What (ELSE) is good tonight?
Having an open kitchen is great for the interaction I can enjoy with my guest. Only thing is... I'm often scared of the infamous four words question: "What Is Good Tonight?" from here on refereed to as WIGT. You see, it's not that I don't like to be asked WIGT, I could instantly recommend a dozen dishes or a special ingredient available only that night. What I don't like it's the implications that WIGT presents when the guest says "sounds great but..." or even worse "what else is good". Let me explain: I once told a diner who asked WIGT "you should try the grass fed beef carpaccio with fresh truffles". Sounds good right? But my diner said she was Pescaterian, no meats for her. chef 0 diner 1. Ok I said, in that case you will love the Halibut belly raviolis, so delicate and flavorful. You would try this right? But my diner said she was "staying away from gluten". chef 0 diner 2. Well, you know were I'm going with this by now... I made a half a dozen WIGT recommendations and by the time I gave up, the score was chef 0 diner 6. So here is a WIGT recommendation for you: If you ask anyone in a restaurant What Is Good Tonight, be prepared to answer "that sounds great!" Even if you don't end up ordering the suggestion it won't hurt our feelings trust me. But when you find something wrong with the recommendation it throws us back into trying to read your mind as to what YOU like, not What Is Good Tonight.
Baby Artichoke salad
It's artichoke season. YEAH! I've been waiting all year for this, as artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables. But wait... are they really vegetables? Technically yes, but many people don't know that the parts of the artichoke plant we eat are basically immature flowers. Here is a photo of a fully developed artichoke flower I've taken in our vegetable gardens. Striking isn't it? Well they are as good looking as they are delicious so this month I've shared a recipe with Marin Magazine for a baby artichoke salad. Go ahead and give it a try, it's real simple, and remember, as in any recipes the most important part are the ingredients. When the ingredients are good all we have to do, as cooks, is make them fully express themselves with great respect. Salute!
"As healthy as a fish"
"sano come un pesce" is an Italian saying that means "as healthy as a fish", but over the last few years I've notice an increasing hesitation in some of my guest to order fish that has been in the "health" spotlight for a reason or another. There are a number of opinions out there about how unsafe some fish might be for you. Heavy metals, contaminants, even radiation. While some of it is true I believe that there are a lot of politics and personal interests behind many of these reports. For instance the tuna fishing industry will tell you how bad farmed salmon is for you... and vice-versa of course. I really don't know who to believe and frankly, since I don't consume an enormous amount of seafood, I don't worry about it too much. What I'm worried about is sustainability, over fishing and waste. For me, as a chef and as a human, it has become increasingly difficult to go down the daily list of available fish and consciously choose one that is both delicious and sustainable. I mean, a seal might not have a problem eating sardines and anchovies everyday (the most sustainable fishys out there) but I kind of do. Every morning, when I have to get fish for the restaurant, I feel a lot of pressure and anxiety over doing the right thing for the oceans, for me and for my customers. It's hard to pass on that unbelievable looking piece of tuna or monkfish in the name of sustainability... but I do. Well, at least today I got a local wild king salmon from my friend fisherman Ralph, and I can't wait to try it and here for you is a fast timelapse on how to filet it! To your health and to the health of our oceans. Salute!
(Don't trust a) skinny chef blog
By Chef Duilio Valenti