Sunday, July 7, 2013
A Riff on Deviled Eggs & the Terrible Torture of Waiting
The act of waiting for something, something important...critical even, can be torture.
That's where I find myself.
I have laid low these past few weeks. Or has it been months? (I'm not even sure any more.) To be perfectly candid---at least for the two or three people who might find themselves reading this blog---I have been working very hard to acquire a true bricks and mortar dream for the Beech Tree. I have been turning over in my mind the image of a small establishment, not far from my home, where I can do some creative cooking, offer a wine list that can fire up a bit of imagination and celebrate the Ontario terroir...all at relatively affordable prices.
Serendipitously, I found just such a place this Spring. I have spent the last several months working hard with a partner to secure it. Between financing, legal pitfalls, bureaucratic quagmires and good old fashioned delayed decision making, it has crawled along at a pace reminiscent of slow oozing molasses. And yet, despite the tortoise-like dynamic of my business venture, I remain optimistic. I have three menus designed and semi-developed that are based around local seasonal ingredients. I have ordered the ultra-cool rustic 100% cotton napkins for crying out loud. I just need the keys to the front door and I'm ready to go. So, that's where I am; a cyclical, limbo-like restaurant purgatory. Because of this, I've felt little enthusiasm in writing the blog. I'm too busy building up for the next step.
But then I made this little lunch, and I just had to share it. I suppose for some context, I have been utterly lost in the meandering prose of David Chang's Momofuku cook book.
Dare I call it a cook book?
It is a treatise on how to open a restaurant and also how not to open a restaurant. It is as philosophical as it is informational. I have not been this inspired about food in a long time. And yet, how does pan-Asian cuisine inspire someone who wants to open, for lack of a better a term, a 'gastropub'? A solid question I suppose. David Chang has a pretty simple take on cooking; make food that tastes good, comes from quality ingredients and doesn't cost too much. That's it. Nothing fussy. Just good food. So when these boiled eggs emerged from their shells with that perfect, slightly marbled texture of soft yolk mingled with set yolk, revealing a slightly cracked surface like not-quite-hardened golden cement, I knew I had a photograph on my hand. Frankly, I don't like deviled eggs. And yet the combination of fresh, properly boiled eggs with a creamy mayonnaise and something spicy makes perfect senses. So here's what I did:
I boiled the eggs, then shocked them with cold water and shelled them. You want the yolk to be set but just slightly soft in the dead centre. Then I took about eight jalapeno peppers, de-seeded them, cut out the ribs and the stems and then blitzed them in a food processor with a clove of peeled garlic, a really good bunch of parsley, a few basil leaves, some Maldon salt and a squeeze of lemon. I bashed this up for a while in the food processor and then started drizzling in some lovely, unfiltered new season olive oil (the stuff that is really cloudy and has a fresh-cut grass taste to it). Once emulsified, I got this spicy elixir in a mason jar to set up in the fridge for a bit. To assemble the dish, I halved the egg, put a dot of home made mayonaise on each half, followed by some very coarsely ground pepper and a bit of feathery dill fronds. I dropped a generous dollop of the hot, yet beautifully fresh jalapeno pesto on the side and added a few quartered cherry tomatoes. Lastly, a greedy drizzle of that spicy and pungent young olive oil all over everything. A lunch for the ages.
What about the restaurant? I still wait. So close, yet seemingly out of reach. If anyone chomped at the bit till bleeding it is me. I hope to turn that key within the next fortnight. In the mean time, I'll keep churning out little culinary epiphanies like this. It may very well be the only thing keeping me sane.