Monday, April 5, 2010

Matt's Toughest Critic

Since starting this blog, my husband has taken on a job as the Executive Chef at a local restaurant called Matt The Miller's.  It's a nice restaurant, it fits in the area, and has some wiggle room for him to be a bit more creative then his last position.

First of all, I would be lying if I didn't say that I am a single mom.  With this job, Brian is away from the home more hours than he has been in years, and it has taken almost a year for us to get gist of what was going to happen to our marriage, our children, and our home life.  We have sort of adjusted and every once in a while we still have the "I miss Daddy" days.  But for the most part, we try to schedule our fun days around him being home on Sunday's and Monday's.  The most popular two days for a chef to take off.  I plan on putting together a "survival guide post" for those who have fallen in love with a chef and want to get married, but that is a different post for sure.

As the Executive Chef, Brian has a bit of culinary freedom, and I get to be the official taste-tester.  Many nights when I should be in bed, Brian arrives home with a "to-go" box full of goodies to be consumed and critiqued and enjoyed.  First of all, let me start by saying that my body by no means needs these treats and goodies past 8pm.  However one of the rewards after a long day at work and mother the box full of goodies I may be getting as a reward for all of my hard work.

Last week I was told to sit tight and watch the TV while he toiled away in the kitchen at 10pm plating me up a  new discovery.  As I sat in anticipation I wondered what delightful treat I was getting.  I had a hankering for sushi, but I knew that was pushing it.  Sushi is not on the menu (but not out of the equation).  My mouth started watering.  As he walked out of the kitchen with a grin on his face, he was holding a plate of what looked like chips.  Instantly I was a bit let down, as I was looking for something a bit more than just chips.  However, as he handed me the plate he said, "You know that Ahi Tuna flatbread that you love, try this."

I looked it over and in the center of the plate was a pile of Asian slaw on top of what looked like spicy tuna.  Aha, and the sushi is alive.  He explained that Craig, the owner, was looking for an Asian influenced appetizer, something that had never been done.  In my experience, whenever Brian creates based on the wants of someone else, it's never as good as if he had just done it on his own, or collaborated with me.  Not that I am the culinary queen, but I have a knack for knowing what flavors and ergonomics tend to work well together.

At first glance this plate was a complete mess of chips, dip, sauces, and stuff all competing for attention.  The fried won-tons were too fragile for the tuna, and kept breaking and made it impossible to pick up the goodness in the middle of the plate.  Other than the fact that it was messy, the flavors were very good.  The slaw in the middle had a sesame flair, tossed with wasabi and rice wine vinegar.  The spice on the tuna was just enough to cleanse your palate and was well balanced.  I couldn't stop eating it, even thought I thought it was very messy and not at all the proper tribute to the style of cuisine.  In my opinion, something as delicate as spicy tuna needs less on the plate, less mess, and should not be paired with "chips".  It just doesn't sit well with my, "it's not an indulgence dish".  As much as I love spicy tuna...and trust me...I love spicy tuna...I just cannot see anyone needing more than a few teaspoons to deliver the correct portion, and flavors that are required to pull this dish off.  Even though it is one of those, "meant to be shared", dishes, it still seemed a bit flawed on execution.

Of course, I say all of this to Brian and he takes it all to heart.  He understands what I am saying and he knows that it is a bit of a messy dish.  He also knows that the owner is begging for this to be executed, and he is doing his best to make it work.  So he and I collaborate to make it better, disguise the chips and make the portion less messy.

The next day he tells me that his sous chef asked what my thoughts were, as they both know that I am very bold, and opinionated with food.  I am not afraid to tell them both when they have failed.  I am also very willing to give praise when it is due, and there are a few dishes where I deliver my praise over and over again.

So I sit watching TV, waiting for my next tasting challenge.