Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Demand Surpasses Supply

Thanks to food. curated. for the pic.
There is something about restaurants in New York with a two month reservation wait list that annoys me and thrills me all at the same time. Obviously there is something incredible about the restaurant, especially when its not your over the top Buddakan style restaurant, but more of a low key one with great popularity. However I have yet to make a reservation for a restaurant 2 or 3 months in advance... why? Because its annoying to think that I have to plan my life around a reservation 2 months from now. Regardless, its part of the successfulness of a restaurant in the city and if we were to ever open one, I would love to have a 2 month reservation wait list... (WHAT RESTAURANT OWNER WOULDN'T?)

Well guess what? Worth Kitchen officially has a wait list of 2 months. We are booked until January 2011. And not only that but we have to shift guests and friends around to be able to accomodate for the demand. Also there are Thursdays that due to our real jobs we have to cancel, so instead of canceling we are creating special Saturday editions of Thursday's at Worth Street.

The best feeling that we have from all of this is not an ego boost nor is it the fact that we are actually working on something fun and amazing, its the feeling of responsibility that we have with all our future guests. It feels as if we already have our restaurant up and running and our guests are our clients. 

So, to all former and future guests or those who want to find out what the Worth Kitchen is, thank you. I hope the day that you find a seat in our table, it fulfills all your expectations. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Talkin bout our generation

In his box, he had packed all valuables. He decided to carry the box with only one hand, since the other was busy holding on to his red cape. As he looked down and saw shiny blue, he remembered his superman powers. But he needed to concentrate, watch his step, he absolutely could not trip as he walked down the hall, into HR’s office. This story didn’t really take place, but its one of the stories that one of our guests discussed as a potential real story. His agency was due to have massive layoffs the day after Thursday’s dinner. Regardless of what would happen, we all collectively decided that the best idea moving forward was for him to document it all. Given that the layoffs were tentatively scheduled to happen ONE day before Halloween, we all wondered if HR would really have the guts to fire people in costume.

Yeah, things aren’t so serious, at least they weren’t at our last dinner. Karen, another guest at our latest dinner and a great artist, was telling us of a talk she recently had to give at a Zen House in Brooklyn. Before going on stage to speak , they put her in a room full of people to meditate for half an hour. “People were zipping tea….tea! She told us, “regular art show attendees use Chelsea galleries as pre drinks before going out!” She was skeptical about the whole place and the talk, still, she told people a story and everything was ok. She is also skeptical about the over the top drama usually associated with art and artists and sees art as a more rational process. Ironically her work is about family tension, not an easy topic.

Liza, another one of our guests, came into a stranger’s home, on her own….brave soul! And Lalo told us about music and playing the base in shady Houston basements.

If I had to put a theme to the night, it would definitely have to be PLEASE, DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY. Truth is, we did put together a group of real laid back people. Truth #2 is, we did drink plenty of wine, yet, beyond the obvious, I do believe our generation has caught on to how absurd everything really is. But this realization does not come to us in a “cut your wrists open” kind of way. The sentiment is not that things are sad because they are ridiculous and we can’t figure them out. It also isn’t about Carpe Diem of any kind, no “screw it all, life is meaningless so I will be reckless”. In fact, I believe our generation is pretty healthy, how else would we enjoy all the absurdity that get’s thrown our way? Perhaps it comes down to being able to learn faster all the good stuff: Good food, good wine, and figuring out EXACTLY what type of company will be good and healthy for us. So thank you Liza, Alex, Karen and Lalo, for reminding us that such is life, and we actually like that way.

- Tamy

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Night of Citric Fun...

For dinner #20 we took a recommendation that came from one of our past guests, Amy Chow and invited one of our neighbors. Now, truth be told, they found out about us through some other friends instead of a spontaneous invitation, as Amy originally recommended. Regardless, it was a blast having some neighbors come down a couple of floors and join us for a great dinner. Along with them we also invited another couple, who we have been trying to have over for a bit as well as a good Argentine friend.  Also, Julie, from DNAinfo joined us as our guest journalist (she wrote a really cool article about her experience at Worth Kitchen)

This dinner's theme was all about using citrus fruits. I know what your thinking... not very autumny, but hey it turned out great! The inspiration from this  has actually been coming from Tamy, something which I have seen more and more often. Personally I love it. It really shows how she is coming into her own within the culinary world. As with the menu for upcoming dinner #21, most of it was all her idea. Not only has the sous chef learned a lot about helping with the prepping, but she is actually working hard on creating the dishes. 

Now back to the citrus fruit and last week's menu...
Appetizer - Fennel & orange salad with shallots, blood orange juice and champagne vinaigrette. Topped with Parmesan cheese chips
Entree - Miso glazed Sole with grapefruit accompanied by bok choy  with shallots and walnuts and sauteed oyster mushrooms with ponzu sauce
Dessert - Grapefruit sorbet drowned in muscat

Friends gather as the salad is prepared and the hunger in the stomach grows. (They actually ate all the Parmesan chips TWICE before the salad was ready...) 
The fennel is a delicious vegetable with a very aromatic flavor, resembling a smoother anise.  However the flavor on its own can be overpowering. The Valencia orange and the Parmesan chips were added to balance that flavor. The vinaigrette was created by mixing one chopped shallot into 1/3 of a cup of champagne vinegar 1/4 of blood orange juice and 1/4 cup of of olive oil. The shallots should sit for about 1 hour in the vinegar before mixing for best flavor.
Preparing the Sole before backing it. On top of a parchment paper, I brushed the miso glaze (purchased at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market with the fish) salt and white pepper, chopped scallions & topped with grapefruit slices. This is then wrapped and backed for about 15 minutes at 350°.
I know they are all very hungry... at least they had some amazing wines from Franlky Wines!
The dish as it was served.
Grapefruit Sorbet with a lemon zest on top. This was my first sorbet, but it was very easy to make. Since I didn't have an ice cream maker it took a bit more time, but it all came out delicious.
Adding the muscat to the grapefruit.
The final dessert, grapefruit drowned in muscat.

Post dinner conversations always get very funny. I think he was talking about a penalty shot blocked by a goalie in the World Cup. But to tell you the truth, he could have been talking about how tall he wants his future son (or daughter) to be. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to Basics... Wines and some Seasonal Veggies

Dinner #19 was a very fun one to work with. To say that it was earthy would be a huge understatement. The theme was a very simple one to choose, one step outside last week would have clearly reminded you that it was already Fall (in case you had forgotten). One trip to the TriBeCa Green Market (greatly recommended by our former guest and TriBeCa Citizen writer, Erik, whom I ran into at the market) would tell you that squash and pumpkins were back. And if you did not know, the great variety of both is amazing.  So squash and pumpkins had to be the theme. Now to figure out what to do with them… but that is always the fun part.

As for the invitees, we had the great pleasure of having our wine consultant Christy from Frankly Wines with her husband, Melissa from VinoVino with her husband, and Dinorah and Jorge two very good family friends that flew in from Mexico just in time to participate.

We always ask our guests to bring some wine, but I forgot to tell Dinorah and Jorge that we had invited two wine gurus to the dinner. As more wines come out from the Frankly Wines set (brought to us by Melissa and Christy), the level in which each was being described in can only be defined as pure love and passion for each bottle of wine. Our Mexican guest then realized that not only do they not have much to say about the wines they had purchased, but they almost felt bad in pulling them out after such magnificent presentation from enologists. Granted they brought two magnificent blends from South Australia (Adjenda - Shiraz, Cabernet & Malbec blend) and had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of (we love South Australian wine by the way).

In retrospect, the wines did steal the show for this dinner, they were all absolutely amazing. The stories behind each one was told as if the actual winemaker was with us explaining the journey that each particular grape made before reaching each bottle. The food was a fantastic accompaniment to the amazing wines. The earthly flavors of the ingredients definitely reminded us that fall is back but with it is a sense of companionship that these dinners always give us.

The menu for Dinner #19 was:
Appetizer – Fresh squash & Zucchini blossoms with goat cheese seasoned with rosemary and basil, served on a quinoa bread.
Main Dish – Duck with Worth Kitchen sauce, butternut squash pasta, and grilled squash julienne
Dessert – Pumpkin  Crème Brûlée

As the appetizer was served, the dish was explained, the wine was served and the autumn inspired dinner was ready to go.
If you have read a lot of this blog then you will know, but if this is your first time, let me tell you that quinoa is quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients to work with. In this case, I placed one cup of rinsed and dried quinoa in the food processor for 5 minutes until it became flour. Then, by using two eggs and ¼ cup of olive oil mixed together to create a batter, I baked it in the oven at 350° for 15 minutes and made quinoa bread. This served as the bed for the squash and zucchini blossoms to lie on.
The main plate was a combination of duck in our special sauce (not like McDonald's, but the recipe for that one is amazing and unbeliveable. Anybody that wants it please email me), fettucini with butternut squash sauce (absolutely delicious), and grilled squash (tasted almost like french fries since they were grilled with the duck fat... mmmm). (Oh, also I bought the duck at Eataly, way too expensive, and ran into Mario Batali, and he was doing a great job of managing and working the place, instead of PR)
I will take advantage of any moment to show off the Worth Kitchen table (We love it). Also you will notice that in fact there is a lot of space on the plate. You might think to yourself "hhmmm they barely serve anything to their guests!" Not true! Its all part of the presentation. I prefer a more minimal one, and I never want my guests to leave with a feeling of being "stuffed" nor do I ever want them to leave hungry.

Caramelizing the sugar on top of the Pumpkin Crème Brûlée. The dessert came out spectacular.  For final presentation purposes and added flavor, I grated some Indian nutmeg over the dish (it added a sweet and peppery flavor, think white pepper) For the recipe, please see my Crème Brûlée recipe, additional to that cut into pieces about 3 cups worth of sweet pumpkin. Add the pumpkin to the mix as the mixture heats up. Once the pumpkin is soft (about 15 minutes) blend it. As you return it to the pot to let it sit, strain the mixture. 
The final interactions after dinner are always so much fun. The conversations can go anywhere. Sometimes they stay on topic (as here we continued to talk wine), sometimes they can go into a completely different direction. Thank you to all our guests for such an excellent night! Hope to see you soon.
Please stay tuned to a separate post about the wines... we will list them all out.
(also I have noticed the incredible amount of parentheses used in this post, they are used as my sidenotes. I almost feel as if I have so much more to say, so I use these parentheses to add some more thoughts!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Saying Goodbye to the Summer with Food and Wine!

It seems only appropriate, the wider we open our door to let others in, the more we should begin to show in the pictures. When we started this, the only pictures that we were taking were strictly of the food. Little by little, we began adding more pictures of ourselves and our guests. So now we have decided to bring you closer into the actual dinner and show you more pictures of what happens inside and around the kitchen on all Thursdays.

Dinner #17's theme was "Summer isn't over yet!" and all the dishes were either a collection of some of our past favorites from this summer or new creations that went perfectly well with the theme.

Enjoy the pics and stories!
Plating the appetizer, the ceviche. Adding the last touch of corn to the top. The sweet corn helps cut the spiciness of the Aji Amarillo and adds a delicious touch.
The final presentation of the flounder ceviche with aji amarillo. In Peru, the sauce that is used for the ceviche, which in this case is made up of 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 2 aji amarillos chopped and 1/4 of heavy cream (in a blender), is calle leche de tigre (tiger's milk).
Jut before being served
Amy, Gerard, Nuria, Charlie, Alex, and Kat enjoying the pre-dinner discussions around the kitchen. This is ice breaking at its best, seeing as how most of the guests did not know each other previous to this encounter.
I don't know if this applies to everyone, but there is something about lamb chops that I find completely delicious. Before throwing these in the oven, I covered them with salt and pepper and olive oil.
The final plate, lamb chops with mint and goat cheese pesto accompanied by quinoa with cherry tomatoes and mozarella cheese. The mint pesto is prepared very much like a normal pesto, but instead of using basil use mint. Add goat cheese for an added flavor.  its a delicious sauce.
Ginger and mint infused coconut mousse with mango. This dessert came from the very first Thursday's at Worth, but went through a very significant improvement in the second round. I feel I am coming into my own with desserts. If you recall, dinner #1 I was petrified of the idea of having to create a dessert as it was something I never practiced too much. Things are definitely different now, watch out for dinner #18s orange dessert.
There is no way that I could talk about this dinner without mentioning the wines. Christy Frank of FranklyWines did a fantastic job of hand picking and pairing each wine to the dishes and setting up a landing page for all of our guest to purchase. The wine selection was amazing! See our Flickr on the top left for more info on each wine. The best pairing to date.
The wine glasses are still empty, which means that the plates were just served. After this there was a presentation of the food and of the wine, then straight to the food.
"Its the shape of the egg cartons that bounces sound back, not the material!" "Would a plastic egg carton work just as well?" These are just some of the conversations we had this night... granted this was after our 7th bottle of wine!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yes, sometimes it is about the food!

Last Thursday’s dinner was truly the first dinner with a set of complete and utter strangers. We invited over two of our new twitter friends who until that point had only been virtual acquaintances. We weren’t worried though, these two gals we had invited, who in the virtual world go by the names of  @mamakitten and @amyblogschow, had an outstanding google record and were good about keeping their lives pretty open on the internet.  So right off the bat and as soon as I opened the door and saw them,  immediately I got a good vibe. I knew we were off to a great start!

And so the night began with an exciting group of people who’s proximity to us came from many different vantage points. In addition to our new found twitter friends,  joining us we had an ex work colleague Gerard and his girlfriend Nuria. We also had Charlie, who studied with me in Seville and his lovely girlfriend Alex. And so there we were, all of us somewhat loosely connected, waiting for an amazing dinner experience to take place, open to all possibilities.

We were much more prepared than usual for this dinner, and this we realized when we were ready to serve dinner at 9:30PM, which is EXTREMELY early compared to what we are used to.  Starting earlier was strange, but there was something else going on with the timing of things that worked out beautifully in a random way. Rather than having many of the experiences happening upfront and sitting down for dinner very late, OR, enjoying long conversations after dinner, during our last dinner, all the good stuff was packed right in the middle of the night, right on the plate and on the glasses of wine. I have a few theories about why accidentally (or not) we were able to achieve the night’s climatic experience right as the three dishes were being served. First theory: THE WINE!  Owner of FranklyWines (a local TriBeCa wine shop), Christy, who we have now baptized as our wine consultant, prepared wine recommendations for our guests. So this time around, each dish was perfectly matched with an excellent and unexpected wine. This made us have to pay attention to both, what we were eating, and, what we were drinking, focusing all our energy in the act of eating and drinking, DELICIOUS! Second theory: The foodies that were at the table! Kat and Amy live and breathe food, these two girls love everything about food, and do so in a nonpretencious, genuine, true way, they love food for the sake of food. They too, helped us focus back in, making the act of eating a truly memorable experience. After we had eaten and drank ourselves silly, we did of course finish up the night with some great conversations, but I have to say, while it lasted, we enjoyed every single bite!