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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June 2017 Full Moon Dinner – I Bahn Heh

Chefs: Mathayom Vacharat, Vincent Alterio, Patrick Ryan

Gardner: Mathew Gibney

The Crucian Dictionary defines the term ‘Bahn Heh’ or ‘Baan Ya’ as, “Born here. Native. Belonger. This expression, part of the vernacular since time immemorial, is increasingly heard as immigrant islanders assert themselves in the community. This is indeed unfortunate as one realizes that the most defiant shouters of ‘Baan ya’ are themselves children of an earlier wave of immigrants. [First seen in print in the St. Croix Avis, 18 Feb. 1868.]”

To that end, with St. John Carnival in full swing, we wanted the June Full Moon menu to celebrate what we felt was an amalgam of many of the different flavors that were brought to the Virgin Islands, added to the culinary melting pot, and presented as what are now considered local dishes.  We also wanted to use what is sourced locally, as is custom practice for our kitchen.

Of course, we had to put our own twist on things as well, so non-traditional was the norm.  We linked up with Bellows and West Indies to pick a variety of wine selections.

In keeping with our commitment to give back to the world community, we decided to match any contributions to our beloved Pan Dragons steel pan orchestra.  Our patrons generously donated at total of $325, for a grand total of $650 donated!  Thank you to everyone who gave.  Feel free to continue showing the music program some love here: https://www.gofundme.com/st-john-love-city-pan-dragon-steel

Without further ado, here is the menu:

SLOW SEASON: Windy Level Baby Romaine / Smoked Eggplant / Stuffed Crouton / Coconut Hot Pepper Sauce
Pairing: Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc

Flavor Injectors!

Smoked Eggplant, Stuffed Crouton, Hot Sauce, and Baby Romaine

The greens, including baby romaine and Swiss chard, were picked from our garden and shocked in ice water.  The eggplant came from the lovely ladies who have their produce stand in Cruz Bay Park, and we smoked it for about 2 hours.  The crouton was seared and then stuffed with a Buttermilk-Herb dressing.  The hot sauce was inserted into flavor injectors and positioned into the crouton.  Voila!

CARNIVAL TIME: Wahoo Kallaloo / Lobster Dumpling / Saltfish Escabeche
Pairing: William Hill Central Coast Chardonnay

Salt fish with a smoky essence, lobster dumpling in kallalo

I see food and I eat it!

A semi-traditional Kallaloo was made with Okra from Ridge to Reef Farm in St. Croix, celery, onions, flavor peppers, malabar spinach, lobster stock, and lots of love!  A dumpling with chunks of Rock Lobster tail was added at the end, and on the side, we served an escabeche of salt fish, topped with passion fruit from our vine, and placed under a glass dish filled with apple wood smoke.  Oregano was chosen for the garnish.

CORAL BAY MASSIVE: Salt Pond Salt-Crusted Pork / Pumpkin Johnny Cake / Jerk Mushroom Sauce
Pairing: Domaine Carneros Avante Garde Pinot Noir

Salt Pond is a treasure trove for harvesting our local salt supply, and our crew brought back about a year’s worth last month.  We decided to crust and roast a pork loin, then add a whole bunch of pumpkin flavor by way of pumpkin spice Johnny Cakes, pumpkin slaw, and pumpkin puree.  We finished the plate off with a Jerk-seasoned mushroom sauce, the ribs that were trimmed from the loin, and fresh scallion.

DRUNKEN GOAT: Mango Beer-Braised Goat / Green Pea Pastry / Oxtail Demi / Spicy Tomato Jam
Pairing: Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Malbec

We ended up using mutton instead of goat as our main protein, but then after making the oxtail demi, decided to mix the oxtail meat in with the mutton to create a delicious partnership of flavors.  Planning for something like a deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie, Chef Vinny took our peas and made a crispy flatbread from them.  The spicy tomato jam cut through the richness of the dish with spice and acidity, while hints of mango perfumed the meat.  A pistachio crust was then applied to brighten the plate and add a bit of crunchy texture.

RECOVERY AND THERAPY: Sweet Plantain Monfongo Napoleon / Champagne-Sorrel Sabayon / Chocolate
Pairing: Batsiolo Moscato Bosc D’La Rey

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We have had an abundant fruit season this year, and so plantains also made the menu.  Yes, it’s true that Mofongo is orginially from Puerto Rico, but since they are so very close and we are told to, “Love thy neighbor”, we figured why not incorporate the dish somehow.  Ripe plantains were cooked, mashed, and seasoned with a bit of chili, then formed into cakes seared.  Spiced Tuille Cookies were par-baked, cut, and finished off.  The Champagne Sabayon was infused with Sorrel Liqueur from St. John’s very own Sharelle Francis.  Plating involved Chocolate Ganache, and torching the Sabayon to create a burnt marshmallow flavor.  Eating it was like taking a weekend trip to visit Boricua.

Next month, for July, we will be exploring the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine, and serving a fantastic family-style menu with beers and Suntori Whiskey.  Come Thai One On with us on Monday, July 10th.  Call our office during business hours to reserve a seat for only $55pp   340-777-5464

We are also SUPER excited at the prospect of having our first guest chef appearance in August by way of Digby Stridiron of Balter in St. Croix!  http://www.balterstx.com/ Saturday, August 5th is the date.   Mark it in your calendars now; it’s going to be epic.  We hope to have a guest chef about every three months.

We will be posting our upcoming concepts for the year very soon, so keep an eye on our homepage and our Facebook page for details.

Until next time, enjoy Carnival and the Holiday week!

 

 

January 2017 Full Moon Dinner

Well, the start of the New Year has begun, and to kick things off, we decided to pay homage to the guy who takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’: Father Time.

Aged and fermented foods were the focus of the menu for Thursday, January 12th, 2017, and Enrique Rodriguez from 3BV Distributors in St. Thomas helped us out on the beverage side of things with some of his imported selections.  Some of you may know Enrique from his other job: running Rodriguez Auto Parts.

We did a four course menu this time around and Enrique had fun raffling off lots of bottles for guests to take home.  Photographer Leah Randall was on hand to take shots of the space, the food, and the guests.

We also had our sails up over our outdoor space, which is really close to completion!  Just a few more tweaks here and there. Big shout out to Mathew Gibney and Ben Lewis for their parts in making it happen.

 

For the First Course, Chef Nils went with:

Pickles / Jamon / Smoked Salmon Rillet / Sourdough / Preserved Lemon Jam / Aged Manchego 

And Enrique poured a Witte Beer from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY

 

David from Caravan Auto, who is actually quite an accomplished baker, hooked us up with some of his phenomenal Sourdough Bread.  We preserved our lemons and made our pickled items.

Next on the docket, we had:

Salt Fish Croquette / Island Chow Chow / Caviar / House Creme Fraiche / Mustard Greens

Enrique paired it with LaChouffe, a Golden Ale from Brewery Achouffe in Belgium.

Banana Leaves and Mustard Greens straight from our own garden!

For the main course, we did:

Dry Aged Beef Sirloin / Stilton & Cauliflower Gratin / Brussel Sprouts / Speck

We quick dry-aged our beef for about three days using a technique involving fish sauce and cheese cloth.  The result was just the right amount of funkiness coupled with a subtle hint of aged Stilton in the Gratin.

Our beer selection was the flagship beer from Brewery Duvel Moortgat, also a Golden Ale from Belgium but with less spice.

To finish things off, it was a

Pound Cake / Kombucha Gelee / Merengue / Fizzy Fruit

The Kombucha was made in house by Chef Mat and the fruit was made fizzy using CO2 and a whipped cream siphon.

The beer choice was probably the most popular because it was so unusual.  A Cuvee Brut from Brewery Liefmans, also in Belgium (I sense a theme here).  Lightly sweet and fruity, it was the perfect accompaniment to the dessert course.

Unfortunately, no one captured an image of the dessert or the beer being poured, so we’ll just have to stick in a picture that was ripped off of the brewery’s website…

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We also didn’t get a traditional group shot at the end of the evening (streak broken!), so in lieu of that, here are some shots of happy guests and staff throughout the evening.

 

Thanks again to all who participated, and we look forward to next month’s dinner.  The theme is: Keep the Romance Alive – Legendary Aphrodisiacs on Saturday, February 11th, 2017.

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!