Chef Tyler Viggiano always has something up his sleeve. Who can forget the time he used newspaper as a flavor? It’s always a surprise, offbeat, delicious and educational.
For dinner, I was told to bring green things, of which everyone knows I have a lot. I also offered to bring my 5 crépinettes from Fatted Calf in Napa, which I lovingly smuggled into New York (the crépinettes, not the calf) in my luggage from my California freezer to The Muddy Kitchen – they’re that good.
There were 5 of us, so the math was perfect. Chef Seamus Mullen had stopped by earlier on his way to Wanderlust, and as much as I would have liked Chef Mullen at our dinner table, he would have made 6. I was only too glad I didn’t have to share my caul-wrapped meat patty. Sorry Chef M.
Chef Tyler was staying at his Auntie Rose’s, which is one of my favorite spots in the world. We all happily put up with the ghosts at Rose’s, whose wreaked havoc is minimal, in order to enjoy what the property has to offer.
Chef Tyler was eager to bust out his Konro, a Japanese yakitori grill. The Konro had been acquired through nefarious means, according to Chef. The story is safe with me, but needless to say there is some pissed off drunken yakitori chef with raw meat on sticks running around Manhattan somewhere.
I also fell in love with Binchotan, a kind of artisan charcoal. The aroma it gives off is nothing like the conventional charcoal-grill-junk I’m used to: burnt oak, cedar sauna with an after-waft of hinoki soaking tub.
As if we were all transported momentarily to the Japanese countryside, Chef Tyler effortlessly grilled the garlic scapes I had brought along with the season’s last crop of asparagus from my beds and some new potatoes they had in the larder.
We also picked wild milk thistle from the field below Rose’s. What we didn’t eat straight from the stalk, Chef threw on the Konro. I’d had milk thistle tincture before, which is a great detoxifyer but a far ways from tasty. Foraged as young flower bulbs, milk thistle tastes a bit like a fiddlehead fern or a sweet young asparagus shoot. The floret looks like a tender broccoli sprout and grills up perfectly over the super-heated, designer charcoal.
It was a delicious night had by all. And as usual, I was glad to be sleeping at home, a few miles away, in my own bed.
Take your boots off before you come in here!