Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What Dreams Are Made Of: The Chef Revealed

To begin again. With new dreams. New accessories. In this second half, I made myself a promise. No compromising. I would make my way in the world doing what I love: yoga, writing, cooking. A passionate trifecta. And we swore we wouldn't fall back on the familiar: advertising or health care or marrying a doctor. It was time to trust the Universe. Dress the part (yoga pants and stretchy tank with built-in shelf bra) and the job will show up to match the outfit.

And so it goes...when you stick to your dreams, you are drawn to people who stick to theirs. Many of you have asked, "Is The Chef really a chef?" Yes, indeed. And next week, after months of recipe testing in our kitchen and suffering a nasty hand burn at Sunday Supper, he'll set sail. Welcome Chef Jesse Otero, culinary master (aka: control freak) behind 44 Degrees, the swanky main ingredient inside the cushy doors of the Whale Cove Inn.

The View from our table.

We volunteered to help taste-test the new menu because, once the doors open to the public, we're quite sure a four-top will be impossible to snag. And our wallet, being a bit thin these days, won't be able to wrap its head around actually having to pay. So after much lint brushing, hair washing, tobacco spitting, and a review of "no elbows on the table," the four of us pulled up forks and Jesse pulled off five courses.

A grilled semolina cracker with apple-onion chutney. Nice architecture, a good mix of crunchy and soft. Tasty, but more spice, please, to balance the sweet. As a kick-off, we want a surprise in our mouth (and not the usual kind).

Whole-wheat ravioli of crab and avocado with brown butter sauce and ginger sauteed broccoflower. Outstanding! We whipped our starchy white napkins in the air like the hockey fans we are. Looked for the ginger, but loved the bits of fried garlic.

Seared loin of Oregon lamb with pistachio pesto, citron marinated kale and chorizo potato puree. After one bite of the potatoes, we dropped the silverware, grabbed the ball of it and shoved the whole thing in our mouth. This home-boy didn't stray from his Nuevo Mexico roots. Los abuelos would be muy proud! While the lamb was perfectly done and the pesto dreamy, the kale made us pouty because we like our bitter greens to remain earthy, like dirt but without the grit. These were too citron sweet and a bit gray from overcooking, but after a bout of finger-wagging and later, a spanking, we trust this veggie will return to its former glory. Unless he really LIKED that spanking.

Aussie Girl ordered the Ahi tuna and the two got along swimmingly.

Goat cheese garnished with radish sprouts and a strawberry vinaigrette. Yum. Such a happy little plate. Perhaps some crunch, too. Macon almonds? Paper-thin slices of Granny Smith?

Caramelized banana tart with cinnamon ice cream. Delicious. It's hard to resist a treat made by a man clutching a blow torch, even if he is fully clothed (long story). When Second Edition couldn't quite crack the nut on what was giving that thin crust such a mellow, crumbly flavor and the Ranger piped up with, "it's the ground hazelnuts in the dough" well, I just wanted to reach across the table and jump his bones right then and there. Is there anything sexier than a man in touch with his taste buds?

Thank you, Steve, the big gun behind the Bay House, for making 44 Degrees possible. We're sorry about the wine stains, the freaked-out waitress, the filched bathroom fixtures and the bits of broken glass in the potted bamboo. Sometimes, we get carried away. Because we don't get out much. And we're drawn to shiny objects. Next time, we'll wear a helmet.

Sweet Success. Congrats, Chef. Can we pinch your cheeks, now?


Flutephobia said...

Nice post. As an aside, a flute teacher once told me the same thing about dressing the part. I was confounded. I needed to run around in formal black all the time? Sorry, dear flute teacher- this west coast WASP likes her clothing color palette vivid and wild.

jmax said...

Ohhhhh Segunda! You'll make my mamma proud. Hopefully she can over look your racy wit. Thanks for the kind words and honest feed-back. My cooking got better immediately. For this, I owe you...

As for the cheeks, pinch away. Any one, after all, I'm single!!!

Mich said...

Next time I come to the Coast, we're going there!