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Home > DINING WITH CHEFS > New York Dining with Chefs > Aldea (Part 2 of 2)


Chef and Owner George Mendes

    Spring Consomme

Dining with Chefs: Chef and Owner George Mendes

Because we liked the crispy consistency so much, we next tried the pan con tomate, which was served on crispy toast and is a part of the Jamon Serrano dish. ”Pan con Tomate is a classical Spanish snack that you get at the tapas bars that are just bread rubbed with tomato,” Chef Mendes said. “Here we have a baguette, we toast it and we rub fresh tomato on there. It’s straightforward.”

Less straightforward was the consomme, a pasta-less mushroom ravioli that we couldn’t resist! “The consomme is inspired by the season of spring, the market and a little bit of modern technique with the ravioli,” Chef Mendes revealed. “We take morel mushrooms and pair them with chorizo, radishes and of course early spring bulbs and flowers -- arugula flowers, broccoli flowers and those kinds of things -- as well as peas. The mushroom ravioli themselves are a modern technique called spherification, which is a technique that was introduced by Ferran Adria of El Bulli, who I spent some time with. I take that technique and apply it using an intense mushroom reduction. We take sodium alginate and calcium lactate -- two chemicals that are naturally derived, one from seaweed (the alginate) -- which sound like chemicals which are hard to find but are actually naturally occurring. The reaction between these forms a very thin membrane around the mushroom when we drop it into the solution. That’s what the ravioli is. So it is meant to be a very light, fragrant, healthy soup. It’s a very light, brothy soup with different textures and flavors of spring.”

Pennsylvania Baby Goat

While soup is a regular on most menus, our next selection -- baby goat -- isn’t. In fact, we’re not sure we’ve ever seen it served. “I grew up with goat,” Chef Mendes told us. “I always used to say that a lot of things were thrown into my baby bottles. Goat was something that was always braised by my mom and my aunt on Sundays. Goat has its own unique flavor; some people compare the baby goat to a baby lamb. Adult goat is going to be closer to a whole grown lamb or a mutton. A baby goat to me is very close to a baby lamb, although I believe that the leg does have a little more forceful flavor. We braise the legs in red wine, olive oil, vegetables and herbs -- a very classical style -- very, very slowly for about 18 hours into the night and into the day in a very low oven so that there’s no aggressive heat and the meat never dries out. The goal is always to attain that melting texture while remaining true to the flavor and bringing in the rustic homemade flavors of braising the red wine, the herbs and the vegetables. Then we grill the loin with olive oil on Japanese charcoal and crisp up the belly on the plancha. We treat the different parts of the animal in different ways.”

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