Inspired by Travel -June 2013

by: Jen Laskey

Inspired by Travel
BY JEN LASKEY

If you’re into food – and really, who isn’t? – here’s a little taste of the eclectic mix of flavors, techniques and ideas that five island chefs brought back from their gastronomic getaways to share at their restaurants this season.

CHRIS FREEMAN
Executive Chef and Owner – Òran Mór

Back in November, Freeman and his family traveled up to MAINE for an educational visit to Pineland Farms and North Star Sheep Farm. Freeman has been sourcing Òran Mór’s beef from Pineland for years and is now beginning a relationship with North Star to source lamb. During their stay, the Freeman family learned about the inner workings of the farms, visited with the animals, toured the hydroponic gardens and the creamery, and sampled products made on-site.

Freeman said the inspiration for his menus varies from year to year (and often from day to day, during the season), but the farm trip definitely influenced what he’s going to be doing in the kitchen this year. Not only is he looking forward to working with the all- natural, quality products of these small New England farms, he’s inspired by the many possible preparations. As Freeman explained it, buying the “whole product” translates into “utilizing the whole animal,” which, he adds, “is always a challenge – and an enjoyable part of cooking.”

This year, Freeman predicted his menus will include farm-fresh meat dishes like Grilled Pineland Farms Beef Petite Tender with Yukon Gold Potato Purée, Garlic Confit, Asparagus and Truffle Vinaigrette; and Grilled North Star Lamb Loin Chop and Sausage Pipérade with Potato-Rosemary Gnocchi, Sweet Pepper Stew, Arugula and Olive Tapenade.

ERIN ZIRCHER
Executive Chef and Partner – Cru Oyster Bar

Cru’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the MEDITERRANEAN, so it’s no surprise that Zircher carved out a few weeks to return there this spring. Joined on different legs of the trip by her sous chef Erin Byrne and managing partner Jane Stoddard, Zircher and her col- leagues tasted their way through Spain and the south of France. The trip reconfirmed her love for simple, delicious, locally-sourced food.

“The thing that I am consistently left with after a trip to the Mediterranean is the quality and simplicity of the food,” said Zircher, adding that the Mediterranean notion of “being true to your surroundings, the ingredients, and yourself” rein- forces her own beliefs about cooking.

Zircher is planning to recreate more of that Mediterranean simplicity in her kitchen this year. Inspired by Catalan classics while in Penedez, she has set her mind to incorporating the components of one dish that she particularly loved into Cru’s new menu: A simple salad
of bitter greens, oil-cured black olives and salted anchovies finished with an almond vinaigrette, smoked paprika and olive oil. She served a southern-French-style seafood stew at Cru’s Cain Vineyards wine dinner during the Nantucket Wine Festival. “It’ll be a riff on the classic bourride,” Zircher said, “using lobster with a backdrop of garlic, orange and fennel.”

CHRIS FREEMAN
Executive Chef and Owner – Òran Mór
Back in November, Freeman and his family traveled up to MAINE for an educational visit to Pineland Farms and North Star Sheep Farm. Freeman has been sourcing Òran Mór’s beef from Pineland for years and is now beginning a relationship with North Star to source lamb. During their stay, the Freeman family learned about the inner workings of the farms, visited with the animals, toured the hydroponic gardens and the creamery, and sampled products made on-site.

Freeman said the inspiration for his menus varies from year to year (and often from day to day, during the season), but the farm trip definitely influenced what he’s going to be doing in the kitchen this year. Not only is he looking forward to working with the all- natural, quality products of these small New England farms, he’s inspired by the many possible preparations. As Freeman explained it, buying the “whole product” translates into “utilizing the whole animal,” which, he adds, “is always a challenge – and an enjoyable part of cooking.”

This year, Freeman predicted his menus will include farm-fresh meat dishes like Grilled Pineland Farms Beef Petite Tender with Yukon Gold Potato Purée, Garlic Confit, Asparagus and Truffle Vinaigrette; and Grilled North Star Lamb Loin Chop and Sausage Pipérade with Potato-Rosemary Gnocchi, Sweet Pepper Stew, Arugula and Olive Tapenade.

GABRIEL FRASCA
Chef and Owner – Ventuno and Straight Wharf Restaurant
"Our everyday life always influences what we’re cooking,” Frasca said. He and his wife (and business partner) Amanda Lydon consider the restaurants to be extensions of their personal lives. What they’re making and eating at home often ends up on a menu.
With new businesses and new babies, Frasca said traveling has been challenging over the last few years, but the family took two short trips this winter. One was to Washington, D.C.

“Our first bite there was such stellar falafel, I can’t shut up about it. And then we had extraordinary ramen,” said Frasca, who is hoping to find a way to do a ramen dish at Straight Wharf this summer.

“The other funny thing that kept coming up was the number of different iterations of baked Alaska. At some point this summer, we’re going to do baked Alaska,” he said, emphatically.
Frasca and Lydon also went to PUERTO RICO, but were admittedly more impressed by the “incredible steak- house” down the street than the local food they sought out. It made Frasca re- flect on the business of food.

“What it reminded me, as eating out always does, is that (success) is all about execution and absolutely nailing it every time,” he said.

Frasca never starts the season with a set menu.

He gathers his chefs de cuisine and draws on their experience as well as his own, and creates menus that are driven daily by fresh ingredients.

“There are so many different ways to do ‘delicious’,” he said.

“Once you get there, what separates you is all of the other details.”

For Frasca, that means execution. In other words, as he puts it, “nailing it dish after dish after dish.”

STEPHEN MARCAURELLE
Chef de Cuisine – The Boarding House

Marcaurelle took trips to Vancouver, Minneapolis and BOSTON this winter, and he came back to Nantucket with a renewed dedication to refinement.

“If you’re only going to have five ingredients on the plate,” he said, “they have to be absolutely perfect.”

Marcaurelle pointed out that chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonet at Coppa in Boston execute this very well. He was particularly inspired by Coppa’s tuna crudo with dashi vinaigrette, and he plans to dress The Boarding House’s Tuna Crudo and Farm-Fresh Radish Salad with his own version of it.

While in Boston, Marcaurelle also reunited with his former mentor, chef Anthony Mozzotta, and worked a stint under him at Catalyst. That experience yielded a new dish as well: a grilled and lacquered swordfish with garlic confit, eggplant, pepper, summer squash, a pine nut purée and an Espelette-marrow vinaigrette with mint.

But it wasn’t just Boston that inspired Marcaurelle. He brought back a few ideas from Vancouver restaurants like Hawkworth and Meat and Bread, too. Keep an eye out for his Deviled Duck Eggs with Smoked Trout Roe, Onion Ash and Sorrel and his recreation of the best sandwich he’s ever had: Porchetta with “crispy, crackling skin” and salsa verde on a crusty baguette.

TOM BERRY
Chef and Partner – The Proprietors
Traveling and tasting food in different locations helps Berry “con- nect” with cuisines and ingredients, and that’s evident when you listen to him recount the dishes he encountered on his recent travels to Chicago, Austin, Dallas, Ireland, Scotland, London, Paris, BARCELONA, Madrid, Portland and Portsmouth.

Ever since his trip to the Basque region a year ago, Berry has had plancha grilling and the shared-plate experience on his mind. This year, with an eye toward honing his new menu, he sought out restaurants in both the States and Europe that are promoting these concepts.

At La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, he was excited by the Scallops with The Roe a la Plancha at Kiosko Universal. Using techniques he ob- served in Spain, Berry will be serving his own plancha dishes, including Grass Fed Bavette Steak with Smoked Salt, Potato Purée, Aigre Doux and Marrow Baste. Another highlight on Berry’s gastro-tour was the Sepia with Celery, Almonds and Fried Rosemary served at The Purple Pig in Chicago. Berry felt encouraged when he saw diners eating and sharing multiple dishes in this non-Spanish restaurant.

I like food to resonate with me,” Berry said. “I want to feel connected to the dishes I create, and hopefully I can pass that along to our diners. In a lot of ways, the menu at The Proprietors will be my story, as told through ingredients and techniques.”

Jen Laskey is a contributing writer to Nantucket Today and The Inquirer and Mirror.






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