This has to be one of my favorite things to do. Stealing food from restaurants is exciting and really sharpens your skills. No I’m not talking about actually stealing stuff from a restaurant. Nothing other than ideas.
Besides isn’t that how every person ever has been inspired?
When I go to a restaurant I know has a good reputation(thanks yelp), or one I trust, I always love giving control of what I eat and drink to the people that serve it every day. They know what dishes are good, not good, exciting, or boring.
Recently we were visiting one of my best friend's during his shift at Pablo y Pablo, a classy Mexican restaurant in Fremont. Garret has been working in all these dope restaurants for the past few years, and I get the benefit of knowing someone on the inside (Thanks Garret!).
Seeing as Garret is a level 1 sommelier, and an all around food enthusiast (I actually credit a lot of my interest in food, wine, spirits, music, and the occasional pipe, to him), we naturally had him recommend us what gourmet tacos we should get. I can’t remember what exactly we got, but they were delicious.
What I do remember, was the cauliflower…
“What?! Cauliflower sucks!”
I know it does. But this was one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten and has changed my twisted view of cauliflower. It’s no longer the fullest section of the untouched veggie platter that same person always brings to a party. It’s a canvas.
These types of revelations happen all the time when I’m out trying new food. I NEVER would have ordered a cauliflower based dish, and honestly was a little disappointed when the kitchen brought it out (we happened to know the waitress from another one of our favorite restaurants and they bought this appetizer for us). Man I was wrong.
Roasted Cauliflower laid in a spread of lime crema, and emboldened with pickled fresno chilis, pickled golden raisins, and roasted pepitas. It had it all: sweet, sour, spicy, creamy, crunchy, smoky, salty. My mouth is watering now…
So I guess this is has turned into a blog about two things:
At a nice restaurant, where people care about the food and the service, ask for suggestions or better yet, ask them to pick for you. It’s super fun and servers love doing it (when they like their job. There are plenty of servers that shouldn’t be allowed to have a customer facing job).
Steal the food
On to actually stealing:
After eating this amazing dish, I thought to myself: “I want to eat that again, but I don’t want to have to come back here to eat it every time.” So I snapped a picture of the menu, and ran.
When you eat, focus on all the flavors, textures, and ingredients that are in front of you. It will help you decipher and organize the dish in your mind. You can write this all down too, I myself have never been much of a note taker. Then take that focus and bring it into the kitchen.
Unless your having dinner at Alinea, you absolutely have the ability to make restaurant dishes at home. It’s easy and just takes a little research, guessing, and practice. Those people in the back may have more time under their belt, but you are just as capable.
I made this dish. Holy crap, was it just as good. I made a few of my own adjustments as well.
So my challenge to you: next time your out at your favorite restaurant, find a dish you want to make at home and do it. Ask the server about how they make certain parts of the dish if your unsure (it’s not a secret, unless it is). It’s super fun and rewarding. I recently served a meal to some friends that was nearly ALL stolen dishes from restaurants.
If you want to make that cauliflower dish, and you should, here’s my recipe.