Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Demo at FCI from Sandro Romano, Chef de Cuisine at The Modern in NYC, featuring specialty cresses from Koppert Cress!

I took a day off to attend a demo from Sandro Romano, the Chef de Cuisine at The Modern.  The Modern is is a fine dining restaurant located at the Museum of Modern Art featuring original French-American cuisine.  Chef Romano's demo was on modern creations and plating techniques using cresses from Koppert Cress as both garnishes and ingredients in food and cocktails.

A bit of background - microgreens are often used as a garnish for dishes.  However, typically there is little taste to microgreens; it's mainly used for appearance.  Koppert Cress specializes in microgreens (cresses) that actually have flavor and can complement the dish.

Here's a picture of Nicolas Mazard, the manager of Koppert Cress USA who was kind enough to bring us several herbs to sample:

From left to right: shiso cress, mustard cress, basil limon cress

Each one of these tasted exactly as presented in the powerpoint - a chef or a mixologist could do a lot of good things with these.

Speaking of cocktails, the mixologist from The Modern gave us a cocktail recipe that they're testing:
Gin, Lemon Juice, Sugar, Egg White Foam, and Sechuan Button - really delicious cocktail.

Sechuan Button, Salty Fingers
So what's Sechuan Button, you might ask?  This is the first time I've tried anything like this.  Sechuan Button (on the left side) tastes tingly and kinda numbs your mouth (Nicolas described it as being similar to licking a battery) but you end up with a really nice lemony aftertaste.  The salty fingers (on the right) are basically micro sea beans.

After this, Chef Romano demo'ed some dishes for us using the micro cresses to complement his creations.

Here's his scallop ceviche marinated with vanilla, yuzu, and buckwheat with green apple puree and micro shiso puree - this was really delicious.

Basil limon cress glazed rabbit terrine with smoked quail egg - another great dish.

Brin di'amour uncooked souffle with mustard cress - the way he made this was really cool. He combined the souffle mixture with agar agar and carrageenan (both are thickeners derived from seaweed, used in molecular gastronomy) and set it over the fire to keep it liquid. Separately, he had ring molds in ice water. When the souffle was ready, he poured some into the ring molds. The coldness from the ring molds solidified the outside while the center remained warm, creating a "souffle".

Here's a close-up picture of the souffle - really nice dish highlighting excellent cooking techniques and plating - I was really impressed with this.

Finally, Nicolas gave us samples of cresses to take home - and by samples, I mean he gave us a whole box of cresses - very very cool of him to do so.

Now that I have all theses cresses at home, I had to put it to use.  Dinner for tonight:

Fillet of Trout and Flounder Grenobloise style - capers, lemon, and brown butter, topped with basil limon cress.  The basil limon cress did a nice job of complementing the acidity of the lemon brown butter sauce - definitely a successful dish in my book.

All in all, an excellent demo from Chef Romano of The Modern and Nicolas Mazard of Koppert Cress - many thanks to them!

The Modern (inside Museum of Modern Art)
9 W 53rd St
(between 5th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas)
New York, NY 10019

Koppert Cress USA

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