(late may. number 18.)
During this phase, in 2011, of doing fusion dinners with concepts nearly pulled out of a hat, we often joked about what the name of our imaginary brick and mortar pescetarian fusion restaurant would be, if we had one.
This time, it was
The idea? Dishes inspired by Asian cuisines, but with a European flavor profile. A little silly, potentially? Yes. Little did we know, because we really don't pay that close attention to this stuff, that a real restaurant in Portland, in our neighborhood, using this same concept, had opened a few months earlier. What is it called?
Earl Grey Booze On Earl Grey Rocks
We infused, sun-tea style, like last time, our "house basic booze" (Monopolawa Austrian potato vodka) with an extra citrus-style earl grey tea, as well as lemon twists, some lavender flowers, lavender oil, and a few douglas fir tips (for some local flavor).
We made large batches of sweetened earl grey iced tea, and turned some of it (before the diluting stage) into ice cubes. Guests placed a cube or two in their cups, then poured their vodka through a teapot-shaped strainer, and mixed it with the straight ice tea
I made sesame country bread with black sesame seeds, which were toasted and added to the dough during its bulk fermentation phase. The result has a deep savor that is quite exciting.
The sandwiches included:
• English cucumbers from Groundworks Organics, trying to highlight the hot 5 minutes that these things are available locally. Seemed a little early, but whatever!
• 1,000 Layer Tofu, which is created by freezing soft tofu to create air pockets in the block, slicing, seasoning (we used dried lemon peel and fresh cracked black pepper) and frying.
• A single leaf of purple mizuna green
• A slice of an early hothouse heirloom tomato
• A whole rainbow radish, halved
• Homemade créme fraîche, with lots of fresh mint to drizzle inside the sandwich.
A light brothy soup. The stock was made with mostly red onion and parsley, with touches of garlic leeks and lemon grass added later on. Oyster and shimeji mushrooms floated around pleasingly. Guests were given bean sprouts and assorted greens to drop in. To add that "o wow, the spiciness here is making me feel healthier and more awake" element, Lucas created a habenero pepper sauce to drop in.
Frisee, wild minor's lettuce, wild leek greens, red chard, and arugula from our very own backyard garden.
Served with more english cucumber. The dressing included white wine vinegar, olive oil, toasted sesame oil, mustard, lemon juice, cracked black pepper, fresh thyme, and orange blossom honey.
Pistachio Pad Thai, Poached Tuna, Fruit Salad
First we made pistachio butter. It would be WAY too expensive to make on a regular basis (and perhaps this is why no one sees this in stores?), but it was crazy good. Then we treated the it like one would peanut butter in making a peanut sauce. We tossed it with glassy rice noodles, sea beans, fennel, and wild leeks.
On the side, we had a slice of my argyle pattern grilled eggplant.
The sushi-grade tuna was poached in olive oil that we had infused with fresh thyme.
The fruit salad was made with California blueberries, fresh oregano, black pepper, and red wine vinegar. We arranged it in a heart outline using one of those silly "fry your egg in the shape of a heart" things.
Garnished with a tiny, tiny dark leaf of extra pretty romaine lettuce from Wintergreen Farm.
Strawberry and Sorrel Pie
Mini back-story: Lucas and I were attending a talk on the relationship between Art and Agriculture at Wealth Underground Farm (it was part of the Open Engagement conference). After the talk, we were taking a short tour and folks were handed raw rhubarb stalks to munch on. Lucas picked himself some sorrel, and Nolan- one of the two farmers there- pointed out that sorrel and rhubarb are like brother and sister.
Lucas instantly had the idea of doing a strawberry rhubarb pie, but with sorrel instead of rhubarb.
I then set to work figuring out how we'd pull off such a weird idea. I made the pie crusts independently of the filling, going for super crispy and flaky. I blitzed half our sorrel in the food processor with some lime juice and agave nectar, to make a sort of sweet/tangy paste, which was the first layer. Then I candied half of our strawberries, with lemon juice and sugar. This was cooled and added as a second layer. The third layer: the particularly flat raw sorrel leaves, and the topping was untreated raw strawberries.
The guests passed around the cream to whip, and then topped their slices with as much as they wanted.