Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sushi, Viva, hash with wine and cherries: oh my!

I've been cooking and eating at good restaurants since February, for heaven's sake, but the blogging impulse got assimilated by facebook. Microblogging is certainly a wonderful means of whiling away the hours and keeping up with one's friends and family. But I'm BAAAAAAACK, with a few miscellaneous stories for your foodie amusement.

I photographed this in the terribly dim light without a flash because the flash makes everything look so garish, but I'm not sure the tradeoff was worth it. At any rate, I wanted to show the presentation of this lovely una don at Kotsu, the new sushi restaurant on Central Ave that took over from Saso's. I'm often overwhelmed by the size of an unadon bowl, and this was a great portion size for me. So it was another lovely dinner at Kotsu.

On my way to a mail art talk at Berkshire Arts Kitchen in Great Barrington I was riding down 183 from Lenox and passed Viva for the zillionth time, only it was open because it wasn't 9:30 on Sunday morning, which is when I'm usually passing by. So I did a u turn and decided to see what the buzz has been about. Oh yeah - tappas. I love tappas. So I ordered this "roasted beet" salad, which is supposed to come with sugared walnuts and I believe blue cheese. Only the beets were diced and from a can, the walnuts were naked and there was no blue cheese. After I sorted out a few rotted greens, I ate the salad because time was running short - I ddn't plan to do the normal slowly paced dinner that this establishment is obviously set to present. How can one feel positive about this sort of misrepresentation of the food? I don't know whether the glowing reviews of this restaurant are written by people who know nothing about food, or if there is a really good cook and a really bad cook on staff and I got the bad cook.

But my overall sense of things is that if you can't put together what is described on the menu, tell the wait staff to say it's not available. I could've gotten that salad for $3.50 from a diner, but paid Viva $8.50

The lamb patties were very good with the creamy garlic sauce. The squiggly lines looked like Marmite but tasted of all the right flavors. So I wasn't hungry when I left, but wasn't pleased either.

My latest cooking adventure is the one I'm eating while writing this - hash with cherry sauce, eggs and pears. I'm in breakfast heaven today. I can't even recall where it started -- oh yes. I had to cook those pork chops or lose them. I brined them last night without having a clear idea of how I might eat them.

This morning I picked up the cleaver and iron skillet and cut the chops into bite sized pieces and decided to put a couple strips of bacon in the pan. I don't know why. After the pork was browned I added thyme, terragon, garlic and pepper. I didn't salt while cooking because of brining the pork (which did render it very tender and moist). I diced a large onion and tossed it into the melee, then put the lid on so that the onion could steam and get tender and flavors could co-mingle.

Then I started thinking about a hash and a sauce at the same time. So I pulled out the pork, onions and bacon and deglazed the pan with white wine, added a bay leaf and some butter and hand made cherry jelly from a friend. After the sauce was done I poured it out of the pan and put in the potatoes and gently fried them in all those layers of flavoring.

The final touch of plating was to drizzle the sauce over the hash - Oh! Yum!

And for the final tidbit, my favorite way to prepare turnips: cut them like big french fries and saute until golden, adding salt and pepper. You do have to watch them because there's quite a lot of sugar and it will blacken quickly if you're not attentive and moving things around. The time spent is worth it. I drizzled walnut oil over these at the end and it is a nice finishing touch.