Tuesday, May 31, 2011

JUNE 4th Dinner!

MENU (3+ courses with paired beverages)

-Romaine hearts, roasted tomato, pickled okra, cotija cheese, corn bread crouton, green goddess dressing
-Slow-cooked pork shoulder, crispy corn tamale, white barbecue sauce, charred jalapeno, chile-lime corn nuts
-Banana cream pie, galleta maria crumble,  brown sugar-rum gel, coconut macaroon-House made candies

$50 donation per guest(Cash only please)

If you aren't on our mailing list, send us an email to reserve (pushstartkitchen@gmail.com).  It's first come first serve.  We're serving ten people, so be sure to let us know how many you have in your party because it may sell out quickly!  We will send out confirmation emails with time and directions, to our "secret" location.  We hope to see you there!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

I hope that everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!  We, as Americans, have so much to be thankful for and many times, between the cracks of our everyday existence, it's easy to forget those who have sacrificed everything they knew so that we could carry on with what we love and cherish.  I would like to issue a solemn thank you to members, present and past, of our armed forces to continuing to fight to keep us safe here at home.  We love and miss you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Art day for PushStart

Doing the paintings for the walls at PushStart. Paint it up!
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The space so far...

We're getting close! We've now got an amazing table and chairs in our baby dining room.

Unfortunately, there have been some technical difficulties in getting everything together and dinner number one has been pushed back a week. With that extra time, we will be able to make it all perfect, as it should be.

Check back here for more updates!
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Roasted chicken sausage, grilled red onion, corn & tomato salad, cornbread, arugula
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

First PushStart Dinner! Saturday, May 28th

We're having our first dinner and y'all are invited!  This is going to be all about food, friends and family so you don't need to be concerned about what you'll wear or what you'll bring.  Just come, kick back, and we've got the rest.

MENU (3+ courses with paired beverages)

-Romaine hearts, roasted tomato, pickled okra, cotija cheese, corn bread crouton, green goddess dressing
-Slow-cooked pork shoulder, crispy corn tamale, white barbecue sauce, charred jalapeno, chile-lime corn nuts
-Banana cream pie, galleta maria crumble,  brown sugar-rum gel, coconut macaroon
-House made candies

$50 donation per guest
(Cash only please)

If you aren't on our mailing list, send us an email to reserve (pushstartkitchen@gmail.com).  It's first come first serve.  We're serving ten people, so be sure to let us know how many you have in your party because it may sell out quickly!  We will send out confirmation emails with time and directions, to our "secret" location.  We hope to see you there!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fun in the kitchen...GRITS

Stone ground grits, guajillo chile, cotija cheese, cilantro lime mayo
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Fun in the kitchen...GRITS

Stone ground grits, cotija cheese, roasted fennel,tomato caramel, arugula.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.9

Living in Hominy

Stone-ground yellow corn grits
"You never heard of grits?" the cook asked.  "Sure I've heard of grits. I just never actually *seen* a grit before," says the unknowing Yankee.  

I always have a little bit of a hard time describing grits in a pleasant and appealing way when  I'm faced with the unwashed masses"   
"It's a corn meal mush."  
"It's a porridge made from dried corn."
"It's a hot corn gruel"
"Oh, why is called grits? Um..well...i'd assume the texture."

It usually plays out like an out-of-his-element Joe Pesci ordering breakfast in the small town south.  Grits, our famous region defining dish, made from ground corn that has been treated with lye, is a love it or leave it kind of dish.  Those of us raised on the stuff find it comforting, always with a fond memory of less complicated times.  Those who are less familiar usually end up saying "Oh yeah, I've had that.  It's called polenta."

Classic Mexican-style tamales
The lead in into Latin food is not quite as obvious, though.  The Maya are credited by many in the discovery of hominy and with that discovery came the staple ingredient of all of Latin American cooking: masa.  Tortillas, tamales, sopes, huaraches, among a few other thousand crucial dishes are made with the stuff.  In reality Mexican food wouldn't be Mexican food with out it.   So then from my perspective I ask "how can these ingredients be used interchangeably?" 

I've always loved grits as a vehicle.  Mixed with salty, Red Eye gravy, thick with cheese, or even just an acceptable way to eat a mouthful of wonderful butter, grits have always been the best to me when served alongside something else.  It's always challenging for the modern chef to work with classic ingredients in a contemporary, interpretive ways while maintaining the tradition they've been steeped in.  But then again, it's also really fun.  See you in the kitchen.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"New" Food

This is where I came from.  Huge plates of food, piled high with grits, garden fresh vegetables, slow cooked meats, tangy pickles, salty cornbread.  Where macaroni and cheese is considered a vegetable and gravy, a beverage.  The glorious South.

To me, there was nothing like food from home.  In part, at least the nostalgic part, I was right.  But as I spent more and more time traveling through Central and South America, I started to see that maybe I wasn't totally on point.  I ate and ate and more and more frequently I began seeing our Southern staple ingredients: corn, tomatoes, chiles, beans, rice, cabbage, pork, hominy all start overlapping with our neighbors to the south, the REAL deep South, I guess you could say.

Suddenly my plate of smoked pork shoulder, black-eyed peas, cole slaw, corn bread and rice pudding didn't seem so distinct.  When I had a craving for BBQ, Costa Rican chicharrones were a good substitute.  I reached for tamales to fill the void that cornbread left and I can take or leave rice pudding now that I've had arroz con leche with sweet condensed milk.  These Latin equivalents soon replaced their predecessors and now that I'm home I find myself craving them more than ever.  Now I'm beginning to view what I eat a little differently.  When writing new menus, I've inadvertently begun substituting and using ingredients from the two kitchens interchangeably, less in an attempt to create some sort of new "fusion" cuisine but more as an effort to pay attention to the already existing natural similarities of our two foods.  These are the things I want to accentuate in the food at PushStart.  Smoked pork shoulder, crispy tamale, white BBQ sauce, chile-lime corn nuts.  The way that the two naturally fit together a combination of familiar ingredients and flavors reorganized and presented in a contemporary method.  Fried green tomato, hearts of palm succotash, jamon serrano, lemon-mint vinaigrette.

Starting next week, I'll be traveling around to different markets to begin this research.  Check back here frequently for updates, new menu ideas and progress on the PushStart Kitchen re-do project.  We are aiming for our first dinner to be on the evening of May 28th, so everyone stay tunes and we'll be in touch!


Friday, May 6, 2011

the PushStart game plan

So, as we get closer to PushStart opening up its doors, I want to explain what it is exactly that we're going to be doing. 

While we are not interested in labels, we are, for lack of a better term starting our own underground supper club.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept of an underground dinner, let me explain.  Or rather, let Wikipedia explain:

An underground restaurant, sometimes known as a supper club or closed door restaurant, is an eating establishment operated out of someone's home, generally (though not invariably) bypassing local zoning and health-code regulations. They are, in effect, paying dinner parties. They are usually advertised by word of mouth or guerilla advertising, often on Facebook, and may require references to make a reservation. An underground restaurant is also known as a guestaurant, which is a hybrid between being a guest in a dinner party and a restaurant.

Underground restaurants are popular in Latin America, where they're known as either a paladar or a restaurante de puertas cerradas (closed door restaurant). Depending on local licensing laws, they may or may not be illegal; either way, they've been built into the culture for decades, and often have higher standards than many licensed establishments.[1] They are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S.[2]

The attraction of the underground restaurant for the customer is to sample new food, often at low cost outside the traditional restaurant experience, which can be expensive and disappointing—underground restaurants have been described as "anti-restaurants." They also generally provide a more intimate, dinner party style experience. For the host, the benefit is to make some money and experiment with cooking without being required to invest in a restaurant proper. "It's literally like playing restaurant," one host told the San Francisco Chronicle, "You can create the event, and then it's over."

I couldn't have said it better myself.  I'm going to be working in the test kitchen, farmers markets and international stores, blogging and tweeting about what we'll be serving for the weekend.  Follow along here and also on Twitter (@pushstartcook) to see what's happening.  Then on Thursday, we'll post a menu for the weekend.  Then, I'll send out an email inviting everyone.  It will be set up on a "first-come-first-serve" basis, just to keep it fair.  The first to respond to the invitation with the number in their party, will receive a confirmation email and directions to our space. 

We've set up an email (pushstartkitchen@gmail.com).  Email us with "Mailing list request" in the subject line and I'll add you to the list.  Tell everyone you think may be interested.  This is definitely a chance for us to meet new people.

I can't tell you how excited Cristina and I are to be back in Atlanta, and how happy we are to have found opportunity to do what we love: connect with people through food.  We hope that we'll see you there!