Monday, July 4, 2011

Buildings & Condiments

So things are continuing to move along with the restaurant. I stopped by our floor the other day and walls had been knocked down, new doorways erected and service windows were knocked out for the kitchen. It's exciting to see the plans becoming a reality. I was most excited to see the north wall opened up where our bar is going to be, giving me the first actual view of what you will be able to see while sitting there. Even with the monsoon rains and cloud cover obscuring the Himalaya it was still really nice, and I'm really looking forward to what see what the views will be like in the Fall when the monsoons clear and visibility is at its best.Below are a couple photos showing the space under construction.

 The open terrace area on a clearer monsoon day

 The north wall, where the bar will one day sit- clouds obscuring the great view.

Looking inside from where the bar will be. 

 Entrance, that opening on the left will be the service window to the kitchen.

Still lots of work to do!

As the construction continues we're still working on plenty of other things. Refining the menu, filing paperwork,putting together seating plans and figuring out how we will train staff. One other thing I've been doing is working on which recipes I want to use for things like condiments and sauces. Some I've made for years and are quite comfortable with, like the Tequila-Lime marinade and the salsas. Others I've learned since I've been in Nepal and have become comfortable with as well, like mayo, and pasta sauces. Some others though are things I'm either less familiar with or I am still playing around with different recipes to find something that is at least as good as the stuff that comes in a bottle. For instance BBQ sauce is something I'd like to do myself, but I won't use my own until I can make something that I'm as happy with as say Sweet Baby Ray's- and as of yet I haven't found that. I'm still playing around with ketchup as well, but I'm happy to report that I may have finally stumbled upon the recipe I want to use yesterday, as that batch came out very close to what I want.


 Other items I'm just not as familiar with. Mustard seems simple enough, but the aging required makes it a slow process to learn the finesse in making it. The good thing about simple mustard recipes is that they are almost impervious to going bad since all of the ingredients are antimicrobial, that or they are things like honey which don't go bad. The first batch of mustard I tried wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't anything I'd serve to people. Batch two was much better, and yesterday I put three different batches together to see how they would come out. I'm mostly experimenting with amounts of honey, vinegar and how coarse or smooth I want the mustard. I also need to pick up some red wine so I can make a Dijon mustard, as ultimately I'd like to have both a Dijon flavor and a subtly sweet brown honey mustard. 

Another thing I haven't tried before that I'm getting into is pepper sauces. I'm a devoted fan of Frank's red hot cayenne  pepper sauce, but with chilies being so available here it seems crazy not to try my own Louisiana style hot sauce. Another barrier to really getting good at these is the aging process required. Some require less than others, and I have no intention of waiting three years as Tobasco does, but even only being able to check every few months on if you got it right or not makes for a slow learning curve. While I plan on importing Frank's for the Buffalo sauce at least, it would be nice to offer my own. 

One issue here is I can't for the life of me figure out what chilies I'm actually using. Nepal being what it is, they just call it chili, and while I'm sure it has a particular name, no one seems to know. The peppers I most commonly use seem very similar to cayenne or arbol, though I don't think it's exactly either one. Still, as they get bright red as they age they make a brilliant red color for the sauce which is attractive. I can also occasionally get a pepper that looks very similar to a Scottish bonnet, but again it's not quite identical and  I have no clue what type of pepper it actually is. Additionally I also have the chipotle peppers that I shipped in from the states that I can use. One of the batches that I have sitting in wait is a mix of the local chili and chipotle, whose flavor I love, but in too high a concentration I find a bit too overwhelming. 

One may wonder why I'd bother with all this condiment making, as few places do and are happy to use the bottled stuff. First there is where we are, and being in Nepal it means you are either importing condiments from halfway around the planet or you are using really terrible regional brands like Druk who use tremendous amounts of sugar and artificial coloring. By making everything ourselves we can eliminate unnecessary preservatives, over use of salt and sugar, atomic colored food dyes, and the unnecessary overhead that comes with paying for glass bottles to be shipped from Europe or the US. All that and you usually have a better tasting product. While it is easy for people to become a bit snobby and thumb their noses at simple condiments as being below their culinary  inclinations, few honest individuals can say that they don't truly enjoy a well done sandwich, or burger. To me a core element in doing these right is to make sure that each component in its making is something that has had time and attention paid to it, so that with quality components will result a quality meal.

1 comment:

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