Our kitchen at L2o has seen much change as we adapt to the change in season around us. I always welcome the approaching of the cold weather, as it allows for more hearty methods and techniques in our cooking, and deeper, richer flavors as a result. I find that most associate fish and shellfish with a lighter, more summery style of cooking, yet seafood can achieve a robust, deeply savory character that can contend with any meat dish. A cotriade, a caramelized turbot filet, a bisque with Calvados. The kitchen turns more to coldwater flatfish at this time of year such as Brill, Turbot, and Sole, which have spent the past several weeks fattening themselves before the cold water fully sets in.
This November saw our restaurant awarded a second Michelin star. As a young cook, I poured through the thin, bible paper like pages of the Michelin Guide, memorizing chef and restaurant names. The guide became a form of encyclopedic reference that allowed me a starting point for culinary learning. I would then research and learn about chefs such as Bernard Pacaud, Jacques Pic, Joel Robuchon, Charles Barrier, Olivier Roellinger; restaurants such as Taillevent, Lucas Carton, Les Crayeres, Le Crocodile. I bought cookbooks, I asked questions at work to chefs and sous chefs about their experiences in Michelin restaurants. In 2004, I completed a brief stage at Le Meurice, then a 2 star restaurant, which forever changed my understanding of how accomplished fine dining could actually become. In 2011, my wife and I travelled through France, using the Michelin guide nearly exclusively to find lodging and restaurants in a dozens and dozens of tiny, out of the way towns. I appreciate that the guide is published yearly, giving all under it's sight a perennial opportunity to publicly show improvement. In short, I am humbled that our team is included in such company in a guide that has been so influential to my development.
Michelin Guide, Eastern France Insert, 1997 Edition
While I am grateful for accolades, it is not the fuel upon which our kitchen sustains itself. Like perfume, it cannot be internalized. I am deeply passionate about cooking, and it is the cooking itself on a day to day basis that provides meaning and purpose to our work. We measure our success with a constantly critical eye on every plate, during every service, everyday. And we fully understand that by the very nature of the medium, that a good service today in no way means a good service tomorrow. It is a mentality of healthy paranoia that is born out of respect for the product itself and the tradition of the craft. But the true barometer of our success is simply the happiness of our guests, and it is with them firstly in mind that we strive to improve. If anything, I am happy to increase our visibility to more people, in the hopes that that will translate to more people to cook for.
On the tank side of the kitchen, our newest arrival is the Torteau, or european brown crab. They are built like tanks with very hard, thick shells and very powerful claws. They are an ocean crab, as opposed to the blue crab, which needs brackish waters to survive and are found throughout the British Isles and Channel. They are referred to as the pie crab in England, as the divits along the side of the head resemble the docking on the sides of a pie crust. Their diet is smaller crustaceans, such as mussels and oysters, which they use their claws to smash through the shells of their prey. They arrived unbanded, which made for some nerve racking moments while acclimating them to our tank system. Watch your fingers. The meat that the crab provides, has a flaky characteristic to it like a stone crab, but with a decidedly more savory, deep flavor to it. We look forward to cooking with them soon.
And finally, we have some new entries to the menu as well.
Crab Chip, Old Bay
Ode to Georges Perrier, Bass, Escargot, Pearl Onion, Chartreuse