November 3, 2008
Today Ray showed me several of his desserts in the early stages of development for his winter dinner dessert menu. The first dessert we discussed calling white out which is a coconut froth with a meringue sphere. The sphere is filled with yuzu curd, crisp Asian pear and Turkish pistachios. It reminded me of cracking a geode open as a kid and being amazed at the colors and textures within. This is without the coolest version of a lemon meringue pie that I have ever seen.
The next dessert Ray showed me was quite a different visual and textural effect from the white out. I’m not sure how Ray will describe this dessert on the menu. It features multiple textures and multiple browns and earth tones through the dessert. Some of the ingredients are a dehydrated chocolate sponge, tonka bean foam, date paper and several soil-like textured treats garnishing the plate. This dessert had incredible flavors and it was a bit like playing in the sand box as a kid.
This photo is of Ray’s date paper. In today’s world of stabilizers, starches and proteins, it was cool to see this unique product made from just dates. Ray took dates fresh from the farm, pitted them and rolled them in the sheeter in between sheets of acetate. It created these cool marbled sheets.
The last dessert we tried late in the day had a very cool tropical fee again with great flavor and texture. Coconut rice pudding with a currant film, toasted sesame ice cream, mango pearls and green tea cake are the components of this dish. I’m not sure how Ray made the green tea cake but it is very cool. These desserts have a bit more refinement and I’m sure Ray will continue to adjust them before the menu kick-off December 1st.
October 31, 2008
I had the opportunity to take a very quick but exciting trip to Idaho and Washington. On October 20th I ventured to Pocatello, ID with a few other chefs and some of our friends from Sysco to visit the AB Foods Snake River Farms feed lot. This is the home of one of the largest domestic Kobe herds in America. What an amazing opportunity to see how huge these animals are.
My knowledge of Kobe cattle is far greater than it was prior to arriving in Pocatello. It’s amazing that a simple Korean draft animal has become such an amazing product. The story of how the animals came to the US from Japan is very interesting. Bulls were brought here in the 70’s because the Japanese could not keep up with the growing demand for Kobe. As domestic herds grew and our ability to produce bigger animals was peaking through the 90’s, the Japanese shut down North American export of beef because of outbreaks of mad cow disease. Mad cow disease never affected any of the Kobe products. The domestic producers had to find an outlet domestically for its product. What a fantastic upside to mad cow disease.
To see the animals up close, you really can see the characteristics that come through in the primal cuts of beef. To get a true sense of the enormous girth and incredible size of the neck and chest is truly impressive. The front end of the Kobe is considerably larger than a traditional Angus steer. They taper drastically and they have narrow haunches and rear ends, almost the size of an Angus. They have a much shorter face than the Angus and a very distinct tuft of hair between the ears. Bob, who runs the feed lot, was very generous with his time as we toured the various enclosures, feed storage and hospital areas. The most humorous part about the feed lot was the discussion and tour of the food storage area. The diet of the Kobe consists of hay, corn in several different forms and potato byproduct, also known as French fries. I think it’s very ironic that some of the worlds most well marbled and tasty meat gets to this amazing point through consuming large amounts of French fries. After seeing the marbling on some on these animals, it has certainly reduced my fry intake. The cows eat about 12 pounds of this mixed diet a day with conversion to muscle mass of about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds. I hope sharing this portion of the trip excites you to visit your local feed lot. This concluded our whirlwind tour of Pocatello and we went on to the processing plant in the Willamette Valley of Washington.
After the animals have spent 500 plus days at the feed lot, most of these are off to be processed at 1700-2100 lbs. This is about two years old. We were able to view the Kobe meat in a hanging state just prior to going through the grading station. The Kobe is graded at the fourteenth rib and given a 1, 2 or 3 grade based on its muscle marbling. The number 1’s are the Premium Gold product. The marbling in these animals is truly amazing. After the meat is graded, we were able to watch them move through the processing line. It was impressive to see the efficiency and skill these meat cutters have in moving animals through the processing line. The AB staff was very open and allowed us access to most of the processing. The facility is incredibly clean and well equipped to put out the amazing product. The entire process is truly amazing to witness.
I want to sincerely thank both Sysco and AB Foods for giving me such an incredible opportunity to learn about the incredible Kobe beef story and product. We look forward to using this product on our menu.
October 17, 2008
I haven’t had time to write much but we have been busy this week working on menu ideas. Chris, Jon and I have been focusing on dinner entrée items. We have been working on a tuna dish with Portuguese chorizo, a dish that is a variation of duck l’orange, a boneless short rib and the pork dish that we have focused on for the last few days. The pork dish is Idaho Berkshire pork with maple cap mushroom jus, butternut squash gnocchi, roasted sunchokes and peppered apple relish. This weekend we plan on a few more practice runs with the pork dish and spending some additional time on the duck dish.
I did get distracted today when the soy sauce powder and coconut powder arrived from WillPowder. We are looking forward to experimenting with these two items soon. Another distraction this week was the arrival of Chef Jon’s second child. He and his wife have a baby girl named Ava and we are happy to report that everyone is doing well.
We have been particularly busy in the restaurant and in banquets over the last two weeks. It has been great to be busy and keep the staff working even though the snow that we have had does get the staff thinking about the upcoming ski season.
We have also been working on getting ready for the March of Dimes Signature Chef event on Thursday, October 23rd. We have ordered the Utah elk shanks and the mushrooms for the mushroom ragout. Chef Raymond and Chef Tim have been working on several dessert items for the dinner menu and this evening I spent some time with them as they were making ice cream pearls for the March of Dimes event. Here are the photos of Chef Ray working with the dewar and the liquid nitrogen creating the pearls.
Monday I leave for Idaho to visit Snake River Farms and go through the processing plant where they process the domestic Wagu and Kurobuta pork.
September 15, 2008
Posted by steinlodge under Zane Holmquist, Executive Chef
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Hello and welcome to my blog. My goal here is to chat about things that are going on in the kitchen at Stein’s and throughout the lodge and community to let you get a feel of Park City no matter where you may be. In the next few weeks I will announce an exciting new partnership with the Chef’s Garden that will allow our friends and guests to purchase the same produce that top chefs have been using for years directly from the farm for the first time. It is just now beginning to feel like fall and we are deep into menu development for the winter season menus. Our staff tasting will occur on November 19th and 20th and the new menu will officially begin November 20th. As we experiment, taste and develop this menu, I would like to share some insights into how some of the dishes are created and the process that takes them to the plate. As the menu is put into place, I will share some of our new recipes and will put up recipes for some of the Stein Eriksen Lodge’s favorite dishes and classics.
I am excited about the upcoming ski season and hope it is great or at least as fun as last season. We enjoyed over 350 inches of the world’s greatest powder on the mountain last year and it looks as though we are in for another great winter of skiing. We look forward to seeing you in the restaurant and on the slopes this winter. I hope you are working on those ski legs!