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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

 

 

Advertisements

May 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Kickin’ Ash: Smoked and Grilled

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.

Keep the Romance Alive: Legendary Aphrodisiacs

February 2017’s Full Moon Dinner at the Windy Level put an emphasis on Valentine’s Day and the {ahem} spirit that it brings.

Throughout time, people have tried to figure out an easy way for their partners (and themselves) to get in the mood.  While researching the topic of foods that were purported to have the qualities of an aphrodisiac , we found that most of the common factors were a tendency to be heart-healthy, contain antioxidants, and get the blood pumping.

Before we get into the food and wine, here are some gratuitous shots of the Caribbean Sunset and Blue Water:

 

This was our menu (which was apparently too tongue-in-cheek to be approved for :

Baby, I Like It Raw: Oyster Three-way    Olive Pesto / Pickled Burdock Mignonette / Compressed Watermelon

You’re Really Hot, Honey     House Burrata / Avocado / Citrus Salad / Chili-Infused Honey / Basil

Nice Package!         Artichoke Strudel / Arugula / Fig Jam / Pepitas / Tomato

There’s Plenty of Fish…      Plantain-Stuffed Scottish Salmon / Ginseng-Coconut Couscous / Balsamic-Grilled Asparagus / Lobster Sauce

Warm, Sweet, and Creamy       Cinnamon Poached Pear / Vanilla Crème Anglaise

Take Me Home, Already        Surprise Parting Gift  (it was a Chocolate-Covered Long Stem Strawberry)

 

We partnered up with Dale Miller, owner of AB Cellars, who provided some great Italian selections for our meal.  We also welcomed chef Vinny Alterio to the team for his first dinner with us!

 

Oyster Course

We splurged and got some really nice product in for this one.  A trio of fresh oysters included Blue Point, Wianno, and Katama varieties.

 

We even had a Peeky Crab or two in the mix!  The Blue Points went with the Olive Pesto, the Wianno with the Burdock Root, and the Katama went in a Watermelon Shooter.

Plating was with some rock salt, grilled citrus, smoking thyme, and pickled watermelon rind.

Pairing: Calliope Prosecco

 

 

Cheese Course

We made our own Mozzarella Burrata, stuffed with Garden Herbs and Ricotta.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some fresh Avocado, a Citronette Salad, Habanero Salt, and Chili-Honey rounded out the flavors, and a Flax-Hemp-Chia Seed Cracker added the necessary crunch factor.

Pairing: 2013 Colli Vincenti Pinot Grigio

 

Salad Course

For our artichoke strudel, we took fresh Artichoke Barigoule and tossed it with caramelized onions, as well as roasted and pureed Bottle Gourds from our garden (locally called Sweet Go’, they can reach the size of an adult’s arm!) and put them mixture into phyllo dough.  They have been so abundant in our garden, we gave away three of them to guests along with four bottles of wine in our monthly raffle (Congratulations to Sharelle who won two bottles of wine and one bottle gourd!)

Finishing off the plate, we added locally grown Arugula, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes from our garden, Pepitas, and a Fig Jam for a bit of unctuous flavor.

Pairing: 2012 Cerretello Chianti Superiore

 

Fish Course

Normally, we like to serve locally caught seafood, but once in a while, it’s nice to mix it up and get in something special.  It was our first encounter with the Ora King product, and we couldn’t have been more pleased.  The organically raised King Salmon met every expectation of quality we could ask for, although it was quite pricey (but worth it).

img_3051

 

We figured it was best to keep things relatively simple, so we did a Coconut Israeli Cous-Cous, Lobster Sauce, Reduced Balsamic, Asparagus, and a Plantain Stuffing.  We kept the skin and crisped it up.  The flavor combo was amazing!  The salmon and plantain was seared and then lightly roasted to a medium temperature, letting the fattiness open up but keeping the flesh tender and flaky.

A non-traditional pairing of the 2005 Moro di Pava Super Tuscan was just what this dish called for, mixing the rich, hearty flavors of the food with the complex meritage of Merlot, Cab Franc, and Sangiovese.

 

Dessert Course (not pictured)

The Poached Pear we did was not overtly sweet.  The Sous Vide technique allowed us to reach the perfect temperature and texture while retaining the pear’s own juices.  Cooked with cinnamon and a touch of the paired Vin Santo dessert wine (made from Trebbiano Grapes), we plated it with a bit of Vanilla Creme Anglaise and some Aquafaba that we torched to a golden brown.

Pairing: Vin Santo Dessert Wine

 

Recap

All 44 guests left with a long-stemmed chocolate covered strawberry, and hopefully feeling a bit more amorous than when they arrived.  Below is a list of some of the ingredients that we used and their purported effects.  Thanks to everyone who attended and worked this event!  For March 2017, we will be doing a Five Course Vegan interpretation of the “Worm Moon” on Friday, March 10th. Come join us and experience the Windy Level for yourself!

fullsizerender

Aphrodisiacs

 

Oysters – Zinc (men) – men lose zinc with every climax.  Also contain Amino Acids

Pine Nuts – Zinc

Olive Oil – Healthy Heart

Burdock – Used for sterility and impotence in China

Watermelon – Lycopene (relaxes blood vessels)

 

Avocado – Vitamin E

Chili – Endorphins (Increased heart rate) Capsacin

Honey – Boron (regulates estrogen).  Mead (from Honey) was traditionally served on Honeymoon, hence the name.

 

Artichoke – Silymarin (heart health & liver function)

Arugula – Minerals and antioxidants to block contaminants

Fig – Potassium

Pepitas – Magnesium (raise testosterone)

 

Salmon – Omega 3 (heart health)

Plantain – Bromelain (triggers testosterone productions)

Ginseng – Saponins (increased energy)

Coconut – Increased blood flow

 

Cinnamon – Raises Body Temp

Vanilla – Stimulates nerves

Red Wine – Reservatrol antioxidant (increased blood flow)

 

Chocolate – tryptophan, is a building block of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal