Hook, Line & Sinker is a Tale of the Sea

For our next prix-fixe extravaganza, we’re taking advantage of our good fortune to be so near the Pacific coast with a seafood-centric theme from March 25 to 30:  Hook Line & Sinker, A Pacific Coast Odyssey.

Salmon, cod, ahi tuna, swordfish, yellowtail, Monterey squid, shellfish bisque—if it can float or swim, it’s on the next menu.  This is a total celebration of the bounty of the sea, but meat lovers fret not because you are top of mind:  we have a “surf-and-turf” option, “Ahi Tuna and Kobe Beef Belly” served with sunchoke puree, smoked shallot, maitake mushroom and bordelaise.
Prix-fixe basics are:  four courses with choices (plus vegetarian option) for $59 plus tax and tip ($5 supplement for “Surf & Turf”).  To make reservations now, however, go to www.opentable.com or call the restaurant at 530-823-0320.

Here’s a course-by-course introduction to the dinner, written by Chef Alexander himself.  Enjoy!

First Course (choice of one):

Beet-Cured Yellowtail:  The yellowtail or amberjack as it is also called, is line-caught and sourced from southern California.  It is lightly cured in a mix of grated beets, salt, sugar, and vodka. The beets give the flesh a beautiful magenta color, and the finished product is similar to a salmon gravlax.  It is then sliced and plated with baby roasted beets, blanched delta asparagus, tangelo segments (sourced locally from Pilz orchards), a sprinkle of fennel pollen and crème fraiche.

Stuffed Monterey Squid “A La Plancha”:  Sourced from Monterey, the calamari is stuffed with a Spanish-inspired mix of diced chorizo, bread crumbs, parsley, almonds, garlic and olive oil.  “A La Plancha” refers to the Spanish cooking style of searing ingredients on a hot flat top cooking vessel popular in that country, and that’s how squid is prepared for this dish.  It will rest on a puree of Spanish roasted piquillo peppers with a garnish of wild arugula leaves tossed in olive oil.

Crispy Salt Cod Fritters:  This line-caught, Pacific true cod from Washington is salted similar to the “bacalao” method popular in Portugal, Spain, and France. The salt cod is poached in milk with garlic and fresh thyme; then mixed with pureed potatoes, olive oil, garlic confit; and lightly whipped. Once cool, the mixture is formed into balls, dropped into batter, and fried crisp. The fritters are served with preserved tomatoes (roma tomatoes that have been slow roasted with garlic and thyme and covered with olive oil), a pea shoot salad and an aioli made with garlic and saffron.

Second Course (choice of one):

Shellfish Bisque:  This soup is a celebration of two of the most popular west coast shellfish: Dungeness crab and white shrimp from Mexico. To concentrate the flavors, a rich broth is made with chopped whole Dungeness crabs, shrimp shells and heads, mirepoix of vegetables, fresh herbs and white wine.  After simmering, straining, and reducing the broth, it will be enriched with tomato, cream, and butter. Adding to the decadence, the dish is garnished with a Chantilly (lightly whipped cream) flavored with cognac, king of brandies and chives.

Little Gem Lettuce Salad:  Little gems are like a miniature romaine heart, small and crisp. The lettuce is cut in wedges, dressed in green goddess dressing (creamy dressing made with avocado and a puree of fresh herbs), shaved radishes, cucumber, and baby carrot. Topping the salad are Oregon bay shrimp. . .starting to appear in March, these sweet little morsels are a true harbinger of spring.

Main Course (choice of one):

Ahi Tuna “Surf and Turf”:  Line-caught from the Pacific islands, in some ways, the dark red flesh and meaty texture of a seared piece is tuna is like a great steak. To play off these similarities, the ahi receives ultimate beef treatment:  portion of the seared fish is served next to a tender slab of Kobe beef belly slow cooked for hours in red wine and veal stock. Uniting the two to is a silky puree of sunchokes, house-smoked shallots, maitake mushrooms and a sauce made from the beef braising liquid and finished with bone marrow.  (Note: $5 supplement for this dish.)

Swordfish Loin:  Sourced off the coast of California, this swordfish is caught by long line or harpoon.  After pan roasting, it will sit atop a stew of Manila clams (harvested in Point Reyes) mixed with sliced spring onions, new potatoes, green garlic, white wine and cream. To cut the richness, a spoon of salsa verde (chopped parsley, chive, cilantro, capers, lemon, and olive oil) will complete the dish.

Skuna Bay Salmon:  Sustainably farmed in the Vancouver Islands in British Columbia, the salmon is wrapped in a veil of thinly sliced bacon. Once crisped and roasted, the fish will be plated with glazed rainbow carrots (baby carrots of different sizes and colors), gnocchi, and wilted fava greens (harvested personally by Chef Alexander and Chef McDonald at their farm near Auburn). The sauce is a vinaigrette made from reduced carrot juice, orange, and olive oil.

Dessert Course (choice of one):

Dark Chocolate Terrine:  For this simple dessert starts with an ultra rich, dense chocolate mousse layered with toasted pistachios in a terrine mold.  Once set, the mousse is unmolded and sliced.  The terrine is garnished with a liberal drizzling of olio novo (meaning “new oil”, fresh olive oil that is between a few weeks and up to a couple months out of the olive press).  Next comes a sprinkling of coarse, locally harvested sea salt.  For those who yet to have tried it, chocolate+great olive oil+sea salt is amazing.

Roasted Nori Panna Cotta:  Nori is the same variety of seaweed most commonly used in sushi preparations. For this dessert, the seaweed is lightly toasted and infused with cream mixed with honey and sugar.  Combined with gelatin, the custard is poured into molds, chilled and set.  The dessert is finished with a drizzle of orange blossom honey and a thin tuile cookie made from sesame.