Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Collaboration Kitchen with Chef Amy DiBiase

Amy DiBiase prepping the shrimp ceviche

This past Sunday we attended the latest Collaboration Kitchen dinner - a monthly event at Catalina Offshore Products. The "collaboration" is between Catalina (who provide the fish), Specialty Produce (who provide - you guessed it - the produce) and a guest chef who does the cooking. This month the chef was Amy DiBiase, who is now the executive chef at the Cosmopolitan Restaurant in Old Town.

The first dish she and her sous chef prepared was a shrimp ceviche. Unlike many shrimp ceviches which pre-cook the shrimp, this dish was only marinated - but for a longer period of time than is typical. This gave the shrimp a softer, but very pleasant texture. Persian cucumber added crunch, and orange juice and pureed melon rounded out the flavor.

Shrimp Ceviche

The event was part Catalina Offshore infomercial - but not in a bad way. This is Dan from Catalina talking about the Mano de Leon ("Lion's Paw") sea scallops they sell:

Dan from Catalina Offshore Products talking Mano de Leon scallops

And here is Tommy from Catalina slicing some up for sashimi:

Tommy Gomes cutting Mano de Leon scallops for sashimi

We've gotten these scallops before (see our Dishes with Fishes post from a few weeks back) and they are fantastic. We've done a nice ceviche with them, but had never had them raw before. It was fantastic - even without any seasoning.

Chef DiBiase's second dish featured the Mano de Leon scallops. Here she is searing them up with two pans going at full bore:

Searing scallops

And the final dish - served with a salad of zebra potatoes with sugar plums and lovely sprigs of tarragon:

Seared scallop with potato salad

Perfect cook on the scallop, and the potato salad was very good as well.

The next dish was halibut poached in olive oil:

Poaching halibut in olive oil

It was served with asparagus, and plated on a brandade and topped with a cream sauce and toasted panko crumbs.

Olive oil poached halibut with brandade, asparagus, citrus cream and panko crumbs

Meanwhile, Tommy was slicing up some raw yellowtail:

Tommy Gomes cutting yellowtail sashimi

The yellowtail was good, but he also cut up some sushi-grade halibut which, drizzled with some soy, might have been my favorite single bite of the evening (sorry, I didn't get a picture).

The final dish was grouper. It had been marinated in citrus:

Grouper in a citrus marinade

and was cooked on a flat top grill:

Cooking grouper on a flat top

They served the grouper with caponata (which was light on the capers, thankfully).

Pan-seared grouper with caponata

This last dish was probably our favorite. The grouper was cooked perfectly and the caponata went with it very well.

Overall it was a very fun experience and a fantastic meal. The Catalina team were great hosts and Chef DiBiase and her sous chef did an impressive job of putting out four stellar dishes for about 60 people in just two hours time. Her restaurant may well be worth braving Old Town for.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Avocado Varieties

Nabal, Fuerte and Reed Avacados

When I first moved to San Diego, avocado was synonymous for Hass - I wasn't really even aware that there were other kinds. San Diego is avocado central, though, and I've since broadened my exposure to different varieties of the tasty fruit.

Pictured above is this weeks haul from our farmers market. The one on the left is a Nabal. We hadn't heard of the variety before, but we had some for breakfast this morning (with tomato on toast) and it was really, really good - great flavor and super-creamy. The one in the middle is a Fuerte - we've been getting nice versions of these for several months, but they're more of a spring crop and this is the last of them. The big guy on the right is a Reed - I bet we can make a good-sized batch of guacamole with that one alone!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

For us, the Fourth of July means sunshine and ribs. While San Diego uncharacteristically let us down on the sunshine front, the ribs definitely shone through.

Happy Fourth!