2014 was an interesting year to say the least. At the end of January, I left The Wine Bar for Thirsty Owl only to find it was a mistake, and I was lucky enough to be able to return a short time later (this story is in line for another post).
The Spring and Summer were pretty uneventful except that Jenny and I got a new car. Another Volkswagen. Diesel, of course.
We took a family vacation in September to the Massachusetts coast and stayed in a yurt for a week. One of the days we took the kids [2 year old Tate and 4 year old Stella (named after the beer)] to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game. They lasted 7 innings, the Sox starter lasted 4.
Stella’s birthday was October 7th, and we took her and Tate to Phila Fusion for sushi, and to the Children’s Museum. She seemed a bit off that day. That night she woke up vomiting and was sick for the next month, including 5 days at Albany Med. For a period of at least 3 weeks she slept for 18-20 hours daily. All good now.
Christmas was fun, the kids were very excited.
That takes us to the present. I launched a new menu on New Year’s Eve. I was told I was crazy for doing that on such a busy night, but I just said “what the fuck” and did it anyway. New year, new menu I thought.
We nailed it. A great effort by the entire Wine Bar team. Here it is.
Warm Nut Medley – sweet and salty almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans 7
Mushroom Soup – cauliflower crema, walnut oil 8
Kale Salad – feta, pomegranate, grapes, lemon vinaigrette 9
Roasted Beets – whipped chevre, tarragon and orange, grapefruit, pistachios 8
Parisian Gnocchi – ragout of duck confit, mushrooms, Parmesan 11
Sweetbreads – Spinach, raisins, pine nuts, whole-grain mustard and sherry gastrique 12
Mediterranean Sampler – Hummus Warm Olives Caponata 6 each, all for 15
Cheese and Charcuterie
8 each, three for 22
Gorgonzola Picante/Italy/Cow Camembert/Hudson Valley/Sheep Garrotxa/Spain/Goat Morbier/France/Cow
Country Pâté Sopressata Speck Duck Liver Pâté with Truffle
Four Cheeses – San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, Asiago, Gorgonzola, smoked provolone 10
Rapini and Sausage – rapini, house-made hot fennel sausage, San Marzano tomatoes 12
Monkfish Cassoulet – roasted monkfish, seafood sausage, cannellini beans, red cabbage 14/27
Red Snapper Casuella – snapper fillet, tomato-orange and coriander broth, fennel, potatoes, olives 13/25
Tangerine Duck – crispy breast, tangerine, brandy, and green peppercorn sauce, Lyonnaise sweet potatoes 14/27
Turkish Lamb Duo – seared loin, spiced lamb cigar, cumin scented jus, spicy pilaf, grilled eggplant, yogurt 17/33
Pheasant alla Cacciatora – slow simmered legs, mushrooms, mirepoix, faro polenta, rapini 15/29
Porcini Crusted Beef Tenderloin – Pan roasted mignon, truffle buttered potatoes, bordelaise, braised leeks 16/31
Dark Chocolate Pâté – Toasted Almonds, brandied cherries, cherry compote 9
Cardamom Panna Cotta – Figs and honey 9
Brioche Bread Pudding – Bananas, walnuts, bourbon caramel 9
Yes, I’m still doing the burger. Short rib, chuck, and brisket blend, pastrami cured bacon, Swiss cheese, Dijon aioli, fresh baked rye roll, duck fat fries, house-made catsup, and our own pickles.
We had an old friend staying with us for the holidays. Jim Beam. I think he’s leaving tonight.
2015. I feel something big on the way, not quite sure what, but I’m gonna narrow it down.
My main goals, cookin’ related are the following:
Work with more precision, use more intelligent garnishes, and increase the honesty of my food. Working with more precision is self-explanatory, at least to me. I want to develop more consistency and cleaner plating, with everything on the plate making sense. No microgreens and no radish slices. I want to think outside the box more, with Mediterranean flavors as a guide. I’ve played it safe for a long time. And finally, the honesty of the food. Better ingredients, no crap.
One last thing. I’m scheduling foot surgery within the month, I’ll be out 6-8 weeks. I have severe bunions and heel spurs that are causing me a great deal of constant pain. I have a very able kitchen staff that can execute the current menu, and I’ll be back better than ever for a very exciting Spring menu. I am more motivated than ever, and promise my best work is ahead of me. As some of you know, I was a competitive long-distance runner for about 15 years, running an average of 70 miles weekly, with many weeks of 100 or more miles. Not joggin’ miles. Hard miles.
Add 18 years of restaurant work, and well, I’m sore. The doc will fix me up, and I’ll have some “on my back” time to plan, then y’all will benefit from my time off. guaranteed. 2015 will be big, It’s my year.