Let’s face it; we all handicap in our own way. We can read the pink sheets, pick a number, a favorite jock, or even just like a name of a horse--sort of like my girlfriend at the time picked Jersey Town at 34-1 and took the Cigar Mile—my tickets became confetti. I sort of have the same philosophy on cooking and food. It has to come from with-in. I own a small chef business that is in its early stages and the concept is to keep it personal and unique. I consider myself more of an idea generator with foods and not some chef that says hey, my way or the high way—handicap your own horses, cook your own food, but it never hurts to read up on it first. I like to teach and talk food, and love horses.
Food brings people together, and apparently so does Hunter S. Thompson. As Brian pointed out, “The Kentucky Derby Trail is (indeed) Decadent and Depraved,” in a recent tweet. I grew up reading Hunter, and had to reply. What follows we can dedicate to the memory of the late great Hunter, or just enjoy as an idea for you own food follies as you watch big races like the San Felipe, Tampa Bay Derby, and the Big Cap this Saturday.
Some parts of the country are warm, and up here in the north we still have heavy snow pack. I recently read in a Japanese almanac that this is not the time of year to get too ahead of ourselves in preparing food, as spring flowers and the run for the roses is none too far away. As two year olds emerge as champion three year olds, and Mucho Macho Man, well remains the man, we are on the cusp of seasons, and should “Honor and Serve” both the waning of winter, and the oncoming spring both in the methods of food we prepare, and the foods we choose to eat. Just as a Jockey will establish pace, or save ground, he will tread carefully to set up for the bold stretch run. This is no different. Start small, and finish Bold. You need a longshot, or a dark horse to set the stage, a little related ethnicity to keep people comfortable, and something regional to have it make sense. It’s my own way of handicapping a menu, and it follows.
San Felipe, Tampa Bay Derby, & The Big Cap Dinner
Indonesian Salmon and Pork Grill with Fried Plantains & San Felipe Salsa
Dos Equis, Tecate, Negra Modelo Beers
Pecan Crusted Tampa Bay Grouper, with roasted asparagus, orange zest, and lemon juice
Keel and Kurly Chardonnay, Plant City, Fl if you’re local
Or give a go at a steel aged Chardonnay
Ginger Rubbed “Big Cap” Rib-eye & Garlic Whipped Spuds
2009 Wild Horse Peak Cabernet Sauvignon (Southern California) if you’re local
Or try a bold Cabernet with a lot of fruit.
A few notes on preparation:
San Felipe: Indonesian Grilling is a wonderful thing. It is simple and flavorful. Smear your cubed foods with sambal (you can buy this) and minced lemon grass, and toss on a hot piece of tin foil on the grill. Add a little beer when then are mostly done for moisture.
Fried Plantains are just that. The only must is that they are green so they are starchy and will fry up crispy. Slice them thin, and fry in canola oil at 350 degrees (you can use a candy thermometer), but don’t burn down the house…
San Felipe Salsa ?? well, use your imagination, you have heat from the Meats on the grill, Crispy Plantain Chips, maybe a little fruit and cilantro with onion, or simply avocado and tomato chopped up. Food is limitless sort of like the pick 6 at Gulfstream, and enjoy with a few cold Mexican beers.
Tampa: Any white fish will work here. The keys to making it successful are simply seasoning your food. Salt and pepper, maybe some paprika directly on the fish… Dust lightly with flour and shake off excess and dip in egg, then into finely food processed almonds and cook in a little butter in a sauté pan.
For the asparagus, simply coat with a little olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, a little orange zest and lemon juice and put it in the oven until tender.
The Big Cap: When selecting the Rib-eye, ask the butcher to slice you some 1/8th inch thick pieces from the fat end of the Rib-eye. Take 'em home and grate a little fresh ginger on them and sprinkle with soy, just for the saltiness, not the soy taste. Put on a very hot grill (look up Yaki-niku) Japanese/Korean Grilling. I will leave the mashed potatoes to you. Everyone likes them different.
It never hurts to have a nice bottle of Tawny Port on Hand to enjoy with a victory Cigar.
Again, the idea with food is to have fun. There are no hard fast rules. I learn from playing the horses all the time, and would love to be involved in horses full time. My way will have to come through my cooking. As the fall approaches, I will be improving my site for horseracing fans, and expanding my services. A very simple site is up as the WordPress site is in progress, but you will get the idea. You can explore more at www.wanderingwhiterhino.com, or ask food questions on twitter @teagardenparty.
~Written by Chef Peter Dwyer, CEC, CCE, ACF Approved Culinary Judge