We were honored to be a part of the wedding celebration for "Caitlin and Joe" in November 2011. And the evening turned out to be more exciting than originally planned - aren't they always! With their original outdoor location for the ceremony rained out, the bride and groom quickly changed course to have the ceremony indoors. And we were more than happy to accommodate them. Without missing a beat, the couple was married and celebrated with dinner at Windows on the Water. It was, by all measures, a festive evening!
Big thanks to Bay News and Lynn Diehl for the great write-up on our Restaurant Month menu by Chef Neil and our great - and under-the-radar - sommeliel Chris Battles.
Here's an excerpt:
"Sommeliel Chris Battles has been busy thinking about flavor, taste and the overall experience. We like that! How about the saffron poached pear that Chef Smith has listed in the first course?!? Here’s the wine list for an additional $15. WooHoo Windows!"
Thank you to Kathy Hardesty of New Times for the glowing review of our Executive Chef Neil Smith and your evening at Windows on the Water. We are thrilled you spent your 20th wedding anniversary at Windows and enjoyed your evening!
Here's an excerpt:
"But that didn’t come nearly as close to making me regret my tardiness as did the exceptional dinner he prepared for me and my husband Dan on our 20th anniversary, Dec. 14. I realized I had been missing out on an excellent dining experience that has me eager to return for more."
Thank you to Katy Budge of the SLO Tribune for the great write-up on our Cooking & Cocktails! event in early November. Stay tuned for our next Cooking & Cocktails! with Executive Chef Neil Smith in January 2012.
Thank you to all our fans that came out for Sunset's Battle of the Bay at SAVOR Central Coast last Saturday afternoon! What a show and we had a blast!! Let us just say that our Chef Neil did an absolutely fabulous job battling it out creating four distinct dishes for Sunset's Editor in Chief, Katie Tamoney, to enjoy. Shaun Washburn of Shauns On Main also did a great job. The winner? Well, it was Shaun. And while we obviously would have enjoyed succesfully defending our title from last year, we can't help but enjoy the fact that a great guy like Shaun took home the title. So, congratulations Shaun!
The big winner?! Everyone and every business in Morro Bay! Those involved with this event - too many to name, but you know who you are - did a fantastic job representing our great town to the great audience. Thank you for all your effort!
Thomas here to talk about a new dessert in the works.
I recently came across a new technique that I would like to share with all of you. This is quite a neat but weird concoction and is created by the reaction between calcium and low methoxly pectin. First off, what is pectin? Pectin is extracted from the skins of ripe fruits such as apples, blueberries or even citrus and is used to thicken jams and jellies. The cool thing about pectin is that there are two different types; high methoxy and low methoxy. The difference between the two is high methoxy is made with limes or lemons and is most commonly used when the sugar content of the jam is high. The other, low methoxly pectin, is used in sugar free jams and needs calcium ions to gel. Since now we know what pectin is on a scientific level we can start to play with this idea a little bit. If calcium and pectin react then why can't we make something like, say, caramel mousse? So I decided to add calcium to it to see if the pectin would attach to it to form a gel of apple juice and pectin mix on the outside. Hey what do you know, it works really well! But this standing alone is not enough to compose a dessert now is it?
Let’s think for a moment about caramel apples. They come from candy shops and big events like fairs. Ok so caramel apples and.... chorros! That's a match made in heaven! Ok, so I am looking for three flavors. How about popcorn? Popcorn is also commonly found at the fair. And ice cream as well hmm.. Of course I am going to put all of these together to create one fun experience and hopefully, if I do it right, the perception of eating at the fair. Ha! When I was a kid it was one or the other, candy apple or churro. Usually the decision I made was good but yet I still wanted my brother's or sister's choice as well. Now you can come to Windows and enjoy everything all at once without mom telling you no!! The dessert will be a combination of these three flavors. The popcorn will be in the form of ice cream. Yum! Churrros will be small but the same. And the apple? Well you're just going to have to come in to Windows on the Water to find out for your self!
I look foward to seeing you there soon and thanks for stoping by. Until next time good day.
Check out this 1:30 teaser for Sunset's Savor the Central Coast's Battle of the Bay where our Executive Chef Neil Smith will defend his title against Shawn Washburn of Shawns on Main in Morro Bay. It's going to be war!!
We're suckers for anything Central Coast (or California for that matter) the shows how wonderful of a place we live in. And when it's done creatively, then we have to share it here. Enjoy this 2:30 video composed of over 10,000 photos all shot in California.
Hello readers! Thomas Drahos, Pastry Chef, here again to talk about... you guessed it. Food.
Today I would like to start by asking a question. What are your favorite childhood memories? Do any of them tie to food? If so please comment below and let me know. The reason for this question is to collect information from readers and consumers to help me recreate childhood memories as you eat food. One of my favorite childhood memories is fresh peach cobbler with ice cream melting down the sides of the warm peach's. So you could only imagine how excited I was to see fresh organic yellow peaches coming through the door of the restaurant. Local California grown peaches at my finger tips and *wham* like a smack in the face the memories of my childhood stood tall in my brain.
On this particular night I was filling in for a chef and was not working in the pastry section. The prep list was glaring me in the eyes but all I could think about was the delicious peach cobbler I ate as a child. I was immediately inspired. The ideas for the beautiful peach's popped in and out of my head like a bad song that was stuck . As the inspiration pulled at my leg I knew that I had to first tackle the prep list before I could start working on my new dessert. Butchery - check. Sauces - check. Grind pork scraps to make the italian sasuge for the week. Check! Time to revisit my childhood!
First I pealed and large diced the peaches into seamless cubes that looked different than any peaches you'd ever seen. Remember, if you've been reading my previous blogs, molecular gastronomy is all about perception. I poached the peaches in brown sugar, water, butter and a touch of cinnamon which is essentially the ingredient of peach cobbler. Oh yeah, that's the stuff!
Now the cobbler dough which is comprised of flour, baking powder and maybe some butter and heavy cream. Egg washed and baked to perfection at 400 degrees in a convection oven until golden brown. Now for the science part I will bring out the methylcellulose f 50. Methylcellulose is derived from beets and sugar cane and is extracted from the plant cellulose. This product is like gelatin or agar. The difference is methylcellulose sets when it is heated rather than when its cold like agar and gelatin. So I took this and blended it together on high speed for four or five minutes with the buttermilk to create what looked liked paste or something similar to that. Added some sugar and vanilla to make it suitable for dessert. I then took this mixture and put it into the kitchen aid stand mixer fitted with a wisk attachment and away we went. Five minutes went by and now we have what looks like a meringue. Next I put this mix into my dehydrator to cook at 130 degrees for 20 hours. The next day I came in and had crispy buttermilk foam. To my surprise the foam was still nice and fluffy as if it came straight out of the mixing bowl Nice!! Let's not leave out the peach sorbet to top it all off. Yummmm!!!
Remember to post your childhood memories tied to food. Thanks for stoping by and I look forward to reading about your favorite foods as a child.
Hello pastry chef Thomas Drahos here again. First of all I would like to say thank you to all who attended our Molecular Gastronomy Demonstration at Windows on the Water on June the 18th. Without you guys it would not have been possible. The evening went exactly according to plan and was a success. We had a full room of very interested and inquisitive guests which made it a real thrill for us to present. The live video feed to the flatscreen tv suspended over our heads was perfect for giving our guests the close-up views of us doing our work. Great times.
And the best part?! We'll be doing it again this fall with a date likely around October. Stay tuned!
The format for the event was that all guests received a nice sample of each dish that we presented. Items were prepared before or during the event by our staff and then completed with the ingredients that we prepared "on stage". And here's how it went down.
First we greeted our guests with a nice cocktail that consisted of cheery juice encapsulated to explode once eaten and topped it with a nice pineapple foam and vodka. This, clearly, was a great way to kick off the event and we'll certainly be doing it again.
Next we moved quickly to the delight of a crispy potato foam that I created using a product called methylcellulose f50. This product is an emulsifier that works well with the use of hot application and foaming. We toped this with carrot caviar and cream fraiche. Wow.
I really liked the third course and hope everyone did too. This course was interesting because of the perception that it was actually an olive was paired with a crostini. What the guests did not know was that it was olive juice that was once again encapsulated to create a burst of liquid over the tongue that was salty but yet very satisfying.
The fourth course was a play off of ahi crudo and tropical fruit salsa. This was fun because of the fact that we changed the salsa to become a different texture by juicing the fruits and setting them with agar, an ancient "gelifier". Then we made the salsa with gels of mango and pineapple to create what looked like diced mango and pineapple, mixed all together with the ahi and, vwala, we have ahi credo like you've never seen before. Fun.
The fifth plate was composed of a seared scallop that I paired with a ginger beer foam made with soy lecithin and cotton candy infused with lemon flavor. This was a different aproach because of the fact that cotton candy is not commonly paired with scallops. But turns out that the fresh caramel flavor pairs well with the scallop for the same reason that bacon pairs with chocolate. Sweet and savory wins again. Hahaha.
For the next two courses we used dry ice and a product called tapioca multodextrin - a tapioca starch derivative. With these two ingredients we created what was a play off the all-american PB&J. The carbonated grapes came in handy from my previous post about dry ice. The grapes were served with peanut powder. This was a very unusual texture because when you put the powder into your mouth it turns right back into smooth peanut butter! Wow, crazy right? I think so!
Now came the second of the dry ice courses. We simply made ice cream using the method of dry ice to create the smoothest ice cream you have ever eaten in your life. To wrap it all up we just modified a classic after dinner drink that we modified to be a foam of coffee and chocolate liquer paired with chambord caviar.
It's almost unbelievable that we can do these lovely things with food to create new and exciting textures and flavors just by simply reaching out to our avaliable resources.
Thank you and goodbye for now. We will talk again soon.
Hi. Pastry Chef Thomas Drahos here again to talk about Molecular Gastronomy at Windows on the Water. And for the uninitiated, Molecular Gastronomy is the art combining food and science to create new and exciting textures and flavors that taste great and are fun to experience. It's what I love doing.
So, for my next subject, lets talk about dry ice. Dry ice is interesting because of the fact that it is composed of frozen co2 gas. Co2 gas is what gives soda, champagne, and Pop Rocks the candy there fizzy sensation. So if Co2 is the basis for carbonation, why use dry ice in cooking rather than Co2 gas, you might ask? I assumed that dry ice would be easier to control because of its solid form. Turns out that I was correct and it worked well for carbonated treats.
The first experiment was simple and just for fun. My first subject? Grapes. What I did was place some whole grapes that were still on the stem in to a plastic container with a lid. Next I crushed the dry ice carefully into a fine powder so as not burn my hands. (Dry ice is 190 degrees below zero! Touching it with bare hands or little insulation can be painful. It is best handled with gloves.) Now, I added the crushed ice into the container of grapes. At first glance this looks like fog over the grapes. This fog is Co2 gas sublimating into the air. (Sublimation happens when a solid evaporates into a gas because of the extremely low freezing point.) I thought if I captured this gas in the container by simply placing an air tight lid on the grapes this might yield a carbonated grape. This worked magically!! I mean it was like eating ''grape soda" right off the vine! Carbonated grapes - the first experiment was a success.
The next idea came about after reading one of my favorite cook books The Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal. I read that you could make 10 second ice cream with dry ice. It's not hard to imagine how excited I was to get in the kitchen and try this out. The first test was vanilla ice cream. Very basic but also commonly known by foodies. Once again I crushed up the dry ice to a powder but this time I sifted it to get a fine Co2 dust. Then, with a KitchenAid mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, I poured the ice cream base into the mixing bowl. Then I turned the machine on to medium high speed and begin adding the crushed dry ice. And after only about 10 seconds of mixing forms what to me is probably the smoothest ice cream I have ever eaten! Also, to my surprise, some Co2 gas was trapped inside the ice cream causing it to be carbonated! What an unbelievable and pleasant dimension to the ice cream.
Here's a quick video I shot of the above process of making the Dry Ice Cream. It's crude, but fun. Enjoy!
This is the first of what is planned to be a regular post on cooking at Windows with a focus on Molecular Gastronomy. It will be my way of sharing with our staff and customers what is equal parts science, art, discipline, and passion. It's what I love doing. So, let's get started.
What is Molecular Gastronomy? Molecular gastronomy in a nut shell is the convergence of food and science to create new and exciting textures and flavors that, in the end, look and taste great. And there inlays the challenge.
For instance, think of a common culinary dish such as chocolate ganache. Chocolate Granache is typically a chocolate that is softened by the addition of fat, commonly cream or butter. It has been created and enjoyed for decades. What I wanted to create was something with the same flavor but with a completely different texture, experience,and presentaion. Basically what I did with this particular dessert was create a pliable piece of chocolate fudge using science and not by simply adding fat. I was hoping to use a technique commonly used by pastry chefs all over the world to create a product that would be both pliable but not to rubbery. After a number of interesting concoctions, the winning ingredient? Agar. Used in Asian cuisine for many years, agar is a hydrocoloid that yields a very pliable and elastic gel. Agar may be used to replace gelatin and have the same mouth feel with a very pliable formation. However, unlike gelatin, agar can be heated to a certain tempature and still hold its shape. After more experimentation I finally came up with a version of granache that not only looked great, but tasted fantastic. It was ready to serve. But in my opinion the pliable chocolate standing alone on the plate was not enough to serve to our guests. It needed more. But what?
I began doing research on the lovely flavor of rhubarb. Rhubarb is a not a common flavor to pair with chocolate but it tasted very nice and I was ready to use it. Now the question was, how can I converge science with plain old rhubarb to create a compliment to my newly created granache? Well how about going to Ace Hardware and buying six, three feet sections of 0.5 id silicon tubing? You bet. Once again the agars flexibility came in handy. I took the silicon tubing and syringed a solution of agar, rhubarb juice, and citric acid into the silicon tubing. I then emerged the tubing into ice water to set the agar and the entire rhubarb concoction. Once set, I then hooked the tubing up to the syringe and forced it out by creating pressure behind the solution. The result? Chocolate Granache and Rhubarb Spaghetti (coiled rope-like under the chocolate granache)!
Why make a pliable chocolate granache paired with fruit spaghetti you ask? Because that's what I do here at Widows on the Water. I continue to push the scientific envelope on a daily basis.
Thank you to 805 Living Magazine for listing Windows on the Water as "Must-Have Meal around 805" in the April 2011 edition.
Here's what they say:
"Windows on the Water (windowsmb.com) in Morro Bay has been serving wonderful food in a romantic setting for many years. Chef Neil Smith keeps the bar—set by former chef Pandee Pearson—high. His local sand dabs ($19) are unique. He rolls up the thin fillets, then coats them in crunchy breadcrumbs, and lightly fries them. They’re drizzled with lemon-caper butter and served alongside wilted spinach and a crispy potato cake. Add this delicious dish to the grand view and sophisticated live entertainment, and it’s a perfect night."
On Sunday June 5, 2011, Windows on the Water and our Executive Chef, Neil Smith will be serving his delicacies at Afternoon of Epicurian Delights, which will be on Sunday, June 5, from 11:30-3:30pm at the beautiful and tranquil grounds of the historic Chapman House by the Sea in Shell Beach. Guests will enjoy a variety of live music, provided this year by eight musical groups, and partake in a silent auction with items featuring local art, hand-crafted jewelry, premium and reserve wines, and much more. Over fifty of the most renowned and award winning restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries and confectioners in our county will be serving their delicacies and pouring their best.
Tickets are $85.00 and may be purchase at:
The Crushed Grape, SLO SLO Chamber Arroyo Grande Chamber or by calling Health Services Office: (805) 544-2498
Beginning Saturday night of Memorial Day Weekend, we're pleased to be featuring Saturday Live Music for Summer 2011.
THE TIPSY DUO: Saturday, May 28th, 6pm-9pm Kicking it off we are thrilled to welcome back The Tipsy Duo featuring Hillary Langdon and Forrestt Williams of the The Tipsy Duo. Playing a style rooted in Gipsy Jazz, and recalling the vocals of Billie Holiday, it will be an evening not to be missed.
The decision to add Saturday night music is based on the overwhelmingly positive response we've received from our customers and artists with our "Live Music & Dining" which we began late last year. As we headed into the end of 2010, we huddled together to take a hard look at our music and how it fit at Windows. Not entirely satisfied with our approach and knowing we were heading into the "slower" season, we knew we needed to make a change. After much discussion, we took the more unusual route and, instead of eliminating live music, we decided to embrace it by broadening our line up and adding an additional night. Thus was born "Winter Live Music" and renamed "Live Music & Dining" with a focus on local artists from young solo acts to seasoned jazz trios on Monday night and the new Thursday night. And we are glad we did. The response from both customers and musicians has been fantastic and has only added to the enjoyment for everyone - staff and customers alike. We couldn't be more pleased.
Thank you to all the artists that have played at Windows. And thank you to our customers for the feedback - including multiple requests to add Saturday nights. We're listening.
Thank you to Bay News for the May 2011 write-up on Chris Battles, sommelier at Windows on the Water and owner/operator of Morro Bay Wine Seller located in the building next to Windows. We knew he was talented and it's nice to see others agree!
Here's an excerpt:
"In a shop off the street, on the bottom floor at Morro Bay’s Marina Square, sits a quaint little wine shop where the husband-wife team of Chris and Vickey Battles stands eager to share their love of fine wine with local residents and visitors alike."
Thank you to all our loyal fans for voting Windows on the Water the "Best Morro Bay Restaurant for 2011" in the popular New Times Readers Poll!!
Here's what they say:
"BEST MORRO BAY RESTAURANT | Windows on the Water
With unmatched views of Morro Bay Harbor, the name "Windows on the Water" describes this elegant restaurant perfectly, but the owners could have easily gone with "Culinary Masterpieces on the Plates" or "Courteous Service from Well-Trained Staff" or even "Classy Entertainment and Daily Drink Specials at the Expansive Bar" - though those names don't have quite the same ring. Executive Chef Neil Smith designed a menu that capitalizes on organic, local produce, and he only uses sustainably raised livestock and seafood that meets the guidelines of the Seafood Watch Program. Delicious, romantic, and eco-friendly? The only thin missing is a stunning view.... oh, wait." - New Times, May 2011
WHEN: Tues, May 10, 2011 | 11am - 1pm WHERE: Cal Poly, Food Science Lab
Windows on the Water’s Pastry Chef Thomas Drahos and Sous Chef Darrell Janes will be conducting a demonstration on new molecular gastronomy at Cal Poly on Tuesday May 10th. This demonstration will include a full power point presentation and many different molecular demonstrations. Among these there will be fruit spaghetti, watermelon spheres, beer foam, mint caviar, dehydrated lime rocks and caramel powder.
The demonstration will be held in the food science lab between 11am and 1pm. The purpose of the demonstration is to open the eyes of young intellectuals to the possibilities of what can be done with the products and technology that are readily available today. The power point presentation will be an explanation of the history and future of new molecular gastronomy. Thomas Drahos and Darrell Janes will be talking about the application for the restaurant industry and also about the effects and response of the consumers. They hope to create excitement and a new movement for the Central Coast.