A Memory

For most of us there is something that will trigger a memory.  it might be a song, a smell or even a place.  For me, it is a block of butter and a piece of toast.

We grew up on margarine.  At least my mom, my brothers and I did. It was cheaper than butter and growing up poor, my mom did what she could to control what was spent.  However, when it came to my dad, the expenditure of butter was not negotiated. My mom thought once she could fool him and put margarine on his toast.  That never, and I mean never,  happened again.

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I remember him slicing his block of butter, not from the side like most people cut it, but skimming his knife along the top as though it was a priceless commodity. .One day I asked if I could try it.  My mom and my brothers looked up like I was about to commit a crime, but my dad beamed with pride and agreed to let me try it.  I was watching a man share his pot of gold as he shaved the butter from the top with the same care as a man who was shaving his face for the very first time.  He laid the thin slices on my toast and we watched it melt into the crags.  Taking that first bite;  tasting the buttery richness that I had never experienced before, I smiled at my dad and realized we had just shared something that would always be special between only the two of us.  It was almost like he knew I understood the importance of what I had just experienced.

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I’m grown up now and my dad is no longer with us.  There is never a time, however, when I don’t come across a solid block of butter, hold it in my hand and I’m immediately back in our little kitchen. Who would have thought that one simple gesture would start me on a culinary trek of tasteful discoveries?  Unlike, my dad, I don’t use butter like it’s a treasure to be doled out sparingly.  I use butter with gusto and add a bit into everything I do.  Maybe it’s the richness it adds to my recipes, or maybe it’s just a small thank you to my dad for showing me that sometimes you just need to splurge for the sake of enjoyment.

So a toast to my dad, well,  with a piece of toast!  And of course I can’t forget that little slice of butter.

 

 

 

An Interview with Jamie Young of Thirty 7 North Restaurant

Despite it’s location in a rather affluent area of Virginia Beach, Thirty 7 North Restaurant and Bar is an unassuming and relaxed place to go for dinner or to meet friends for an after work drink.  Located at 2105 West Great Neck Road in Virginia Beach and known for it’s elegant farm to table American Cuisine, it’s a casual on the water restaurant headed up by executive chef, Jamie Young.

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Jamie is a fresh new face to us, but not to the culinary world.  A graduate of Johnson and Wales, he moved to this area in 2012 to be with his sister who was in the military.  He was immediately hired on as the sous chef with Thirty 7 North and the rest is history.

I had the pleasure of talking to Jamie not too long ago, to discuss his passionate commitment of what he does best, serving up delicious and beautiful plates of incredibly good tasting food.

What is your philosophy on food and how do you come up with your menus?

It’s all about going back to the basics.  Keep it local, create new ideas but remembering to keep it simple.

How do you come up with the menus?  What is it that you are trying to create for the public?

It’s a team effort.  We put ideas together on what is fresh and what can come from what we grow or the local farms.  We want to create a healthy and simple – again back to the basics- menu.  I want to stay away from additives and go back to braising, grilling and roasting.

What tip would you have for the home cook that would really get them the “wow” factor?

It’s all about the attention to detail.  Create texture in food, make sure the plates are wiped.  The little things matter.

Have you ever cooked for anyone famous?  If so, who was it and what did you prepare?

Everyone is famous here!  Actually, when I worked in Charlotte,  I prepared Bananas Foster Pancake for Rosario Dawson, who is a female actress.  She liked breakfast.  And Michael Jordan came in several times, but there was never anything special he asked for.

What is your favorite local food  to cook with?  What is one of your signature dishes you like to use it in?

Rockfish.  My favorite is with wilted kale, roasted pumpkins from Stoney’s and a spiced butter sauce.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget you love to use?

My Vitamix.  It’s great for creating sauces and purees.  You can get different textures with it.

Jamie is about as relaxed and friendly as anyone I know, but don’t get me wrong.  He is a whirlwind of activity having just completed the Iron Chef competition, where dishes like bacon jam on cornbread and Geechi boy grits with braised goat were served.  He is also working with Jim White on nutritional fitness and is hoping to bring healthy menus together for the community.

Listed below is one of his recommendations, “House Pasta with Charred Yuzu Salsa”,  for the home cook to try.  If you can’t or don’t want to try and make it yourself, make reservations with Thirty 7 North by calling 757-412-0203.  I bet if you asked Jamie, he would make it for you!

 

 

 

 

Scallops, Mushrooms, and Scallions

Last weekend I was getting ready to go out to breakfast with my husband and in the background was a show on PBS that I was semi listening to.  Did you ever have one of those moments when suddenly what you aren’t paying attention to suddenly becomes your entire focal point?  Lydia Bastianich was pointing a finger at me and telling me I should pay attention because it was the dinner I had waited for.  Ok,, she didn’t really call out my name but it was a dinner I could have waited for.  I could have literally licked the TV screen.  She had put together a dish of mushrooms and scallions and scallops with a beautifully caramelized crust to them and it had my name written all over it.

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Later that morning, we were out eating breakfast and I’m telling my husband about this dish.  He had the same reaction I did.   Conveniently, the bookstore was right next to where we were  (I know it was fate) and we ran over.  On the spot we bought her new cookbook, “Lydia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking”.  Not only did it have this recipe, but several others I will try soon.  It’s a great addition to your cookbook collection.

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One thing I do want to note on this recipe is that you want dry scallops.  You have to ask for them when you go to the market.  Typically you get the scallops that have sat in some chemical brine and they are slimy and won’t caramelize well.  It’s definitely worth the extra effort and your scallops taste so much better because they haven’t absorbed that chemical brine.

I also added brown rice to this recipe as a starch base.  You don’t need it, but it did add a little substance to the meal.  I just placed a large spoonful under the mushrooms before serving.

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I will definitely make this again.  The mushroom combination hit a home run with the garlic and butter flavors hanging on discretely to every mushroom.  The crunch of the scallion was a nice sharp bite in comparison to the sweet softness of the scallop.

The next time someone yells at you from the TV to pay attention, do it.  This really hit a 4 star YUM rating on my palate.  You need to try this!

 

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