Tuesday, May 29, 2012

'After Love, there is only Food...' - Trotter

Chef Charlie Trotter's eponymous restaurant closes on 17 August after a revolutionary 25 years of dining in Chicago.  His quote, above, on love vis-a-vis cuisine & food resonates as I dined a thousabd miles away on Clinton Street in WD~50.  Love satisfies us spirtually and emotionally and food satisfies us viscerally and emotionally.  The resultant Culinary Arts is the only Art that stimulates and satisfies all the senses...  There is a cross-over between Love and Food and all are talked and written about voraciously.  Ergo...there is nothing not to love about the food at WD~50. 

A friendly, knowledgeable, prompt and caring service staff are supplemented by the brigade of professional and passionately dedicated cooks and chefs in the kitchen.  The carefully planned execution of aroma and taste (read: 'flavor') and the requisite attractive plating is spot on.  The full tasting menu comes in @ $155.00 for the 13-or-so courses with a supplemental $85.00 charge for wine pairings.  One can sit at the communal bar, as I did, and order smaller versions of that feat as well. 
The menu is tremendous in it's whimsy and the collaborative thought put into it's flavor profile and presentation.  Clean and genuine are the words that continually coursed through my mind.  The familiar taste memories of American Cuisine, in particular my New England upbringing (the same as Chef Wylie Dufresne) were conjured up by my taste buds whilst devouring the menu last (Monday) evening. 

I was lucky enough to sit at the bar and enjoy the menu as well as the congienal and efffcicient service from a cadrae of professionals.  I stood at The Passe and watched the 'dance', something that I find so perfect and impressive.  I took pictures ('food porn').  I thanked the staff.  I smiled.  Sometimes the intimate knowledge of what it takes to create these experiecnes can be overwhelming...  I smiled again.  Bravo, Chef.  Bravo, the staff.  Thank you, thank you.  Peace.

What follows is the menu and my pictures:

wine pairing 85

Monday, May 28, 2012

'Worthy of a Journey': 3 Days @ WD~50

The Michelin Guide states that restaurants 'Worthy of a Journey' (not just a detour) are where great cuisine may be found.  Be in in Lyon, NYC, Sao Paulo, Sydney or smaller destination cities, these temples of Haute Cuisine and Modern Gastronomy are where young cooks go to learn from Masters in their craft.  Hence, the staigiare position.  To shadow or apprentice, it doesn't matter what it 'means' it matters what it 'is'.  As Chefs we are constantly learning about creating dining experiences.  As cooks we are constantly learning new things...  As a stagiaire I am concerned with both as I travel in the summer of 2012.  This time around I am not only focusing on the jobs at hand in the kitchens I am visiting but also in observing the methods, techniques, attitudes and expectations that Michelin-starred restaurants expect their cooks to possess in order to contribute to the brigade in the kitchen. 

WD~50 is no different.  Regardless of the methodology in the production of the menu the critical evaluative goal is to serve great food in a congenial, not necessarily haughty, environment.  Flavor in still King, no matter what the domain or the language used on the menu.  WD~50 is casual in it's appearance, even strikingly odd in it's mid-block site on Clinton Street, between Stanton and Rivington Streets in the East Village of New York City.  Enter and you are immediately at ease.  It looks and feels like so many other restaurants in America.  Semi-open kitchen, Chef Wylie Dufresne is available at the The Passe.  He will greet guests after their dining experience, replete with a talk-through tour of the main kitchen. 

Downstairs.  Underground.  Confined.  This is the place of the guts of mise en place.  Operating 14 to 15 hours a day, the prep and pastry kitchens grind out the meez for the glory upstairs where, on the line, the a la minute cooking happens.  The following pictures are from my first 3 days @ WD~50.  there will be more revelation and observation as I get deeper into my contracted time underground and in the kitchen...  Peace.


I have a few pictures laying on their side.  What can I say....  Ooops?

 Bamboo Rice for 'Fried Rice'
 Classic 'Carottes Parisienne'
 Pickled Red Cauliflower
 Pickled Green & Yellow Cauliflower with Red Bell Pepper, Shallots & Garlic
 Celery Curls
 The Centrifuge and Vacuum Chamber
 Compressed Chartreuse Honey Dew Melon / Dry Storage
 Dry Storage
 'Egg Ravioli'
 Mise en Place for 'Fried Green Tomatoes'
 'Gjetost' - Norweigian White Chocolate & Raspberry Truffles
 Raspberry Powder w/ Struesel
 Gjetost' (top) / Lavosh (bottom)
 Lavosh for presentation
 Lavosh dough and mise en place
 Stretching the lavosh dough
 Lobster Roe 'Fettuccini'
 Lobster Roe 'Fettuccini'
 Egg Yolk 'Slide' (for removing the egg white trapped on the yolk...)
 Egg Yolk 'Slide' mise en place
 Egg Yolk on the Egg Yolk 'Slide'
 Pickled Bean Sprouts
 Prep Stove
 Romaine Brunoise
 Salt Cleansing ('Degorgement') the Butcher Block
 The Line
 The Passe and the Service Lines...
 WD~50, 50 Clinton Street, NYC