Virtual Pub Crawl Part II | Charcuterie & Cheese

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MGP_Menu_Front_9.10MGP_Menu_Back_9.10It’s almost time for Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas to set sail, so before The Genuine Hospitality Group team heads to Bremerhaven, Germany to train a new crew of genuine staff, we’re inviting you into the process here as we count down the days (23!) with a virtual tour of our menu. View Part I | Snacks here and all Michael’s Genuine Pub coverage here.

Today we continue with food and the delicious middle of the front of menu, Charcuterie & Cheese. We chose to work exclusively with La Quercia for their amazing artisan cured meats using only the best ingredients, produced responsibly, and hand-crafted in Iowa.

MGP_Speck AmericanoSpeck Americano: Speck is made using a boneless rear leg of pork that is smoked with applewood for a smoky aroma and flavor, then aged 9-10 months. The breeds of hog used are Duroc or Berkshire crossed on Lancaster from Heritage Acres or Niman Ranch. Order a Brooklyn Lager from the Pub draft while you are at it.

MGP_LomoLomo Americano: Boneless pork loin aged for 3-6 months in Sea Salt, Pimenton de la Vera, and Cocoa for a rich, meaty, subtle, and light smoky flavor.  Breeds are generally Tamworth or Berkshire crossed on Lancaster / Duroc / Berkshire cross.  Pigs are raised by Heritage Acres. Aged 3-6 Months. Enjoy with Lua Rossa No. 2!

MGP_BorselinoBorsellino Salami: A salami made of pork ground with some sea salt and celery and aged for 2 months. The flavor is mild and meaty with a touch of fennel. Breeding is mixed, generally Duroc or Berkshire crossed on Lancaster from Heritage Acres or  Niman Ranch. A light, rich white wine like Au Bon Climat’s Santa Barbara Chardonnay would be great here.

MGP_LandaffLandaff: A semi-firm, pasteurized and cave-aged cow’s milk cheese that is tangy with a clean, buttery finish. Jasper Hill is a working dairy farm with an on-site creamery in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. An underground aging facility maximizes the potential of cheeses made by the creamery, as well as those made by other local producers. Leftover whey from the cheesemaking process is fed to heritage breed pigs, roaming the woodlands beyond the cows’ pasture. Really proud to have this cheese onboard, as it’s a regular at The Cypress Room making The Cypress Burger sing!

MGP_Midnight MoonMidnight Moon: A semi-soft goat’s milk cheese that is aged for six months resulting in an ivory-colored cheese is dense and smooth with a nutty and brown butter flavor up front and a long caramel finish.  Goat milk is sourced from Cypress Grove’s California farm, and the cheese is made in Holland exclusively for them. You may also recognize this creamery’s flagship cheese and one of my personal favorites, Humbolt fog!

MGP_Point ReyesPoint Reyes: A blue cheese made from raw cow’s milk from California and aged for 6 months. This cheese has a creamy texture with layers of full sweet flavor with a medium blue cheese tang. It’s kosher and gluten free!  In 1904, Great Grandfather Tobias Giacomini left Northern Italy and landed in Northern California with a dream of raising chickens and cows. The Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company is just one of those great American family stories, and we are proud to bring their product to our Royal Caribbean family on Quantum of the Seas.

MGP_The Pub BoardThe Pub Board: An assortment of cured meats & cheeses served with sourdough bread, cornichons & accompaniments including frisee, Dijon mustard, crostini.

[Recipe] Hedy’s Banana Brunch Panini with Maple Bacon Crunch

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We all know TGHG executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith isn’t shy when it comes to sweets, and she’s taking her panini game to a whole new level next week representing team genuine at LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade.  This west coast fundraiser is the only daytime affair on Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s (ALSF) chef-supported event circuit, meaning all sorts of fun possibilities are on the menu, including Hedy’s Banana Brunch Panini with Maple Bacon Crunch! This panini covers every base when it comes to brunch. With salty sweetness of maple bacon, the creaminess of cream cheese, crunch of granola, and soft crispness of La Brea Bakery’s Parker Rolls.

Michael, Hedy and Bradley at last year's event!

Michael, Hedy and Bradley at last year’s event!

Decadent and delicious, L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade brings superstar chefs and mixologists from across the country to Los Angeles to lend their support to ALSF and the fight against childhood cancer. Each chef and mixologist prepares a signature dish for guests to sample. Guests have the opportunity to taste incredible fare and meet and even chat with the chefs who prepared it. L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is hosted by Chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne (Lucques, AOC, Tavern) along with Chef David Lentz (The Hungry Cat). The event has raised nearly $2 million to fund childhood cancer research, raising more than half a million at the 2013 event alone!

If you aren’t in La La Land Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, you can still get your brunch panini fix at home with the recipe below and donate to one of the causes dearest to our hearts at the same time by clicking here.  Hedy swears by one press in particular for perfect results, the Breville Smart Grill. “It has several height settings, and it caramelizes my panini like no other machine.” When I saw her using one in pastry yesterday to crank out the above photo subjects , I could tell why. It’s like the Ferrari of presses, but pretty compact (it has to be in that station!) Super efficient, just the way we like to work, especially when HQ is in the Sunday brunch crunch!  Thank you again to Breville for always coming through with Genuine hardware and to fearless chef leader Suzanne Goin for inviting Miami to the party each and every year!  A sweet treat for an even sweeter cause.

Banana Brunch Panini with Maple Bacon Crunch

Serves 12

8 ounces cream cheese, brought to room temperature
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or real vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 dozen La Brea Bakery Parker House Rolls
4 just-ripe bananas, sliced 1-inch thick on the bias
1 cup crunchy granola, store-bought or homemade
Maldon salt or other flakey sea salt, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup Maple Bacon bits (see recipe below)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat a panini press to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, cream the cream cheese and brown sugar until fully incorporated and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, vanilla and salt until combined, about 1 more minute. Scrape the bowl and paddle with rubber spatula and set aside.

To assemble the panini, split the rolls open and lay out on the counter, inside up. Spread the sweetened cream cheese mixture on tops and bottoms.  On each bottom half, place 2 slices of banana, topping with a sprinkle of maple bacon bits and a light dusting of Maldon salt.  Evenly distribute granola onto the top halves, pressing down so the crumbles stick to the cream cheese. Carefully flip the top onto the bottom pressing to have both halves become one. Combine the cinnamon and sugar.  Brush the melted butter on both the top and bottom of the panini and sprinkle the top with the cinnamon sugar.

Place on the preheated press, carefully close without added pressure, and toast until golden brown and caramelized, about 4-6 minutes. Carefully remove the panini, set it on a cutting board.  Allow to cool at least 10 minutes.  Enjoy, or eat later reheating in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crispy.

Maple Bacon Bits

Makes 1 cup

½ pound thick cut bacon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
½  teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the bacon, maple syrup, brown sugar molasses and salt. Coat the bacon, cover the bowl allow to sit 30 minutes or longer, but no longer then 24 hours. Place the strips of bacon on a rack over a baking pan to catch the fat.  Bake the bacon until it becomes dark caramel color, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and immediately remove the bacon from the rack. It will be sticky and hot, so be careful. Allow to cool completely, about an hour. Pulse in a food processor until consistency of gravel.

Uncorked: Larkee on Lua Rossa no. 2

Forget everything you expect from sequels and open a bottle of Lua Rossa no. 2.  Waft its profound aroma, the Nebbiolo showing up first with classic rose petal and anise notes. Behold the dark fruit, and then marvel in its rustic, earthy notes, unusual for a New World wine. The wine is medium bodied on the palate with medium tannins and food friendly acidity. I’ll have seconds.

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 10.30.59 AMLong awaited after April’s blending trip to Santa Barbara with Michael, Tamara and blender in chief Eric Larkee, our first shipment arrived this week and is drinking rather exceptionally. You can find it as of yesterday on the wine list (by the glass and bottle) at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and come November at Michael’s Genuine®  Pub (MGP) aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, along with its producer Jim Clendenen’s Ici/La-Bas and Clendenen Family Vineyards brands.

“If one were to climb a mountain seeking an oracle of wine knowledge there would be no shock to find Clendenen sitting on the top,” Larkee states in our newly minted server training guide for MGP. “Besides already knowing you were coming, he also would hold all the answers, at least his answers to your questions.”

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The epic lunch Mexican lunch Jim cooked for us at the winery after blending. Those hot sauces though…

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Setting the buffet, the Clendenen way. All over the place!

This is the second addition of the wine, the first was created to be a friendly, approachable pizza wine for Harry’s Pizzeria.  The finished wine exceeded expectations and came in to use in all of our restaurants.  No. 2’s core is Nebbiolo. The Petite Verdot adds color and tannic structure. There are actually two Refoscos, one which adds color and spicey complexity, as well as a dash of 2003 Refosco that offers that baseline funk of Old World earthiness. The Pinot Noir adds depth and complexity and is kind of the wine’s secret weapon. Larkee also suggests pairing with The Pub Board, Pork Slider, Fried Gnudi from MGP’s menu, food-friendly indeed.

After college graduation a month in Burgundy and Champagne convinced Clendenen that he would be better at making wine rather than law. In 1978 he started as an assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa, and in 1982 he branched out on his own starting Au Bon Climat (which means “a well exposed vineyard”). While never a favorite of the magazine critcs, Jim’s wines have found appreciation with those who seek wines to complement and not overpower their foods. Chef and Jim first met almost twenty years ago and have maintained a close and convivial relationship since. Back then Michael had a haircut much closer to Jim’s wild mane.

For those of you with nostalgic leanings, Harry’s Pizzeria® and The Cypress Room still have the original Lua, so say hello or goodbye to her before her run comes to a close.

Announcing Harry’s Chef Pop-Up No. 26 | Mozza Pizzeria with James Beard Award Winner Matt Molina

Like it was yesterday, you remember your first meal at Pizzeria Mozza. Mine was lunch with Chef and Eric as we rounded out a trip west after blending the first Lua Rossa with Jim Clendenden in Santa Barbara (No. 2 is estimated to drop September 4 to Au Bon Climat’s distributor’s warehouse, by the way.)  As you can see from the photos above, it was in a word, perfect. That bone marrow? Done right without a fuss. Squash blossom pizza? It looked up at us from the table – the lightest crust you’ve ever had – but still with purposeful bite, just begging to be devoured.  And if you think there’s no way in hell you are going to be able to fit that budino into your happy belly, you will. And it will be silky, sticky, creamy heaven on a spoon.

We are very pleased and excited to announce that 2014’s last Chef Pop-Up, true to form, brings this slice and spoon of LA heaven to Miami’s Design District for one night only in the form of its James Beard Award Winning executive chef, and maybe if I’m lucky, those amazing placemats.  Best part is, we’ll just be entering our local growing season for the menu.

TICKETS ARE NOW LIVE HERE FOR MOZZA PIZZERIA!

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After esteemed visiting guests Gabrielle Hamilton, Jonathan Waxman, Marc Vetri, Jonathon Sawyer, Kevin Sbraga, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Paul Grieco, Chris Hastings, Hugh Acheson, Andrew Carmellini, Mindy Segal, Paul Kahan, April Bloomfield, Bill Telepan, Joey Campanaro, Jeff Michaud, Matthew Accarrino, Michael Solomonov, Ben Ford, and John Currence, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, Jenn Louis, Mike Lata, Matt McCallister, and Tony Mantuano, Michael is thrilled to welcome Matt Molina to Harry’s for Mozza Pizzeria on Tuesday, November 4 at 7PM!

A graduate of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, Matt began his career at Campanile in Los Angeles. After 6 years at Campanile under the tutelage of Nancy Silverton, Matt went on to train at Del Posto in New York City in preparation for his role as Executive Chef of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza.  As Executive Chef at Pizzeria Mozza & Osteria Mozza , Matt has received three stars by S. Irene Virbila, the Los Angeles Times food critic, for both restaurants.  In 2008, Matt was nominated for “Rising Star Chef” & “Best New Restaurant” in Osteria Mozza by the James Beard Foundation and later went on to receive the accolade for “Best Chef Pacific” in 2012.

You know the drill. Seating is first come, first served for this family-style meal at our casual neighborhood joint.  Making new friends is encouraged and easy when you’ve got a welcome cocktail in hand with hors d’oeuvres, four courses, free-flowing wines by The Genuine Hospitality Group sommelier and wine director Eric Larkee and our tap beers at your disposal. Take home something special Matt co-authored with Nancy Silverton and Carolynn Carreno, too — The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes From Los Angeles’s Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria (Knopf, 2011). All that and tax and gratuity are included in the ticket price of $150.

LET’S DO THIS TOGETHER, OK?  We can’t wait to have the opportunity for seconds again in LA after.

Expediting The Genuine Kitchen | A Method to the Madness

One of the many qualities of a successful restaurant is the art of timing a table’s meal effectively, so that courses are properly paced and for guests to receive their meal at once, without compromising freshness. It sets the tone for the entire dining experience. But how exactly? The expediter position, or “expo”. The person tasked with this role is in short, a conductor of the kitchen. The expo monitors the scheduling and quality of the dishes, such as the appropriate temperature, texture, and presentation, and orchestrates the stations behind the line in concert. I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink’s Chef de Cuisine, Niven Patel, to take a closer look at these intricacies and let you inside the controlled chaos of our back of house to see how the magic happens during service!

Let us talk about the scenery. As soon as I stepped into the kitchen, I felt a rush. The cooks and chefs work with haste, but most importantly with passion. As the kitchen’s fearless leader, Chef Niven presides with calmness yet conviction. He believes that tone, confidence and respect, translate to accurate and passionate execution in the food. He is as focused, if not more so than his team, to set the example and build the group’s ammunition for a busy Saturday evening. The Genuine Kitchen holds four stations: wood oven, grill, sauté and pantry (otherwise known as salads). Despite the specificity of these duties, it does not prohibit a cook from one station to assist in another region of the kitchen when asked by the Chef. Teamwork is everything in this jungle.

Our Wood Oven

Our Wood Oven fires items or components of items from all across the Genuine menu, at once, delicately moved in and around hot spots until each is ready at different times by the cook on this station. Here it’s about half capacity.

Between 7 and 9 p.m. the circus takes place, as these are typically the busiest hours of the night. Due to the rapidity of this point in service, kitchen language and non-verbal queues are essential. The Chef abbreviates certain dishes when calling them out to his cooks; therefore, every person must be very familiar with the menu to avoid kitchen errors: “two cauli, one pus, one 2.5, one shoulder SOS”, meaning two wood oven roasted cauliflowers, one chargrilled octopus, one 2.5 pound snapper, and one slow roasted pork shoulder with sauce on the side.  “Got it?” “Heard!” This is how cooks respond to the Chef to ensure effective communication; a good memory will serve you well here. Or, the Chef may merely extend an olive bowl and a team member knows that it should automatically be filled with marinated olives, without uttering a word. It all goes down very quickly, but despite the speed, cooks must deliver in order to please the Chef, but most importantly the guest.

As he continues to call out orders, the Chef keeps track of all items using slips, which stick on a long metal line. He uses a twistable blue crayon – Niven is very particular – to mark which items are complete. He groups certain tables to maximize efficiency and separates others to allow dinners to enjoy their appetizers, before bombarding them with the next course. At the expo “seat” (they stand) the designated person must anticipate the cooking time for all items and keep cooks on track. There are no timers.  The Chef and cooks can determine exactly four minutes or seven minutes solely from their internal clock, and precision is key.

Monitoring time does not only benefit the table, but it affects the performance of the entire restaurant. For example, staying on schedule for the first three tables helps with timing on the subsequent twenty tables. The Chef uses key words to hold the reigns, such as “on the fly”, to emphasize speed on a particular dish or “all day” to reiterate the number of the times a cook should execute a particular dish: “…all day, you have four groupers and two stracciatella.”  All five senses are put to the test at the kitchen. The Chef can smell when a wood oven roasted double yolk farm egg is ready, determine the appropriate temperature of a steak by its sight, feel the ideal texture of crispy hominy, hear the printer emit the next order slip, and taste the level of spice on a pig ear. It truly is a science.

A talented Chef or Sous-Chef at the expo position is vital; however, the restaurant only comes together due to our dream team. The conductor leads but the orchestra performs, which is the cooks, as their hard work is what leads to dishes that make you gasp. It also entails the food runners, those who deliver dishes from kitchen stations to the correct person at the table. They recognize any dish with a quick glance and understand its composition in order to inform the Chef of what they see at the window and accurately describe to guests what is presented at the table. In addition, a food runner may take over the expo position, sharpen knives, prepare breads, and debone snappers and chickens at the guest’s request, among other duties.


The front of the house is also an important part of the expo equation, which includes the manager on duty (or MOD), servers, and host. The latter reaches out to the Chef to indicate when a large number of guests have been seated at once, otherwise known as a “push”, so that the kitchen may be prepared. Servers share the pace of their table, along with special requests, so that the kitchen can offer the best possible service. Last but not least, the MOD holds a great deal of responsibility, working to ensure any mistakes are seamless with the guest.  As odd as these procedures may sound, they allow us to raise the bar for an unprecedented guest dining experience. Each role is a dance to develop a cohesive choreography in the restaurant and the expediter position is but one of many. “Teamwork makes the Dream Work” indeed.