Thursday, December 29, 2011

The French Dip

The French Dip - hearty, satisfying and with a history shrouded in mystery and feuding parental claims. The popular sandwich has long been the center of an argument between Los Angeles restaurants Philippe and Cole's

Philippe's restaurant has two versions of the story of how the French Dip came to be: firstly that in 1918 a chef or waiter accidentally dropped a roast beef sandwich into a dish of meat drippings, and the second as recalled by Philippe's grandson, that founder and restaurant namesake Philippe Mathieu concocted the sandwich and accompanying "au jus" to appease a patron fireman who had complained about the dry and stale state of his sandwich roll. Doubts have been cast as to whether Philippe did in fact create the recipe after he gave a differing story in an interview in 1951 in which he said that he made the original sandwich using pork and gravy drippings for a hungry police officer. One day another customer asked for roast beef gravy, and it caught like wild fire, thus giving birth to the French Dip. 

On the other side we have Cole's, who claims their French Dip recipe precedes  Philippe's by ten years and was dreamed up to accommodate a customer with sore gums in 1908. The feeble man asked the chef to dip his sandwich into the juice because the crusty French roll was too hard for him to chew on. Word spread and the sandwich became popular. This story too has its share of "ifs". When the owner of Cole's, Gitti Beheshti, was interviewed in 1997 about the origin of the famous sandwich, he explained it almost exactly like Phlippe's version, that a chef dropped a sandwich into the beef juice. 

The truth about the French Dip's origins may never truly be known, but one thing you can be sure of is that 320 Main has concocted a recipe for this sandwich as legendary as its history. Jason was inspired to add this item to the menu after experiencing it in LA while he was at Cole's Red Car Bar. In fact he thinks he has improved the original recipe.

"I have always enjoyed the French Dip but, really never gave it too much thought, until the first time I visited Cole's in downtown Los Angeles. Something about the atmosphere opened my mind and gave the whole idea of a French Dip a certain "new life" that I had never realized. It was like stepping back in time. I could see Men in suits and brimmed hats sitting at the bar with a dip in one hand and the paper in the other. The French Dip was this amazing new food adventure that had such a colorful background, it's like I was enjoying it for the first time. That's when I knew I had to put it on the menu at 320. I LOVE the French Dip! Ours is a combination of the styles of Philippe's and Cole's. The rolls we use are moist on the inside and dry on the outside, so you can dip it in au jus, but you don't have to. We also serve ours with Swiss cheese, which isn't traditional." 

Served with horseradish dijon, it's a delectable spin on the original, perfect for lunch or dinner. 

Pairs well with: Bloody Mary

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Anatomy Of An Entree: The Lamb Duo

In order to make the best possible dish, you have to begin with the best ingredients. So take a look at what goes into one of our featured Winter Menu items, The Lamb Duo. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cocktail Spotlight: The Oude Fashioned

Today's Cocktail Spotlight is on The Oude Fashioned, Jason Schiffer's variation on the original cocktail. This cocktail features Bols Genever Barrel Aged, a Dutch spirit. "Oude" is Dutch for old, thus the name, The Oude Fashioned.

What is Bols Genever? It's what gin evolved from but it's not a gin, it's in a category all it's own. Lucas Bols has been distilling Genever in Holland since 1664. Bols Genever is distilled from "maltwine", a combination of corn, wheat and rye grains. At blend of at least 15% maltwine distillate is combined with a distillate of juniper berries and other botanicals. Genever means "juniper" in Dutch. Back in those days, alcohol was medicinal and juniper berries were believed to help with kidney sickness. In the 17th century, its purpose expanded to include "liquid courage". Dutch soldiers would drink shots of Genever before they forged into battle, coining the phrase "Dutch Courage."
Eventually, the Brits would draw from the Genever recipe to create a variation that came to be known as London dry gin. Bols Genever was very popular during the early 1700s but disappeared later in the 1800s when many of the drinks that once used Genever began using gin instead. With the recent resurgence of mixology and craft cocktails came a renewed demand for Genever. Bols came out with a Genever that was released in the U.S., only to also find demand for the original Barrel Aged recipe. They released a limited edition Genever, barrel aged in French Limousin oak and bottled in clay. Due to it's extremely limited quantity, only a select few bars dedicated to craft cocktails were given the spirit. One of those exclusive bars was yours truly, 320 Main. 

Stop into 320 Main and grab an Oude Fashioned before supplies run out. It may just give you the "Dutch Courage" you need to tackle your dreaded holiday shopping. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Virginia Dare

The cocktail is quintessentially American. Jason Schiffer likes to use the rich history of our county to inspire his cocktail recipes, like his recent creation “The Virginia Dare.”

"I created this cocktail for a special food and cocktail pairing held at 320 Main that was based around St-Germain and hosted by famed Seattle mixologist Jamie Boudreau. Obviously, I couldn't let Jamie have the entire spotlight with his fantastic concoctions, so I had to create one of my own for the event." -Jason

Virginia Dare
1oz St-Germain
1oz Plymouth Gin
1oz Sauvingon Blanc
1 tsp Aperol
Stir 30-40 rotations in mixing glass with ice, 
then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and 
garnish with a large twist of grapefruit

Virginia Dare was the name of the first English child born in the New World of the Americas. She was the granddaughter of John White, the English Governor of the Roanoke Island Colony in what is now North Carolina. White left the colony in 1587 to return to England for supplies and when he returned 3 years later, the colony was deserted. Among the over 100 people missing were White's daughter and his granddaughter, Virginia Dare. Many speculations have been made as to what became of the blond haired Virginia and the rest of the settlers. 

Years later In 1835, when Garrett and Company, a New York business, was founded in the North Carolina region where Roanoake once was. They adopted the name for a brand of their wine. During the Prohibition era if your business was liquor you had very few options. You could continue to sell illegally, taking your business "underground", obtain permission to sell for medicinal purposes only or, as Garret and Company did, find another legal use for making alcohol, in their case, flavoring extracts. Many liquor companies never saw the other side of Prohibition. Virginia Dare wines picked back up after the repeal on Dec 5th 1933 but didn't last past 1940. They do still produce extracts though.
"During Portland Cocktail Week in October, (from the lonely bartender-free streets of Seal Beach), I saw this video from Jeffrey Morgenthaler demonstrating how to carbonate a cocktail. I had done this before with another carbonation system my friend Ereich Empey brought in one night to play with. I thought the outcome was cool but, not worth the effort. The iSi Twist & Sparkle* is a simple and easy to work contraption which our bar is able to execute over and over. The perfect cocktail to carbonate and bottle was the Virginia Dare, although the drink was already fantastic, I always thought it would be really nice with a bit of sparkle. What better an occasion to introduce it than in honor of the 78th anniversary of Repeal Day! " -Jason

This carbonated, light, floral cocktail is wonderfully refreshing with hints of grapefruit. It's a perfect day drink that pairs well with light foods like salads. It's also a great gateway drink for those wine lovers looking to venture into the world of cocktails, as it utilizes Sauvignon Blanc.

This cocktail will make it's debut at 320 Main on Sunday the 4th in honor of Repeal Day for $12 each. Head over and celebrate with Jason Schiffer and the rest of the 320 Main staff! 

*the iSi Twist & Sparkle has been recalled due to safety issues. Stay tuned for a replacement product!