Dan Barber’s fish story

Dan Barber the owner of Blue Hill Stone Barn is an amazing public speaker.  His speeches are beautifully presented and captivating.  His message is always the same: nature will correct itself if given the chance and taste better.  He dispels the myth of the sustainability of the Kona Blue Kampachi (he is careful not to mention them by name, though anyone that has worked with that fish will recognize it).  He instead focuses on the second fish (Daurade Royale) which hails from the repair of a previous ecological disaster.

So far in the two great TED presentations I have seen he has his ecological epiphanies on the Iberian peninsula.  Natural foie gras in Extremadura and farmed fish in Andalucia.  Makes you wonder if he is being paid by ICEX.

Anyway, I am always impressed at his delivery and buy into his idealism, but am skeptical that reverting to a completely natural system will indeed feed the world.  Spain is, by the way, the 3rd largest consumer of fish on the planet.  They have a vested interest in getting the right system in place.

April’s Deep Plate Entry: Deer in headlights

Wild Colorado roasted venison tenderloin with sautéed mushrooms, Lundberg rice blend and Primo Blackberry Serrano port sauce

It’s that time again.  Every month I wait in anticipation of the next plate Bauscher will send so I can start to imagine what I will compose.  It has become somewhat of a ritual.   This time I wanted to use some Venison tenderloin that a friend of ours gave us.   Chris Aamot is extremely generous and was so nice enough to give us the best pieces of the animal he took down.

My wife bought some Lundberg rice mix (we are on a brown rice kick) and my first reaction was why did you buy that.  I have always hated rice blends because they are inherently doomed from the outset as all the grains take different times to cook.  So instead of the suggested cooking method I decided to try the pressure cooker on it.  It was somewhat successful.  Surprisingly only the brown rice was not completely cooked through in the ten minutes it took to cook the rest of the grains.  I put it back on for a few minutes more and it seemed to improve.  I’m still not completely sold on it, but I didn’t throw the whole box away either.

The sauce was made using some preserves made by a local company called Primo Preserves.  I’ve met the owner of the company several times and he is really nice.  His preserves are always a mix of fruit and chilies, in this case Blackberry Serrano.  I thinned the preserves out with a little port and added the liquid from the venison after I seared it and deglazed the pan.  The sauce packed some heat but worked well with the dish.

It is a fairly easy dish that most home cooks could reproduce.  I have been thinking a lot more about dishes like this since I started my new job, which like the title of my post makes me feel a little like a deer in headlights.   So much to learn about all the areas of the business and so many new ideas to try and implement.

Last night I was the lone chef instructor for a Tuscan menu.  I had only partly observed a class and had not really worked in the kitchen before.  It is always a challenge to figure out how to move in a new kitchen and you work inefficiently until you figure out the space.

The class went off without a hitch and all the clients were very happy, but the kitchen was a disaster area when they left.   It took the dishwasher and me a little more than an hour to clean the space.   The next time I’m teaching I will have a much clearer view of the task ahead and will prepare accordingly.

Earlier that same day on my way into work I stopped by to pick up an order at Italco Specialty Foods in Denver and found out that Il Mondo Vecchio Salumi is just down the street.  I stopped in, saw their facility and tasted some their salumi.  Very interesting and I hope to bring in Mark one of the owners and chief salumi makers to teach some classes at the Kitchen Table some day.

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