Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cooking Demo: Origen

Today's first demo was by Daniel Clayton and Trace Leighton from Origen in Berkeley.  They describe their restaurant as "farm to fork", with a very seasonal menu, including  a five course chefs tasting menu designed to highlight whatever is fresh.

Throughout their demo, their love for the market and local farms was clear, and although I've never been, I'm sure this carries over into their restaurant.  They knew the names of every merchant, told many stories about shopping at the markets, and were clearly passionate and committed to buying as many ingredients as possible from vendors whom they knew and trusted.

Their love for sourcing quality ingredients, cooking, and food came through very strongly and was inspirational to watch.  They were also very educational, telling us some details about local ingredients that I wasn't aware of - like how farm fresh eggs have larger (and yellower) yolks than standard grocery store eggs and how Miner's lettuce is too fragile to transport, and has a really short season, but grows wild here (which must be why I'm seeing it EVERYWHERE these days).  They also gave practical tips of home cooks, like how it isn't necessary to buy fancy pie weights to make a tart shell, just press it down with your hands!

For the demo today, they showed an example of their approach to farm fresh, taking a base recipe for a goat cheese tart, and adapting it to use what was fresh and awesome at the market.
Goat cheese custard tart, with fresh greens and citrus vinaigrette.
The fresh greens used were mizuna, arugula, mustard, and rapini.  They were a really nice fresh compliment to the tart.

The tart shell was fairly generic, but well made, and didn't overshadow the filling.

The custard filling included asparagus, which paired really well with the goat cheese that dominated the flavor of the custard.

The citrus vinaigrette was refreshing, slightly tart, and tied everything together.  This was a very well balanced dish, and the flavors, while strong, were all complimentary.  It was also easy to see how you could change this up slightly as the season changed to use other ingredients instead.

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