Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BYOB Paul Revered in Pictures

"Did you like the famous crepe?", our waitress asked as she whisked away my now empty plate. I gave her a slightly puzzled look but I could see how news of the delicious appetizer could spread quickly - the tamale-like braised, tender pork filling, neatly tucked into a herb-laced savory crepe was the perfect marriage of French refinement and Latin comfort.

We had dropped in on Tuesday night "Neighborhood Appreciation" night where the prix-fixe was $20.

Here's a shot of the crepes again, this time you can see the marinated cauliflower micro-florets and chili sauce. Trey Popp does a great run-down of the flavors you're going to find on this plate over at City Paper - guajillo pepper, Coca-Cola, lemongrass and vinegar. I found this article after we'd dined at Paul...little did I realize that I'd ordered much of what City Paper covered, so here's the pictures to go along with the article.

Elizabeth started with the soup of the day - The French Onion soup was heavy on the croûton and the consistency was on the thicker side of the F.O. soup spectrum, but the flavors were balanced...usually there's an overload of salt when you have a hearty F.O. soup.

The braised short-ribs were fall-off the bone delicious and came served over polenta...a solid rendition of an early-winter comfort dish. The polenta couldn't quite handle the amount of sauce that accompanied the ribs.

Here's a snapshot of another dish that Popp sounded off on, the seared skate wing. The coating was a fine-grained herb crust that reminded me of fried chicken. The skate was cooked perfectly, with a flaky inside, crispy fennel-studded outside, and without that oily heaviness that you can sometimes get with a breaded fish.

The peppery potato-chorizo hash beneath the skate was aggressively spiced...we're talking habanero heat. It's not so much heat that it's unpalatable....I just wish I'd brought a wine that was a little more evenly matched, like a Gewurtz.

It looks like the chef at Paul who served up this meal has left the kitchen.

Here's his side of the story, posted over on Yelp and has since been deleted - thanks to a savvy buddy of mine who scooped up the cached version of the review and broke the news to me.

Don't know if the link is still valid, but if you care to read it...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Short Ribs & Discos Pastry - Frozen Find at Whole Foods Market

The holidays are upon us, which means last-minute appetizers for Christmas parties could be looming on the horizon. These Discos were a nice find for someone like me who is challenged in the pastry department but still wants crank out some crispy & flaky food for the shared table.

For some unknown reason I happened to be browsing the frozen foods section of Whole Foods (we normally don't buy too much frozen, processed food - organic or not) and I saw these little pastry shells sitting beside an array of pre-made empanadas. Somewhere between a wonton or spring roll wrapper and full-on puff-pastry sheets, these 'discos' looked like the perfect solution for quick-fix stuffed appetizers who require a flaky shell.

I bought short ribs, which were seared then braised for 2 hours at a low temp - 325 - until the fell apart into a nice shred. Elizabeth cleaned out the bits of gristle and what we were left with was a decent pile of shredded tender rib-meat.

The meat was sauced in a mild tomato-base, with a liberal douse of vinegar to break up the gelatinous character of the meat...a handful of ancho powder, smoked paprika and a few other seasonings nudged the filling into shape.

The shells were then stuffed and sealed tightly. The first batch we deep-fried and they turned out delicious...crispy on the outside, cracking open with a crunch to reveal a soft and creamy inside. We kept the oil hot enough to prevent sogginess, but you pretty much need to eat these as soon as you can. Overstuffing was the only thing I would avoid next threw off the balance between the crust and the filling and made for a soggier pie.

We also threw one of the pastries in the oven and baked it around 350 until golden brown and flaky. The difference was startling...the shells puffed up nicely and were beyond flaky, much the opposite of the crisped pockets of the fried shells. Unfortunately, our experiments with savory baked pies were overall less impressive, as the filling tended to dry out in the oven.

The baked aren't as decadent and really tended to work better with desserts. For example, the flaky crust paired well with some of Elizabeth's parent's homemade pear preserve as a filling...a bit of vanilla ice cream was all that was missing for that perfect 'pie' effect.