Category Archives: A Closer Look

A Closer Look: Warm Tomato Appetizer

The month of September marks the first official day of fall, and even though the cooler months ahead bring a variety of things to be excited about (pumpkin spice lattes?), it can also be a sad time for farm-to-table restaurants, as we bid adieu to some of our favorite summer produce … like tomatoes.

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So before it’s too late — and grocery stores will be stocking up on rock-hard, flavorless objects referred to as “tomatoes” — be sure to stop by and order our new Warm Tomato appetizer. JV started the dish by making his own fruit leather, or “fruit roll-up” as he likes to call it. While it was a bit of an experiment, he combined tomato peel and apple puree with some sugar, and then cooked down the mixture until it was super thick. After that, he spread it out on a piece of plastic wrap to set – and voilà! It worked.

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To build the dish, JV sliced and layered a perfectly ripe tomato (that was first warmed on a hot plate), and then followed up with a drizzle of sunflower seed yogurt sauce and a few thinly sliced strips of the fruit leather.

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He finished it off with fresh dill, lots of rich olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and a warm baguette for dipping. All of this can be yours for just $13.

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Remember that scary story about the tomatoes at the grocery store? Come eat this while there’s still time.

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In the Pipeline: Fall Desserts

Whether or not we’d like to believe it — fall is creeping up on us.  Juicy, ripe tomatoes and summer squash will soon be a thing of the past, but not to worry, as the change in season undoubtedly brings some of our favorite fall ingredients into play … and our pastry chef, Sarah, can’t wait to get her hands on them.

“I’ve been thinking of what to do for fall desserts for a while now. I typically come up with the flavor combinations and garnishes first, and then build the rest of the dessert around that. My brain works backward a lot of the time, but it works for me.”

Sarah’s been impressing diners all summer long with her selection of confections, particularly the cherry pie with coffee ice cream and this standout sweet corn dish:

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“It’s a sweet corn-vanilla cake with sweet corn ice cream, plum pudding, semolina shortbread crumble, yellow plums and nectarines held in rosemary simple syrup, and then it’s garnished with fresh blackberries to offset some of the sweetness. Again, this dish started with the ice cream and then everything else just fell into place, which is how I’m approaching my fall menu, too.”

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Right now, Sarah plans to create dishes with flavor combinations like watermelon and basil, Mexican chocolate and dulce de leche, apple-cranberry with (most likely) rosemary ice cream, and even mini pears poached in spiced red wine. Yes, please.

“I’ve always loved incorporating herbs into my dishes, like the rosemary and basil. They definitely have their place in desserts, and even though it might freak some people out at first, I try to do it in a way that everyone will like … I have to remind myself that I can’t always make just what I want!”

She hopes to slowly introduce her new dishes to the menu in the next few weeks, so be sure to visit us soon — and don’t forget to leave some room for dessert.


Go Pig or Go Home

This weekend, JV and our sous chef, Ben, are headed to Philadelphia to partake in COCHON EPIC No.2 —  an ‘expression’ of Cochon 555 that showcases a one-time-only event, never to be replicated. Last year’s EPIC was held at the James Beard House in NYC and featured a pork-centric dinner paired with vintage Champagnes for 80 guests. This year, the event will be held on Sunday, July 28, at the Ritz-Carlton in Philly, where 20 local chefs will team up to prepare six whole heritage breed pigs (that’s more than 1500 pounds of pork!) from local farms to create a mouth-watering feast.

And unlike Cochon 555, EPIC is not a competition, but rather “a celebration of all the chefs, farmers and pork-enthusiasts Philly has to offer,” — per their website. Sounds pretty awesome, right? The good news is, if you’re lucky enough to be in the Philly area and are interested in stuffing your face with delicious pork for an evening, tickets are still available here.

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Credit: Cochon555

JV was invited to participate as a National Chef, along with Matt Jennings of Farmstead in Providence, and Todd Mussman of Muss & Turners and Local Three in Atlanta. They will be preparing a collaborative menu to build enthusiasm for Cochon Heritage BBQ, a new Cochon event designed to feature the utilization of whole heritage breed pigs in BBQ communities across the nation. In preparation for the event, JV decided to spit-roast what’s called a “saddle-cut” of pork, meaning the loin, rib and belly are completely connected. Whoa.

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Though cooking time was a bit of a guessing game, JV’s two main concerns were as follows: don’t burn the place down, and second, don’t break the spit; keep in mind — that’s nearly 100 pounds of pork hanging on for dear life!

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He smothered the pork in a delicious rub of spices, brown sugar and garlic (see recipe below), and let it go for a good three hours, all while feeding and maintaining the fire with a combination of apple and cherry wood (for flavor/smoke) and white oak wood (for heat). The end result? You’ll have to watch the video to find out ;)

EPIC Pork Rub Recipe:

::INGREDIENTS:: 

For every pound of pork use …

  • 1 T. coriander seed
  • 1 T. dill seed
  • 1 T. fennel seed
  • 1 T. whole juniper
  • 1 T. whole allspice
  • 1 T. whole clove
  • 1 T. mustard seed
  • 2 T. black pepper corn
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

::METHOD::

Crush spices together using a mortar and pestle, and then combine them with the salt, sugar and garlic. Rub this mixture on the pork and let sit for 2 days. Try using this rub on a pork loin that’s roasted in a hot oven, about 450 degrees F.


A Closer Look: Cured Foie Gras Appetizer

The weekend is nearly here, and if you’ve got plans to dine at Nightwood, keep an eye out for our new foie gras appetizer.

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We start out by curing the foie gras and then pass it through a tamis (fine-meshed sieve):

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The foie is then whipped, rolled tightly in cheese cloth and hung for a week. When it comes time to plate, the roll is sliced into smaller pieces and our housemade fish sauce caramel is melted over the top of each piece. The dish is completed with several components, including almonds, baguette crisps, an apple puree and freshly cut pea tendrils.

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Almost looks too good to eat …

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If foie gras isn’t exactly your cup of tea, don’t fret — the menu is full of new, mouth-watering dishes that are sure to please any palette. Think fresh prawns, chicken-fried sweetbreads, hand-rolled fregola sarda and more. So if you don’t have dinner plans yet, we suggest coming in and checking out the menu for yourself … there’s a lot of delicious food waiting for you!