Oy vey. Oy vey.
I like matzo. As flavorless and dry as it is, I enjoy matzo pizza, matzo PB&J, and mazto balls. I really enjoy matzo balls. Their soft, spongy insides are endearing and they induce a sense of nostalgia (even though I’m not the slightest bit Jewish).
The matzo balls in the campus soup, however, were not soft or spongy. They were dense, dry, and mealy. The balls were cold and the centers were not cooked through. I didn’t understand complaints about matzo bowl soup. I thought Jewish kids were being whiny. Today, I learned that good matzo ball soup might be the exception.
Jewish students and mazto lovers (yes, we exist!), do not despair. The soup isn’t the only matzo option. Paws & Go sells matzo and I wrote a post (last Passover) about what you can do with it.
I was rummaging through my freezer, looking for anything to do something with, when I stumbled upon a bag of frozen mango chunks. My first thought: “mango jam!” My second thought: “you’re dumb.” Jam is all about preserving fantastically fresh fruit that is bursting with flavor. Frozen fruit isn’t jam-able.
But I did it anyway. I rarely listen to my second thoughts. Generally, my second thought is right and me and my first thought just end up looking as stupid as my second thought said we would (I just ignored my second thought that said: “don’t write that sentence, you sound like a crazy person).
This time, however, me and my first thought triumphed. The mango jam was delicious despite being made with frozen mango. So throw your second thought that says: “don’t listen to Fooducated, it won’t be good” out the window and please do try this super simple recipe.
- 1 pound frozen mango chunks
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- Throw everything in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir often until the sugar dissolves.
- Once the mango is soft enough (about 15 minutes), smush it.
- Bring the smushed mango mixture to a boil and let it boil until it thickens (about another 15 minutes).
- Let it cool.
Lit candles rested in small piles of shell-studded sand at the center of each intimate table. Paintings of beaches hung on the walls and water trickled down the small waterfall in the corner. Everything about Lulu, Chef Colby Walloch’s pop-up in Studio 40, was calming.
Given the chance to create a sneak peek into his dream restaurant, Chef Walloch chose to go with the type food he started his career cooking: casual seafood fare from the Pacific Northwest (Chef Walloch grew up in Portland). He named the spot after his two-year-old daughter, who’s his “number one sous chef at home.”
The atmosphere at Lulu matched Chef Walloch’s personality: quiet but confident. He clearly wasn’t going to serve sous vide foie gras or deconstructed champaign infused caviar (whatever that would be), only clean, well-executed interpretations of classic dishes.
The meal began with a crab shell filled with the juices that emerge when you cook a crab.
The juice tasted more like crab than any crab I’ve ever eaten. It was fresh but decadent and super salty (in a good way). “This tastes like the beach,” Nate said joyously. It reminded me of the summer nights I’ve spent on Cape Cod, happily licking the fresh shellfish drippings off of my fingers. I’ll take dipping my bread in crab juice over olive oil any day.
The first course was a small square of pork belly coated in BBQ sauce with cheddar grits. It seemed like a deviation from the Pacific Northwest concept but Chef Walloch explained that the dish, like the rest of his menu, was “rooted within home.” The BBQ sauce stems from his time working for a southern family. The grits came from the Tillamook Creamery, a creamy on a river near Chef Walloch’s childhood home.
The grits were wonderfully creamy and slightly sharp. The cream did a good job of mitigating the sweet and spicy BBQ sauce. I was most impressed by the texture of the pork belly. I’ve had really dry fat-free pork belly and really jiggly fat-filled pork belly. Chef Walloch rendered the fat perfectly, deftly avoiding both of those results. The crispy outside of his pork belly gave away to a tender inside.
The next course was a mixed local greens salad served alongside a piece of steelhead that was sitting on a bed of roasted mushrooms.
Thin slices of pickled radishes added acid to the peppery local greens and strong blue cheese. The steelhead – which is a species of trout that lives in the Pacific Ocean – was covered in an acidic pesto-esque sauce. Charred, earthy mushrooms grounded the light flavors in the buttery fish and the sauce.
Chef Walloch followed it with my favorite course of the night: chowder.
Chef Walloch’s Portland take on New England Clam Chowder was the night’s superstar because (a) it was delicious and (b) replacing the crab with fried oysters coated in a cornbread breading was an imaginative but understated twist.
A deep bacon-created smokiness ran through the cream. On its own, the cream soup was a bit too salty for me. But with the oysters, the saltiness was replaced with wonderfulness. The breading added crunchiness, which is a texture that soups don’t often include.
The next course was a heaping pile of Dungeness crab legs covered in a chili garlic sauce. Here’s an action shot of Chef Patrick McElroy helping Chef Walloch plate:
When my plate arrived, I stared at it, wondering where to start. “There’s no elegant way to eat this,” Chef Walloch warned. I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed the crab leg openers, and started cracking away.
I’ve never had spicy crab before. The combination of chili, garlic, lime, and cilantro added Asian flare. Actually getting through the shell was a challenge but we were rewarded with bites of succulent, tender crabmeat.
The meal ended with chocolate cake that Chef Walloch added as a “nod back to the first dessert” he ever cooked in a restaurant. It was 1987 and the pastry chef didn’t show up so Chef Walloch was forced to learn on the spot. And learn he did. I don’t love chocolate (I know… it’s a sin) but I loved Chef Walloch’s chocolate cake.
When I cut into it, warm chocolate oozed out and into the salted caramel sauce and thick whipped cream. Every bite was decadent beyond belief. The salty sweetness from the caramel cut through the rich, bitter chocolate. Yes. Yes is all I can say.
Lulu was clearly a true manifestation of Chef Walloch’s dream concept; its understated elegance could only stem from genuine passion.
As I was leaving, my friend Ish said: “it’s not fair, you get to go to all of them.” Ish, you’re right. It’s not fair and I hope that never changes. I get to eat delicious food while watching talented chefs like Walloch do what they love to do.
You can experience some of the magic too. If you’d like to attend a WU Restaurant dinner, “like” Dining Services on Facebook and join the event when they raffle off tickets for the next one. The dinners only cost $12.95. $12.95 for a five course meal is unheard of.
The very talented students over at Kuumba have posted a beautiful video about this night. Check it out:
Kuumba TV is a student group that creates short documentaries about creativity on our campus.
Stop bullying brussel sprouts. Sure, they’re green. And yes, sometimes they smell like farts. But they’re just small little nuggetlets trying to make it in the big produce world.
I’m willing to bet my friendship with JP that if you make this recipe, brussel sprouts will quickly become one of your favorite vegetables.
On Friday night, I made some new friends and they gave me a ton a smoked pork jowl (it wasn’t as sketchy as it sounds). On Saturday, while walking around Soulard Market, I spotted beautiful, perfect brussel sprouts at one of the stands. I suddenly remembered reading a recipe for penne with brussel sprouts and pancetta in the Times. Dinner was born.
I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I bailed on the Serrano chile, rosemary, and lemon. Whoever designed the kitchen in my dorm considered counter space a luxury and decided that Wash U is luxurious enough. I have to cut everything on top of the microwave. So I try to cook with very few ingredients.
The Times article called for pancetta but I used the jowl and I think that’s the way to go. If you can’t track down smoked jowl, go with thick slices of bacon. Pancetta won’t add smokiness and it’s the smokiness that takes the bitter brussel sprouts, hot red pepper flakes, and sweet garlic to a whole other level.
This pasta turned out so well that I’m already looking forward to eating leftovers tomorrow.
- 1 pound of brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
- 1 pound of smoked pork jowl or bacon
- 1 pound of penne
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cups of grated parmesan or Gruyere
- Salt and pepper
- Cook the penne until it’s just barely al dente (about one minute less than it says on the box).
- In a deep pan, over high heat, sear the jowl until it starts to crisp up.
- Drain most of the fat from the pan.
- Add the olive oil, garlic, brussel sprouts, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Saute for about 4 minutes while stirring frequently.
- Add the penne to the pan, top it with the cheese, and mix until the cheese melts and everything is well incorporated.
- Serve and enjoy!
Whenever I eat Chobani, I feel particularly cultured.* “I am so sophisticated,” I think: “snacking on a lowfat, healthy, Mediterranean product.”
Turns out, Chobani is an American company based in New York. Turns out, Windcrest Dairy in Treton, Illinois makes better Greek yogurt than Chobani.
The Bizenberger and Eickmeyer families have raising cows and selling dairy products on their farms in Illinois for over 100 years. They teamed up to establish Windcrest Dairy and have now started turning their milk into yogurt.
“Greek” yogurt actually has very little to do with Greece itself. What we call “Greek” yogurt is made by straining the product to remove the whey. Doing so removes a lot of the fat and creates a texture that falls somewhere in between regular yogurt and cottage cheese.
Apparently, “Greek Style Yogurt” is made by adding a thickening agent to regular yogurt.
Windcrest Dairy’s container does say “Greek Style Yogurt” but the texture of the yogurt is chunkier, like traditional Greek yogurt. They also capture the richness and the tanginess of strained yogurt and their product is lowfat.
I don’t know if Windcrest uses a thickening agent or just defines “Greek Style Yogurt” differently (I suspect it’s the latter) but I do know that their containers are filled with deliciousness.
At first, the thin layer of liquid sitting on top of the yogurt turned me off. However, according to Campus Executive Chef John Griffiths, the liquid exists because Windcrest allows the yogurt to settle while already in the container to assure maximum freshness.
I mixed the layer of liquid in and took a bite. The experience was a little too chunky for me. Chobani is smooth. I mixed it a lot more and made sure to bring some of the blueberry up from the bottom.
The result: absolute yumminess. The blueberry added the right amount of sweetness and the mixing took out most of the chunks. Windcrest yogurt is about 100x more intense than Chobani’s yogurt in terms of both flavor and richness.
It might be a little too much for some people. But please do give it a try! And then tell me what you think:
*No pun intended. Actually, pun totally intended.
This is Fooducated’s very first guest post and it’s written by Brendan Ziebarth, architecture student by day, food lover by always.
Being friends with Fooducated’s mastermind, Jolijt Tamanaha has its perks. As the de facto ambassador from students to their excellencies Bon Appetit and Dining Services, Ms. Fooducated gets the inside scoop.
Since I won the chance to escort Ms. Fooducated to the Rogue Chefs’ secret dinner back in December, she and I cemented our friendship with an unshakeable passion for really, really good food.
Sometimes even an ambassador needs a night off. When Jolijt offered me the chance to be a guest writer on Fooducated, I jumped at the chance. I knew that whatever event she needed me to cover would be fantastic, but I wasn’t quite ready for this.
At six o’clock I nervously approached the door to Studio 40, next to the WUrld Fusion station in BD and waited anxiously for the thirteen other guests to arrive. We were the lucky fourteen students who would get to try the second in a series of pop up restaurants hosted by WashU’s chefs. A delightfully chipper woman scolded me as I tried to peek through the window. When the door finally swung open, I was awestruck. We had been magically transported from St. Louis, Missouri, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The tables were only inches off the ground, surrounded by burlap cushions handmade out of Kaldi’s coffee bean bags by Lorni, director of the Village Dining Hall. Colorful fabrics covered the tables and hung from the walls of our teleportation device. Beaded vases filled the corners, and a series of photographs offered views like windows out onto the rugged landscape and rich history of Ethiopia. While much of the region was predominantly influenced by Islamic cultures, Ethiopia had the additional influence of Jews and Coptic Christians. This blending of cultures and flavors created a varied and unique cuisine, of which, despite the lengthy menu in front of me, we would only sample a small portion.
Chef Hayes had chosen a selection of some of the most iconic dishes of Ethiopian cuisine; it was clear that this dinner was as much the chef’s exploration as it was an attempt to introduce WU students to something new.
The name of the pop up restaurant, BerBere, comes from name of a spice mixture unique to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines. It’s a mixture of 38 different spices and herbs, including chilies, garlic, ginger, basil, fenugreek, and a bunch of stuff I’ve never heard of.
The first items arrived while we took a quick tour of the South 40 kitchen. There were no utensils – we would be eating with our fingers in the traditional manner of Ethiopia.
The Dabo Kolo weren’t hard to pick up. These little balls of fried dough didn’t seem exotic in concept, but they had a complex flavor, which I learned was the berbere spice mixture.
They were so pop-able that I had to restrain myself so I wouldn’t fill up on the dense bread. I took a sip of my Fruit Punch to wash it down.
I have suspicions about how “authentic” the drink was, but I didn’t care after one sip. The punch was a huge hit, and Chef Hayes revealed the recipe:
- white grape juice
- pineapple juice
- cherry juice
- orange juice
- raspberry juice
- club soda
- and ice cubes that were actually the juice itself, frozen.
Add a little somethin-somethin and you’ll be the hero of your next get together.
Scattered around the table were four bowls of toppings to complement our meal and cool our mouths after a spicy bite. The fresh cheese and yogurt sauce would have been disastrous to pick up with my fingers, but I braved the Tomato-Cucumber Relish and Honey-Spiced Papaya Chutney in order to sample their “pure” flavor.
The Tomato-Cucumber Relish had a little bite from some chopped onion and tang from some white vinegar, but I thought it could use some salt and pepper.
The Honey-Spiced Papaya Chutney was a completely different story.
Chef Hayes had decided to make the dish after he had used the seeds from the papaya to tenderize the goat. Again, maybe not “authentic” but I praise Hayes’ ingenuity; he combined the papaya with some traditional Ethiopian flavors to create a killer new combination. The papaya was a great texture, somewhere between crunchy and squishy. The honey lit up the tip of my tongue with happy sweetness while the spice mix (more berbere?) grew to a dull burn in the back of my mouth like chipotle powder. This was clearly one of the stars of the night, and the main meal hadn’t even arrived yet.
The first course was Sambossas, two beef and two lentil.
I really enjoyed both fillings. The pine nuts with the beef were a great combination, and the lentil had a nice spice mix. The crust was delicious. It was flaky and buttery. My only critique was that I would have liked a little more filling to crust ratio. The mint and bright yogurt sauce on the plate offered counterpoints to the heaviness of meat and fried crust.
Our meal arrived on a tin plate with a layer of injera bread and portions of each dish distributed across the top. To prepare for our meal, Chef Hayes started yesterday by butchering a whole goat and starting the yeast dough for our injera.
Injera is the staple of Ethiopian cuisine – it is the plate and the utensil. Not a drop of the saucy dishes are wasted with injera to mop it up. Because of how crucial injera is, it is often the mark of a quality Ethiopian restaurant. For me, a good injera is a little like a good crumpet – tangy from the yeast and pockmarked with large holes on one side and weirdly spongy.
With the arrival of the injera, I finally got to try the Ethiopian Iab. This homemade cheese was a lot like cottage cheese. The Yogurt Sauce was also quite yummy, especially the chopped mint mixed in. I thought if anything it could have been a little runnier, maybe from some olive oil whipped in.
Next I tried the Tikil Gomen – cabbage and potatoes. This dish has never been a favorite of mine at Ethiopia restaurants, and tonight wasn’t much different. It always seems to be a side dish that rounds out the meal but doesn’t offer much flavor. However, the potatoes were a notably good al dente texture. I thought the Ye-abesha Gomen – collard greens – were similar. They tasted mostly like the julienned and limp peppers cooked in with them.
In any case I loaded up the toppings in different combinations to see what would brighten up the vegetables. I found a good mix between the collards and the yogurt sauce. Earlier I applauded Chef Hayes’ ingenuity for the fruit punch and papaya topping. I think the vegetables might have suffered from being too traditional.
The Spiced Chickpeas were, on the other hand, a delight. Loaded up with carrots and peas, they hid a sneaking heat that blossomed into a full-mouth smolder. They were also great with a dollop of the cheese curds to soothe the numb tongue.
The Doro Wat – a chicken stew served with a hard-boiled egg – was good. It is one of the most common Ethiopian dishes served in America. Often I have had this dish with a bone-in drumstick. I somewhat missed the large chunks of chicken that one pulls off the bone. The sauce was heavy on the tomato paste with a mild and somewhat sneaking heat. However the egg was perfectly hard-boiled with no grey layer around the yolk. The yolk itself was not chalky at all.
The Roasted Goat was a surprise. It sat on my plate in big chunks, threatening to leave me flossing for hours. In spite of my fears, not a single bit of goat was remotely stringy; Chef Hayes had worked his papaya-magic and created an incredible tender and edible dish! But the biggest surprise to me was the flavor. This was no mutton. This mellow fellow was my favorite dish of the night, winning my heart with a sumptuously rich, even marrow-like flavor. Given the option, I would have eaten three times as much and skipped dessert.
Except nobody would have wanted to miss dessert. It was so good that we called for second and third helpings in to go containers.
Chef Hayes had whipped up his own honey flavored ice cream. Next to it were bananas, said to be in ginger syrup, though the ginger wasn’t potent. The flavor that shone through was the honey itself. Not merely sweet, this honey had a lovely floral aroma. I bit into the tiny chunk of comb sitting atop my ice cream, and a shot of ecstasy flooded my body.
Last but certainly not least was a tiny cup of coffee, prepared Bloom-style, from Ethiopian beans. It’s notes of vanilla complemented the dessert beautifully, and, though it was strong, it was not bitter at all.
I had seconds of coffee as well.
With a full belly and eyes twinkling in awe, I stumbled out of Studio 40 with my handmade burlap floor cushion under my arm. I hail from the Washington, DC, area, which has one of the largest concentrations of Ethiopians and Eritreans outside of their countries – one neighborhood is even called Little Ethiopia. I have tried Ethiopian food multiple times and WU impressed me. The goat was certainly the best I’ve ever had.
But what impressed me even more was the fact that our chefs and Dining services staffs care so much. They definitely care about the students eating well every day. But they also care about making each meal an experience. Every dish goes through countless taste tests and continuous revisions. Even if they can’t always deck out the room with fabrics, vases, and hand stitched cushions, they strive to make each bite of food transport you to a place, whether Ethiopia, India, Italy, or home. I’m sincerely moved by the passion I witnessed at BerBere, and I was reminded how lucky I am. Keep up the great work! Until next time, betam ahmesuganalew, dehna hun!
A note from Jolijt: Oh my god… I am drooling and dying of jealousy. I hope you enjoyed Brendan’s excellent post as much as I did! Click here to read the post about the first WU Restaurant. I will be at the next WU Restaurant dinner (sorry Brendan) and you can be there too! Just like Dining Services on Facebook and keep your eyes out for when they launch the event page.