Tag Archives: creativity

Childhood Eats & Dreams

14 Jan

Nothing can tear this girl away from her lunch box. I am not trading ANYTHING!

2012 is here.  I can not believe it.  I have so much to do, but looking back on 2011 I have achieved so much.  This is the first time I really feel like I am building something for myself.  A path for my life seems to be taking shape oddly enough.  The one I do need to do, which has become another theme of what I write about is I must keep to the map.  It is critical for me to review my goals and to stick to some kind of plan.  As you have seen I tend to wander a bit.  That is one of the downfalls of my ability to try to live in the moment; the overall randomness and curiosity I have for life.  Before I start to spiral out of control I will tempt you with this; my last dinner at Next.

Yes, I am a very lucky, but persistent chica.  Nothing can get in my way of food.  Nothing.  So, when the new dinner was announced for Next I was ready for the rat race to get tickets.  The only thing I had to plan on is when they were going to be released.  Then I could be ready to pounce.  The last two rounds a lot of the tickets were released in the morning or afternoon.  So, when I was in another insomniac web surfing stupor I was totally shocked that tickets were on sale at 1:30am.  Score!  I ended up getting a table for 2 at a more suitable time; 5:30pm.  We were going to Childhood Memories.

By the way I am from the land of the glove, the Great Lake State, the second most diverse agriculture state in the US; the beautiful and lovely state of Michigan.  For me the courses that were selected and presented with also snapshots of my childhood because the chefs and I are pretty much the same age.  Some of the foods of my childhood were nearly snacks since we cooked from scratch a lot.  Foods such as Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, Kraft mac & cheese, and Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies were luxury items.  The foods I dream about from my youth are Goober & Grape, cider & doughnuts, s’mores, frosted animal cookies (the good ones), and gingerbread cookies.  When this menu was announced I was excited to see the creativity of each course.  I did not purchase tickets to know that the food was the most extra ordinary I purchased tickets to see the thought process and imagination of a group of talented chefs.  That like many other small things makes me happy.  Enjoy the inspiration below.

Childhood Memories Menu 

PB & J
Cocktail of Madeira & Luxardo Maraschino

Chicken Soup
No Noodles, a noodle of chicken
Solena, Pinot Gris, Willamette, OR 2010

Drawn By a Child

Mac & Cheese
A Merry-Go-Round of Garnishes
Caparone, Sangiovese, Paso Robles, CA 2006
Sarah’s Vineyard, Charbono, Santa Clara Valley, CA 2008

Autumn Scene
A Walk Through a Michigan Forest

McDonald’s, Buger King, White Castle…. no?
Ridge ‘Ponzo Vineyard’ Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, CA 2009

Lunch Box
Nutella Snack Pack
Wagyu Jerky
Apple-Brandy Leather
Truffled Oreo
Homemade Gunyun
Mixed Berry Drink

“Foie”sting and Donuts
Lick if Off the Beater!
Joseph Phelps, Eisrebe, Napa Valley, CA 2008

Hot Cocoa

So here it goes the iPhone Pics and insanity…………..

the surprise

our first bite, literally in this tiny box…

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Ta-da small snack of everyone’s favorite sandwich; peanut butter and jelly.  A small bundle of magic with liquid jelly popping in your mouth.

Chicken and a noodle soup

So,  I get it.  I too grew up craving the noodles and broth of Campbells chicken noodle soup.  Next makes beautiful stocks.  This time with the chilled chicken mousse they needed to watch the salt content.  Stock seasoned well and mousse seasoned well; but together almost deadly.  The one long noodle was fun, luscious caramelized pearl onions, carrots, parsley, and a celery leaf are the other components of this course.

Fish and chips including a hand drawn picture of me.

I love all the components here.  Wish the vinegar foam was stronger.  This dish had pickles, sea beans, panko, crunchy potato fan, Meyer lemon gelee, and balsamic reduction drawing.  The fish was walleye, a traditional Great Lake fishy.  Tons of creativity and very tasty.

A closer look at the fish

Hmmmm the fish.  Just good to see a different view of this course.

A different take on mac and cheese. It is not Kraft.

Kraft dinner appeared here and there when my sister and I were in high school.  Before then my family did not purchase such a product.  This course was fun and probably one of the stronger courses.  The noodles and cheese were prefect, but the true features are the small garnishes around the pasta.  Starting at 6 the circle is bread crumbs, moving clockwise you then have fresh tomato and micro-herb, pasta with annatto (which makes cheddar orange), parmesan custard, prosciutto pinwheel, an apple cube, and lastly a dehydrated Nathan hot dog.  Yes, I would have this dish again.

So very Rene Redzepi. Hidden are mushrooms leeks and more.

Ok this course was my absolute favorite.  Mushrooms roasted, sautéed, and dehydrated served with crispy leeks, sweet potatoes, and greens.  This course was presented on an open log with smoldering straw.  Both eye appealing and delicious.  The imagination used to create this dish is top notch.  This surprised me and I wanted more of this.  I hope this type of plating is used more, I know just from a recent trip to Alinea that it was.  Overall this did bring me back to the forest during a chilly fall afternoon with a campfire in the background and the lot of us girl scouts searching for edible treats in the nature that surrounded us.  Ahhhh more please.

Hamburger your way....

Another very creative and a very Dali course; the hamburger.  It consists of braised short rib, may, ketchup, baby lettuce, mayo, mustard, pickle, onion, and bread ribbons topped with sesame seeds.  They asked you to think of a burger and all I could think about was Red Knapps.  So good. The only thing I did not like about this dish was too much noodle buns and not enough onion and mustard.  The short rib was very yummy.

Trade time?

Lunch box time.  I felt like I was in second grade again.  This was perfect and made me smile.  A boozy thermos of juice, a fruit roll up, oreo-esque cookie, crunchy onion chip, beef jerky, and pudding.  No big sized kid would want to trade their lunch for something else.  Totally a fun and whimsical dish.  I love the fact that they found classic lunch boxes.  Not to mention the hand written notes inside.  Big’s said to play nice whereas mine told me mom disliked my last yelp review of her packed lunch.  So, funny and this course makes everyone smile.

Foie-sting and doughnuts

This should just be called the OMG course.  Foie gras frosting on the beater and cider doughnuts.  I could smear the frosting over anything and everything.  It is sooooo goooood.  The only issue with this dish was the doughnuts.  These puppies were not perfect fried morsels, instead they were little rocks.  Not the may west.  Really, the frosting was the best, so good.

Hmmm fire dessert

Watch out!!  On fire sweet potato pie. This dessert incorporated flamed sweet potatoes, bourbon ice cream, sweet pir crust crunchies, and marshmallows.  Plus, it has a caramel sauce to drizzle all over it.  All in all a pretty solid dessert and it tasted great.  I enjoyed the super cold and delicious bourbon ice cream.  There is a great video on this dish somewhere on YouTube, you should find it, or maybe I will.

A warm ending to the dinner.

To end the night we had hot chocolate with a shot of cognac.  A simple ending to a fun and whimsical dinner.

That is it.  That was childhood memories.  Now all I can think about and dream of is El Bulli.  I also must apologize for neglecting to write.  I will be better I promise for all those who care.  Look forward to some cool products and some free writing.  BTW I am headed back to curling nationals!