“A World Cup of Cuisine” is a Gooooooaaaaaaal!
You don’t have to be a World Cup fan to get yourself psyched for our next prix-fixe event, though it seems like all of America is following the action now that the U.S. team has defeated arch-rival, Ghana, in a massive upset. Clearly, Chef Alexander also drives the ball to the back of the net with his inventive menu being served in the friendly confines from June 24 to 29.
One of his most ambitious outings yet, Chef Alexander has created a globe-trotting slate of dishes that will cause you to ponder at length before you fill out your bracket. Your dilemma is to select from 10 dishes from 10 countries, all of which are represented in the World Cup competition now underway in Brazil. Word up, though, Chef is thinking outside the toque by keying on countries other than the typical soccer powerhouses of Spain, Italy and France.
This could be standing room only, so better get your seats reserved now so you don’t have to rely on Stub Hub. Cost is $59 plus tax and tip per person, and you can make reservations now by calling 530-823-0320 or by going online to www.opentable.com.
I met the Chef in my garden office behind Carpe Vino recently, and he described the menu, dish by dish:
First Course (choice of one):
Roasted N.C. Blue Prawns (Greece): The prawns may be from North Carolina, but this dish clearly speaks Mediterranean. You get two large, head-on prawns , and chef says you need to follow the lead of the people who live on the Adriatic coast by eating everything. The shrimp are prepared in a cast iron casserole with olive oil, dill and two ingredients that make this especially Greek: feta cheese and Ouzo, the anise-flavored aperitif. Served with creamy white beans in a simple tomato sauce.
Lamb Merquez (Algeria): The centerpiece of this dish is a North African-inspired lamb sausage house-made by Smokey Ridge, a Placerville-based charcuterie that is also a regular at the Saturday Auburn Farmers’ Market. The sausage is made with garlic and a host of spices including chili and cumin and rests on a chickpea salad prepared with cilantro, mint, lemon juice and olive oil. It is served with fiery harissa, a red chili condiment with heat eased a bit with a yogurt companion.
Tuna Ceviche (Honduras): This appetizer has its roots in the Honduran-style of ceviche in which coconut milk is featured. In this dish, Ahi tuna is cubed and tossed with a dressing comprised of the aforementioned coconut milk, lime juice, ginger and jalapeño. It is served with fried, thinly sliced, potato-chip like plantains with micro cilantro shoots arranged on top.
Second Course (choice of one):
Chilled Summer Vegetable Borscht (Russia): Think of this as Chef Alexander’s take on Russia delicacy, served chilled with a host of vegetables (including tomato and cucumber) blended together, all in support of the lead ingredient, beets, of course. The result is a tasty soup rendered in a beautiful magenta color that the Chef says is a great way to beat the summer heat. Served with classic dill and sour cream and a garnish of vodka-based jelly cut into cubes.
Charred Tofu and Edamame Salad (Japan): While this summery salad is made from Japanese ingredients, Chef says don’t expect to be able to order it on your next visit to Tokyo. Tofu is cubed, caramelized and then charred to develop flavors; next it is tossed with white miso dressing (incorporating fermented soybean paste) and fresh soybeans, served with cherry tomato and pea sprouts.
Main Course (choice of one):
Cod á la Cataplana (Portugal): This is Chef Alexander’s riff on a popular dish that depends on the use of a Portuguese cooking pan known as a “cataplana”. This seafood and pork dish delivers huge flavors from linguica, a smoke-cured sausage made with garlic, paprika and other spices; and Portugal’s essential fish. . .cod. It’s prepared as a stew with crushed tomatoes and fingerling potatoes, and instead of using white wine, Madeira is substituted to add complexity to the spicy broth.
Pork Shoulder Bo Saam (Korea): With this dish, the Chef gives you everything you need to rock your world. . .DIY Korean lettuce wraps. He starts by making “Korean Pork Candy,” curing pork shoulder in salt and sugar and then slow cooking it before cranking up the oven to create a crackling crust. Served with white rice and assorted condiments, the big flavor drama comes from house made kimchi: Napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, carrot and fish sauce, all fermented for a week (on Funk & Wagnall’s back porch) resulting in nice acidity and incredible textures. Oh, my!
Asado-Style Grilled Ribeye of Beef, $5 supplement (Argentina): If you are a meat lover, this is to die for. Chef starts with five-inch-thick pieces of ribeye that are prepared Asado-style. . .rubbing with garlic salt before being sliced, grilled over a fire using wood trimmings from the Chef’s home orchard and then finished in the kitchen oven. It is served with Argentina’s classic Chimicihurri condiment, blended from chopped herbs, parsley, cilantro, garlic, chili flakes, oregano and lime juice. Along side you get potato black bean empanadas, half-moon shaped dough morsels filled with potato, chorizo, goat cheese and black beans that are folded and then baked to a golden brown. Garnished with an arugula salad.
Dessert Course (choice of one):
Mousse de Maracuya (Brazil): The host country is being recognized through a very traditional Brazilian dessert, a mousse made with passion fruit and garnished with whipped coconut milk. Deceptively simple, but delicious!
Ale & Oatmeal Beer Cake (Belgium): When you think of Belgium, what is the first thing to pop in your head? Beer, of course, and this dessert is comprised of a cake made from beer and oats, served warm with bing cherries and a sorbet featuring Kriek, a Belgium fruit beer made from cherries. How sweet it is!
Better queue up now and get your reservations before the stadium is sold out!