Tag Archives: black garlic

SMOKED NEW POTATOES AND CARAMELIZED GARLIC AIOLI

Here’s another idea I lifted from Bar Tartine. Their smoked potatoes with black garlic are unique and delicious. I couldn’t possibly replicate them at home. First, because I don’t have black garlic, and second, I don’t have a clue as to how they smoke their potatoes. As to the black garlic, you can order it from Blackgarlic.com in Hollister, CA, near the garlic capital of the world – Gilroy.

Still, an effort was worth a try, especially if I dragged out my Camerons Stovetop Smoker. The smoker is one of the niftiest things in my batterie de cuisine even though I don’t use it that much. With it, I can hot smoke fish, poultry, meat, and anything else you can fit into it without filling the house with smoke. The smoker is available from the manufacturer, Amazon, kitchen stores, and several big-box retailers for under $60.

Camerons also sells wood chips specially sized for the smoker. The wood chips that you find in the barbecuing section of the grocery store are too big. But Camerons gives you a choice of apple, alder, cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, oak, pecan, and even corn cob. I used alder, and I think it was a good choice.

As a substitute for the black garlic, I smoked fresh garlic with the potatoes in the hope that it would caramelize and then used for an aïoli. That turned out to be reasonably successful.

RECIPES

Smoked New Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup special smoker wood chips
  • 6-8 small new red potatoes for each diner, well-scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • coarse Kosher salt

Method

  1. Prepare the smoker by placing the wood chips in the center of the bottom of the smoker. Line the tray with aluminum foil, and arrange it and the rack in the smoker.
  2. Arrange the potatoes on the rack with the garlic in a small aluminum foil nest in the center (see below)
  3. With a brush, lightly baste each of the potatoes on all sides and sprinkle generously with the salt.
  4. Slide the cover onto the smoker, leaving a 3 inch opening. Place over medium heat on the stove top. When smoke begins to come out of the opening, close to form a tight seal. You will be able to smell the smoke, and you may see a faint wisp, but there should be no smoke coming out of the sealed smoker.
  5. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove the smoker from the heat, and open the top.
  6. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl

Caramelized Garlic Aïoli

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and stems removed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Crumple a sheet of aluminum foil into a small “nest” large enough to hold the garlic. Set the nest in the center of the potatoes on the smoker rack.
  2. Smoke according to directions above.
  3. When the potatoes are smoked, transfer the garlic to a small bowl and mash with a fork or pass through a garlic press.
  4. Stir in the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper
  5. Serve as a dip with the potatoes.
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EATING MY WAY THROUGH SAN FRANCISCO – BAR TARTINE

Recently we were visiting in San Francisco around the time of the birth of Sarah and Evan’s second child. By the way, it’s a boy! During our visit we, of course, paid a visit to Rich Table and had a great meal. But the night that Mommy and the new brother came home from the hospital, we wanted to make it a special family evening, so Susan and I went to Bar Tartine in the Mission district.

The restaurant is part of the Tartine group operated by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery fame. The co-chefs at Bar Tartine are Nick Balla and Cortney Burns, who are friends with Sarah and Evan. To help us celebrate the new baby, they really pulled out the stops to make it a memorable evening for us as well as for our family. They certainly did that!

The bread on the table was freshly baked  famous Tartine Country Loaf baked by Chad Robertson himself. The bread is one of the best in San Francisco. I say one of the best because Sarah makes a killer loaf of Douglas-fir scented levain for Rich Table.

Of course, we followed Sarah and Evan’s recommendations for what to order, though to tell the truth, I don’t think you can miss on ordering anything on the menu.

The brine-pickled vegetables are deceptively simple. A colorful plate of root vegetables comes to the table and you find immediately  that the fresh tastes and crunch  of each has been preserved even with a tangy, lightly pickled overtone.

Bar Tartine Brine pickled vegetablesThe potato flatbread with garlic and sour cream is a must. The beautiful presentation makes it almost too pretty to eat – almost, because when you take a bite, the flavors come together and literally seduce you to finish the whole thing.

Bar Tartine Potato flatbreadThe smoked potatoes with black garlic are very unusual. If you don’t like smoked foods, then don’t order them, because they are definitely rich with fresh wood smoke. The black garlic adds its own overtones. It is very popular in restaurants in the Bay Area as well as the whole country. It has been used in Asia for centuries as a food and as a health supplement, but it was commercialized in the US by Scott Kim. He says the garlic is fermented in conditions of controlled heat and temperature while others say it is not fermented but rather deeply caramelized by the Maillard reaction over several weeks. Whatever the process, the result is garlic that turns inky black,  given up its pungency, and gained a rich flavor that has been said to have elements of molasses, chocolate, and umami. Kim now provides the black garlic from his operation in Hayward, CA.  (Just down the road from Gilroy, the self-proclaimed “Garlic Capitol of the World”. ) You can learn more about the product or even order your own from Blackgarlic.  I can’t imagine someone not liking the very earthy flavor of this creative dish. The whole new potatoes are  beautifully garnished, tender and very tasty. Unfortunately my shaky image doesn’t do them justice.

Bar Tartine Smoked potatoesThe beet and blue cheese salad comes  beautifully presented. Now, I am not a big fan of beets in any form, but this salad makes even me a believer. The beets are sweet as they always are, but that plays off the blue cheese so well.

Bar Tartine Beet and blue cheese saladThe beef tartare on koji (an Asian “yeast” – a form of Aspergillus used to ferment various foods including miso, soy sauce, and sake) toast with bottarga (salt-cured fish roe) is beautiful. Fortunately we had a very informed server who filled us in on all of the ingredients. This is unlike any other beef tartare you have ever eaten.

Bar Tartine beef tartareI’ve eaten lentils lots of different ways, usually in a dal or soup, but never sprouted, so the visual impact of the sprouted lentil croquettes with kefir and coriander is spectacular, and the taste is unlike any of those other lentils that I have eaten.

Bar Tartine Sprouted lentil croquettesMy green chili fisherman’s stew with collard was very spicy – much too spicy for Susan – but it came as an emerald-green broth filled with seafood and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. And collard!! When one is used to the limp, damp clot that’s called collard greens in a Southern cafeteria line, you are unprepared for the lovely, delicious variation presented in this dish.

Bar Tartine Fisherman's stewHard as it is to believe, we had room for a little dessert “amuse” of meringues, rugalach, and candied fruit along with a complex carob mousse with goat cheese and black walnuts.

Bar Tartine kugeleh and meringuesBar Tartine Carob mousseAfter such an incredible feast we went back to our beds. In the meantime, the new family had their own very special celebration, and two new brothers got acquainted.

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POP-UP DINNERS REVISITED

While I was in California the last two weeks, I got to see my daughter and son-in-law’s pop-up dinners first-hand. Not only did I get to give them a little help prepping (We just need to humor poor old Dad.) but also my wife and I got to enjoy the meal that they had prepared. Once again, the dinner was held on Monday night at the restaurant, Radius – a night when the restaurant was usually closed. The space is modern and sparely furnished and located in SoMa, so it attracts a younger crowd, and there were plenty in attendance at the pop-up. The waitstaff were all very capable and friendly. Most of them had known my kids from other venues around town and had volunteered to help on their nights off.

Dad prepping

Evan and Sarah Rich in the kitchen

Of course, as parents of the chef, we were welcomed warmly, but to my eye, everyone was receiving the same attentive service as we were.
The warm-up was a flute of California sparkling wine, Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, to go with a plate of nearly transparent rice crackers sprinkled with crunchy poppy seeds. Then along came a beautiful amuse bouche of bite-sized corn fritters, nested on a creamy smooth red pepper coulis. The fritters were filled with fresh corn kernels and a creamy filling. They were crispy on the outside because of their coats of artisanal heirloom cornmeal.

Corn fritter and red pepper sauce

Next came a bright salad of tender beets topped with little clouds of goat cheese that had been whipped to an incredible lightness. Flame grapes were displayed along the edges, and snippets of fresh dill fronds made the classic combination of beets and dill.

The palate cleanser then made its appearance: a tiny little bowl of gazpacho which had been gelled and infused with air to practically float on the spoon. An icy granite topped the gazpacho, and garlic flowers on top provided the extra bite that made this dish memorable.

Beet and goat cheese salad

Gazpacho with granite and garlic flowers

The fish course was composed of perfectly sautéed bites of squid in a black olive vinaigrette and accompanied by the sweetness of red and yellow watermelon and the savor of crispy onions.

The meat course picked up the theme of black with tender, aromatic slices of roasted pork shoulder set in a pool of black garlic puree and covered with a bouquet of edible flowers. Bites of white cauliflower and tiny little heads of Roman broccoli completed the dish. It came with a tray of fennel-pollen-scented baguette. The bread was clearly intended to sop up any extra black garlic. One of the guests at the next table asked for extra bread to make sure his plate was completely clean.

Squid with black olive vinaigrette and watermelon

Dessert was labelled as “peach cobbler” on the menu, just to let you know it wouldn’t be your mother’s peach cobbler, and it wasn’t: a delicate panna cotta flavored with baked pie crust, laced with bits of fresh peaches, topped with a streudel that included crunchy bits of corn to return to the theme that started the whole evening.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, we finished with two beautiful red curls that combined the earthiness of red pepper with the sweetness of candy. It reminded me of the fruit leather of my childhood, but with a sophisticated taste and texture that left those memories far behind.  All in all, it was a wonderful restaurant experience.

I also need to give special credit to two of Sarah and Evan’s friends: Daniel Brooks made these beautiful images while I was busy eating.  Danny is also a private chef in the San Francisco area. Jamie Law has been a constant friend who continues to provide amazing help in publicizing these pop-up events.

"Peach cobbler"

Sarah and Evan will be doing more pop-ups in the near future. If you would like to see the menus or reserve a place, you can check out their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ChefsNightOff or you can email them at chefsnightoff@gmail.com to be put on their mailing list for upcoming events and menus.

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