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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Once in a while, you get a meal that’s not only fantastic, but also … motivational. It doesn’t make you just throw down the napkin and sigh “I am not worthy …”

Eleven Madison Park is like that.

Instead, it makes you want to run home, turn on the stove, get out that mandolin, and “invent”, because you have been ‘enlightened’.

Commonwealth is like that.

I have had shishito, pimiento di padron, friariello di napoli, your classic frying peppers many times over. Here at Commonwealth however, they were served with goat cheese foam and rose petals. The floral note and the fresh gaminess pairing is just so unexpected from what I am used to.

The ‘corn pudding’ is basically corn pastry cream, another “why didn’t I think of that?!” moment. Its complete lusciousness, is so contrasting in texture to the fresh kernels and corn-meal-coated fried okra. So interesting.

Just 4 nights ago, I participated in an uni-orgy. Basically 90 GIANT pieces of sea urchin roes consumed 6 different ways by 4 people. We had them with corn soup, pasta, scallops, cucumbers … you name it, but no one thought of contrasting its creamy texture. Commonwealth did and more. Like a deconstructed, Asian-inspired carbonara, our uni was topped with a thin brown rice cracker and 2 halves of perfect soft-boiled quail egg.

I thought I had to wait another month to eat uni. Not when it’s done so brilliantly.

Now squash blossoms. I found them in Rome years ago and had not stop eating them every summer. I have had them batter-fried, stuffed with cheese, with basil foam, with nothing, which was actually my favorite. Not to mention in salads, in risotto … squash blossom is me! I have been harvesting my own since the beginning of the summer. But at Commonwealth, they stuff it with brandade. William started making his own version of salt cod fritters since … I don’t know how many years, but none of us thought of combining these 2, until now.

Even thought there isn’t as much revelation from the crowd-pleaser of pork belly and waygu beef, they were executed flawlessly, as good as any preparation I have had anywhere.

The geoduck is probably the only thing I didn’t hear the calling. Not that it’s not delicious or impeccably fresh. It is just too exotic of an ingredient, for home.

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This is usually a problem in late September, early October. You picked all the ripe tomatoes and the green ones are taking forever because there’s no more summer heat. Clock is ticking. You need that garden space for lettuces, kales and broccoli.

Time to let go the summer.

Or it could be the beginning of July, tomatoes were ripening one at a time. You held your breathe, sampled one plant, “Good …sweet and savory …” Move on to the next variety, “Oh no …” A few days later, it reassured you with its total lack of flavor.

Not giving up, you waited some more, hoping for a reversal of fortune.

Now it’s end of July, it’s pretty clear that you picked a LOSER!

When it comes to growing food, I am as sentimental as Simon Cowell. If you don’t taste good enough to be worthy of my time and my land, you are O.U.T.

For a tomato plant, that means I now have a 15lb of green tomatoes. 2 obvious choices come to mind: Fry them, or pickle them. The latter is less clean-up.

Bath of white vinegar, lemon-verbena-infused simple syrup, generous sprinkle of salt, and 2 hours later, I got myself a pretty decent accompaniment to the duck rillet Dwight and Kim hauled back from Paris just a couple of weeks ago. Pickled green tomatoes is about the crisp texture, clean and simple flavor, which pairs well with anything that’s been simmered for hours in glorious duck fat.

To a better choice, next year.