Cork & Cuisine Prescott Valley, AZ

My folks flew to the Arizona area three years ago, escaping the cold weather of Montana for a cozier, snow bird existence.

With my folks’ new locale, when we visit they are always sure to give my hubby and I a date night:  which are too few and far between.

We decided on venturing into Prescott Valley, a town of about 40,000 and try a new restaurant who’s online pictures, a monthly changing menu, and intriguing ingredients piqued my interest.

Cork and Cuisine is settle amongst an outdoor mall area where shopping, restaurants, a movie theatre, and arcade are an ideal location to bring in clientele.

The restaurant is very open with a contemporary feel.  The kitchen is open and cooking bar is hugged up against it allowing for “Chef’s Tables” where guests enjoy a cooking class and a mystery dinner prepared by the chef.

Upon my making  a reservation,  I was told the restaurant was fairly busy so  two spots were available at the bar.  As we climbed into our perch, we were promptly welcomed by our server/bartender.

The beer and wine menu is not extensive but has enough choices to pair well with the menu.  Scotch abounds, as do other liquors.  I chose a chardonnay and my husband opted for a beer.

We started our meal with two starters:  one for me and one for him.  I chose the Seared Duck Breast with fried potato and a black cherry and fig gastrique.

image

The duck was mosit and tender however, the “ducky” flavor I so love, was non existent. I asked our server to ask the chef, if the breast had pre-soaked in a buttermilk to cut the gamey flavor, but never received word.

Although the duck was medium, I prefer a medium rare, it lacked salt.  No golden and rendered duck fat was present either.  The potatoes were salted but didn’t make sense with the duck.  The gastrique, well, was not.  I got the very sweet flavor of black cherry with the thick sauce which was spooned over the dish, but none of the sour tang a gastrique brings with the use of vinegar.

The dish lacked cohesiveness.  Three separate flavors:  salt from the potato, sweet from the cherry, and mild meatiness.  The dish could have been brought together more harmoniously simply with a vinegar used in the gastrique, served on a bed of microgreens, and a good seasoning of salt on the duck.

My husband ordred the salmon cakes, which I didn’t induldge in since they aren’t gluten free.  In his own words; “the chef relied on the flour coating for flavor, it lacked seasoning and was bone dry.”

As we finished our starters we noticed the restaurant wasn’t full and many tables available, our perch at the bar although comfortable-enough, begged to have us moved into  more pleasant accommodations.

image

My husband ordered his entree:  seared scallops over caramelized onion risotto with crisped pancetta.  The dish was beautiful and arrived piping hot.  The scallops were well seasoned and perfectly seared, a struggle for most, as too heavy a hand leads to rubbery discs.

The risotto was flavorful, sweetened by caramelized onion.   However I questioned:  is this truly arborio as the rice was quite large.  The dish was topped with pancetta but, to our eye and mouths appeared to be deli bacon.  A small amount of parmesan dusted the scallops-a seeming afterthought.

Overall the dish was good, on a scale of 1-10, a healthy 6.  I would have loved more of the herb oil to be prominent and a splash of fresh lemon would have done wonders to cut the sweetness.

image

I ordered the crispy pan seared halibut with a saffron foam and rice pilaf with fried kale.

I adore halibut, and as you can see from my picture they gave me hearty portion 5-6 oz.-an expensive fish and a huge portion.

I first tried the foam which, unfortunately was bitter, had very little flavor and I found it to be off-putting.  The pilaf itself was bland but the rice was cooked well.  Upon further investigation of my filet I found the skin was not crispy as much as crisped-to-a-glued-atop-crust, with an odd green color.

A travesty-as I’ve said before, fish skin is the bacon of the sea and absolutely delicious when done correctly.

The skin was a clue as to how my fish was cooked.  As I cut in with my fork it took much effort and came away in small, dried flakes.  I took one bite.  The halibut was seared beyond recognition, dry and dense.  The fish had no salt recognizable however, cleaning product from the kitchen was.

I let our server know what was wrong and was promptly brought my own seared scallop meal which was just as tasty as my husband’s.

Cork and Cuisine is a small restaurant with extremely attentive staff which created a positive experience regardless of our meal.  My humble opinion and palate, tells me the chef lacks confidence:  salt everything, acidity does wonders for bringing harmony to a plate, and timing is of the utmost importance.

I really did enjoy our server, my small chat with the owner, and a great gentleman at the end of the bar who gifted my husband with a beautiful cigar.  However,  with a $120 price tag I left feeling full but not happily so, and longing for my own kitchen.

Overall grade:  C-

Sauteed Pesimmon and Peaches

Dessert: Because Sometimes You Just Need To Indulge

 

I’m really not a sweets person.  Majority of the time my cravings are for something salty, beware tortilla chips and salsa!

All that being said, I had a sweet tooth come at me from nowhere and I didn’t have anything at home, or at least that wasn’t readily available.

As I was perusing InstaGram I stumbled upon Kate Battistelli and she had this amazing picture of cookie with the caption “Coconut and Brown Butter Cookies”

She had me at browned butter.

One of my MOST favorite flavors is browned butter so I couldn’t resist reading up on her recipe!

Kate’s recipe inspired these cookies.  I “needed” a savory element to my cookies, so I took the flavors of Thai cuisine and placed them in my cookie AND I showed off my culinary prowess (or so I think) by using citronella plant….yes it’s edible.


Browned Butter Cookeis

Aromatic Browned Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup browned butter, cooled (not solid) (add water below until butter reaches 1 cup in volume)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup ginger preserves
1 cup  gluten free Baking Flour Mix (I used Pamela’s brand)
1/2 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 tsp finely chopped citronella geranium (can sub 2 tsp lemongrass)
1 lime, zest

Preheat oven to 400.  Beat browned butter and sugar until creamy.  Add egg and extract and continue to blend, stir in ginger preserves.  Slowly add flour mix and coconut flakes until well incorporated.  Fold in citronella and lime zest.  Scoop about 1 Tbsp of dough and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet, 8 per sheet, they will spread just a bit.  Place in oven and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with a coconut ice cream
*warm your coconut milk then steep a few bags of green tea in it before freezing-great green tea ice cream!

image

The other day I was in DIRE need of inspiration so I tossed the boys in the car and headed an hour South to my favorite market, the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market.

I told the boys to touch and smell, find every color possible, use their imaginations when feeling otherworldly foods (rombutans), I invited them to build excitement in building their own little palates.

The inspiration worked and I created a beautiful meal of fresh sardines stuffed with parsley, carrot greens, garlic, and lemon served with caramelized sunchokes and jeweled carrots.

image

The boys were none to thrilled with a fish “looking at them” but they tried their bite, ate all their veggies, then promptly grabbed deli meat from the fridge.

The boys patiently waited while my hubs and I picked every last bit of flesh from the sardines bones and then I got to work on dessert.

Dessert is a rare occurrence  in our house, so when I’m guaranteeing a sweet treat the boys are basically underfoot, nipping at my heels, begging for it to be served!  This dessert is absolutely simple, requires no sugar, and is beautiful to boot!

So, if you’re looking for a sweet or savory inspiration; head to a farmer’s market where delectable, enticing, unique, and local ingredients beckon you into creation.

Sauteed Pesimmon and Peaches

Sautéed Persimmon and Peaches

Ingredients:

1 persimmon, cut into large bite size pieces
2 peaches, cut into bite size pieces
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon (I LOVE the blend from Penzeys!)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 small handful torn basil
1/4 cup honey goat cheese

In large skillet heat coconut oil, add persimmon and peaches.  Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes, add cinnamon and toss.  Meanwhile, add balsamic to small pan.  Turn heat to high, bring to a boil and reduce vinegar by 1/2, creating a syrup.  Plate persimmon and peaches along with torn basil and honey goat cheese.  Drizzle balsamic reduction syrup around plate and through middle of fruit.