I Scream, You Scream… and Diana & Tse Wei take over the ICA

A few weeks back, our fabulous executive chefs took over the space outside the Institute of Contemporary Art as part of the ICA’s fantastic chef lecture and cooking series “Tasting Talks.” Their subject, on that hot, sunny, summer day? The science behind ice cream.

In case you missed their talk (complete with tastes of arugula ice cream, blueberry sorbet, and peach ice cream), below are some of the notes from the event, along with the recipes for what attendees got to eat.

Ice cream, sherbert, sorbet, gelato–what is the difference?

  • Ice cream: an aerated, frozen, dairy dessert made by churning a dairy liquid mixture. According the USDA, ice cream must have at least 10% milk fat.
  • Philadelphia style:An ice cream that is made from cream, milk, and sugar, but does not contain egg yolks.
  • Gelato: a type of Italian ice cream that is less aerated and therefore denser and more compact than ice cream; may use egg yolks.
  • Sherbet: a less fatty type of ice cream, with some of the dairy replaced by lower fat content (i.e. milk), that uses an increased amount of sugar to form small ice crystals and maintain texture. Usually doesn’t use eggs.
  • Sorbet: A non-dairy frozen dish that is churned to aerate; typically made with fruit or vegetable juice or puree, or a flavored liquid; sweetness can vary.
  • Granita: a non-dairy frozen dish of frozen ice crystals, like sorbet. It is semi-solid and made by breaking up a liquid after freezing solid, rather than churning.

Composition of basic ice cream ingredients:
Presented in Frozen Desserts by Francisco J. Migoya. The Culinary Institute of America, 2008, 350.

Fat Water Nonfat solids
Whole milk 3.6% 88% 8.4%
Heavy cream 40% 54.5% 5.5%
Sugar 0% 0% 100%
Egg yolks 33% 50% 17%

A standard ice cream formula, custard base:

  • 2-11% Fat
  • 15-30% Non-fat solids
  • 16-23% Sugar
  • Egg yolks should be 7-9% of the base
  • The rest is liquid

A standard ice cream formula, Philadelphia style:

  • 7-11% Fat
  • 24-30% Non-fat solids
  • 16-23% Sugar
  • The rest is liquid

A standard sorbet formula:

  • 20-60% Fruit purée or fruit juice (less for more acidic fruit, like lemons), or another flavor base
  • 25-32% Sugar, including sugar in the fruit
  • The rest is water
  • Solids (sugar plus solids in fruit) should range between 31 and 36 percent

Different sugars:
“Sugar” in most recipes = “table” sugar or granulated (crystalline) sugar made of sucrose, which is comprised of two simpler sugars (glucose & fructose) bonded together in a rigid structure.
Invert sugar = a different disaccharide mixture of glucose and fructose.

  • Granulated (crystalline) sugar: the most commonly available sweetener. Disaccharide sugar compound called sucrose comprised of two monosaccharides bonded together in a rigid structure. Heat and acid may break the bond separating the two monosaccharides, necessary for creating smooth textures in ice creams and other confections.
  • Glucose: a monosaccharide that is less sweet than sugar, helps add structure to frozen desserts without adding too much sweetness. Highly hydroscopic, glucose binds more water than granulated sugar, keeping frozen desserts from hardening as much. It also prevents ice cream from crystallizing.
  • Trimoline: an invert sugar. Trimoline is about 20 percent sweeter than granulated sugar. It binds even more water than glucose, and helps prevent crystallization.
  • Honey: a widely available invert sugar. Sweeter than granulated sugar and has its own flavor, which can limit its utility in recipes.
  • Corn syrup: another partial invert sugar, highly useful because of its mostly neutral flavor.

Common ice cream and sorbet stabilizers (for texture):

  • Agar-agar
  • Guar gum
  • Locust bean gum
  • Xanthan gum
  • Carrageenan
  • Carboxymethyl Cellulose
  • Gelatin
  • Pectin

References for sugar in various fruit:
http://www.thefruitpages.com/contents.shtml
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/list
http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/FoodLabelingGuidanceRegulatoryInformation/InformationforRestaurantsRetailEstablishments/ucm063482.htm

Further references:
McGee, Harold. The Curious Cook. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 1992.
Migoya, Francisco J. Frozen Desserts. The Culinary Institute of America. New Jersey: JohnWiley & Sons, 2008.

Recipes for a Few Ice Creams & Sorbets

All-Blueberry Sorbet
28 oz Blueberries
5 oz Sugar
2 oz Water

Arugula Ice Cream
7 oz Arugula
13 oz Milk
3 oz Cream
4 oz Yolks
6 oz Sugar
1 oz Glucose powder
0.3 oz Trimoline

n.b. The sugar, glucose powder, and trimoline can be replaced with 7.3 oz sugar

Three Ingredient Peach Ice Cream
25 oz Peach puree (skins on)
5 oz Sugar
4 oz Cream


Each recipe makes about 1 qt of sorbet or ice cream.

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backbar Takeover! All the details on the weekend's wine bar

backbar’s been taken over!!

While our fabulous bartenders are off learning and partying hard at the annual Tales of the Cocktail event, we here at Journeyman are having our own fun. Every night this weekend we’re hosting a pop-up wine bar at backbar.
This is your chance to try a wide variety of rarely-see glasses of wine, or maybe just get introduced to your new favorite! Here are all the details:

Friday July 27: Pinot Envy
Burgundy and its Emulators
with Len Rothenberg

The Pinot Noir grape is as high strung as an opera diva, and always ready to steal the show, no matter the show. This enigmatic and artistic red grape and its white cousins Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are the stars of the night’s wine bar. Pinot Noir, as it is practiced in Burgundy has become the benchmark for a style of wine that can be as complex as it is sensuous. Burgundy has become the model and target for a host of wannabe wineries all over the world. Tonight, you can be the judge, and taste a dozen examples to see how well they measure up.

Few people in Boston could even claim to know as much about Pinot Noir as Len Rothenberg, and few palates are better honed to the nuances, intricacies, and sulty beauties of Burgundy than his. Tonight is a rare chance to meet the man behind Federal WIne & Spirits unbuttoned and free. He’ll be pouring wine, talking, and trying to seduce each and every one of you with the wonders of Pinot. During the day, Len can be found at his revolutionary shop, Federal Wine & Spirits, and astute readers may recognize his name from some of our prior wine events, as well.

Saturday July 28: Bubble Bath
Tiny bubbles in the wine…
with Meg Grady-Troia

We all pop corks on special occassions, drinking down glasses of bubbly at weddings, graduations, and anniversaries, but bubbles can brighten any day and any meal. From well-known bubblers like Cava, Prosecco, and Champagne, to stranger beasts like petillant-naturel Pineau d’Aunis and oxidative cider-like sparkling Malvasia Dolce, the world of sparkling wine is grand and beautiful. Let’s change what we pop corks for & do it for fun — for the noise, for the froth, and for the taste!

Sunday July 29: Roll in the Field
A tour of Field Blend Wines
with Stephen Meuse

We’ve all oohed and aahed over single-grape, single-vineyard wines, often letting a grand tradition that celebrates both the culture and terroir of a place — the amazing field blend, wines made from a variety of grapes all grown within a single vineyard — lay fallow as we run toward the next grape. The night is dedicated to those blends, and the harmony possible with blended wines. Many of us are familiar with assemblage-style blends, grapes harvested (& sometimes fermented and aged) separately and blended into the final wine, but some winemakers let the blending happen in the vineyard, celebrating the diversity of a region, and the breadth of its flavors. We’ll pour field blends from all over the world, celebrating and tasting the full potential of some of the world’s best vineyards and winemakers.

Stephen Meuse has worn many hats in the wine world; he currently hosts wine tastings at Central Bottle in Cambridge and blogs at A Table in Time, but he has also written extensively for the Boston Globe and other publications. His wine knowledge is deep, his knowledge is wide, and his raconteurship is unparalleled.

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What's With Your Wine List? Part II, the List Itself

What’s with your wine list? Part II: the format

Last month, I talked a little bit about the philosophy that drives our beverage program. This month, I’m going to talk about the list itself, that innocuous sheaf of paper that I hand you at the beginning of your meal.

A menu is a odd thing, it isn’t inherently appetizing, but it needs to catch and hold your attention long enough to ignite your imagination. What those breathy descriptions of dishes do on so many restaurant menus – “pan-seared medallions of heritage breed pork served on a bed of meltingly soft polenta…” – is whet your appetite. There’s a problem, though, in that many of those same restaurants may ask you to choose your wine based on the descriptors that tell you “Red Wines of France,” or even just “Whites.” Where food gets descriptors, wine gets facts.

Here at Journeyman, we keep that contrast to a minimum: our food menu tells you very little, only the 3 ingredients that inspired the dish (what does “carrot, barley, yogurt” mean?) & our wine list struggles to meet that same minimum of information: its primary components and flavors.

Our logic is simple, we trust that our guests know what a carrot is, or will ask if they don’t; asking about an ingredient or preparation doesn’t have to feel threatening, because everyone eats. On the other hand, asking about a wine can be pretty uncomfortable, since there’s nothing obvious to hold on to & not everyone drinks; wine is a luxury item in a way that food isn’t.

If a food menu is reading about a baseball game – where there are pitches and hits and runs (ingredients, preparations, combination) – you know sort of what to look for, even if you don’t know the teams or the score; by contrast, reading a wine list is like reading individual player statistics, because if you don’t know the player (how was the 1998 vintage in Bordeaux?), the data make no sense.

Wine labels and lists can be dreadfully confusing to look at: the same grape may be called several different things (muscadet or melon de bourgogne, for example), a wine’s geographic region may have a plethora of names (country, state, county, town, controlled appellation, etc.), the wine may have quite a few names appended to it (cuvee, winemaker, house/domaine, vineyard, etc.), and then there’s always the possibility that the wine itself is named, or the barrel in which it was stored is, or the importer has added a secondary label, or…
All of those niggling details can make it hard to find a wine you love, let alone follow it from one restaurant to the next, or from a restaurant list to your neighborhood wine shop.

At Journeyman, each wine listing gives you 5 pieces of information:
1. The winemaker OR house (whichever is more prominently displayed on the label)
2. The name of the wine (defined by the largest words on the label, sometimes the grape name, the appellation, or the vineyard name)
3. The grape or blend of grapes
4. The vintage
5. The region (state and country, roughly)

Likewise, our list is organized into flavor categories, moving from the lightest flavors to the richest. I hope that that organizational style makes it easier to find a wine that will suit your mood and meal. It’s not directly linked to courses (“white wines for fish”) but rather “white wines: mineral and ocean spray,” or “white wines: spice and resin,” to give you an idea of the flavors and textures of the wines. Each category has 5-10 wines in it, with a range of prices, and that should help you narrow your decision-making process pretty handily. The categories are pretty well fixed, and we buy wines to flesh out categories, as well as the more traditional distribution of regions and grapes.

There’s another reason for this style of wine list, which is that we hope that it makes some of the lesser-known wines more appealing and easier to contemplate. Sure, maybe you’ve never heard of Nosiola, or Poulsard, but if you see that Poulsard rubbing shoulders with a few Pinot Noirs from colder climates, or if you see that Nosiola nestled in a category alongside a Chenin Blanc from the Loire, you’ll get an idea of what they might do in your glass and with your meal.

In other words, every detail on those pieces of paper is designed to create context. The way we all talk about wine is associative, a smell might remind us of blackberries or tar, but unlike the food menu where if it says “blackberries,” that means blackberries will be on your plate, with wine it’s only a subjective impression. The more standardized context I can give for each wine – a flavor category, a grouping of wines in which a few might be familiar, the words to name a wine that match what you see on the bottle – the better I hope your chances of finding the right glass or bottle become.

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Say cheese!

This year, Journeyman is starting to get cheesy. There’s 2 big pieces to this development:

1. Cheese service at Journeyman.
As you may know, we’ve been running cheese boards over at backbar for a long while now, and we’ve very much enjoyed keeping several amazing cheeses on hand for the bar menu. We’ve been working closely with Formaggio Kitchen, to keep a beautiful sampling of local and European cheeses available, and we’d like to share that with Journeyman’s guests once in a while. It’s not unusual, particularly in Europe, to be offered cheese before — or instead of — dessert, and we’re going to start the tradition here at Journeyman. Sometimes we’ll have a cheese course right on the tasting menus, but sometimes your server will come around to offer you a cheese board before we finish your meal to offer you a selection of cheeses.

2. Cheese Blogging with Jasper Hill Cellars & Culture Magazine
I’ve joined the ranks of 20 “wedge heads” helping Jasper Hill birth their latest cheese, an alpine-style cow’s milk cheese, with Culture Magazine’s help. Every month, Jasper Hill sends me cheese, and I do three things: taste the cheese with Diana & Tse Wei, fill out a feedback form for the cheese-makers over at Jasper Hill, and write a blog entry about the cheese for Culture. This is pretty exciting for all three of us, as Jasper Hill makes some of our favorite cheeses (Winnimere for me!), and Culture Magazine is an amazing resource for anyone interested in cheese.
The first blog entry is online at The 2012 Birth of a Cheese blog.

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What's with your wine list? Part I, the philosophy

People often ask me “what’s with your wine list?” and I can see three easy ways to answer that: the first is about the philosophy that coheres each wine and the printed format into a perspective; the second and third are about each of those components, our unconventional layout, and the individual wines we source. In this blog post I’ll be writing a little bit about what the philosophy of our wine list is.

When Journeyman opened, we talked about everything here being a story: the ingredients have stories (we know the farmers, we look forward to the arrival of seasons and their associated produce), the dishes have stories (how elements are combined into whole plates that relate ingredients and techniques to each other), the menus have stories (we talk endlessly about how to structure our tasting menus to present them as the best story), and so on. It seemed logical to treat our beverages the same way, so we choose drinks that have depth to them: an amazing winemaker story, an amazing tradition or historical grape at their core, or a particular social function we love. How we translate that depth is the stuff that makes our wine list unique.

There are few things that please me, as the wine director, more than writing down the name of a wine for a guest at the end of the night. If you ask me to write something down, that tells me that I’ve served you a drink that resonated with you. One of the things I love about wine is its inherent discontinuity: you can taste the place it was made and the place you first tried it each time you open a bottle. I like to imagine that when you bring home a bottle that you first had with us at Journeyman, you’ll remember us. Every time I serve a guest a wine that they truly love, the memory of their joy is added to my memories of that bottle, and no matter where or when I crack the next one, I’ll think of them again. Goethe said that architecture is like “frozen music,” and that is pretty close to how I feel about wine: assuming that you swap “wine” for “architecture,” “fermented” for “frozen,” and “memory” for “music.”

Where does your wine come from? Our tastes are primarily Old World, but we buy wine from all over the globe. We wish — at least in theory — that we could make a wine list entirely of local producers, but alas! we love wine and New England is hardly wine country. Our chefs have a taste for French and German wines, I have a taste for Italian and Spanish wines, and those 4 countries are amply represented on our list.

Who makes your wine? We have a bias toward small producers: we can’t know every winemaker the way we can meet so many of our farmers, but we still prefer the mentality of small-scale production. In particular, we love family-owned and operated estates, and we love vignerons, the folks who grow their own grapes and make their own wine. We believe, as many of our wine heroes have claimed, that 90% of what makes good wine happens in the vineyard. We have a personal bias toward female winemakers, toward organic winemakers, toward biodynamic winemakers, and toward low-intervention winemakers. Our taste in winemakers and wine situate us squarely in the “natural wine” movement.

Where’s my Cali Chardonnay? I don’t mean to dump on either California wine or Chardonnay, but I do mean to say that there are conventions in wine that we choose to ignore: we don’t have a prestige list of Burgundies or Barolos, and we don’t have a high-end list of super-sized California wines. Some of that is simply a matter of cost, as we’re a small & young restaurant, and some of it is a more stylized reason, which is that we hope you will choose a wine for its taste or its story rather than for its name.
After you get past our preferences in winemakers, it all comes down to our preferences in earth and grape. We’re suckers for indigenous varieties and yes, we know how contested a term that is. We’re suckers for lesser-known grapes, old vine grapes, low-yield grapes, and so on. We love the history of European wines, and the history of techniques like amphora-aging or pigeage. We love wine makers who let the wine be, even if that means this year’s vintage is nothing like the last, and even if that means sometimes they release a wine from 2009 before they release a wine from 2001.
Wine culture in California is a complex and rapidly evolving thing — it’s only in its infancy, comparatively — so while there’s a ton of amazing wine out there, there’s also a ton of stuff that many of us couldn’t tell apart in a blind tasting. We buy wines that have a lot of character to them, which often means less new oak, less new technique, and, unfortunately, less new world. If there’s a new world wine that you love, by all means, recommend it to us. All of us drink wine away from work, too, and love to try new things.

What should I drink with my meal? We don’t really buy wines that we don’t think are food-friendly. To us, a food-friendly wine has a little bit of reserve to it, whether that means a higher acid content to help you taste each bite and sip anew, or more restrained wood and tannin to keep keep you from turning turning into a purple-toothed fire-breather. We’re always happy to help you choose a bottle or glass that will pair seamlessly with your meal, but we also believe in the value of simply drinking what you love (assuming you can find something you love on our list of what we love), whether or not it’s a perfect pairing. Every server at Journeyman has a short list of the bottles they love best off our list, and when it’s possible, I suggest asking them for a recommendation: their passion and enthusiasm can often make a wine that much more delicious.

Where can I buy that wine? We rarely sell wine that’s available in every liquor store, but our city has had a major wine revolution in the past few years with wine and retail institutions like the Wine Bottega, City Feed & Supply, Federal Wine & Spirits, Ball Sq Fine Wines, and Formaggio Kitchen supporting natural wine, & a bunch of newer ventures like Central Bottle, Terra Vino, and Streetcar pulling in alongside them to sell it pretty exclusively.

I’ll post about the way our wine list is formatted and about some specific wines in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

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Catherine Owens: Chalkboard Menus and Art

At Journeyman, we hire for some alchemy of personality and skill: people with a million passions and skill sets, the dilettantes of the world, usually thrive here. That means we have gathered a set of incredibly multi-talented staff. From semi-professional musicians and carpenters who also cook, to folks with graduate degrees like Masters of Public Administration or Doctorate of Pharmacology, to exceptional metalworkers and filmmakers. Our gardener and server, Andrea, is embarking on an ice cream sandwich company. Another server, Joshua, has recently completed building and installing custom shelving and desks for a new store & has created a shared studio, performance and gallery space here in Union Square. Catherine, another server with an impressive background, has begun creating beautiful and inspiring art on our walls, as well.

Catherine came to us from Tufts where she’d received a graduate education in Sustainable Agriculture. Her primary gig is in that field, and she currently consults with small food producers around New England as the Director of Marketing and Outreach for a great start-up called Forage (http://www.forageyourfood.com/ ), which connects producers and consumers of local food. She is knowledgeable and passionate about local food and health, and the partnership between her work at Forage and our work here was clear when we hired her. More recently, though, we’ve found new talents in her: along with making the aprons our bartenders wear nightly, Catherine volunteered to write our menus on the walls of backbar. Knowing she had nice handwriting, we handed her a chalk marker and set her loose.

Already artistic, Catherine began an extensive project to research lettering, fonts, various schools of design, and has tackled decorating the walls of both Journeyman and backbar with the fruits of her labor. Our menus, which change frequently, are now the highlight of the space. While we had imagined the chalkboards to be utilitarian, she has made them the centerpiece of the space with her temporary art. Her chalkboard art is also on display around town at places like RJ Gourmet and she accepts commissions in both chalk and ink.

Below, you can watch some time lapse videos of her process. If you’d like to hire Catherine for chalkboard art or other lettering projects, drop a comment here & she will follow up with you.

Chalkboard Art at backbar by Catherine Owens

Chalkboard Art at Journeyman & backbar by Catherine Owens

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The Garden at Journeyman: A "Petite Histoire"

[Please welcome Andrea Hasselbacher, Journeyman's resident gardner & one of our servers, for a short visit to our gardens. -Meg]The Garden View (photo by Andrea Hasselbacher)

One of the first things people notice about Journeyman is often the vertical garden and large glass window standing out against the brick and the parking lot. The wooden wine crates and foliage add a backdrop for our diners that is unique in Boston, and its plumbing pipe structure provided a blessed structural support for the restaurant during difficult times.

 

Guests often have questions about about each plant we grow and whether we use any of them in the dishes they eat. Our garden is in constant evolution, and our answers to these questions change frequently; in order to give those answers and that evolution some context, I’ve decided to write out the story of the garden’s beginnings.

In the spring of 2010, before Journeyman was open, Diana started our initial plantings on her home porch, those first plants included a number of micro greens and herbs from seed (like mache, tatsoi, Mexican mint marigold, summer savory and lemon basil), and many of them thrived in the summer sun & rain that year. Some were in temporary containers from which we’d transplant the seedlings, but many were in the wine cratesalready. When the restaurant construction was winding down in the late summer of 2010 and we were almost ready to open, we carefully drove every crate and every seeding to the restaurant, hauled them up our library ladder to their new homes, and fastened them in place.

The micro greOur wine cratesens and herbs did well throughout the fall but the shorter days of winter made for a difficult growing season. Over time we changed our repertoire from edible greens like red veined sorrel and bright lights chard to ferns, succulents and heartier house plants.

When Journeyman was hit by a car in the summer of 2011, we were forced to temporarily abandon our garden. When we reopened that August, we lovingly named the new installation — which used some of the original crates, and all the original pipes, but none of our original plants — “Garden version 2.0.” We took the garden re-boot as a chance to improve our planning and planting. We took out some of the original thirty-six crates to let in some light and added more hanging plants. We planted more of the things that seem to thrive in the ebb and flow of temperature and light in our window, like borage, nasturtiums and morning glories.

 

As the Journeyman gardener, I try to pay attention to what guests, chefs, and other staff say they would like to see growing in the windows. I have been asked to plant things that “look like aliens” and have had requests for venus fly traps registered as well. Diana & Tse Wei brought Roosevelt, their bonsai-like rosemary plant, from home. The nasturtium leaves that drape luxuriously over the window boxes are edible as are the striking purple blossoms from the borage plant that taste faintly of cucumber.

My background as a pharmacist lends me a fascination with medicinal plants, the vinca vine growing on the top row is actually the basis for a number of chemotherapy drugs. We had rue growing last fall, which besides making a very interesting infusion in vodka, has been purported to cure most “ills of humanity.”. For now and until the days get longer, we have a type of elkhorn fern, lemongrass (thank you, Ronnarong!), vinca vine, the ever indestructible pothos, nasturtiums, morning glory, borage, christmas cactus, sage, rosemary, hen and chicks, pyrethrin, wormwood and eucalyptus.

Climbing Nasturtiums

Right now most of the edible leaves and micro greens you see on the dishes are not coming from the window boxes, but once Spring rolls around, we will see the kitchen staff up on the ladder with scissors, pilfering from the garden again. With more sunlight and warmer temperatures, a lot of our edible seedlings will have a better shot at survival.

I am always happy to give “garden tours” to any curious guest and always appreciate advice or suggestions as well. I will even buy a drink for any person who can find me a venus fly trap.

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