Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association

I know I touched on the ORLA dinner I was doing a few weeks back, and wanted to give you guys some of the details. A dinner for the heads of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association which include restaurant power hitters from all over the state. About 85ppl purchased tickets but it isn't really a fundraiser. All of the food was donated by two or three different purveyors. The ORLA is newly emerged business, combining last year the Oregon Restaurant Association, and the Oregon Lodging Association. They lobby for restaurants in the state and with the nationwide network of restaurants called the National Restaurant Association. They also provide online training for food handlers cards in six different languages, OLCC serving permits, and offer Serve Safe classes. The group invited is the board members and the key members, mostly people that have been in the business for years. The approach demanded is that of gluttony, and since the food was donated, and a lot of the people are really old school we decided to break out some really classic stuff. Stuff you don't see anyone doing anymore. I learned a whole bunch as we developed the menu, and as we worked on the food. A dinner like this is more than a weeks effort of ordering, prep, cooking, cooling, holding, etc. This all culminates in a frantic whirlwind of action to get food on plates, and to the dining room. Pre-service meetings, plating diagrams, and special diet restrictions are all part of the gig. I got pictures of some of the apps, and all of the courses (6), some of the pictures don't do the food justice so take them with a grain of salt.
Lobster Carpaccio- raw Maine lobster tails on a block of Himalayan Red Salt. We froze the block, laid the lobster on, EVOO, 40 yr aged balsamic, porcini mushroom powder, and finished with the roe from the lobsters we harvested.

Terrine- A terrine is like a meatloaf on steroids. We took pork butt and ground it ourselves to two different textures, then some of it got pistachios. The rest got hazelnuts, and dried apricots. Both were then laid into a mold and baked. Removed from the mold then cooled and sliced. Served with some of the classic accompaniments of gherkins, red onion, aspic (a gelatin thickened consomme). We had a total of 4 variations of this sort of stuff, and I made a very classic sauce called Cumberland. I made some black currant jelly, then thinned it with Port wine, and added the zest of a few lemons and oranges. Really cool sauce, and the jelly was to die for.


1- Seared scallops, farro (an ancient form of wheat) risotto, maple lacquered bacon, and a truffle and celery heart and celery micro green salad.

2-Double duck consomme, Swiss chard, cannelloni beans, and fois gras. A consomme is a clarified stock made with the help of a mixture of mirepoix and egg whites (raft). A double consomme also has meat in the raft to intensify the flavor. I made duck stock, cooled it, skimmed it, then added the mirepoix, egg whites, and more duck meat, then it is heated very very gently while constantly stirring. The fois (duck or goose liver) was gently seared and then floated in the top of the consomme with the chard and the beans inside it. Think of it as soup on steroids. This was the course we were most concerned about being successful, and while it left the kitchen as a perfect reflection of what we had wanted, it wasn't received very well. Many of the bowls came back full. Whether people had a hard time with the fois, or just didn't like the combination of flavors I am not sure. Angered me to say the least.

3- Chilled cukes, cucumber and lemon sorbet, American sturgeon caviar, buckwheat cracker. The palate cleansing course we wanted to do before the entree. We thin sliced and almost froze the cukes, made a sorbet of cukes and lemon juice. Topped that with the best caviar money will buy, and served it with a homemade buckwheat cracker.

4-Soubise crushed fingerlings, butternut squash, veal medallions, and mushroom gravy. We wanted to do a diner-esque dish upgraded to a whole new level. The soubise is a classic white sauce (bechemel) that is fortified with onions. Steamed local fingerling potatoes and then crushed them with the sauce. The butternut (look at those knife skills) was blanched and then sauteed with a bit of butter and some sherry. The veal was seared and then finished in the oven, topped with a porcini, morel, black trumpet, and chanterelle mushroom gravy. We studded it with some crispy black trumpet mushrooms that we had fried as well. Nothing has ever been so clear to me as to why we eat veal, as one bite of that steak was. Top five things in my mouth ever, easily. This one in particular looked better in real life then it did on the fly leaving the kitchen.

5-Heirloom greens, katiffi ring, maple pear vinaigrette, and diced pears. The greens were overnight from the LA area. The katiffi is a shredded phyllo dough and the rings had to be fried one at a time to keep the shape. the vinaigrette was pretty basic as were the local pears. Really hard to plate and get to the dinning room standing up. A great dish though that brought some great fall flavors to the table.

6-Milk Chocolate cremosa, seared pound cake, marscapone espresso cream, tart ice cream, and cocoa nib EVOO. The cremosa is a ganache that has been loaded with egg yolks, the pound cake was grilled and served hot with the cream and ice cream on top. We made a infusion of really good olive oil with some cocoa nibs to drizzle over the dish as it went out.

This was a really good experience for us, the third time we have done this meal in a row. I am unclear on if we will be asked to do it again next year or if the event will move to another location. Either way I had fun doing it, and wish the best of luck to whomever is asked to do it in the future. While the consomme wasn't as well received as I would've liked, everything else was really successful.

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