Friday, April 19, 2013

NEW SPRING MENU!

It's here! Gilt's new Spring menu is up and cooking, this time with a new dynamic.  For $50, you get a full five course meal.  Looking for a lighter meal or a few plates to share with a friend over drinks?  They've got you covered there, too.  For $35, you get 3 courses.  I stopped in last night for my usual solitary feast; five dishes that reminded me the gloom of Portland winter is at last behind me.

The burrata and the vegetable pave were the first to arrive.  Gilt's burrata is always made in house and is always one of my favorites.  An envelope of mozzarella enclosing a soft center of softer cheese and cream.  It was perfect all on its own, no crackers needed.  I was a little apprehensive about the english pea puree at first (it is frozen!), but with my first bite decided that it was a perfect match. The sweetness of the english peas shines in this dish, enhanced by just a touch of Saba in the plate.  No surprise there.  I was, however, astonished at the extra dimension of texture added by the coarsness of the frozen puree against the creaminess of the mozzarella.  Awesome.

The pave was a mishmash of every spring vegetable under the sun, with the fennel and zucchini really standing out.  Here the flavor was bright, with a great al dente quality coming from the thin layers of zucchini.  This dish eats like a garden-style lasagna.  

For a little intermezzo, I decided on the shaved beet and grapefuit salad.  Holy hell.  I could have eaten at least three of these (and would have, if it weren't for the other dishes already being prepared for me.)  A simple creme fraiche lined the plate, with stacks of thinly sliced beet, grapefruit, and watermelon radish built upon it.  A touch of fresh dill finished.  So simple, but all the flavors worked perfectly together.  As I took my first few bites, the juice from the grapefruit began to mix with the creme fraiche, turning it into a sweet and slightly tangy 'sauce'.  The fresh dill, not overdone, left a lingering taste that complimented the earth and sweet that came before it.  


Next came the nettle gnudi with rabbit.  The gnuddi itself was a perfect texture.  Made with a base of housemade ricotta and nettles, there was still a nice sharpness of flavor brought about by pecorino.  The rabbit sugo was light enough to let the flavor of the nettle come through, while giving the dish just a touch of salt.  Finishing up the dish was a sausage of pork and rabbit wrapped in a strip of rabbit saddle.  Again, perfection.  It reminded me that rabbits must indeed be God's joke: so cute, yet so delicious.  


Rounding out the meal was the halibut.  I am not normally that huge a fan of poached filets, but here the almond milk lent its flavor over to the halibut wonderfully.  The almod milk is made in house too, the almonds being soaked in water for an average of 36 hours before being ground and strained.  The poach was spot on, as in addition to a light almond flavor, the milk lent a bit of fat to the filet, allowing it to balance perfectly with the delicate garlic puree.


SPRING MENU

Choice of any 3 courses for $34 
Choice of any 5 items for for $50
[All items available à la carte]

First
Corn meal fried oysters with tarragon aioli 10

Pig head mortadella, house made mustard and pickles 9

Burrata, peas, Saba, and pine oil 12

Chicken liver toast with shejime mushrooms, Pedro Ximena vinegar, and chives 9

Second
Manilla clams, preserved Meyer lemon, parsley butter, and pastis 10

Snake river farms beef tartar, bread crisps and mustards 11

Asparagus, elderflower vinegar, fourme d'ambert, pinenuts 11

Shaved beet salad, grapefruit, creme fraiche, dill 9

Third
Vegetable pave, walnut pesto, parsley jus 12

Nettle gnudi, mushrooms, rabbit sugo and rabbit saddle 14

Squid ink chittara pasta, nduja, Calabrian chiles 10

Pea tenders, pork belly, slow cooked egg, twenty three flavors gastrique 10

Fourth
Draper Valley ½ roasted chicken, schmaltz roasted potatoes, turnips, consommé 15

Almond milk poached halibut, spring vegetable ragout, chili oil, garlic purée 16

Grilled hangar steak, black garlic, oyster cream, asparagus, fried oysters 16

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SUZE


Pablo Picasso, Verre et bouteille de Suze 1912


"[A] bitter, alcohol-based aperitif, Suze owes both its amber-gold hue and its inimical flavor to the root of the yellow gentian (gentiana lutea), a perennial plant that grows wild in France's mountainous regions, particularly in the Massif Central and the Alps.  Suze tastes sharp and bitter, a flavor rendered from the fresh root during the steeping process, yet the presence of other herbs and spices softens the bitterness to make an intriguing aperitif.  An unusual drink for modern tastes, Suze was popular enough in 1912 to inspire Picasso to paint a portrait of it, which eventually graced the Suze label in a special production.


Suze first appeared in 1889, introduced into the French market by a distillery owner, Fernand Moureaux.  Although gentian liqueurs, strong infused and sweetened spirits, were well-known and popular, Suze was the first aperitif to be based on gentian."

Aperitif: Recipes for Simple Pleasures in the French Style
By Georgeanne Brennan


Indeed, Suze is definitely bitter, but has a beautiful complexity to it.  Sipping it neat, the aperitif starts out fairly sweet displaying notes of soft vanilla bean.  The orange comes next, though it is more reminiscent of pith and peel than sweet citrus meat.  The length of the taste is warm and soft, slowly finishing with a bitter presence that amplifies through the lingering flavor that is left on the palate.  This stuff rules.  


Right of the bat, even the amateur imbiber may think of gin; a spirit of subtle herbaciousness that would pair perfectly with this French bitter.  The word Negroni comes to mind.  And of course, a quick internet search on Suze turns up an overwhelming variety of White Negroni recipes. The following comes from London bartender Wayne Collins:



1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce gentian liqueur, such as Suze, Salers, or Aveze
3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc


Stir and strain.  Garnish w/ lemon peel

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

THIS ONE'S FOR THE HELP!






Over the years, Gilt Club has been proud to employ a range of intellectual misfits; bartenders and servers that have gone on to become business owners, doctors, masters of science, perpetual world travelers, artists, teachers, and musicians.  These people have held degrees in law, sociology, political science, fine arts, biology, business,  linguistics, and literature.  They speak several languages.  They subscribe to the New York Times.  They can diagram the molecular composition of your vodka martini.  They read Dostoyevsky for fun.

And so, today, we give an ode to the Help. Just over twenty years ago, The Pacific Northwest's favorite transplant, writer cum rockstar Tom Robbins, payed tribute to the likes of these intellectual misfits.  Nevermind that it's a bit on the sexist side.  Nevermind that it's a little outdated.  And nevermind that it subverts the service industry into an arena of menial skill.  It's Tom Robbins.  And it's awesome.


Of the genius waitress, I now sing.


Of hidden knowledge, buried ambition, and secret
sonnets scribbled on cocktail napkins; of aching
arches, ranting cooks, condescending patrons, and eyes
diverted from ancient Greece to ancient grease; of
burns and pinches and savvy and spunk; of a uniquely
American woman living a uniquely American compromise,
I sing. I sing of the genius waitress.

Okay, okay, she's probably not really a genius. But
she is well-educated. She has a degree in Sanskrit,
ethnoastronomy, Icelandic musicology, or something
equally valued in contemporary marketplace. Even if
she could find work in her chosen field, it wouldn't
pay beans--so she slings them instead. (The genius
waitress is not to be confused with the
aspiring-actress waitress, so prevalent in Manhattan
and Los Angeles and so different from her sister in
temperament and I.Q.)

As a type, the genius waitress is sweet and sassy,
funny and smart; young, underestimated, fatalistic,
weary, cheery (not happy, cheerful: there's a
difference and she understands it), a tad bohemian,
often borderline alcoholic, frequently pretty (though
her hair reeks of kitchen and bar); as independent as
a cave bear (though ever hopeful of "true love") and,
above all, genuine.

Covertly sentimental, she fusses over toddlers and old
folks, yet only fear of unemployment prevents her from
handing an obnoxious customer his testicles with his
bill.

She doesn't mind a little good-natured flirting, and
if you flirt with verve and wit, she may flirt back.
Never, however, never try to impress her with your
resume. Her tolerance for pretentious Yuppies ends
with her shift, sometimes earlier. She reads men like
 a menu and always knows when she's being offered
 leftovers or an artificially inflated soufflé.

Should you ever be lucky enough to be taken home by
her to that studio apartment with the jerry-built
bookshelves and Frida Kahlo posters, you will discover
that whereas in the public dining room she is merely
as proficient as she needs to be, in the private
bedroom she is blue gourmet virtuoso. Five stars and
counting! Afterward, you can discuss chaos theory or
the triple aspects of the mother goddess in universal
art forms--while you massage her swollen feet.

Eventually, she leaves food service for graduate
school or marriage; but unless she wins a grant or a
fair divorce settlement, chances are she'll be back, a
few years down the line, reciting the daily specials
with her own special mixture of warmth and ennui.

Erudite emissary of eggs over easy, polymath purveyor
of polenta and prawns, articulate angel of apple pie,
the genius waitress is on duty right now in hundreds
of U.S. restaurants, smile at the ready, sauce on the
 side. So brush up on your Schopenhauer, place your
order--and tip, mister, tip. She deserves a break

today.

Of her, I sing.


Tom Robbins
Playboy, 1991




For Jenny, Joe, Jess, Dawn, Matt, Alida, Becca, Joshua, Allegra, Jenna, Elizabeth, Jim, Colin, Scott, Aimee, Allison, Natalia, Mr. Clark, and all the rest.  You have made us what we are.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

FOODSCAPES





The other day, a coworker brought a book to work - one of those coffee table looking things that is usually filled with fancy landscape photography.  Indeed, at first glance, it was full of landscapes.  But upon closer inspection, there was something geographically peculiar...


Carl Warner is a London based photographer whose work has been dubbed "part Ansel Adams and part Anthony Bourdain" by Brain Pickings magazine.  The man is somewhat of a visual culinary genius, turning ordinary food into surreal images.  On his website, Warner talks about the creation of one of the foodscapes included in his first book, a piece dubbed Cereal Dustbowl:

"My publisher Abrams NY wanted my first book to include some American scenes, and so I started thinking about American landscapes and what I could feature within those landscapes.


When creating a ‘Foodscape’ I always try to use ingredients that are indigenous to that particular part of the world. So with the prolific farming of cereals and the breeding of cattle for beef in the mid west, I wanted to feature these foods in the scene, which I find gives the ‘Foodscape’ a degree of authenticity and  provenance that it wouldn’t achieve if created out of ingredients from another part of the world.

As there was a lot of cereal featured in the scene, I knew that I needed to feature more ‘meat’. So I came upon the idea of using a large slab of rib eye steak.

But when I first placed the sky into the image in Photoshop, it looked pretty gruesome with all it’s veins of fat and gristle, so I decided to blur the image of the steak so that it softened and looked more cloud like, while still retaining some of the surface texture."

Cereal Dustbowl photograph created from bread, cereals, and meats.
The sky is made from a ribeye; the telephone poles are SlimJims.


Other works include (but are definitely not limited to) the following:





More information on Warner's work can be found on his website:



His books can be purchased through Powell's, found here: