2016 All Oyster Dinner is Now in the Books
One would think that after doing this event for the last seven years in a row that I wouldn’t get so nervous. At the Jackalope Grill, the entire kitchen looks at these special event dinners as a special kind of exam. It’s a mid-term of sorts. That includes me, the chef and owner. Then again, I get nervous over a driver’s license exam.
For these special events, I take take at least one of the courses to do myself and each member of the staff gets their own project. I sketch out just what I’m looking for and off they go. (Of course, I’m constantly looking over their shoulder.) But this time, the first course was mine. I wanted to work with the image of an oyster at home in the salt water. So I collected the oyster liquor (which holds much of the flavor) and steeped it with sake, konbu and fresh ginger. After adding gelatin, It went into the mold with the shucked oyster. Unmolded just before service and set into a marinated seaweed nest, trout caviar, red bell pepper curls and salt crystals finished it up. Voilà, a re-imagined oyster.
Phil produced three jells to pair with the freshly shucked oysters. We worked over the taste, composition and color for a few days but, in the end, decided on an apple-wasabi, ponzu and shiso. It was like making really cool jello flavors.
I resisted the urge to make the soup look and taste like tom kha gai. The straight forward approach let the oyster flavors shine.
Mark worked for days on the sausage course. These creations are extremely delicate– light on the tongue but packed with flavor. The sheep casing proved frustrating to deal with but in the end well worth it.
We had a wonderful crowd this year. Since meeting Tim Hanni MW, I’m particularly interested is your impressions of how these dishes worked with the wine you brought in. If you’de like to share, I can be reached by the email email@example.com. I’ve already thought of new ideas to explore all things oyster and I’ll be keeping notes. We’ll hope to see you next winter’s All Oyster Dinner.