Champagne Dinner 2010 at New World

New World “Champagne” Dinner 2010
Saturday December 18th, 2010 7 pm
Reservation only 845 246 0900

2010 “Champagne” Dinner
All American Sparkling Wines
and Sustainable Seafood!

BUBBLES, USA!
I thought it would be cool to feature Sparklers from 5 different growing regions.
It is easy to do all Cali or even all Finger Lakes, but we worked to find a home for 5 completely different styles of American Sparklers on this menu. I chose to go all seafood. Each course makes the wine sing!
Hopefully we'll see ya there.

5 wines from 5 states are paired with 5 all American seafood courses.

$65
Savory Duck Egg Creme Brulee
with butter poached lobster and salmon roe
Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs, Finger Lakes

“Seed” Crusted Diver Scallops
cauliflower two ways, smooth puree w/ Curry and Meyer lemon,
pakora fried with cilantro-mint chimi
Argyle Brut, Oregon

Cornmeal Fried Oyster Sliders, Apple Chutney,
Monkfish Liver Pate
on peppered butter biscuits with champagne mustard
Pacific Rim Sparkling Rielsing, Washington State

Half Seared Albacore Tuna Pavé
fregola, black walnut, pomegranate sauce, savoy cabbage, black cumin
Iron Horse Brut Rose, Sonoma Coast

Sweet Crab, Rose and Nettle Meadows Goat Cheesecake
Gruet Demi Sec, New Mexico

Cuisine by Ric Orlando

Special Guest and Wine Expert Michael Weiss
Professor of Wine, Culinary Institute of America

Menu Tweaks in Saugerties



(Small Bites: Korean Pork Belly, Potato Samosa, Mahi Ceviche and Jerk Beef and Pineapple)

WINTER 2010
Yes, It is winter in he Hudson Valley and that means slow cooking, braises and hearty stews, right?
Yes, Maybe and maybe not.
In the last two months, according to the "Product Mix" on our Point of Sale System, New World Home Cooking sold over three small plates-appetizers-sandwiches- to every one Big Main plates.
Appetizers like Mushroom-Huitlacoche Tamales, Half sized Thai Italian Bolognese Pasta, Tuna Burger Sliders, Korean Pork Belly Bites, Puerto Rican Style Seitan "Wings" and Sicilian Pumpkin Fritters are leading the way in sales. We are eating smaller bites and bigger tastes, for sure. The sales are telling the truth,
So, I have done some menu tweaking based upon your eating habits and the results are more small plates and appetizers actually!
Now I know the math is somewhat skewed because people often order numerous small plates "for the table" but it is still an intriguing window into our eating habits.

The question I ponder is "Are we eating more small plates because of the economy?"
The answer is a resounding NO.
Our per person check average is actually up over the last two months. Note that November the first three weeks of December (allowing for Thanksgiving weekend) is one of our slowest stretches of the year. Our guests are spending a consistent amount, even though the sale of Po'Boys, appetizers, Tapas plates and half pastas and risottos are at and all time high.
It is obvious from the feedback that we receive via comment cards and email, that most of my customers are eating for flavor and excitement!
This is fun for me.
It is clear that New World's base is split with about 25% vegan/vegetarians and about 25% Snout to Tail eat it all with lust folks, with the rest just being good ol' normal steak/burger or chicken/fish diners like the rest of the world.
Our updated menu mix reflects that--with a Vegan tapas platter, a locally made Charcuterie platter and a Artisan Cheese Plate side by side on the menu, equally selling.
The best sellers last week were Tandoori Salmon, Big Brined Pork Chop and Blue Corn Seitan Medallions.
So you will see the menu offer more tastes, half orders and small plates, You will see more fun sandwiches, "tacos" for lack of a better work for food wrapped in different medium.
It all will have my flavor profile stamp.

We now have VEGAN and GLUTEN FREE menus printed, so if this is you, just ask of one or get it on line and the bottom of the page.
We still cook clean, make buying decisions based upon integrity of product and I still develop recipes that are have their own personality In a era of cookie cutter menus, either one way or another, New World will still stand out. That is who I am.
In 1986, my band skin in Boston released a single and video called Stand Up.
The first line of the song is " I want you to know my name, so stand out in the street"
That was 25 years ago. I haven't changed!

So what is my job?
My primary job is two fold--
One, to make enough business to remain open, as every winter season is a threat to all businesses in this area.
Two, to enjoy my work and my customers, and not just meet their needs by EXCITE them.
This is not a molecular gastromony market--this is The Hudson Valley, land of the BAND and DYLAN, of the HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL and of course NATURE. It is all around us.
It is why we all love it here. It is why I keep cooking the way it do.
My job is to bring all of that and more to the plate to keep you all coming back.
I hope you do because like it here.

http://ricorlando.com/nwMenu.htm

See an OLD "Skin" interview with edits from the Satnd Up Video at the end. I was 25. Don't laugh.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZl3CmVv3TA

Repost by request

Foodie Weekend in NYC

It is OUR birthday weekend-- Liz and I are both October 28th and our sons, Willis and Terrence are October 27th.

This year is Lizzie's 50th so we decided to spend in the NYC for some foodie fun with our best friends!

We have GREAT foodie friends so off we went.


Here is my rant and summary--

Friday night with our best friends to a classic brasserie- They are GREAT dining companions who are world travelers. They know that Liz and I love a good brasserie - they type of dinner that should be a no bullshit, filling and unpretentious experience. Well, I guess I missed the NY revolution- brasseries gone minimalist--how sad. The food presentation here was VERY precious and pretentious. Not bad, mind you, but what is the deal with Austere and Brasserie in the same sentence. Brasserie means working man's establishment. Any self respecting workingman would beat the tar out of this chef!

1. Steak frites with Maitre D'hotel butter. No brainer--Liz loves a good steak frites plate. This was---A steak on a plate--just like that--nothing else? Frites in the side in the stupid deli paper cone, compound butter on the side. Was the chef afraid of getting butter and blood on the plate? That is the idea! Steak blood and shallot butter get into the fries--that's real baby!

2. Pigs feet stuffed with foie gras. I was excited! I just enjoyed this at Au Pied du Cochon in Montreal and there it was huge, delicious and decadent, full of knuckle cartilage, skin and collegen, toes intact-- so I had high hopes. Here I received a rectangle plate with 2 perfectly formed triangles of pork, breaded golden with a hint of liver in the filling, and a pencil thin streak of wine reduction, probably 1 teaspoon full of sauce. It was...accurate..but worthy of a snore or two, no more.

Braised rabbit--ONE foreleg--ONE foreleg--ONE foreleg!!! That is like ordering roast chicken and getting one wing. Was it executed well? sure, well enough for ...ONE foreleg, but that is not the point. What workingman would have ONE foreleg of rabbit for dinner? Where is the love?


$600 for dinner for 4 including 2 bottles of wine. Got home hungry-- I could expect that if I were going to WD50 but a Brasserie? No love. No lust.

Give me Montreal anyday!


The Ethnic stuff in NYC was and always is Great-

Saturday Korean lunch on 32nd street--perfect Bim Bap and Kim Chees and short ribs - wow--hey, here is some flavor, complexity, spice, courage!---cheap - $30 for two - and memorable, always inspiring!


Sat PM Dinner- Celebrity chef Tribeca bistro- High Hopes

Fine Dining was Fine, but so safe-Where is the energy and excitement? Blaring John Mellencamp does not inject energy into the food.

Whatever happened to taking risks and pushing flavors--I do'nt mean molecular gas-twinkie-stronmy, but real soulful cooking?

The nuances and dymanics of using the pantry to bring the beast to a symphonic level is really missing in the new "clean Cuisine"

Safe, predictable and frankly, a little boring- To spend $700 for 6 - to eat stuff like mussels, steak frites, lamb shank, pasta bolognese and roast salmon – leaves you feeling kind of hollow. It didn't suck, it was cooked correctly. It just didn't make me feel like I was somewhere where someone was truly behind the food. There was no signature. It could have been a chain--a nice chain, but a chain nonetheless. No brightness, no spice, no assertiveness. It is like the nerds have taken over the school band. It had all of the right items-bones, octopus, shank--all cooked correctly but it was just so what. No one wants to lay claim to being an accurate lay. You're either a good lay, a great lay, a crazy lay, lazy lay or a bad lay. This was a forgettable lay. What does that say about it?


Sunday quick French breakfast - Lizzie and I eating Lardon salads -!

the vacuous team of hostesses - or porn stars-- or whatever-- were clueless to the fact that our hip hop server was still reliving his conquest of the previous night and didn't get to our table for 15 minutes, but that salad is a perfect breakfast (I added and extra egg and a side of bacon) and the coffee was hot and black (I dumped a shot of espresso into it) so wtf? right? right.


Immediately after breakfast, we strolled right down the block to Eataly.

http://www.mariobatali.com/restaurants_eataly.cfm

EATALY - What more can you want-- forget the whining about commercialism and food being imported and the slow food issues, forget the unsatisfied knw-it-all brats who blog because they cannot actually speak to anyone face to face.

Eataly is good foodie fun!

--it is delicious, soulful and sexy! Nuff said. Get there and get over your celebrity envy. What Bastianich and Batali have done for Italian products is amazing. Kinda like what the Beatles and Stones did for Elmore James and Howlin Wolf. They were thankful and so are Italians.

Good job!




Next time I think I'll go to the boroughs for some heartfelt, flavorful food that inspires me to cook and to laugh. I never did like playing with the rich kids toys.



Sunday

When did the natives invent such loud drums?
It is Sunday morning and my FACEBOOK pages are belching with comments.
It is a fascinating development for we humans. We can communicate, and either hope for a response, or hope NOT for a response without being face to face with anyone who would otherwise blow gray smoke on our beautiful crystalline picture window. It is a very tricky step in our method of howling. Have you ever been at a party and tried to get a subject of conversation started to no avail? Every time you bring your precious pet issue up in a circle, someone interrupts with a funnier story or some breaking news about a local artist's ex wife?
Well, post your comment on facebook. If you have enough friends or "likes" there is bound to be one or two who will "support" you. "You are awesome" is my favorite. Awesome is a potent word. It implies to power to inspire AWE.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/awesome
You made it through enough day without Gluten. You are awesome.
And herein lies the power of the modality.
No matter how insignificant ones comment, there is always someone who will "support" it.
Support it with what, I can't say. Words? Money? Timber?
And we feel better, strong, awesome.

Well, I'll see you on Facebook. Tell me about YOUR misery of or why your therapist has made your preception of clouds a positive one and I'll tell you about my adventures as a cranky chef!
xoxo
ric

Thanksgiving Help II, Pie Shells

And is it a sin to buy a pre-made pie crust?

Yes...and no...

It is never a sin to buy whatever you want. It's your hell, we don't share in that. My only issue with premade pie shells is the use of PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL.

Now, it is only one day and you'll only have one slice ( right?) so I suppose you will survive but I'll bet you'll get heartburn and that may cast a dark shadow on an otherwise fabulous day. You may actually blame your cousin's delicious cranberry-chipotle compote for the heart burn when the real culprit is the PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL. This may create a long term family rift. And we don't want that.

The sales of antacids and the consumption of PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL coincide perfectly. The stuff is not digestible. A classic and perfect pie crust is made with lard. Yes lard. Look it up. There is no better method. The flakiness and crispness are perfect. Great people who have lived fabulous lives and have done very good things in this world ate lard crusts at the holidays outlived their cardiologists by 10 years easily. Julia Child, still cackling well int her '90's swore by lard pie shells. Jimmy Carter, bless his goodness, is from Lard Pie Shell Country.

Nuff of that!

The second best are made with butter.

Most commercial shells are shelf stable, bad fat shells.

If you have a food processor, making pie dough is a BREEZE. and the recipe is a breeze too.

Remember this : 3-2-1.

Weigh

16 oz four

8 oz butter, lard or fake fat, cut in pieces

4 oz ice water.

Put flour and butter in food processor and spin until it looks like crumbles. Add the water and spin until it starts to come together like dry dough.

Put on a board and massage fro a minute, pull it together and form a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least a half an hour or up to three days. Remove, roll out and bake. Hey, they make these cutting boards, available everywhere , with measured circles to make sure your pie crust is the right size...and yes, you can patch any tears. We won't watch.

Thanksgiving Questions? Answered!

For the next few days, I'll post some questions posed to me by Megan, a reporter for Ulster Publishing, and my answers of course, about Thanksgiving food, cooking and the general stress and madness associated with our greatest feast day.
Enjoy!

Let's talk Triage--Tell us how to save a turkey from the brink of inedibility?

Turkey is a tricky one--it is really hard to WRECK turkey unless it is

a. raw or

b. burnt.

(Visit my website http://www.ricorlando.com/turkey101.html for a flawless turkey cooking technique)

So if the turkey is raw---open another bottle of wine and have another canape or six while you wait. This always works.

If it is really, really raw, have some pumpkin pie and have turkey later.

If it is overcooked, or burnt, there is only one way out--more gravy! Gravy is the panacea of many an overlooked beast.

Really, though, if the turkey is not cooking to your dinner timing, here are a few tips.

1. Remove the legs and thighs from the bird. They cook much slower than the breast as they are dark muscle with more liquid (blood). The breast is usually done a solid hour before the deepest part of the thigh on a 20 pound turkey. Ever wonder why the breast is often dry?

2. Add steam. Steam speeds up the bird's cooking, though it will keep the skin from getting as crisp as you may like. Solution? Tent the turkey with foil and pour some boiling water into the roasting pan to create steam,. Enough water to cover the bottom of the pan with 1/4 in deep of water will do. You can repeat this when the water has evaporated.

3. Desperation- Ok, so the natives are restless and they are on the verge of revolt.

It's Chef Mike to the rescue. Who is chef Mike? The MICROWAVE. While I do NOT recommend this as regular practice, in this situation, when the spears are flying and your own carcass is in the line, all will be forgiven. You can always carve enough turkey to feed Uncle Hal and assuage the disapproving Aunt Sophia. Put the slices on a place with a lil h20 and zap it for a minute or two to cook out the pinkness. Yes, it is a desperate measure, but in a pinch, it will cook your bird in stages and, in the words of Alton brown, you will survive to cook another day.

For Sides survival, remember--Don't try to do everything in one day. Thanksgiving was set on a Thursday so we can have all week to get the little things done. Things like mashed winter squash and yams and braised cabbage can be made up to three days in advance and simply reheated in the oven. Make them on Sunday and stash them, they are not leftovers because you hve eaten half of i first They are consciously pre prepped dishes. Tell everyone how much better they now taste once the flavors have had time to mingle. That line always works. Very good.


PS-- In a desperate pinch, serve frozen spinach or frozen cauliflower in cheesy bechamel sauce


NY Wines on the Horizon

We drank all of the Finger Lakes Lamoreaux Landing Pinot last night at the bar with friends, don't want to "Bait and Switch"! There will be more in by Wednesday!

This wine is delicious! It has the prefect balance between a Burgundian Pinot's soft yet inviting perfumed fruit and a Willamette's bright and cheery cherry bomb--and though it has bright edge, it is not nearly as acidic the much bracing acidity makes for an almost unripe, rhubarby attack.
Go Finger Lakes!
The serious wineries are getting it right! It's it time to appreciate the wineries that
re not trying to be something they are not. There are many Fingerlakes and Hudson Valley wines that are FINALLY understanding that you can be a perfect reflection of the region's terrior and make delicious wine.
Fading away are the days of blending and concocting hybrids to release a "merlot that tastes like a California merlot".
NY Wines have a style all their own, and like a commune in France or a DOC in Italy we should promote our differences from the rest of the wine world.
It will take wineries that are proud of the flavors we can achieve here and that accentuate them, to get winedrinkers worldwide to consider us a viable option to the other styles available.
We are about 4 grapes really. They work. There are other tasty options but stick to the 4.
Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Rielsing and Chardonnay.
Yes, there are some wineries doing "neat stuff" with other grapes, such as Millbrook's successful plantings of Tocai Friulano and Dr. Frank's Rkasiteli. You can also find some wineries bottling tasty wine from hybrids like Vidal Blanc and Gamay Noir.
But being specific is where the NY Wines will succeed.
Stick to the big 4.
Establish an identity.
Stop messing around with what could grow and focus n what should grow.

Recommened Finger Lakes wines
Pinot Noirs:
Lamoreaux Landing
Dr. Frank
Cabernet Franc:
Millbrook Reserve (Hudson Valley)
Fox Run
Swedish Hills
Riesling:
Hermann Weimar
Dr. Frank
Fox Run
Atwater
Finger Lakes Chardonnay:
Fox Run Reserve
Standing Stone
Lamoreaux Landing


Birthday weekend in NY - Eataly and more...

2010

Foodie Weekend in NYC

It is OUR birthday weekend-- Liz and I are both October 28th and our sons, Willis and Terrence are October 27th.

This year is Lizzie's 50th so we decided to spend in the NYC for some foodie fun with our best friends!

We have GREAT foodie friends so off we went.


Here is my rant and summary--

Friday night with our best friends to a classic brasserie- They are GREAT dining companions who are world travelers. They know that Liz and I love a good brasserie - they type of dinner that should be a no bullshit, filling and unpretentious experience. Well, I guess I missed the NY revolution- brasseries gone minimalist--how sad. The food presentation here was VERY precious and pretentious. Not bad, mind you, but what is the deal with Austere and Brasserie in the same sentence. Brasserie means working man's establishment. Any self respecting workingman would beat the tar out of this chef!

1. Steak frites with Maitre D'hotel butter. No brainer--Liz loves a good steak frites plate. This was---A steak on a plate--just like that--nothing else? Frites in the side in the stupid deli paper cone, compound butter on the side. Was the chef afraid of getting butter and blood on the plate? That is the idea! Steak blood and shallot butter get into the fries--that's real baby!

2. Pigs feet stuffed with foie gras. I was excited! I just enjoyed this at Au Pied du Cochon in Montreal and there it was huge, delicious and decadent, full of knuckle cartilage, skin and collegen, toes intact-- so I had high hopes. Here I received a rectangle plate with 2 perfectly formed triangles of pork, breaded golden with a hint of liver in the filling, and a pencil thin streak of wine reduction, probably 1 teaspoon full of sauce. It was...accurate..but worthy of a snore or two, no more.

Braised rabbit--ONE foreleg--ONE foreleg--ONE foreleg!!! That is like ordering roast chicken and getting one wing. Was it executed well? sure, well enough for ...ONE foreleg, but that is not the point. What workingman would have ONE foreleg of rabbit for dinner? Where is the love?


$600 for dinner for 4 including 2 bottles of wine. Got home hungry-- I could expect that if I were going to WD50 but a Brasserie? No love. No lust.

Give me Montreal anyday!


The Ethnic stuff in NYC was and always is Great-

Saturday Korean lunch on 32nd street--perfect Bim Bap and Kim Chees and short ribs - wow--hey, here is some flavor, complexity, spice, courage!---cheap - $30 for two - and memorable, always inspiring!


Sat PM Dinner- Celebrity chef Tribeca bistro- High Hopes

Fine Dining was Fine, but so safe-Where is the energy and excitement? Blaring John Mellencamp does not inject energy into the food.

Whatever happened to taking risks and pushing flavors--I do'nt mean molecular gas-twinkie-stronmy, but real soulful cooking?

The nuances and dymanics of using the pantry to bring the beast to a symphonic level is really missing in the new "clean Cuisine"

Safe, predictable and frankly, a little boring- To spend $700 for 6 - to eat stuff like mussels, steak frites, lamb shank, pasta bolognese and roast salmon – leaves you feeling kind of hollow. It didn't suck, it was cooked correctly. It just didn't make me feel like I was somewhere where someone was truly behind the food. There was no signature. It could have been a chain--a nice chain, but a chain nonetheless. No brightness, no spice, no assertiveness. It is like the nerds have taken over the school band. It had all of the right items-bones, octopus, shank--all cooked correctly but it was just so what. No one wants to lay claim to being an accurate lay. You're either a good lay, a great lay, a crazy lay, lazy lay or a bad lay. This was a forgettable lay. What does that say about it?


Sunday quick French breakfast - Lizzie and I eating Lardon salads -!

the vacuous team of hostesses - or porn stars-- or whatever-- were clueless to the fact that our hip hop server was still reliving his conquest of the previous night and didn't get to our table for 15 minutes, but that salad is a perfect breakfast (I added and extra egg and a side of bacon) and the coffee was hot and black (I dumped a shot of espresso into it) so wtf? right? right.


Immediately after breakfast, we strolled right down the block to Eataly.

http://www.mariobatali.com/restaurants_eataly.cfm

EATALY - What more can you want-- forget the whining about commercialism and food being imported and the slow food issues, forget the unsatisfied knw-it-all brats who blog because they cannot actually speak to anyone face to face.

Eataly is good foodie fun!

--it is delicious, soulful and sexy! Nuff said. Get there and get over your celebrity envy. What Bastianich and Batali have done for Italian products is amazing. Kinda like what the Beatles and Stones did for Elmore James and Howlin Wolf. They were thankful and so are Italians.

Good job!




Next time I think I'll go to the boroughs for some heartfelt, flavorful food that inspires me to cook and to laugh. I never did like playing with the rich kids toys.



Reposted - originally from 2006, but it's time to repost!

My Views on the Sustainable-Organic-Local Food Issue from a restauranteur's perspective.

Ah, Marketing, Marketing...everybody wants to be on the right side of the consumer's conscience these days. So, how does it feel to be a consumer? Do you feel---Confused? Guilty? Perplexed? Bombarded? Folks, let me tell you that as a chef the simple notion of buying clean food is frighteningly complex! The complexity has increased tenfold over the last five years. Sourcing real food---unprocessed, that is---is a full time effort.
We chefs are approached by waves of salespeople---some innocent though ignorant and some bordering on diabolical---with hundreds of "Money Saving" or "Value Added" items. When the name of the game is survival, many restaurant operators are blinded by the initial price of the food they purchase. The industry press has us all in a state of fear, and for the uninformed operator, the panacea is CHEAP FOOD!
The idea that cheaper is better has divided the industry. Fine restaurants are offering a greater selection of locally grown, free range and organic items because they have an informed and well heeled customer base that appreciates their effort and will not cringe when buying a conscientiously created menu item. On the other hand, those who are not informed, either through naivete or willful ignorance, have ventured much further from fresh and clean food than ever before. Dangerous chemicals and genetically modified ingredients are in EVERYTHING! The shiny produce items we all see on the shelves at the supermarket are coated after harvest with preservatives and pesticides. I know this because, though this is not listed on the actual apple that is displayed in such a fine still life pose under nutrient sapping florescent lights in the store, it is stated in small print on the packing case it was shipped in. Unless you are an investigator, you are sold and are reselling poison.
I wish that every person who is not in the food service industry could attend just one corporate "Food" show. There are many types of product expos---fine foods, fancy foods, health foods, etc. But the Industry "Food Shows" are at once fascinating and ghastly. Imagine a conference center filled with rows of tables sporting plastic tablecloths and disposable serviceware laid out for you to taste the latest in portion control wedding fare? How about the "Grab and Go" line--pastries that stay "Soft for a week!" Folks, of the thousands of items on display, my guess is that fewer than 10% of them are products that you would pick up if you saw them in a supermarket. The saddest picture, though, is the army of fervid sales reps vying for your attention to sell you their latest concoction. As you walk by any given table you're bound to see a tired looking guy in a polyester suit holding out a plastic fork with a sample of something scary like a new heat and serve Cajun Sausage popover while he looks past you into the freckled cleavage of the Uneeda Bicuit lady across the aisle!
My feeling is that the dumbing down of America has made it into the food chain. Food service buyers are being sold on the concept that the consumer is clueless. Operators who have been groomed (and intimidated) into thinking only of immediate cash savings serve these unseemly victuals to contain costs so they can stay in business.To assuage their fear of demise, they have resorted to the lowest of the low. And believe me it is low.
Ah, but there is a catch---and it is a catch that doesn't affect the corporate factory food producers who are designing this arsenal of unhealthy slop. The catch is that when a restaurant or diner degrades the product that they sell, they also degrade the quality of patron that their establishment draws in. And the lower they go, the lower the expectations become---including an expectation of unrealistically low prices. And then--poof---the little guy who bought the cheap processed food to save a few bucks is out of business because he could not survive selling at the low prices his customers have come to expect. So now the corporate food producer's sister company---the cheap food chain shop--moves in and thrives. Because of their deep pockets, they have the ability to market and purchase on a grossly larger level. They also have the financing to sustain lower profits for a longer period of time. Bye, bye Mama Mia's. Hello Olive Garden!
So there you have it---the food you might eat is all in the hands of a few publicly held corporate giants who must show quarterly growth or their portfolios will shrink and their CEOs will lose their heads. WOW--and I thought I was just going out for lunch! Look at this simple chain of events --the chemical makers sell products to the food producers who use them to create cheap but diminished ingredients. These products are sold to the food wholesalers who turn it over to the food retailers. You buy and eat this food which is not wholesome or nutritious and ultimately over the years you develop diabetes or worse from all of the processed food in your diet. Your doctor prescribes you a few medications that you have to take for the rest of your life----Have you looked at your stock portfolio lately?

Chemicals, Processed Food, Fast Food Chains, Drug Companies--- all working in harmony.
Well---it doesn't have to be so bleak. My hope is to get everyday people to think about this. Let's talk to the kids and the moms and pops of the world. Many of us chefs are preaching to the converted at these wonderful conferences and retreats. That is good for networking and brainstorming but we need to address this on a more populist level. This is MY MISSION. I believe that we as humans want clean food and we want to be healthy. And I believe that if I can convince people that cooking in itself is not a chore or a skill left to the star chefs, even those with little means could begin to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

The following are my basic rules for survival
1. As often as you can, buy sustainable, free range, local or organic, or what I like to refer to as CLEAN FOOD. Make one of the most important statements in your life--- and keep yourself and your family healthy by buying CLEAN food. The more we use our consumer dollars to buy clean food, the louder the message is to big business: WE WANT CLEAN FOOD.
Remember that businesses respond to our demands. In the 1950's and 60's when we decided that we wanted year round access and simplicity in the kitchen, the huge commercial food producers responded by forcing production, limiting the variety available in the market place and lowering the standard of flavor in our food.
2. Our food supply has become so driven by chemicals that it isn't even as nutritious as it once was. Greens raised in depleted soil don't bring anything to the table. It is the minerals from well composted soils that make greens a desirable form of food. Though there is conflicting information in the lobbyist-polluted American information system,
The Organic Retailers and Growers Association of Australia have recently completed an extensive study comparing organically raised vegetables from well composted soils to commercially grown "supermarket" tomatoes. Their study concluded that the organic tomatoes were "20% higher in vitamin C, higher in beta carotene, ten times higher in potassium, seven times higher in calcium and six times higher in zinc. Higher levels of vitamins and minerals were also found in beans, silver beet and capsicum." It is reasonable to believe that naturally composted soil and rotated crops will provide better nutrients than dirt pumped with Round-Up and steroids.
As they say in Woodstock, You don't have to be an Einstein to figure that one out! Organic farming brings healthy food back to the table. In order to grow organic, composting and crop rotation are essential. When the soil is made healthy, the plants are actually stronger themselves and are more resistant to pests and diseases. On the other hand, the more artificial the growing procedure, the more the producers rely on pesticides and chemical growth stimulants to keep bringing food to market.
Remember that the word pesticide includes sprays for weeds, insects and other vermin. Many of these are WWII-era neurotoxins and are notoriously destructive and carcinogenic, regardless of what the bought FDA has to say.
Check back for a quickie on availability and price issues.

Don't disturb the rice,
Ric the chef

Ric Orlando's Global Pumpkin Recipes (with Gluten Free and Vegan Options!)

Hey everyone! Didja get your Pumpkins for carving yet?

In the words of our elders who were around during the depression: Waste not, want not.


Don't throw the guts and the pieces you carved out away just yet! All of the pumpkin "guts" (seeds and membranes) can get made into stock and roasted pumpkin seeds, and the eyes, noses, ears and grins that are cut out of the pumpkin are good edible stuff, too.

When I was a  kid, I remember "Little Nonni"–my father's mother Mary– and all 4'9" of her stoic Sicilian self taking the pieces of pumpkin face that we kids were cutting out from the newspapered floor. In a few minutes there was golden breaded and fried chunks of pumpkin on a field of warm tomato sauce, blanketed by a snow of grated Romano cheese, and ready to eat.

I have recreated that simple recipe and have added three more–goin' round the world, using pumpkin as the centerpiece of these recipes. 


Enjoy!


Pumpkin Stock

Remove the membranes and seeds from the pumpkin or squash you are using. Put them in a heavy pot and cover with water by at least 2 inches. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook at a moderate boil for 15 minutes and reduce to a simmer. Cook for one hour, adding a little more water if necessary to keep the squash covered. Strain, squeezing the flavor out of the pulp. Use for soups, stews and making risotto.


Pumpkin Fritters Fra Diavolo

My Grandmother Mary was a true Sicilian– and she loved to fry vegetables. As kids, when we cut our jack-o-lanterns, the noses, eyes, mouths and other dismembered sections were deftly encrusted in lightly seasoned breadcrumbs, kissed by the oil and allowed to steam in the delicate casing. Yes, pumpkin is one of my favorite veggies to fry alla Nonna! Serve these on a pool of zesty tomato sauce and hit them with a quick grating of Locatelli Romano while they are still hot. This recipe gets a *4 on the Ric-ter scale.


Serves 4

1 medium 3-4 pound pumpkin
flour, eggs, and plain bread crumbs as needed
grapeseed or vegetable oil for frying
salt and pepper
1-16 oz can organic tomatoes, crushed
1 small hot pepper or a pinch of crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch of dry oregano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
Locatelli Romano cheese or other very sharp grating cheese

In a medium pot or large skillet, add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper. When the garlic begins to sizzle and get golden edges, add the tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and gently simmer until you have finished your frying. This can also be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Cut the top off of the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and guts. Reserve for "stock."

Wedge the pumpkin and carefully shave off the skin with a sharp knife. Slice into ¼ thick slices.

Set up a breading station:

  • one pan of flour seasoned to taste with salt and pepper
  • one dish with two eggs scrambled with ¼ cup of cool water
  • one pan of unseasoned bread crumbs
Working with one hand, dip and coat a piece of pumpkin in flour and shake off the excess. Now dip in egg wash, shake off that excess too, and finally coat in breadcrumbs. Lay on parchment or waxed paper. Continue until all pumpkin is breaded.

In a cast iron skillet, heavy wok or Dutch oven, heat one inch of oil to about 325-335 F. Keep a lid on hand to snuff out any flare-ups.

Fry pieces until golden on one side, carefully turn and finish for about 60 seconds. Line a cookie sheet with paper towels and put each piece on the paper to absorb any remaining oil.

Line each of four plates with hot tomato sauce. Arrange hot pumpkin slices on the plates attractively and garnish with a generous grating of Romano cheese and parsley... Amazing!


El Locro

El Locro is a South American stew that always features pumpkin, squash, and corn and sometimes also has potatoes, pork, and even cheese. This rendition is vegetarian, hearty and rich. If you want to add a couple of pigs feet or ham hock, I won't stop you!

olive oil as needed
2 cups pumpkin, peeled and seeded (you can really use any winter squash here)
2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, smashed
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 fresh hot chile of your choice, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 can (16 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can 28 oz Posole ( Hominy) or fresh or frozen corn
1 can (16 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
8 cups water or “pumpkin Stock” see below
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup cheddar or jack cheese, grated
Using a box grater or the grating attachment on a food processor, shred the 2 cups of squash set aside. Dice the rest into large stew chunks, about 1” square.
In a Dutch Oven coat the bottom with a olive oil. Heat olive oil to medium. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, jalapeno and paprika. Continue cooking, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the spices mellow. Add the squash, white beans, posole, potatoes, tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, set on the cover askew, and simmer the stew for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the squash is very tender.
Add the cilantro and cream. Stir in the cheese a little at a time to melt. Serve Hot!


Pumpkin Mulligatawny

This most popular Indian lentil soup has been made so many ways, one never really knows how authentic their version is. The recipe I have been preparing for the last 25 years is based on the soup made at India Pavilion in Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The soup there is smooth with red lentils and has a nice lemony accent. Chunks of pumpkin add texture and brightness.

1 medium onion, diced
2  1"x1" cubes of ginger
5 medium garlic cloves
1 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup ghee or vegetable oil
juice of two lemons
3 cups red split lentils
3 cups cubed pumpkin, about 1" cubes
1/2 gallon water with a touch of chicken or vegetable bouillon or chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Puree first six ingredients in processor with 1/4 cup of water to make a paste.

In a heavy pot add ghee or oil and heat gently. Add the aromatic paste and sauté until a beautiful aroma is released. Do not brown.

Add lentils and stir to coat thoroughly. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add the pumpkin. Reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils turn golden and begin to melt. Add cilantro and lemon juice. Adjust salt of needed.

Serve in bowls with grilled pita or nan.

Thai Pumpkin Curry

This is one of my all time favorite dishes. It is real Southeast Asian comfort food, mildly spiced, nicely perfumed and rib-sticking at the same time.

Serves 4-6

4 cups pumpkin cut into large 1-1/2” chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
4 tablespoons Thai Masaman curry paste (available in Asian markets or online)
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced onto coins
1 sweet bell pepper, seeded and medium dice
2 cup peeled, cubed potatoes
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth or water
2-14 oz cans coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
juice of one lime
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of mint, roughly chopped
4 scallions, sliced into rounds

In a heavy casserole, add the onions, crushed pepper, shallots, garlic, carrot, peppers and curry paste.

Sauté and stir until it all is wilted and coated with curry. Add pumpkin and potatoes and toss to coat. 

Add all remaining ingredients except the herbs. Bring to a boil. 

Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook covered for 35-40 minutes or until pumpkin is cooked through. 

Serve in bowls, garnished with cilantro, mint and scallions

Jamaican Pumpkin Rice

This is the ultimate side for Jerk, oxtails and curry.

1/4 stick butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallion, white and green parts
3 cups water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups pumpkin, cubed and peeled
1 cup water
1 scotch bonnet pepper, left whole but scored
1 1/2 cups long grain or basmati rice

In a Dutch oven, melt the butter with the oil and sauté the garlic, onion, and scallion until they are limp. Add a cup of stock (water may be used in place of stock) and bring to a boil. Add the salt, pepper, allspice, thyme sprigs, and pumpkin (yam or squash may be substituted). Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about an half an hour, stirring occasionally. The pumpkin should be tender. Add more stock if necessary.

Remove the thyme sprigs and add the remaining stock and water. Bring to a boil and add the rice. Stir once. Put the hot pepper on top of the rice. Lower the heat and cover. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed. Let rest covered for 10 minutes before serving.

You can remove the pepper or serve it to your best “friend."

Brussel Sprouts: A Trio of Recipes



Brussels sprouts are one of those kitchen items, like anchovies, fish sauce and cilantro, that conjure strong feelings on both sides of the aisle. When I was growing up in the '60s, I hated them. We didn't have them often, but like Lima beans, when we saw them on our nightly blue plate, they sent waves of dread through the souls of my little sister and me. They were always cooked from frozen until soft and mushy, buttered, salted and that's it. I am now enlightened! Properly cooked Brussels sprouts are an autumn treat. I have taught my kids to get excited about them, and when purchased from a farm stand on a stalk, they are often the star of the meal!

Remember that strong and bitter green vegetables can handle more salt than delicate veggies. This trio of recipes really showcases that.

Garlic Walnut Brussels Sprouts


This dish used quartered sprouts with lots of garlic. This gives them a balanced, firm-yet-tender texture. They are great with pork and rich skin on poultry preparations.

Serves 4 as a side

1 pound fresh, medium-to-large sized Brussels sprouts
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup walnuts, chopped small
1/4 stick butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly minced
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Put on a pot of salted water big enough to hold the Brussels sprouts.

Prepare the sprouts by trimming off any dry or loose leaves. Cut the brown end off the stem to expose the white core of the stem. Cut in quarters lengthwise.

This is about timing and fun cooking. Is everything prepped? (The sprouts need to blanch for two minutes to get cooking.) Good. Now go!

Drop the sprouts in the boiling water.

Heat a big heavy skillet on the stove on medium-high heat. Add the butter to the skillet. When the butter foams, add the garlic and walnuts and turn the pan to high.

Once the garlic begins to get golden, turn of the heat under the pan. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer and begin to remove the brussels sprouts from the water and carefully add them to the hot butter. When they are all in the pan, crank the heat back up and swirl the pan to coat with those Brussels with the hot garlic-walnut butter. Salt and pepper generously, and let cook to absorb any water that followed the sprouts into the pan. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves, roll around to coat one more time and serve hot.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions

This is a simple stir fry, utilizing the smokey bacon and sweet onions to accent the earthiness of the Brussels sprouts. This dish should be served immediately after cooking, to keep the vibrant color and texture of the sprouts intact. It is particularly good paired with trout, chicken and turkey dishes.

Serves 4 as a side

4 ounces good quality smoked bacon, sliced against the grain into thin strips
1 large Spanish onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
a few fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
water or stock as needed
salt and pepper to taste

Trim the stems from the Brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise. Now slice, almost shave, crosswise very thinly. This is called a chiffonade.

Heat a heavy skillet or stainless wok to medium heat. Add the bacon and the oil. Cook over medium heat until the bacon is browned and crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the onions to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until they begin to caramelize. 

When the onions are fully amber colored, prepare to add the Brussels sprouts. If you are using the sage, add it now. Add the Brussels and turn up the heat. Stir from the bottom up while cooking until the sprouts begin to soften. When they're bright green and shiny, add the cider vinegar and let cook another two minutes. Add a few drops of water or stock, stir well, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot, garnished with the reserved bacon.

This dish can be made vegetarian by simply omitting the bacon and increasing amount of the oil just a bit. There are vegan bacon substitutes available that can be added at the last minute to generate the smokiness that the bacon gives to the dish.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted, caramelized, luscious!

Some sprouts are wound tighter than others, so the roasting time my vary depending upon the particular batch of sprouts you are cooking. Make sure they are lightly browned, but not black, or you will have bitter sprouts.

Because of the vinegar, this dish pairs well with red meats, venison, beef and lamb. It is also good served family style with hearty salmon preparations.

Serves 4

1 pound medium Brussels sprouts
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 medium shallots, cut in half
6 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Prepare Brussels sprouts by trimming off any dry or loose leaves. Cut off brown end off of the stem to expose the white core of the stem. Cut an "X" into the bottom of the core of the stem, about 2 or three millimeters deep.

In a mixing bowl, toss all ingredients to coat well. Let marinate at least 15 minutes or up to an hour.

Put everything in a roasting pan and loosely cover with parchment paper or foil. Bake about 30 minutes, then check the sprouts. They will begin to soften and become golden. Poke a big one with a skewer or toothpick. It should be tender. If they need a little more time, let it happen. When they are just tender, remove the covering and allow to cook 10 more minutes until lightly browned. They should be very tender when done. 

Serve them right in the roasting dish and make sure everyone gets a piece of shallot and a clove of garlic.
Summer Salsa recioes posted on my pal Dakota Lanes Blog

http://dakotalane.blogspot.com/2009/11/ric-orlandos-salsa-recipes.html

Road Trip 2010- Day Two



Father’s Day Brunch in Chinatown, San Francisco



Dim Sum


The question of the morning: Should we go to the place with the best food or should we go for the most genuine 'Dim Sum' experience?

Only time would tell. We read reviews and blogs online about various places- most of which were not in Chinatown- but we wanted to be in the magic of Chinatown.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in America and has many nostalgic remnants. Along with its Maltese Falcon, Dirty Harry, Fire of ’06 and Barbary Coast romanticism, San Francisco has a love affair with its old Chinatown.

I love it, and wanted my sons to experience it through my old Charlie Chan experienced eyes.

After pondering the validity of the internet reviews we decided upon a place call Hang Ah Dim Sum and Tea Room. It opened in 1920 and, according to the many spirited readers in Chow Hound, was the most was “authentic” of the Chinatown Dim Sum houses.
Okay- Hang Ah Dim Sum here we come!





Oh-no-- we were still on East Coast time and we arrived early-- 9 in the morning! I know Dim Sum is a brunch of sorts, but nobody opened until 10 and, as we discovered later, nobody really started rocking until noon. We left the Hilton with our bags and trekked the 10 steep blocks or so from O’Farrel up to to California Street.

Hang Ah is on Pagoda Place, up a steep hill and down and alley next to Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Park- what looks like a great place for babysitting kids during the day and fending off junkies at night.. When we arrived the door was wide open but the joint was dark, like a church an hour or so before mass.

There were a few middle aged Chinese men unloading a truck with bags of mungsprouts, some frozen dumplings in clear bags and other brown bags sprouting greens and other vegetation. Here come the provisions. We looked around and decided to walk around for an hour or so until they opened.

We went back down the steep, steep hill and explored the tea and ginseng shops- heady with aromas alien to my sons, but somehow familiar to my 1970s brain.

Terry led us into a real over the top, tacky gift store where I bought my wife a $12 silk kimono---she always looks killer in a kimono-- and my daughter Sidni an 'Alcatraz, Home Sweet Home' magnet.

As I was paying the vendor asked me in almost cliché broken English if Willis and Terry were my sons. He darted his eyes left and right and then secretly showed me a hand ful of fireworks and asked, “M-80 and cherry bomb for boys? They are real thing!” Really! Just for laughs
I bought a couple of packs of salutes and he discreetly wrapped them in Chinese newspaper- Awesome!





Later, we found a 'seafood house' that had bins of American and Imported Shark FIn.
When I tried to take a photo, the middle-aged Chinese woman abruptly chirped “No Picture”. What did she think that I was with PETA or something? I just wanted a little souvenir picture...



Around 9:50 we found ourselves back in the alley. The door was still open, the lights were still off.

Hang Ah is a place that is so square it is hip- so old it is new. The entrance hall has dirty black and white, almost faded sepia photos of Chinatown days past.. They are not there to be retro, they just haven't been changed. There was a collection of 'Miss Chinatown USA' candidates from 1958 along with a 1963 Chinatown Chamber of Commerce poster. Wow!




The weird feeling of the place, the silence. It was like being alone in the home of someone you barely know, and it made us wary. We decided we'd forgo the best food and go for the most genuine Dim Sum experience after all.

We left with a commitment to return later.


On Washington there was a place that looked busier...

That felt better. It was called 'New King Tin.' It was pretty dingy inside and made us wonder about the Old King Tin... It had a glossy Hong Kong BBQ window complete with a whole hanging shiny, seductive and sexy suckling pig, ducks, geese, and cuttle fish.




We were seated at a four top in the middle of the small dining room. There were maybe 12 tables, tops. There was not enough room to roll around carts, which was a slight and collective let down. But since we were starving by this time we ordered a few items from he waitress who had a single, stationary cart right next to our table.

It was only a semi-Dim Sum place -- but onward we ventured.

We ordered-

1. Shrimp Shumai - Shumai were big and puffy, obviously from frozen. They felt sort of fake and not great. They would have been a bit offensive if we were not so hungry!

2. Pork Buns - These were sweet on the outside, almost like a dessert pastry filled with red yeast rice glazed pork. It was so sweet that Terry took one bite and passed- This from the boy who, at the age of two, at my mother’s on Christmas was found hiding under the dining room table with the candy bowl full of mini krackle, Three Musketeers and Mr. Goodbars. By the time we found him the bowl was mostly crinkled, empty wrappers and he was gorged, greasy and glassy eyed. He likes sweets to a fault--and he rejected the pork buns.


3. Tofu Skin Bundles - Filled with shrimp and veggies, these had a nice, soft texture, nice aroma- but they needed the hot chile sambal to get them on their feet. I like the texture of tofu skin when it is suspended in steam for a few hours. Sort of like soft, white, boiled chicken skin, which I love unreasonably and try to resist pulling from the backs when we strain the chicken stock pots at New World.


4. Chicken Feet - These rocked! Maybe even the best I’ve had--perfectly glazed, redolent of barnyard and bean paste -sweet and musky. They were cooked perfectly and garnished with a slice of fresh jalapeno. Willie was enthralled by the succulent pad of the foot. They came four to an order and we had to order a second serving.





Next we skirted the Dim Sum offerings and went for the big stuff. I ordered a plate of suckling pig and one of BBQ octopus, which was actually cuttlefish.




The pork was as perfect as it looked in the window. The skin made such a beautiful crackling sound when crushed between my molars that I deliberately chewed with my mouth open to savor the sound. The flesh was chopped into perfectly moist and savory cubes. I’ll take a good Hong Kong BBQ sucking pig over Peking Duck any day, as long as it’s done right. This was done right!


The cuttlefish was only ok--it was nicely lacquered with the soybean paste-sugar glaze but the texture needed work.



The white body slices were pretty chewy. I like chewy cuttlefish but this missed the mark. The face cavity and the tentacles were much better and sort of popped when chewed.

With a table full of empty plates, we opted to move on and search for greener pastures. We would find the Dim Sum motherload.

Next Stop, Dim Sum Action.

We went down two doors to another monstrosity of a place called 'The Hong Kong.' When we entered the foyer there was a waiter with a Dim Sum cart waiting for an elevator. I asked him if they served Dim Sum and he pointed to a sign that said 'Dim Sum, 3rd Floor.' He got into the small service elevator and the doors closed behind him.




With anticipation we climbed the smelly carpeted stairs. As we passed the 2nd floor we looked into a doorway and saw that there was a self defense class taking place. Scary.

We got to the top floor and it was a big, out of date banquet room with 72-inch round tables with pink polyester tablecloths and absolutely nobody there. A woman shouted, "Table for 3?!" and we almost sprinted down the stairs.

We wanted the experience! This was just not happening!

But, eventually, we found the experience we were hoping for the old fashioned way.

We wandered around for another twenty minutes or so, slowly tiring and getting ready to try the Hang Ah again.

Thankfully, Terry has no self control.


He just couldn’t resist the Ninja stores and entered a big one with conviction. While he was admiring, and buying some cheesy tin Ninja stars, I asked the shopkeeper where I could find some real Dim Sum action. She directed us well.

The place was right around the corner actually- on Jackson.




The place was called 'Great Eastern' and it was almost exactly we'd been looking for. The place had two floors, had fish tanks set in the wall with dancing prawns, crabs and beautifully fresh looking catfish and best of all, tons of Chinese people, smiling, chatting and eating! The first thing I fell in love with was two little sisters dining with Dad - digging chicken feet!




The only tricky thing about 'Great Eastern' was that there was no cart service. You actually ordered your Dim Sum off of a checklist menu with an accompanying picture menu. I'd never experienced Dim Sum without carts. How did this work? Would it suck? C’mon--just hook me up already!

Okay, it was kind of weird, but guess what - It worked out great!

Here's what we ate:




1. Steamed Fish Ball with Veggies - These were the best I've had. They had a distinct flavor of leeks and cabbage. An order consisted of three bals- each about the size of a golf ball

2. Steamed Tripe in Broth - This was awesome! It wasn't honeycomb tripe but the much milder smooth tripe from the first stomach. It was tender and not the least bit gamey. We loved it.

3. Deep Fried Crab Claw in Shrimp Paste - These were also golfball sized shrimp fritters coated with panko. To set them apart, each had a dungeness crab claw sticking out. It was served with kewpie mayonnaise to which we added some chile sambal. Nice, simple fried seafood cake experience.


At this point we noticed that something interesting was being served to the table text to us. I called over the waiter and asked him to bring us an order of whatever they were. He shrugged and returned in what felt like 15 seconds with a small plate loaded with chilled, glistening beauties - Soy Sauce Duck Tongue!




They were ice cold and the size of golf tees, with a small bone extending about a quarter of the way into the root. They were FABULOUS cold! They reminded me of the tongue served in a Jewish Deli- except they were little, and they were served on a bed of boiled, soy sauce soaked peanuts. Wow!

Next?!


Pork Feet with Jellyfish - This is the kind of dish that I mess around with in my kitchen but nobody ever buys. The pig feet were deboned, rolled and braised, sliced like a roulade and served cold. They were topped with a nice hairdo of shredded and marinated jellyfish- served cold. The jellyfish was almost like rubbery noodles. The flavor of jellyfish reminds me of pork anyway and in this dish, it paired perfectly with the briny foot roll.




One disappointment?

Deep Fried Pumpkin with Egg Yolk Ball - This was "a wee bit not happening," as my son said. The ball was panko crusted but hollow and chewy, as if made from taro to resemble a breaded hand ball. The yolk in he center was over-cooked, not hard cooked, but pasty, too cooked to be delicious. Dud, we all agreed.

For Dessert? Turtle Shell Jello, of course!

Huh? Yes- this is a classic Gui Lin Gao--where turtle shell is boiled for hours to release its intense gelatins. It is then cooked with rock sugar. This is very weird, but worth a try once if you think you’d like RC COLA jello...






At this point we were stuffed---Dim Sum was a success!

Next?

Wine Country Cheap Eats...