Sunday, February 26, 2012

Seared Sea Bass.

I am in my last three courses here at The CIA, known as Restaurant Row. Basically, I spend the day working in a real kitchen, that serves real food, to real public people. Crazy right? Seeing as I only got to make food for the student body for the past two years.
I am responsible for the Seared Sea Bass with Vegetable Ragout and Black Chard as well as the Seared Cod with Polenta Fries, Spaghetti Squash and Preserved Tomato Vinaigrette.

I make all of the components for both dishes, with the exception of butchering the fish, including the chorizo and preserved artichokes. Here is the recipe for the Sea Bass, it is probably my favorite fish dish on the menu. I make everything from scratch at Saint Andrews Cafe for this dish, but you could of course buy chorizo and artichokes and save yourself a lot of work.

Sauteed Bass, House Made Chorizo, Artichokes, Beans, Swiss Chard and Chardonnay Broth
Yield: 1 Portion
6oz portion of Sea Bass
Flour for dusting
1/2 oz Red Onion, small dice
2 oz Chard, blanched and rough chopped
1 oz Chorizo
2 Artichokes, packed in oil, quartered
2 oz Black Beans, fully cooked
1/2 oz Sundried Tomatoes, julienne
1/2 clove Garlic, Sliced
6oz Chardonnay Broth (see below)
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Sugars. Extra Cream. Hold the...Kopi Luwak?

We do a lot of tasting in culinary school. Be it wine, aperitifs, after dinner drinks, coffee, tea, herbs, olive oil, cookies, chocolate, bread...I could go on all day. Maybe that is why so many people think they want to cook, so they can sit around and "try" this or "try" that. Anyways, one day during lecture in the basement of Saint Andrews Cafe, my class and I happened to be tasting an array of teas and coffee when the professor pulled a gem out of her bag. My previous professor had mentioned this rarity, stating it as the most expensive coffee in the world--and I was going to get to try it. Right. Now.

What on earth is it?  Kopi Luwak Coffee from Indonesia. Next question, what is a Kopi Luwak? The Kopi Luwak is a fuzzy creature that looks a bit like a badger bred with a fox and went on to eat coffee cherries. Coffee cherries the berries that encase the coffee bean. Animals have been eating this berries since biblical times, and it is said that coffee was first discovered by a sheep herder who noticed that after grazing on these red berries his sheep were moving at twice the speed. Only the soft red flesh of the coffee cherry is digestible to the kopi luwak, causing the coffee bean to be excreted whole. Do you know where I am going with this? Workers at these farms then harvest the feces, clean, roast, grind and sell the coffee. The coffee beans that pass through the kopi luwak are said to be slightly nuttier than regular coffee beans, a prized trait by coffee connoisseurs, because the digestive juices gently ferment the beans.

A Kopi Luwak Eating Coffee Cherries. Photo from

The grind on this particular Kopi Luwak Coffee was so fine that a filter was not necessary. All it needed was a bit of hot water and a few minutes to infuse. Honestly, I was grossed out by the idea of drinking coffee made from poop, but I still tried a sip. It was nuttier, more mellow even, with nods to nutmeg and vanilla. The texture is actually what ruined the sip for me; the texture was gritty, almost chalky. Next time I would opt for a larger grind so I could possibly put it in a french press. Next time--hah! Did I mention this coffee goes for about $168 a pound, next time will not be anytime soon. For now I will stick to my beloved Dunkin Donuts Coffee. 

Would you ever try this coffee? What is the weirdest thing you've tried? Tell me in the comments below!