So here at Vi, we write a lot of menus, using lots of terms that to our culinary team are pretty normal but not to everyone. Every now and then I realize that we are getting a little bit too esoteric. Mr. Chamberlain has been attending the Culinary Corner most weeks for quite a while, and has been dutifully writing down some of my explanations of technical culinary terms. I thank him so much for this, although I would probably have double checked my sources better if I knew that anyone was actually paying attention...
Anyway, thanks to Mr. Chamberlain we have a growing list of terms that are frequently used on our menus that not everyone might know. I will list many of them here, and maybe throw in few more as we go along. We will start with the first twenty or so and go along alphabetically-there are a lot of them.
As always I encourage anyone who wants a better understanding of the menus to attend the Culinary Corner on Monday mornings or simply to call or stop by, I am always happy to talk about food.
(As dutifully compiled by Mr. Chamberlain, any mistakes are purely the fault of the Chef)
Ale : IG Story a type of beer brewed warm, full bodied, slightly sweet but with the aroma and bitterness of Hops. Ale yeast rises to the top while fermenting as opposed to Lager which ferments from the bottom at colder temperatures and has a milder flavor. Colorado has the best ale in the world.
Amarena Cherries: Small Dark sour cherries in very sweet syrup produced in Italy
Amaretto: A sweet liqueur with an almond flavor-delicious with trout.
Ambrosia salad: a fruit salad held together by whipped topping, and topped with coconut. We usually use pineapple and melon, although bananas are traditional.
Angel Hair Pasta: a very thin spaghetti made from Durham semolina wheat.
Balsamic Vinegar: a dark, concentrated vinegar made from crushed grapes and skins, barrel aged for two years. we also use Balsamic Glaze, which is a sweeter, more concentrated version as a finisher on plates and Balsamic Vinaigrette which is a mixture of vinegar, oil and herbs for salads.
Barbacoa Meats: Meats that are slow-cooked on an open fire or braised until tender. have high fat content, and full flavor. Usually contain garlic, onions and spices.
Barramundi: a very mild white Sea Bass, not to be confused with Chilean Sea Bass (which, confusingly, is actually Patagonian Toothfish and not a true Sea Bass...).
Bearnaise Sauce: emulsified sauce of butter, egg yolk, shallots, vinegar and tarragon.
Berkshire Ham: smoked ham, rubbed with spices. In order to be true Berkshire, the ham must come from the Berkshire breed. The Berkshire hog breed dates back to the 1600’s, rumored to have been first discovered by Sir Oliver Cromwell who prized Berkshire hogs for their superior meat quality.
Bisque: a smooth, creamy, highly-seasoned soup, historically based on the strained broth of crustaceans but on modern menus could mean any smooth soup.
Bitters: an aromatic distillation of herbs, fruit, bark or spices, used to flavor cocktails and food. usually very bitter or bittersweet in flavor, it can offset the sweet flavor of some cocktails to give a more complete flavor profile.
Boniato: a cultivar of the Sweet Potato, with reddish skin and creamy white flesh. Used extensively in Caribbean cooking.
Bourbon: Barrel-aged American whiskey originally from Bourbon County Kentucky but now made all over the country, made from at least 51% corn giving it a sweeter flavor than many whiskies. Tennessee whiskey can be considered Bourbon for flavor purposes, but don't argue this with anyone from Tennessee.
Braised: larger cut of meat seared at a high temperature and then simmered in a flavored liquid until tender.
Brie: one of the great cheeses of the world. French Brie has an edible white downy rind and a creamy ring center. Can be aged anywhere from three to ten weeks. Brie-style cheeses such as Camembert and St André soften and develop more flavor as they age.
Brisket: tough meat from the breast of beef, cooked long and slow to make it rich and tender. In former years brisket was an inexpensive cut of meat but those days are long past, and this is a favorite cut for corned beef, and barbecue.
Bruschetta: Italian appetizer of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil. We serve it here with toppings such as tomato, cheese or vegetables, either hot or cold.
Caesar Salad: a salad of romaine lettuce with croutons, olive oil, lemon juice, egg Worcestershire, anchovies, garlic, mustard, Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Said to have been created by chef Caesar Cardini in Tijuana in 1924, it is usually presented as a specific dressing these days that contains most of the above ingredients and tossed to order with romaine and croutons.
Cannoli: Italian pastry of tube-shaped fried pastry dough with a sweet creamy filling of ricotta cheese and cream.
Caprese Salad: a simple salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil which takes its name from the southern Italian island of Capri.
Cassoulet: a classic dish from France's Languedoc region consisting of white beans and various meats such as pork, sausage and confit. The ingredients are covered and cooked slowly to develop flavors. Here at Vi we make it with garlic sausage, pork ribs, pork shoulder, our own duck confit, pancetta and bacon.
Char: a fish closely related to salmon living in cold waters of both the Americas and Europe. The Arctic Char is the most commercially available variety and is farm raised with a flavor and texture somewhere between salmon and trout. The Mackinaw or Lake trout is considered to be a type of Char.