Page 1


DISH IS PRODUCED BY CITY NEWSPAPER. PUBLISHERS: William and Mary Anna Towler ASST. TO THE PUBLISHERS: Matthew Walsh EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT: ( EDITOR: Eric Rezsnyak Contributing Writers: James Leach, Dayna Papaleo, Kate Stathis ART DEPARTMENT: ( PRODUCTION MANAGER: Max Seifert Designers: Aubrey Berardini, Matt DeTurck Photographers: Matt DeTurck, Jeffrey Marini ADVERTISING: ( ADVERTISING MANAGER: Betsy Matthews Sales: Tom Decker, Annalisa Iannone, William Towler On the cover: Steak au poivre, photographed by Jeffrey Marini DISH is published by WMT Publications, Inc. Copyright by WMT Publications Inc., 2010 all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, photocopying, recording or by any information storage retrieval system without permission of the copyright owner.



Keep the home fires burning Or, how to intentionally set your meal ablaze Several years ago, I acquired the “Time Life Picture Cookbook” — a gigantic coffee tablestyle book published in 1958. Aside from its cool pictures of men barbecuing in suits and ties, and children eating their lunches in kitchens with atomic symbols on the curtains, the cookbook gave me a window into a world long past. There are pictures of waiters in Paris taking apart pressed ducks tableside, of unctuous servers standing before carts on which crepes suzette are about to be made, and of turbaned waiters at Chicago’s Pump Room delivering flaming shish kebabs to delighted diners. Just as you don’t see waiters in turbans much anymore, tableside service and flambeeing anything (at least on purpose) is pretty much a thing of the past, a victim of the evolution of the service industry. Fifty years ago, when waitering was still a career, and restaurant dining was a special occasion, you could depend on the ability of at least some of the guys (and they were all men) working the front of the house to be able to flame an order of steak au poivre, or assemble bananas foster or cherries jubilee. Today, it’s pretty much a lost art, found in only a handful of places, and then confined primarily to dessert. And more often than not it’s the chef or pastry chef who comes out of the kitchen to put the torch to your dessert. The vogue for all things brulee of late seemed to augur a return to the age of fire in the kitchen — home cooks flocked to the cooking stores to buy sleek, expensive blowtorches to melt sugar atop their custards and fresh fruit. But that didn’t seem to translate into a return to the flashier side of cooking. So, I decided that it was about time to revive some old standbys, bringing fire to breakfast, dinner, and dessert. Alas, a flaming cocktail that didn’t require the assembling talent of a brain surgeon was beyond me. Before we begin, my wife — who insists that this sort of thing probably isn’t covered by our home owners’ policy — wants me to say a few words about how to flambe safely. First, make sure you have the proper safety equipment. Even if it’s not right next to you, make sure that a fire extinguisher is handy  CITY • DISH SPRING 2010

whenever you are playing with fire. Whatever pan you happen to be cooking should have a tight fitting lid that you can slap down on top of it if things start to get out of hand (this won’t just save your house, it might also save your dinner or dessert). Flambeing in a lightweight pan is a sure invitation to burned food or a flash fire, so make sure you are using a heavy, uncoated sautee pan. A final word on firing things up: if you do decide to follow these recipes, I strongly encourage you to use a wooden kitchen match rather than a long-stemmed click lighter to start the fire. As remote as the possibility is, with a click lighter you are holding a handful of lighter fluid. With a match you’ve got a tiny piece of wood. So, you still want to set your

breakfast, dinner, or dessert on fire? Good. There are several factors you will need to take into consideration in order to do it right every time. First, the booze that you use has to be at least 80 proof (that is, 40 percent alcohol). In order to get a dish to catch fire, Steak au poivre, after the flames have subsided. both the liquor and the sauce on which it floats need to be — a guarantee that your significant other boiling hot — it’s the vapor coming off will never let you try this at home again. the liquor that ignite, not the liquid itself. In order to flambe successfully, you also Next, you must have all of your ingredients need to rein in your startle reflex. Accept at hand, and you must have your matches that flames are going to happen. Don’t get in easy reach. Pouring the rum or cognac flustered, and keep your pot lid handy just into the pan and then walking away for five in case. Your emergency sequence should be minutes to find a match is not going to serve as follows: lid on, pan off of the heat source, you well. Depending on how hot the sauce turn off the heat source. You might want to is, it might burst into uncontrolled flames run through this as a dry run a couple of while you are on the other side of the room continues on page 6



continues from page 4

The finished bananas foster French toast.

times before you break out the liquor and matches. All of the recipes here (with the exception of the French toast under the bananas, which is my own excuse for setting breakfast on fire) are old-school tableside service standards, but I only know of two places in our area where you can still find even a glimmer of the past: Warfield’s in Clifton Springs, where they do cherries jubilee and bananas foster tableside, and Red Osier in Stafford, where diners can watch bananas foster being made for them. My wife was very disappointed to find out that there really wasn’t any alternative to allowing me to start fires in our kitchen.

Bananas Foster French Toast Pain Perdu (quantities are for two servings) 2 thick-cut slices of bread 2 eggs 1/4 cup of milk or cream 1 tsp vanilla Dash of cinnamon 2 tsp sugar 1/2 tbsp butter 1/2 tbsp olive, canola, or peanut oil.

Bananas Foster (quantities are for two servings) 1 ripe banana, cut into thick slices or rounds


2 tbsp butter (increase by 1 tbsp for two or more servings) 3 tbsp light or dark brown sugar 1/2 tsp lemon zest Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg 1/4 cup rum (light, dark, spiced, it really doesn’t matter)

1. In a shallow dish, beat together egg, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. Slide the bread into the mixture and poke it several times with a fork to make sure that the egg mixture soaks in. Turn the bread once, carefully. Most of the egg mixture should soak into the bread, giving it the consistency of a very wet (and very fragile) sponge. 2. Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat, keeping a careful eye on the pan to make sure that the butter does not burn (the olive oil will help to temper the butter’s finicky nature). 3. Using a spatula, transfer the custardsoaked bread to the waiting frying pan, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook until the underside of the each slice is golden (a good indication of this is that the edges of the bread will start to darken). Flip the slices, cook until golden, and then transfer the finished French toast to plates (as rich as this dish is, one slice is more than adequate for a hearty breakfast). 4. While cooking the French toast, in a separate pan melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add sliced bananas and cook until the fruit begins to darken and smell sweet. Heat the rum in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for 30 seconds. 5. Add brown sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon to the pan and swish about liberally, making sure this mixture coats the bananas. Increase heat to medium high, bringing contents to a fast boil. 6. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the rum. Return the pan to high heat allowing it to come to a furious boil. 7. Ignite the sauce with a wooden match. When flames subside, spoon the the bananas and sauce over the French toast and serve immediately.

Steak au Poivre

1 1/2-2 lbs of any relatively lean steak: hanger steak, New York Strip steak, or filet mignon are preferable 3 tbsp black peppercorns, roughly cracked continues on page 8 ROCHESTERCITYNEWSPAPER.COM 


continues from page 7

1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp butter 1/2 cup beef stock or beef broth Juice of one lemon Dash of Worcestershire sauce 1/8 tsp dijon mustard (optional, works particularly well with whiskey-based sauces) Zest of one lemon 1 shallot, minced 2 oz. cognac, brandy, or whiskey (depends on preference) 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

1. Trim steaks of any exterior fat and gristle. Break larger steaks down into uniformly sized pieces about 1”–1 ½” thick and no larger than about one-third of one pound to ensure even cooking. 2. Season the steaks with salt, and press the coarsely ground peppercorns into the flesh, coating both sides of each steak evenly. Combine beef stock, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and mustard in a small bowl, and set aside. In a glass measuring cup, heat two ounces of liquor for 30 seconds in the microwave.


3. Place a heavy, non-Teflon-coated, pan over high heat, add olive oil. When there is a faint shimmer across the surface of the oil, add the steaks, cooking them to what Irma and Marion Rombauer call the “desired degree of rareness.” Give the steaks about two to three minutes per side depending on how rare you like them. It is, however, a crime to cook a good steak more than medium (or even medium rare). You may want to cook the steaks slightly less than you otherwise might: the flaming alcohol and the sauce at the end of this recipe will add some heat to the meat. 4. Remove the steaks to a side platter. Give the alcohol in the microwave another 30 seconds of heat. Lower the heat under the pan, and spoon or pour off all but the smallest amount of the accumulated fat. Add butter, shallots and lemon zest to the pan and increase the heat to mediumhigh, sauteeing until fragrant. Add beef stock mixture to the pan, scraping up any browned bits that have accumulated in the course of cooking. Increase heat to high and bring the sauce to a rapid boil. Return the steaks to the pan.

5. Remove the booze from the microwave, grab a wooden match. Make an excuse to call your friends and family into the kitchen. (Note, you could do this tableside with an electric hotplate, but doing it in the kitchen at least allows you to pretend that you aren’t just showing off). 6. Add the cognac, brandy, or whiskey, bring it to a boil, and light the match. As long as the sauce continues to boil and you keep the pan over the heat source, the flames will continue until the easily available alcohol in the sauce is burned off. 7. Remove the steaks to a platter, and either pour the finished sauce over them (which makes a classic steak au poivre), or whisk the cream into the sauce and then pour half of the sauce over the steaks (serving the rest on the side) to make the more contemporary and familiar version of the dish.





The other side of the kitchen Local chefs pick their favorite dining spots “Food is our common ground, a universal experience,” culinarian James Beard wrote. But our personal preferences in the matter could not vary more wildly. Gabbing about food offers an interesting insight into your fellow man: their loves, their hates, where they’ve been, where they hope to go. For purposes of this piece I got to go straight to the professional chefs, the ones who nourish us when we venture out of our own kitchens for something special. Spending long, hot hours over the flames hasn’t diminished their love of food, and even though chefs have access to some of the most delicious chow money can buy, sometimes they just want a hot dog. Chef: Jeff Traphagan of Rocco

(165 Monroe Ave)

A Night Off, A Night Out: 2Vine (“a highly

educated American bistro”), King and I, or Chen Garden. Comfort-Food Spot: South Wedge Diner Area’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret:

Rio Tomatlan in Canandaigua, El Rincon in Sodus Three Things In His Refrigerator: Garlic-chili sauce, butter, hot-pepper cheese Guilty Pleasure: “Anything with sugar in it. I would eat like 14 ice-cream bars or six Butterfingers a day if I could.” Favorite Cookbook: “American Cookery” by James Beard Chef: Nick Grammatico of Piranha

(682 Park Ave)

Most Memorable Meal: “The day before 9/11 I

had 11 courses at Nobu and then saw Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies the last night of the Wetlands. Favorite Cookbook: “I’ll give you three: ‘The Professional Chef, Eighth Edition,’ ‘The Flavor Bible,’ and Harold McGee’s ‘On Food and Cooking.’” Chef: Dan Martello of Good Luck

(50 Anderson Ave)

A Night Off, A Night Out: Max of

A Night Off, A Night Out: Rocco Comfort-Food Spot: India House. “Right now

Comfort-Food Spot: James Brown’s Place.

I’m on an Indian-food kick.”

Eastman Place

“I lived across the street and ate there every single day.” Area’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret: Swan Market on Parsells Avenue Three Things In His Refrigerator: Genny Light, bacon, good cheese Guilty Pleasure: “My weakness is any salted, cured meats.” 10 CITY • DISH SPRING 2010

Seth Lindahl of Max Chophouse recommends Shiki, James Brown’s Place, and Dogtown.

Area’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret: Tu Casa on

St. Paul Street. “It’s a porkarama.” Three Things In His Refrigerator: Beer,

mustards and hot sauces, leftovers Guilty Pleasure: Chicken wings Most Memorable Meal: “The first time I went to Prune in New York City... matzo-ball soup with fried chicken skin.”

Favorite Cookbook: French cookbooks by

Richard Olney

Chef: Art Rogers of Lento (274 N Goodman St) A Night Off, A Night Out: Rocco Comfort-Food Spot: Dinosaur Barbecue Area’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret: Lento Three Things In His Refrigerator: Beer, “my

wife’s homemade granola,” leftovers Guilty Pleasure: White hot dogs from Donna Daddy’s, a cart parked across from Village Gate Most Memorable Meal: Chez Panisse in Berkeley. “That’s what we hope to achieve one day; it’s sort of a mecca for Slow Food.” Favorite Cookbook: “Cooking By Hand” by Paul Bertolli Chef: Paul Brewer of The Tap and Mallet

(381 Gregory St)

A Night Off, A Night Out: Ember Woodfire

Grill in Livonia

Comfort-Food Spot: Korea House Area’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret: “Can I say

my restaurant? Because I don’t think enough people know about us.” Three Things In His Refrigerator: Pulled pork, asparagus, and white wine Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate Most Memorable Meal: “The pork belly I had at the Rabbit Room in Honeoye Falls.” Favorite Cookbook: “The French Laundry” by Thomas Keller Chef: Seth Lindahl of Max Chophouse

(1456 Monroe Ave)

A Night Off, A Night Out: Shiki Comfort-Food Spot: James Brown’s Place Area’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret: Dogtown Three Things In His Refrigerator: Edamame

in the freezer, cheese, eggs Guilty Pleasure: “A Garbage Plate with mac salad, home fries, everything, and extra sauce.” Most Memorable Meal: Melisse in Los Angeles. “I worked there for a year, and the chef made 21 courses for a friend and me. None of it was on the menu.” Favorite Cookbook: “The French Laundry” by Thomas Keller





Upper crust

A look at local fancy sandwiches

The beef tenderloin sandwich at Pomodoro features a 4 oz. steak, carmelized onions, and go rgonzola.

Sometimes, when the demands of the world leave you feeling pressed and wafer thin, packed between obligations and carelessly speared by some pick with a garish plastic frill, you might reach for consolation in a comforting bowl of hot soup. Soup certainly takes in the tears, but how do we gather the courage to face the world again? Like a motivating coach calling us back to the hustle of the game, Soup’s good friend Sandwich understands the many layers of a situation, reminding us that what we need is to just get a handle on what waits before us and take a bite. Even the most basic handheld sustenance can provide comfort, but a fancy sandwich? Now we’re talking. There’s certainly no shortage of upscale sandwiches here in Rochester, but how about a great sandwich that’s fancy, unusual, and even enlightening? I set out to find such a thing, a quest that has taken me around Rochester. While not all the fancy sandwiches I tried cut the Dijon, there were definite highlights: If there’s any place in town to grab a fancy sandwich, it’s Park Avenue. Still, deciding among the many cafes with appetizing offerings and cute sidewalk seating can be disorienting, making the menu at Magnolia’s (366 Park Ave, 271-7380, helpful. Named for nearby neighborhood streets, the sandwiches make for a sort of map, with the “Alexander” ($8.25) at the top. Fancy but not shmancy, the Alexander is a somewhat modest sandwich of solid white albacore tuna, 12 CITY • DISH SPRING 2010

bacon, red onions, and raspberry vinaigrette on a grilled Baker Street Bakery deli roll. Magnolia’s has perfected the tuna-mayocelery ratio, making for a slopless scoop that’s not too dry, with fine bits of celery that aren’t too distracting. The onions are thinly sliced, adding crisp but unobtrusive pluck, and the bacon is well done. Raspberry vinaigrette brings it all together, both in tangy sweetness and in color, seeping pink through the bacon’s burgundy and onions’ magenta into the tuna and bread, creating a mild magnolia effect within sight of the real deal lining nearby Oxford Street. Hey, it’s true. And if that’s not fancy enough, customers can choose from a list of breads and posh ingredients to customize their own Park Ave sandwich. Served with chips and a pickle. Why waste time by using an entire hand going from sandwich to fries, fries to sandwich, when you can just have it all at once? And what’s that coleslaw doing on your plate instead of inside the bread? So it goes in Pittsburgh, and now here it is in Rochester, where Sticky Lips (625 Culver Rd, 288-1910, puts its own spin on tradition with its “Pittsburgh Style Sandwiches” ($7.49). You can choose one of eight meat or vegetarian options (including portabella mushroom), which is combined with seasoned fries, tomato, and mustard coleslaw, all piled between two slices of jalapeno cornbread and then grilled. While the expected kick of the

bread may be a bit muted by the breadth of flavors within, it’s still a yummy, messy treat. When ordered as a dinner ($9.95), choose two of the many Southern-inspired sides (such as the indulgent, gooey chorizo cheddar grits) and stave off the urge to stuff them, too, into the sandwich. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to just grab the steak off your plate and eat it like a caveman, Pomodoro (1290 University Ave, 271-5000, offers elegant means. The “Grilled Beef Tenderloin” lunch sandwich, with caramelized onions and gorgonzola ($10), is both adult and animalistic. The meat is not ground, sliced, or otherwise marred; it’s a full-on 4 oz.-5 oz. steak, prepared to order and tastefully — temptingly — presented. This sandwich is served open, on simple French bread from Baker Street Bakery, releasing the aroma of what seems like a solid mass of French onion soup. The gorgonzola sits atop, melting just a little, while the upper half of the sandwich sits smartly alongside, preserving the cool of lettuce and tomato until you’re ready to bring it all together. The remaining third of the plate is a nice portion of the house pasta salad, rounding it all off as a complete meal. The way this sandwich eats may be immodest to describe…I’ve already said too much. Our gentle vegan brethren might like a sandwich too, which makes Java’s Café (16 Gibbs St, 232-4820, a nice place to lunch. The “Organic Tofu Lin” ($6.50) is light and tasty, served with tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, greens, alfalfa sprouts, and your choice of about 10 homemade dressings. The mango curry vinaigrette offers a nice tang to the fresh veggies that top the thin, flavorful strips of marinated tofu. Served on fresh ciabatta, this sandwich comes with no sides, making a light but satisfying mid-day repast, paired nicely with a specialty beverage for sitting outside, soaking in the sunshine, and catching the occasional glimpses — and glances, perhaps — of interesting passersby. Served for lunch only. The interior of Open Face Sandwich Eatery (651 South Ave, 232-3050, is as interesting as the South Wedge neighborhood in which it’s located. You might hardly notice any view at all, however, other than the plate in front of continues on page 14 ROCHESTERCITYNEWSPAPER.COM 13


continues from page 13

you when presented with the unusual, original sandwiches for which Open Face is known. Take the vegetarian “Corn Mash” ($7.95). A study in color, texture, and flavor, the Corn Mash is what chef and co-owner Jared Valentine describes as “gourmet comfort food.” The mash itself, a warm and mushy concoction of roasted corn, seasonings, and bits of red bell pepper, basks on a bread of choice (rye is nice), topped with strips of cheddar (or without, for a vegan meal), mixed greens, a sweet drizzle of apricot barbeque glaze, and a generous sprinkling of those delightful Frenchfried onions, all served up toasted and, well, open-faced. When ordered with the ginger carrots (there are other side options, but the carrots offer a refreshing pucker), the effect is somehow both soothing and stimulating. With that light ping of red bell pepper in the mix, the flavor builds upon each bite, leaving a pleasing warm spiciness to savor long after its sunset colors vanish from view. Each component of the “Turkey and Brie in a Baguette” ($7.95) served at the George Eastman House Café (900 East Ave, 271-3361 ext. 223, is essential, including the heat that toasts it. A hot, crusty shell encases a hearty, stylish interior of sliced roasted turkey, softened brie, and the one ingredient that remains ever-changing: the dressing. Chef and café manager ToniLynn Palozzi keeps an interesting rotation going, with the popular cranberry relish always on hand. Still, she likes to mix things up and try out other flavors, sometimes offering a cilantro-orange marmalade, sometimes a basil pesto to make the zesty “Alberto.” But it doesn’t even matter; it’s always good, and it’s most enjoyable after a day at the museum, or for a break between strolls through the gardens, or as a prelude to a film screening at the Dryden. Served with a pickle and a choice of side. Did we miss your favorite local fancy sandwich? Tell us about it by commenting on this article at





Dish 2010  

City Newspaper's annual food and dining special.

Dish 2010  

City Newspaper's annual food and dining special.