Sunday, April 01, 2012

Cooking Demo: Plant Cafe

Today's cooking demo at the Ferry Building was a double!  Executive Chef Sascha Weiss and Pastry Chef Susan Stampke from Plant Cafe each gave a demo.

I've been to the Plant Cafe a few times.  They are one of few places that has dog friendly outdoor seating, so when a pair of my friends first got their puppy, we went there often.  I was never all that impressed, the eggs in the eggs benedict were never poached well, the signature Plant burger was awesome once, mediocre the other times, and truly horrible the last time I was there, and the scallops were ... inedible.

Today's cooking demos seemed to be a pretty good reflection of the restaurant.  There were nice things about each of the dishes, but overall, meh.

Spring gnocchi with pea tendrils, peas, parmesan.
The savory dish was a simple gnocchi, served with some quickly blanched peas and pea tendrils, topped with a little parmesan cheese.

The gnocchi wasn't very good, just kinda mushy, with no real flavor. The chef was struggling with keeping water boiling given the wind and cold temperatures today, and I do wonder how much that effected the cooking of these, as it took several minutes for them to cook, and he said they should normally cook within a minute.

The pea tendrils and peas however, were delicious.  Fresh vegetables, barely cooked, just being allowed to shine.  Really good!  The parmesan went well with the peas too.

I was surprised at how easy to make this was.  I could easily imagine trying it myself :)

Recipe: http://www.cuesa.org/recipe/ricotta-gnocchi-english-peas-spring-onions-and-pea-tendrils
Hazelnut and chocolate ricotta napoleon, strawberries, meyer lemon sauce.
Buttery layers of phyllo dough, with a dark chocolate and hazelnut ricotta filling, topped with some shaved chocolate and chopped hazelnuts, with strawberries on the side, and drizzled with meyer lemon sauce. Meh.

This was not a sweet dessert.  It may look it, but it barely had any sweetness to it.

The phyllo layers were decently flaky and contained a little sweetness, but not much.  They were hard to cut through and pretty flavorless overall.

The filling was a strange consistency, with chunks of the chocolate and hazelnut it in, making it not very smooth.  It wasn't sweet at all.  I didn't like it, somehow the ricotta and hazelnut just really didn't go well together for me, creating a strange bitterness that was not enjoyable.

The strawberries were yummy, but they were just strawberries.  I'm excited for berry season!

The meyer lemon sauce was tart and didn't really work with the bitter ricotta and hazelnut filling.

Lots of work to deal with the phyllo and just really not good.  Maybe if I was expecting it to be bitter/savory I'd have liked it more.

Recipe: http://www.cuesa.org/recipe/strawberry-napoleon-chocolate-hazelnut-ricotta-cream-and-meyer-lemon-syrup
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