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Culinary Corner, Week of May 15-20

Hello! Happy Mother's day, I hope you are all enjoying the Brunch we have set up for you. Jesus was here late Saturday carving the ice and all staff have been working hard to make the holiday fun and enjoyable. Thank you all who attended the Sake and Food Pairing, and the Dinner and movie pasta station was so much fun too.

This past week was crazy. So, the Beer we were supposed to offer last week-The Brigade Saison started exploding over the weekend. I mean really, exploding. There were shards of glass and beer everywhere. The beer that we serve is "live" beer. What that means, is that unlike professional breweries we don't pasteurize the beer. Beer ferments by action of yeasts that eat the sugars in the wort, and they produce alcohol, carbon dioxide and more yeast. when the yeast eats all the sugar, it goes mostly dormant and is basically done fermenting-usually after about a week or two. When it is done fermenting, we put it in a bottle with a very small amount of sugar and seal them. The sugar "wakes up" the remaining yeasts, which start to eat and produce gas again. Since the bottle is sealed, the carbon dioxide has nowhere to go and so is forced into the liquid. when the bottle is opened, there is a quick hiss of escaping gas, and the liquid is continues to release carbon dioxide that is now free to escape the liquid-what we call carbonated. This is not a very exact science. If there is too much sugar, or if there is any other bacteria present that likes to eat the nutrients in beer then there will be too much carbonation for the bottle to handle and we get a dangerous mess to clean up. Louis Pasteur was the first to discover that Yeast and other microorganisms are alive in our foods, and it had nothing to do with milk, as he was searching for a solution to exploding and sour beer. He discovered that killing off the yeasts and other live organisms, food and beer lasts longer and the taste is more stable. The beer we drink today is mostly pasteurized, and the carbon is added directly by forcing Carbon Dioxide from a tank into a keg, without any live organisms to potentially mess things up. We are currently serving our last live beer-a chocolate and Hazelnut Porter called "Hoppy Drone". Not the best name, I know but I did use honey to sweeten it and the bees are all awake now with the coming of spring.

Speaking of bees, they do seem to be doing ok. There is one hive that I am worried about since I don't see any new brood nor the queen, and we discovered wax moths in the hives this week too. Now wax moths are not directly harmful to bees but when unchecked they can harm the overall hive health by destroying the wax honeycombs. I am trying to keep that in check while dealing with exploding beer bottles and staffing shortages so if I seem distracted when you see me, please don't take it personally.

Sadly, our staffing levels have dropped so low that we have chosen to go with buffet service at dinner until things improve. Breakfast and Lunch will remain menu service and will not change this week. For takeout menus, the choices will be the nightly buffet choices, plus the always available menus-giving us nine entrees per night. Soups will be available on the buffet, as well as nightly changing desserts. There will be carving stations on Tuesday and Thursday, and if this continues, we will work out how to get more action stations to keep things interesting. I'm hoping that this is very temporary, buffets are fun once in a while, but over time not so much. If buffets really aren't your thing, I invite you to have lunch with us as that menu is still tableside ordering and à la carte menus.

So. Here's a breakdown of what we will be serving nightly,

Red Snapper

On Monday, we are serving Baked Snapper with Crawfish Sauce. It's lane snapper, or possibly scarlet snapper depending on availability. The sauce is a basic butter sauce -called a Beurre Blanc with crawfish meat and some spices. We also have Blackened Chicken with Caramelized Onion Hollandaise. Blackening involves dredging the chicken in a mixture of paprika, cayenne, thyme and other spices and then searing it on a very hot surface. It was invented by Chef Paul Prudhomme in the late 1970's at his restaurant K-Paul's. When Chef Prudhomme introduced Blackened Redfish to the world, the species was so overfished that restrictions had to be put in place to protect the fishery. Ours isn't terribly spicy. We also have Carved Flank Steak with red wine sauce. Flank is a great cut of meat, best served medium-rare and properly sliced for tenderness.

On Tuesday we have Coconut-Crusted Shrimp with Orange Sauce, Chipotle-Braised Chicken Thighs, and Beef Burritos. The chicken has the potential to be a bit spicy, chipotles are smoked jalapenos after all, but that's the beauty of buffets, you can take a bit and decide if you like it.

Wednesday has grilled Kielbasa with Onions, Buttermilk-Braised Chicken, and of course Pot Roast. Now you really have to try this chicken, Jesus made it for me last week and it was so good and delicious. I was reminded of my grandmother's Chicken Paprikash, and when I asked him to add some paprika to the gravy it was just perfect. Try this with the buttered spaetzli.

Thursday will have Pistachio-Crusted Halibut-- now back in season and looking really good. We also have Carved Pork Loin, with cider gravy and Grilled Beef Tenderloin Medallions--basically mini filets mignon. We also have Roasted Wild Wushrooms that night, and if you have a glass of Pinot Noir you won't be disappointed.

Friday is Shrimp Putanesca, Chicken Parmesan and Braised Lamb Shanks. Now the lamb is cross cut into smaller portions, basically an Osso Bucco. We braise it with red wine and figs, and I really hope you like it-especially if you try the Fennel Gratin that we are also serving.

Saturday is Orange Roughy Veracruz, Grilled Pork Chops with Cranberry Applesauce, and our vegetarian special-Grilled Butternut Squash Steaks.

At Lunch, go for the carved Leg of Lamb, the Grilled Cheese with Lobster Bisque, Carved Turkey, and of course we still have build-your-own salad, sandwiches and pizzas.

I hope to see you all Monday at the Culinary Corner! I'm sure we will have lots to discuss.

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