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Culinary Corner Week of February 27-March 4

Anna poses with king cake

Hello! Welcome to the last week of February and the first week of March. In like a Lion, Out like a Lamb-Spring is coming soon! Thank you all for attending the events last week, we had a great time at the Mardi Gras party as well as the Sip and Savor. We have so much fun doing these things, and the response was great too. The Mardi Gras brought me back a few years to the days of Crawfish and Beignets, and the Greek wines was as informative to me as anyone else.

I have a favor to ask: If your meal in the dining room is not hot, not right, or you just don't like it please send it back to the kitchen immediately. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing about a problem days later when there is very little I can do about it. Was it the kitchen? Which cook? Was it the server? Which one? Where was the manager? Was the dining room cold? Are the soup bowls cold? Is the back door open again? If we address these issues in the moment they can be fixed, if we hear about them later it's just a guessing game and nothing gets done. When I get multiple plates back in a single night the problem is easy to identify, when I hear that "everybody" says that something isn't right there is little that can be done. Send it back, let us find the problem and fix it.

OK. The Soup of the week is Split Pea. We add ham and carrots to ours for a very hearty and warming potage. One thing about Split Pea, as it sits, it gets thicker. Throughout the day we check the soup and add chicken stock as needed, but if you get something thick and pasty, please let us know so we can replace and fix the problem.

The Appetizer this week is a Maryland-style Crab Cake with pickled Melon, and puréed avocado. We make our crab cakes with Blue Crab, panko breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, Old Bay and a little mayonnaise.

The Cheese this week is an Irish Whiskey Cheddar, with Lingonberries and sliced French Bread. This is a sharp, white Cheddar with whiskey added to the curds before pressing. An obvious choice would be whiskey to accompany this, but it would also be really good with a glass of Stout or 90 Shilling.

At Dinner we have pan-seared Monkfish in brown butter, parsley and lemon. Now if you've never had Monkfish you should really try it. These deep water fish are found in the North Atlantic, and have firm, meaty flesh with a mild flavor. The texture is so similar to lobster that in years past, unscrupulous chefs would substitute this fish for the crustacean in soups and stews, and the customer was none the wiser. These days monkfish is not much cheaper than lobster, so there is really no point, and I suspect that modern customers are a bit more savvy about seafood than they used to be. We are serving this with roasted cauliflower and wild rice, and I recommend the Malagousia wine we tasted last week if Lora still has any. a good quality Chardonnay would work really well too, the Kendall Jackson is always a good fallback.

We are offering Grilled Lamb Loin Chops, with a lemon-mint glaze, steamed asparagus, and feta cheese-mashed potatoes. Now a loin chop is essentially a T-bone or Porterhouse, but of course a lamb is much smaller than a steer, so the cut is smaller. This cut is the loin on one side and the tenderloin on the other separated by bone. This matters only if you are shy about picking up your lambchop in the dining room and eating it with your hands instead of trying to wield a steak knife to get all the good stuff. Take my word for it, using all my authority as Executive Chef, you are allowed to do this. We had this on the menu a few weeks ago and ran out by 6:30 so I am encouraged by the popularity. Ask Lora for some of the Agiorgitiko red wine from the wine tasting, the flavor would be superb, and you can't go wrong pairing Greek wine with Lamb.

cherry blossoms

There is also a grilled Pork Chop, with a honey and cider glaze, buttered peas, roasted potatoes. The Pork is Sakura, which means "cherry blossom" in Japanese, because of it's beautiful pink color and it's absolutely delicious. Now the Cider is house-made from Granny Smith apples. I wanted it to be dry, but after fermentation, when all the sweetness had fermented out, the tartness of the apples came through in a way that I thought might make a better ingredient than drink. Once you add the honey to it, the tartness is tamed, and it's a really nice flavor. Try this with Sauvignon Blanc.

As a vegetarian dish, I suggest trying the roasted Lion's Mane Mushrooms, tossed with lemon, thyme and butter, served with haricots vert and smoked quinoa. Now Lion's Mane mushrooms are getting a lot of press lately, for their memory booster qualities, but they have been used for medicine in China for centuries. Here's a recent article that I read last week which inspired me to add this to the menu. . Lion's mane Mushrooms can be difficult to get, not all mushroom farmers grow them, so I might be spending Sunday afternoon searching Asian markets if they are unavailable. This would be great with Merlot or even Pinot Noir.

The pasta this week is Linguini with grilled artichokes, chicken, roasted garlic and spinach tossed with Mornay sauce. Mornay sauce is what is called a Daughter or Child sauce, as it is a direct derivative of one of the five French Mother sauces. Béchamel-the Mother is essentially a cream sauce, and Mornay is simply a Béchamel with grated cheese and a touch of nutmeg. Not many chefs these days really pay much attention to the classics like this but I thought it would be fun to get back to the roots of western cuisine a bit. Definitely try this with Chardonnay.

For Dinner specials look for Seared Cod, Cioppino, Sea Bass, Kielbasa, Lobster Tail, and Grilled Ribeye Steaks.

At Lunch this week, look for Salmon Saltimbocca, Chicken Meatloaf, Sweet and Sour Shrimp, Lobster Rolls, Reubens and Carved Beef Tenderloin

As always, I look forward to seeing and hearing from you on Monday at the Culinary Corner, 10 am in the Dad Clark Bar.

Thank You!

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