Banh mi never sells when it’s on our menu, winter or summer, but it’s one of my favorites whether it’s at Saigon Sandwich or Solbar. Today we have a roasted duck banh mi on the menu with a duck pate:
Ooo. Good and livery, just the right amount of quatre-epices, pistachio, and chunks of duck breast. Plenty of pork fat in there too.
Finished product: crusty baguette, spicy mayo, cilantro, pickled carrots, shredded romaine, sliced and seared duck breast seasoned with plenty of nam pla. Served next to a pile of crispy sweet potato chips.
I like sandwiches. A LOT. I realize that’s not a terribly incisive or original observation, but realize that I’m a chef because I love food. And sandwiches have a special place in my belly’s heart. They are the sine qua non of restaurant work because they’re hand-held whole meals that I can eat standing up. Empires have been built on less.
ADD THIS BANH MI TO THE LIST!!! It is freaking stunning–crunchy, spicy, rich, meaty, tender, acid/sweet pop, just . . . ah.
new items this weekend
–hot and sour sweetbreads with orange-peanut hoisin, puffed rice, pickled orange, and kimchi puree
–little gem salad with creamy lemon vinaigrette, sugar snaps, and fines herbes
–pastrami-cured hamachi with fresh horseradish, heirloom beets, rye crouton, and dill creme fraiche
–confit lamb shoulder with mustard butter, turnip puree, baby turnip greens, and pearl onions
–carrot salad with a melange of baby carrots, garam masala, carrot paper, lime froyo, date-pistachio truffles
–sweet onion and sunchoke soup with grapes, cracked almonds, and marjoram
–green asparagus salad with mache, grain mustard, and a crispy poached lily’s egg (lunch)
–green asparagus salad with shiitake puree, fresh water chestnuts, pickled daikon, and cashews (dinner)
–handmade mozzarella and roasted portobello on solbar lavash bread with spinach, all’arrabiatta, white bean spread, and fried spring onions (lunch)
Staring up at seven straight days of rain forecasted for all of NV . . . at least the sweet peas will be happy, and the cows. The sunny February was great for business on our patio but if the plants and animals don’t have any nourishment, we’ll run out of local food by Memorial Day.
The uproar–or tempest in a teacup, depending on your perspective–among West Coast food writers at the moment is whether or not they should assign stars (or, in the case of the Times-Picayune, beans) to accompany their reviews. Two weeks ago, it was the backlash of chefs against no-account Yelpers, who can trash a restaurant, for any reason, and never have to answer for it.
A critique of my food will never be something I can accept in an objective, cold-blooded, detached frame of mind. You are judging my worth, my essence, my career, the reason I put on these clogs and jacket every day, my ability to feed my kids. It’s the application of heat, it’s dexterity with a knife. It’s performance-driven, it’s immediately obvious, it’s instantly gratifying or repulsive. And I asked for all of that.
And you know what else? When you tell me it’s great, it’s amazing, it’s unique, it’s the best you’ve ever had, I’m such a wrinkled, leathery cuss that I can’t quite believe you . . . and when you don’t, I’m convinced you’re a fool. Makes perfect sense, right?
Early spring steak salad–it was 74 degrees on the patio today, PACKED, and we had a one-day-only special on this entree. Sold out by 130 pm.
Roasted fingerling potatoes, chilled beef tenderloin, green garlic-meyer lemon vinaigrette, spicy deviled egg, topped with delta asparagus (roasted a la minute, nice and hot) with a few watercress leaves on top. Mm hmm.
The first english peas are already here from Santa Cruz as are the first favas. Goose made a new chicken dish with meyer lemon, peas, rhubarb, spring onions, a crispy egg yolk, and a chicken skin wafer. The chicken itself is the breast filleted open the wrapped around the leg meat and cooked a la plancha. Seared, hot, moist, on the money.
Starting tomorrow, we’ll be serving a brunch menu from 10am-3pm on weekends and holiday Mondays (just in time). Andrew and Joe have masterminded this update so that we can serve the best of both worlds.
I had a generous taste of the 1999 “microclimate 2″ of the Volcanic Hill vineyard from Diamond Creek. Unbelievable–12.5% alcohol, deep and dusty and dark yet still bright and alive and vibrant. Bradley tells me that Diamond Creek only makes it every 5-10 years or so. Happy Birthday, Boots!
There’s a lot more going on but it’s late and I’m tired and the cooks and I still have yet to press the duck confit, portion the brisket, and tie the veal shank . . . very exciting menu possibility with the veal. More soon.
All’s I’m saying is, you must go. It was packed on a rainy Tuesday in February, which in Napa Valley is normally true only of the DMV. Good luck getting a seat at the bar, though. Big menu, amazing design, good beers, reasonable cocktails, NV cognoscenti in attendance. There’s not another room like it.
sans sores thank goodness even after a lot of plane rides. After my extensive tour of North Carolina, New York City, and the subcontinent, I say you must go and try the burnt miso ramen at Ippudo on the lower East side.
Other than that bowl of noodles, this trip to Manhattan was a culinary disappointment compared to my last one, but I wasn’t 100% any of the time and would rather have just gone back to my room and slept. I hit a bunch of the new places but they were ho-hum. Barrel of laughs, huh?
Happy to be back in the kitchen today. I’m buried alive in paperwork. More to come.
Apparently he is the patron saint of athletes. That has nothing whatsoever to do with our special menu tonight. The tapas we are serving in the bar this weekend were inspired by old-town San Sebastian, the Parte Vieja, in the Basque region of Spain.
spanish tortilla with pimenton de la vera and piparra peppers
duck liver mousse with house recipe membrillo
hard-cooked quail egg with boquerones and capers
crispy-creamy chicken croquette with pepperonata
wild gulf shrimp a la plancha with trumpet mushroom and garlic
fried russet potato with romesco sauce
seared pork belly with whie beans and salsa verde
Credit for the photos goes to Roland. His smartphone has a flash.
This weekend we’re doing seven different tapas, each served individually, in the bar. I gave Gustavo free rein on this theme and he’s got some cool stuff in the works, from duck liver mousse with membrillo to octopus to traditional Spanish tortilla.
Elizabeth and I ate our way through old town San Sebastian on that cuisine, and those narrow little streets were RAGING that summer when Greece came out of nowhere to win the European Cup. It was hot, crowded, the eating stared late and ended late, and the city’s crazy natural geography meant that there was always a beach in each direction.
Spanish bartenders are, I’m just now learning from Michael Pazdon, the gin impresarios of the world, so we have 209 Distillery coming this weekend to show off their gin. It’s delicious.
We didn’t sell all the gumbo, so I ate a big hot bowl of it for breakfast yesterday morning when it was 28 outside with a warm fluffy buttermilk biscuit and an over-oversize mug of strong coffee. YAHTZEE!
Did you really click on that link? Serves you right. At least you won’t receive any embarrassing cookies, not like last time.
20# chicken thighs
5-6# dark brown roux
The rest is details, but I like a fistful of toasted paprika in there; the holy trinity of course (I always use green bell peppers because reds are too sweet); I left out the tomato in this batch because we don’t keep or use tomato paste in this kitchen; I always microplane the garlic that I add with the paprika and cayenne.
No alcohol in there, it can give the impression of acidity. The dark roux makes it a gumbo (I don’t like the mucillagenous texture that file powder and okra would impart, so I leave them out), but one thing I never hear cooks mention is how much of an impact the stock or broth you use will have on your finished product.
I used a double-strength roasted chicken stock as the base for this batch of gumbo, so it tasted like a finished soup before I even started–I even had to add two quarts of water to mellow it out a little.
Don Barkley from Napa Smith will be at solbar tonight pouring his seasonal brews, and in addition to the gumbo, we have a ____-_____-good beef stroganov made from Painted Hills Ranch beef, and a cassoulet that will make you _____ in ______, maybe several times. C’mon over to the solbar lounge and fill in those blanks for yourself. (Or someone else!).