The May Full Moon represents, in many ways, a fresh start. It’s called the “Flower Moon”, “Milk Moon”, or “Planting Moon”. For those of us in the service industry on St. John, it usually marks a period when High Season comes to a close, and we are finally slow enough to take a rare break before Wedding Season and Carnival start kicking in. For many people in the States, it constitutes the end of the school year, the approach of Memorial Day and summer, and weekends outdoors with the family.
To that end, we wanted to do a dinner that was a tribute to the beginning of BBQ Season. What better way than to build our own Grill Pit for the occasion? The talented Chef Ben Lewis spearheaded our project from head to toe, with the assistance of Chefs Vince Alterio and Pat Ryan, and got the entire thing sketched, sourced, and built in less than a week’s time! Our space just got a Redneck Upgrade in a very cool way.
We collaborated with Glazer’s Premier, who hooked us up with Hess Wines for this event. Take a look at the menu and pairings:
Folks were actually texting us about how excited they were for this dinner, especially the meat portions! Let’s take a look at the courses in detail.
Course 1: Full Nest Syndrome
Grilled Quail / Chorizo-Date Stuffing / Sweet Potato / Smoked Pepper Sauce
We decided to build this plate like the bird was sitting in an actual nest, so we threaded and fried the Sweet Potato, perched it on a plate that was dusted with Moringa Powder, and accented it with our Smoked Pepper Sauce. The Quail was par-grilled on our new toy and finished in the oven prior to plating. Sekhem, Mathew’s son, was thrilled to help stoke the fires!
Course 2: Day and Night
Day: Morbier / Quail Egg / Lardon / Grilled Brioche
Night: Morbier Fondue / Short Rib Skewer
Here, the goal was to create a dish that used the same ingredient in two different ways. We chose Morbier because of it’s duality.
From Wikipedia: “Traditionally, the cheese consists of a layer of morning milk and a layer of evening milk. When making Comté (cheese), cheesemakers would end the day with leftover curd that was not enough for an entire cheese. Thus, they would press the remaining evening curd into a mold, and spread ash over it to protect it overnight. The following morning, the cheese would be topped up with morning milk.”
The Quail Egg was a simple sunny side execution, and the Lardon was Apple Wood Smoked Bacon that was grilled and then thick cut. The Fondue was actually more of a Mornay, but we weren’t splitting hairs that day. We did a 13 hour Sous Vide on the Short Rib prior to slicing and skewering, and dusted it with Smoked Paprika.
Course 3: Dust in the Wind
Smoked Wahoo / Lime Ash / Windy Level Greens
Fairly straight-forward and clean flavors dominated this plate. Even though the Wahoo was smoked, we brightened it up and made it into a salad with Radish and Preserved Lemon, then stuffed it into Baby Romaine from our garden, tied with Lemongrass.
There were two types of Lime Ash on the plate. One was rich and dark, made from the rinds, with almost a roasted coffee feel. The other was dehydrated Lime Juice, which added the tart, citrus notes.
We finished the plate with Charred Tomato, Preserved Lemon, Green Goddess Dressing, and Nasturtium Petals.
Course 4: Table Top Luau
Al Pastor Roast Pork / Taro / Charred Pineapple
Chef Ben Lewis really wanted to take charge of this main dish, so we gave him free reign to cook the pork as he envisioned. Marinated slices of Pork Shoulder were layered and skewered, wrapped, then set in a water bath for 18 hours. After chilling it to retain it’s shape, they were then wedged in between Pineapple tops and bottoms, brushed with a spicy balsamic reduction, charred, and roasted to bring back to temperature. We served these standing up, surrounded by a nest of Grilled Pineapple, Fresh Thyme, and Chicharrones.
Side dishes to complete the Luau feel were Taro for Caribbean Poi, Forbidden Black Rice, a Jalapeno Bread Panzanella, and a Roasted Beet “Poke”. We gave each communal table a knife and designated one of the patrons to be the carver. I think having guests participate in the action gave every table more of a family feel and some easy talking points.
Course 5: Go Nuts, Go Bananas
Grilled Banana Bread Tamale / Cinnamon Ice Cream / Smoked Pecans
Usually by the time dessert comes around at our dinners, our guests are full and happy. So we have gotten into the habit of reducing our portion sizes a bit with the hope that no one leaves overstuffed. We purposefully made our sweet treats more lightweight this time, especially considering that some of our dishes were on the heavier side of the palate.
Taking Banana Leaves from our garden, we softened them in hot water and rolled cigar-sized tamales. After baking them, we set aside and grilled them to bring them back up to a nice, warm temperature, as well as add that light smokiness we were using as our central theme. After pairing it with a small scoop of Cinnamon Ice Cream, Smoked Pecans, and Smoked Maple Syrup, we sent it out into the dining areas.
Overall, guests seemed to be pretty thrilled with everything. Our front of house team crushed it (AGAIN), and in the kitchen, we had a ton of fun. So much so that we forgot to take a group photo! C’est la vie, no?
Join us on Friday, June 9th for the next exciting edition of the Full Moon Dinner! I Bahn Heh: Local Flavors and Ingredients (5 courses). Call us at 340-777-5464 to reserve your space, or just say hi. It can get lonely behind a computer screen all day…
After that, we are planning some really special treats for the 2017-2018 Full Moon program, including possible collaborations from some guest chefs! Keep an eye out for the schedule of concepts, and we hope you’ll be able to experience one for yourself sometime soon.