Friday, August 19, 2005

All About Nectarines

I should properly title my menu "all about nectarines" this week. Merv, our restaurants wonderful friend from Yakima arrives weekly with boxes of corn picked that morning, peaches ripened on the tree, perfumed melons, and even the zucchini that won him a ribbon at the fair. This past week he has brought two boxes of perfect nectarines along with the peaches I had ordered. So use them I must, even if that means a menu that tips the balance I try to preserve with 3 featured nectarine items.

The first is the buttermilk panna cotta with a fresh compote of nnectarines, peaches, little wild strawberries, and little lemon cookies. The panna cotta is sweet and lean, and has what Gordon Ramsey calls a "sexy wobble". This makes the texture light and delicate. The word compote brings cooked fruit to mind for me, but in this case, the fruit is macerated in a syrah syrup. This adds a very subtle spicy undertone to the fruit while leaving all the intensity of the tree ripe flavor. The pale pink syrup is brushed on the plate first to resemble a water color. There was no way to contain the syrup from running out of the compote, so I just went with it, "washing" the plate with it.

The second dessert is a frozen nectarine parfait. The nectarine looses much of it's intensity when pureed, becoming a more subtle, palatable version of the fire works that a bite of fresh nectarine dispatches in your mouth. So this moderate flavor is added to a soft rich frozen parfait. It is a very delicate presentation of flavor. The top is spread with a fan of very thin sliced nectarine. The flavor is all that a nectarine should be, adding a contrast to the more subtle parfait. A quenelle of whipped creme fraiche flavored with almond is placed next to it, and crisp sweet almond cookies add texture. The cookie is made from a dough intended to be the crust of a linzer tart. It is spiced lightly with cinnamon and rum. The texture is amazingly tender due to an old Austrain trick of hard boiling the eggs before incorporating them to the dough.

The third dessert is Clafouti. This menu spot was being filled by a peach cobbler which I was running out of nightly. While the word "cobbler" was a hot seller, the topping I was using was not ideal for the delicate texture and flavor of the fruit. I tested a few different styles of topping finally drawing back to a dish we used to make at Lampreia. This is the ultimate refinement of the cobbler, fitting for Chef Carsberg whose style is pure, minimalistic, and entirely focused on flavor. The batter something like a sponge cake folded with whipped cream, spread on top of the fruit, and baked to rise above the fruit. The texture is as delicate as the flavor, and truly lets the nectarines shine from below. The fruit is sliced thin like leaves, and tossed with just a little sugar to bring out the juices which then reduce and condense during the baking process. This is served strait from the oven with a scoop of plain-jane vanilla ice cream, which melts just a little by the time it gets to the table.

This offers 3 different moods of the nectarine. The panna cotta is lean, fresh, spicy, and clean. The parfait fills the role of my frozen dessert, showing a softer, more luxurious side to the fruit. And the clafouti is my only hot dessert which is warm, comforting, and very familiar.

Seasons will change, and the abundance of anything fresh will dwindle. Feast or famine, so they say.


Anonymous david said...

Hi, i don't have a blog, don't need to bookmark you, or have a swimming pool and don't particularily care about nascar and all that backwards hick stuff, but i thought your new items are very nice. your spelling has vastly improved, however a "strait" is a narrow channel joining two larger bodies of water. Straight is a direction, i usually remember this because it is similar to the spelling of right.


August 21, 2005 1:42 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

David-my spelling improved with a click of the spell check button.... which doesnt make up for my bad use of homonyms....did I spell that right? Luckily for me I write a food blog, not a spelling blog!! Hey, maybe you should have a spelling blog!!

August 22, 2005 10:08 AM  
Anonymous David said...

phatduck-if i ever wrote a blog it would be about the horrible cooking of my exgirlfriend. christ - three years of undercooked roast pork - frozen in the middle, burnt on the outside. don't even get me started on her mirepoix - halved carrots, get my drift. i couldn't take it anymore, i mean how do you screw up Top Ramen??? she massacered everything good about food.

anyways don't get your black satin thong all in a bunch, just giving you a good natured ribbing. hell, you're a cook, and a damn good one for that matter, surely you can take a little "poop" from some short punkass like myself. and for that matter-is it not what you and chef taught me, "It's in the details, great cooking and what separates great and "poop" is the details, and that is all that matters".
spelling and grammar are details-your blog is a reprensentation of your thoughts, dreams, ideals, and passion. the catholic in me would even say your soul. you write about your family, food, life (getting married, congrats!!!, kinda skinny though, ha ha ha) - should it not be presented in the best possible way to your readers? you expose yourself to the public, shouldn't the public truely understand how seriously you take those details?
that said, i just wanted to say how grateful and thankful i am to have worked with you-you taught me about details and about perfection.
and another thing, stop being so sensitive-i just do it because it's my juvenile attempt at flirting *wink*

August 25, 2005 12:40 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

David.... You have known me enough to catch the sarcastic notes I play with. But you are right about the details. Thanks for the little reminder... so the student becomes the teacher? How poetic.

And another thing..... Black silk thong?!? In your dreams! ha ha ha

August 26, 2005 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for that David guy. Not only is he short, but it sounds like his love life isn't going well, either. I'm sorry to hear his ex-girlfriend can't cook. I hope she looked good in a black satin thong, at least. I know my Fiance' sure looks hot in one. And she's a fantastic chef...


September 10, 2005 5:06 PM  

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