August 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Crucian Collaboration #1

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When I went to St. Croix for their annual Taste of St. Croix this year, http://tasteofstcroix.com/ I was once again taken aback by the level of talent that the chefs there have on the regular, as well as the relationships that they cultivate with the local farmers. The agriculture community on Twin Cities is very in touch with the culinary world, and the final result is a food scene that is mature and robust.

While we do have our maintain our own garden next to the kitchen, have an organic farm in Coral Bay, and work with local fishing charters for product, the variety of locally sourced ingredients on St. Croix simply eclipses what we have on St. John.

As I was sitting at breakfast with other guest judges and one of the main organizers and producers of the event, Jane Watkins, and was expressing my jealousy of the chefs on our sister island having such abundant access to locally grown produce, she suggested that I try to find a way to collaborate with some of the passionate restaurateurs and chefs there. So I took her suggestion.

It has taken some time to organize, but this month, we welcomed our first guest chef of what we hope is many. Ryan Bennett is a former co-worker of one of our chefs, Vince Alterio, from back in their Chicago days, and has the culinary background to stand up with the best of them, including time working in some premier restaurants in Chicago, such as Gather and Graham Elliot before moving to St. Croix.

He is currently at Brew STX, an establishment not necessarily known for fine dining, but Ryan designed a menu that was both eclectic and familiar at the same time. We joined forces with Paul Kessock at Bellows International to pair a trio of Rose’s with the courses.

August’s menu was 90-95% locally-sourced and featured Caribbean-inspired flavors.  Here’s what our guests had to look forward to:

Sofrito Shellfish Consommé: Butter Sauce Conch / Avocado Puree / Salt Fish Lavash / Pickled Green Papaya / Fresh Racao

Pairing: Miraval Rose’

Roast Goat Roti: Crispy Roti /Tender Goat / Sweet Potato Puree & Chip / Mint / Turmeric / Coconut Rice

Pairing: Montes Cherub Rose’

Fruit: Mango ice cream / Pineapple Johnny Cake / Coconut Crunch / Lemongrass Gastrique / Basil / Crispy Plantain

Pairing: Josh Cellars Rose’

In addition, Chef Ryan and Chef Vince treated our patrons to some “one-bite” amuse bouche style plates.  This was the first time I got to attend as a guest, and although I won’t divulge what those one-bites were, I can tell you they were delicious!  OK, I may have had some wine and can’t remember properly at this time, so instead I will distract you with pictures of food.

The soup course was meticulously plated prior to being dropped in front of the customers.  The broth was a concoction of Thai Basil Tea and Habanera Peppers, and was poured table side from French presses after the bowls were set down.

Chef Ryan sourced out locally made roti shells on St. Croix, and chose to plate with braised local goat, sweet potato (two ways: chip and puree), mint, turmeric, and coconut rice.  All of the guests completed decimated their plates.

 

“Fruit” dessert: As promised, a combination of tropical flavors that seemed to explode on the plate, as well as on the palate.

We look forward to welcoming Chef Frank Robinson, a St. Croix native, in November for the second in our Collaboration Series.

Special thanks to St. John Inn for housing our guest chefs and providing a special rate for anyone wishing to stay the night and attend one of our dinners.  Check them out here: http://www.stjohninn.com/?gclid=CKO144bo8NUCFUxahgod9ckDAA

September’s dinner will be around the Harvest Moon and feature foods from the Great Midwest.  Friday, September 8th, so call us to reserve early!  340-777-5464.

 

 

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Recap: April Full Moon Wine Dinner

Tastes of the Iberian Peninsula at Windy Level

Well, if you missed last month’s Full Moon Wine Dinner, all we can say is, we’re sorry! It was a delicious, whirlwind trip through the culinary variations of the Iberian Peninsula: Spain, Portugal, the Coastal Regions, France, and the Moorish influences. Check out the menu and some photos below!

SPAIN : Spanish Vegetable “Paella” / Squid Ink Rice / Saffron Creme

PORTUGAL : Portuguese Pulpo y Caldo Verde / Iberico Shoulder / Kale Chip

COASTAL : Branzino de la Costa Mediterrania / Aioli / House-grown Tomatoes

FRANCE : Rabbit Galatine / Duck & White Bean Boudin Blanc / Parsnip

MOORISH INFLUENCE : Braised Spiced Apple / Fig / Mascarpone Ice Cream

The May Full Moon Wine Dinner is Sunday, May 22nd (we’re looking at you, STJ & STT service industry peeps with Sundays off!), and the menu will be Italian with some Caribbean twists. Check in on our Facebook page this week, we’ll be posting the full menu soon, and there are a few changes to the format this month!

Remember, you can follow us on Twitter @stjohncatering, and Instagram @mathayom for behind the scenes photos and a sneak peeks at upcoming events!

Recap : March Full Moon Wine Dinner

This post was supposed to go up yesterday but, technology. So instead we’ve got a Good Friday post! Enjoy the course by course recap of the Wine Dinner menu below.

The evening kicked off with passed appetizers and sparkling wine – in keeping with the “Old World vs. New World” theme, guests sampled Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve, NV and Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Napa, North Coast, 2013. The appetizer offerings included Beef Plantain Tostone Cups, Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Crab, and cheese boards with dried & fresh fruit, mustards, spreads, nuts, & pickled vegetables.

The first course was a Local Tuna Nicoise Carpaccio with cured egg yolk, fried caper, roasted olives, lemon emulsion, duck fat potato, & a tomato “tartare” of red beets, avocado, pumpkin, micro greens, scallion & tuna oil. Wine pairings for the course: Sancerre Blanc, Eric Montintin 2012 (Loire Valley, 100% Sauvignon Blanc) and Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2014.

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With the second course, technique was front and center: Bacon Caprese, Smoked Tomato & Proscuitto Cups were composed of mozzarella and ricotta burrata, tomato, basil, & apple smoke contained by shaved Serrano ham, served on a slate plate with house bacon lardon, pesto, grilled crostini & tomato powder. Wine Pairings: Domaine D’Arton – Hautes D’Arton Cotes de Gascogne 2013 (Colombard/Sauvignon Blanc blend) and  Sterling Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, North Coast 2013.

Following a pineapple & celery intermezzo, the third course was a fish course – Ginger Fish in Rice Papillote with curried peas & carrots and coconut scallop crudo. The Wahoo was wrapped in rice paper parcels with ginger & zucchini scales, and the scallop crudo was accompanied by coconut milk, ginger juice, avocado puree and paddlefish caviar. Wine Pairings: Domaine Jean-Pierre Eleven Chablis 2012 (100% Chardonnay) and Cuvaison Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Carneros, 2012.

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The penultimate course featured a Petit Filet with Oxtail Ragout, wild thyme, crispy corn agnolotti, corn puree, micro greens, & preserved lemon. Wine Pairings: Cahors Chateau de Cedre 2012 (Malbec, Merlot, Tannat blend), and Archival-Ferrer Malbec, Argentina 2013.

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Saving the best for last is the real deal – we wrapped up the evening with a dessert course of Foie Gras Creme Brulee & Berries, with spiced tulle crackers, almond brittle, seared foie gras, port redux, & our own Windy Level mint! Wine Pairings: Monbazilliac – Domaine de L’Ancienne Cure 2010 (Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle blend) and Ice Wine Reisling, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2013.

From beginning to end, the evening was full of good company, laughter, and delicious food and wine. We celebrated a birthday with some guests from the States, got creative with our tasting notes on the wine selections, and even managed to get a pretty excellent group shot! We look forward to our next Full Moon Wine Dinner on April 22nd – hope you’ll join us!

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The Dish on Fish

When traveling, it is only natural to want to try what is fresh and local.

Here on St. John, we are most proud to offer a selection of beautiful fish caught right from our Caribbean waters. We reach out to local fisherman who line catch the fish that is available during the season. Usually we will get in touch to see what they have brought in, and on occasion we can put in a request for a specific fish.

Mahi Mahi

Chef Mathayom breaking down a 45-pound fresh Mahi 

One of the most popular fish we serve is Mahi Mahi (also known as Dolphin Fish or Dorado) which is available year round. It is a gorgeous fish with a very mild flavor. It’s large moist flakes are firm but tender and it is slightly sweet. Because of it’s versatility, we use Mahi as a blank canvas–we can prepare it to your liking or use our creativity to create something unique and memorable.

Wahoo

Chef Tyler displaying a beautiful fresh Wahoo

In the winter months we are able to get a mild, firm, nearly steak-like fish called Wahoo. It has a mild flavor profile and large circular flakes. This fish is best served grilled or seared about medium rare. It is a fish that can be easily overcooked, so leave it to our talented chefs to perfectly prepare it for you.

 Yellowfin Tuna

A perfectly seared Yellowfin Tuna appetizer with avocado mousse

A favorite world wide is Yellowfin (or Ahi) Tuna. This sushi grade fish is a deep red color with a mild-medium flavor and is very firm. It is absolutely delicious raw in a tartare, or seared rare. Tuna is also really wonderful grilled with a dry rub. We are also sometimes able to get in smaller tuna known as Skipjack or Blackfin. Tuna isn’t as common as Mahi but we will do our best to secure one for your event.

Caribbean Lobster

Caribbean Lobster tail entree

Caribbean (or Rock) Lobster is a treat much unlike Maine Lobster. Unlike lobster from the Northeast, Caribbean Lobster do not have claws so their meat is all in the tail. The flavor and consistency is different too. It is more of a texture like shrimp and a sweetness like crab. While this is pretty hard to procure locally, we do come across it from time to time and would be happy to include in on your menu if it is in the kitchen.

Conch

Last but not least is local Conch. This is a rare find as it is a local West Indian favorite so it is usually snatched up, but when we are able to get our hands on some it is a fantastic choice. It is a sweet, white meat that is great as a ceviche, or pounded thin and lightly sauteed. In fact, it can be served most ways : baked, broiled, grilled, fried, poached, steamed, even smoked. Not only is it a wonderful treat, the mollusk’s shell is gorgeous and quite the souvenir!

 

When planning your next event, be sure to ask our staff what type of fish is in season or put in a request for “fresh fish” and leave the rest to us–you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

Supper Club

Lunch On Vacation

Bored? Got the winter blues?  Gather up a group of friends and plan a supper club.  It’s an easy, fun and social way to try new foods and pass the time on Saturday nights.  Choose a theme like “Italian” or “Asian” and pair up in teams.  Each team is responsible for one course and an appropriate cocktail or wine to pair with it.  Everyone brings wheat they need to serve their dish and drink and away you go!

Each team takes a turn in the kitchen and is first responsible for washing the dishes from the course before.  Then, they prepare and serve their dish.  After that, the next team clears and washes the dishes and then prepares and serves their dish.  At the end, the first team has to clean up the last dishes.

Rotate hosts and get as fancy as you’d like with the décor.  It can be a ton of fun.  With the right group and a bit of guts in the kitchen, you can forget the hassle and expense of dining out and find a new restaurant right in your own homes.  If you’re the organized type, have everyone print out their recipe and compile a cookbook.  After a few rounds, you’ll have quite a variety.

Here are some theme ideas to get started with:

1.    Regional: Italian, Asian, Indian, Mediterranean
2.    Special Ingredients- choose one fun thing:  pasta, figs, prosciutto, bacon, beer, etc.
3.    One pot dishes
4.    Grilled dishes
5.    Local-Organic
6.    30 Minute dishes
7.    Seafood
8.    Leftovers
9.    Pick several recipes from a favorite chef’s cookbook
10.    Vegetarian

Have fun…get in the kitchen!  It’s a great way to save some money and entertain yourselves.

Fresh Pasta 101

Channel your inner Italian and whip up a batch of your own fresh pasta.  You’ll feel satisfied that you created something real and delicious and it’s much easier than you think.  No, really…it is.

Here’s one easy recipe that’ll have you throwing together fresh pasta dishes in no time.  Making your own fresh pasta is fun, easy and impressive and can be used in a million different applications.  When it’s done, it can be cut into any shape you want.  Stuff little cutouts to make ravioli, cut large rectangles and make real lasagna, snip into strips and call it tagliatelle.  No matter what you make of it, it’s delicious and worth the investment.

 

Fresh Egg Noodles

This recipe makes about a half pound of pasta (2 servings).  Using all-purpose flour will help cut down on your kneading time a bit.  You can use completely all-purpose if you can’t find semolina.

1 c all-purpose flour
1 c semolina or durum wheat flour, as fine as you can get it
2 whole egg
1 tsp Olive Oil
About ½ cup water (variable)

1.  Start by mixing and sifting your flours.  Form a mound with a well in the center to hold your wet ingredients.
2.  Crack the eggs into the center of your mound, break the yolk with your finger, and add the oil. Begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape.  The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands.
3.  Once there is a good ball, remove the dough, scrape up and discard any leftover bits, and lightly re-flour the board.  Continue kneading for about five or six more minutes.  It should be elastic and a little sticky.
4.  Wrap in plastic and allow to rest for about 30 minutes before you roll it out.
5.  Roll out dough using a rolling pin or pasta maker and cut into desired shape.  Blanch quickly (1 minute) in boiling water and enjoy!

 

Set the Table

They say that you eat with your eyes first.  So vamp up the visuals by setting a beautiful table for your fabulous feast.  With some simple strategies, you can take any tabletop from dull to decadent.  Here are some of our favorite ways to doll up yourdécor.  Choose one or two, or use them all together.

  1. Tealights.  Who doesn’t have a bag of tealights hanging around?  Grab some regular glasses of different heights and pour a touch of water in each one (to keep the wax from sticking to the glass- makes cleanup a breeze).  Place as many tealights as will fit in each glass and stagger across the center of the table for a multi-height centerpiece in minutes.
  2. Use festive fabric.  Make a runner out of an old scarf or tapestry.  Fold the fabric into a long rectangle and lay across the center of the table.  Or, if you have two, use them as long placemats for either side of a rectangular table, leaving the center clear for your other decorations.  Keep the look casual by laying the fabric in a gathered and random way.  Fill in the pockets with candles, flowers, fruit.
  3. Give the table a little lift.  Make “risers” out of regular kitchen items like pots and pans, or boxes of dry goods from the pantry.  Lay your first table cloth on the table.  Then, place your “risers” in a staggered row across the center of the table, varying heights to create interest.  Cover the risers in another cloth, gathering the excess at the bases to make a beautiful pool of fabric.  When you present the dishes on the table, the varying heights will offer extra interest.
  4. Flowers, greens and goodies.  A little nature goes a long way.  Find inexpensive flowers at the local florist or grocery store and separate bouquets into small arrangements.  Using vases or glasses that you already have, make arrangements of varying heights.  White carnations look like a million bucks and greens from your yard are free!  You don’t need to break the bank to help your table sparkle.
  5. Colorful fruits in clear containers give a punch of color to a dull setting.  Use vases, glass mixing bowls or serving bowls.  Lemons and limes are cheap and beautiful and can turn into delicious beverages (lemonade, margaritas) after the centerpiece is gone.