Peas, peas, peas, peas, eatin’ goober peas
Actually, I don’t much know what a goober pea is. Just seemed like a good title.
The first Monday of the month, on a chef’s traditional night off, The Commissary in the Presidio has an open kitchen night, where they invite well known chefs from around the area to come and contribute a dish to a special prix fixe dinner. There is always a theme, and this month the theme was fresh spring peas.
The wine pairing this month featured the wines of the Del Dotto vineyard. They also provided the chefs for two of the dishes. I’m pretty sure their founder, Dave Del Dotto, was a bridge player at one time–I remember sitting with him and his beautiful blonde wife after sessions at the Anaheim Nationals in 1987.
On to the dinner. We began with an amuse bouche, pea sprout soup served in a tiny shooter, topped with a chip and a pea. They were brought to the table in terraria, each containing 3 servings.
Here is the shooter itself:
The first course was prepared by Chef Rogelio Garcia, executive chef at The Commissary.
Local sturgeon, poached and topped with its own caviar, house cured. Sitting on a bed of fresh English peas. A simply magnificent preparation and presentation. The dark circle around the plate is trumpet mushrooms, which fortunately don’t taste like mushrooms and add an umami richness to the dish.
Each of the visiting chefs comes with an assistant, and they are assigned a small area of the kitchen. This leads to a very crowded work area, but these guys are all pros who know how to work hard in a crowded conditions.
The next item was from Chef Joshua Schwartz, of Del Dotto Winery. A totally new envisioning of lasagna, like mama most certainly did not make.
I can hardly begin to describe this marvelous dish. No tomato sauce, housemade ricotta, housemade prosciutto, a tiny loaf of bread; the whole thing was breathtaking. This is the sort of thing these chef’s nights are for–this dish is way too complicated and labor intensive to be on a regular menu, but here the chef can be as creative as he likes.
The next dish was from Chef Ryan McIlwraith, of Bellota, a Spanish restaurant in San Francisco.
I liked this dish, and think I want to try the restaurant where the chef works. It was a novel combination of flavors and textures. Maybe I’m just not a fan of blood sausage.
Now the big finale, and one of the worst photos I’ve ever posted.
That’s a slice of perfectly cooked rib eye–what I think is the tastiest cut of beef, albeit not the most tender. The triangle thingy is a pea custard glazed with carrot. There is also a smoked pea puree, fresh peas, a bit of carrot and some sauces for color. It was all done perfectly, by Chef Michael Dengelegi from Del Dotto.
Finally, dessert. I was full already but manned up and powered through to give the meal the attention it deserved.
Chef Andrew Marcus, pâtissier at The Commissary, created this dish to complement the theme. His pea and sunflower seed cake was unique–I sadly expect that I will never have another. You don’t often think of food as a once in a lifetime experience, but there you have it. Finally, the perfect reason to eat your vegetables.
The Commissary Open Kitchen nights are a delightful adventure. They had to go looking for guest chefs at the start, now the hot local chefs are lining up for a chance to show off their talent and creativity. First Monday of the month, don’t miss it.