creamy puree hid beneath everything. This dish deftly piqued my palate for what was to well as leading me to wonder what will come from the beds of hebs and lettuces that line the outside of the restaurant...
  Fromage de tete croque madame.
Allow me to inform you...

 A croque-monsieur is a hot ham and cheese  grilled sandwich. It originated in France as a fast-food snack served in cafes and bars. More elaborate versions come coated in a Mornay sauce. A croque-monsieur served with a fried or poached on top is known as a croque-madame.

And fromage de tete is head cheese.

That wonderfully porky, gelatinous flavorful wonder that makes me glad to be a carnivoure. That providence of foodies that causes most companions to turn up their nose and refuse to try it. But, those of us who know are rewarded for our diligence with a combination of flavors and textures found in few foods.

So...yeah...I love the stuff. 

 So the head cheese nestles beneath a silky Mornay, perfectly poached egg and a welcome addition of avocado that brought a rich, yet bright quality to the dish. Happy me!

But I do you an injustice by neglecting to mention the accompaniment of house made tater tots.
 I am a sucker for refined versions of Americana comfort food...and these were ethereal. Light, airy mashed potatoes fried to a crisp and perfectly seasoned. Sorry just got served.

Dessert was a pistachio parfait, with madiera cream and the best damn brittle this side of Carmelo Anthony's interior defence. (Sorry, ESPN is on right now)

 The only drawback was the too small 4 seat bar. The collection of tinctures and unusual spirits was impressive, as was the collection of cocktail books. But, I suppose that is just one element in a delightful composition.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Triple Dog Dare You...

 Ask my girlfriend,"What's your favorite food?"
The answer will be given in a bit of a drawl..."Hot dogs."

So...what about me makes you think that a normal dog would do?

Fried in butter, kraut saved from choucroute, fresh crusty bun from Texeria's.

Can't find these at Yankee Stadium. (I am slightly jealous of the dining options Mets fans get. Come to the Bronx, Danny Meyer!)

An ode to the oyster...

 "He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating of oysters."
James I

 "I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick, not wounded, dead."
Woody Allen 

from cold ocean depths
briny muscle feeds my soul
worth more than the pearl
Uncredited Haiku

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pea soup for the soul... girlfriend can cook!

As the designated control freak foodie of my group of friends, sometimes other people don't get the chance to show off their culinary prowess when I am around. Well, I may just have to turn over the reigns more often. With the leftover ham bones from Easter, Liz made the most incredible split pea soup. Loaded with ham and served with freshly made croutons and buttered biscuits with honey...this was a meal that spoke directly to my soul.

The Pepsi egg....

I haven't dyed Easter eggs since I was a little kid. This year I spent an afternoon with my girlfriend and her sister dying eggs and cooking the side dishes for Easter Sunday. This was a total accident. Apparently, I have a hidden talent. And I don't even like Pepsi.

Stuff yer face...

Former Scarlet Knights Ray Rice, James Gandolfini and Calista Flockhart will know what I am talking about. Well...maybe not Calista Flockhart. Mario Batali Knows about it for sure...this place was his start in the restaurant business. Stuff Yer Face is an iconic eatery in New Brunswick, second only to the Grease Trucks in the pantheon of Rutgers gastronomy. Known primarily for the stromboli, a calzone-like dish named after a volcano in Italy, Stuff Yer Face was a regular haunt of mine during my abbreviated collegiate career. A great selection of beers to wash down the cardiac inducing 'boli doesn't hurt either.

However...on a recent trip...a new discovery was made.

A creation of such diabolical genius...such decadent ingenuity...even I had to look twice.

"like nachos,but...we use potato chips covered with cheddar, bacon, tomatoes, onions, ketchup and chives with sour cream."

Suddenly, I felt like Neo when he saw the Matrix for the first time. Have I been missing the world all this time? I thought I had tried, or at least thought of all the craziest most gut busting combinations possible. have shown me a new way...

Monday, March 22, 2010

The last hurrah...

So, my week without meat is over. As you may guess...I found very little blog inspiration during a week of salads, cheese and PB&J.
However...I've been saving this one for your reading enjoyment. My last a sense. I decided to go out with a bang.

Burgers stuffed with foie gras and black truffle mousse.

Yeah...they are as good as they sound. 

A few bites in and suddenly, a molten center of foie gras bursts into your mouth and down your chin. A truly decadent last meal before entering the purgatory of a world with out meat.

Easy enough to make with some D'Artagnan Foie Gras and Black Truffle Mousse.

A healthy disk of mousse between two smaller patties...ok...not that much smaller. Make sure you form a tight seal so that you don't lose any of the molten center as they cook.
Top with some really good cheese, I used a mix of Gruyere and a sharp alpine style cheese. I like to grate and mix the cheese for even melting.

 I prefer to cook these burgers inside. I like the seal and control you get from a pan over a grill. Get a good crust and finish them in the oven.

I served these with some freshly made sweet potato chips.

The final touches were some butter lettuce,  a roasted tomato & garlic mayo and a lemony cole slaw to help cut through the richness of the burgers.

I know you want one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You've got to know when to hold em'...

So...I lost a bet.

A stupid bet.

I am a fool.

And now, for five long and agonizing days...

I will be a vegetarian.

No juicy steaks. No greasy burgers. No crispy fried chicken or overflowing pastrami sandwiches. No stuffed trotters or pork belly. No foie gras, chicken livers or duck confit. No pulled pork sandwiches, ribs or buffalo wings.
Not even sushi.

I have chosen poorly. And the timing...St. Patty's Day. Corned beef and cabbage. Not for me.

Thanks, Liz.

Stupid bet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

On quiet nights...

On a slower evening at the restaurant, some friends came to dinner. This is the story of that night.

The amuse bouche.
A wonton filled with brandade, a puree of salted cod and potato. 
Topped with lobster oil and a chiffonade of basil.
 Roasted candycane beets with goats cheese, olive oil, balsamic & honey reduction.
 This next course was extra fun as it literally came together on the fly. Rod was about to make a sea urchin and lobster roe mousse. So he took some of the lobster roe and quickly made a pasta. Note the change in color as it cooked.
He finished the dish with a bit more lobster roe and a lobster & turbot stock reduced with a bit of the sea urchin.
Finally, the dishes they actually ordered.
 Roasted shrimp, dusted in black pepper.
Served on a bed of shaved fennel and apples tossed with juniper vinaigrette
Seared diver scallops over cepe mashed potatoes with truffle vinaigrette.

Roasted half chicken with haricots verts and a garlic, lemon and thyme jus.

Basically, my point is...stop by on a slow night and let's see what happens.