California Cuisine

A California Culinary Experience

Exactly what is California Cuisine? Ask a dozen chefs and you’ll get at least a half a dozen different answers, but all of them will have 3 words in common: local, organic and sustainable. And that is where I start, in the farmers’ markets that abound in the SF Bay.
Cal Cuisine has also been described as “a style of cuisine marked by an interest in fusion cuisine (integrating disparate cooking styles and ingredients)” (WIKI). Add “chef-driven” and “a focus on letting the ingredients speak for themselves” and this becomes a very good description of my approach to cooking.
Salmon 3 ways edited
Salmon 3-ways: Salmon Roe/ Tequila-cured Salmon/Salmon Rillettes

My cooking has been influenced by my time in Mexico, where I am building a Casa de Huspedes (guest house) and cooking school. I fell in love with the old world techniques:  the time taken to grind spices with a mortar and pestle, toast seeds and chiles on a comal,  working the masa to make tortillas by hand— honoring the ingredients and coaxing out the flavors in a way that no other techniques can. These techniques lend themselves beautifully the locally-sourced, organic ingredients we are blessed with in the SF Bay Area; where the food scene is all about a chef’s creativity– the perfect place to explore the fusion of the cuisines I love to cook.  Allow me to share this privilege with you, with an exquisite meal which I will prepare in your kitchen.

The featured photo here (left) is one example of the results: Foie Gras presented on a delicate hand-crafted corn masa shell with poached green apple and salsa verde 

 

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Mexican woman grinding spices with a molcajete while chiles and tomatoes are roasting on a comal

veggie-tarts-ready-to-roast
SAMPLE MENUS

Below are sample menus; I custom-design every menu I produce, working closely with the host/ess. Get in touch and we can work on something truly memorable, together!

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(menus are seasonal, each one is custom-designed working closely with the host/ess)

Steak Tartare edited
Steak Tartare/Salt-cured Egg Yolk/Pickled Beet/Fired Caperberry/Brown Rice Crackers

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Porcini-crusted Black Cod, photo by Chun Yip So

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Grilled Peach

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Holiday Menus, New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve Tasting Chef’s Tasting

Below is a sample menu. All my menus are custom designed, working closely with the host/ess.

Pricing is determined by # of guests and menu selections and starts at $120/person with a $2000 minimum. Except for the Appetizers, this menu is designed to be served plated (restaurant style). Our sommelier can recommend wine-pairing for each course and our Mixologist can create a Bar Menu and/or pair a signature cocktail to specific dishes (additional charge applies). We are happy to accommodate special dietary requirements.

PRIMERO PASO: APPETIZERS  (served from 7 pm- 8:30 pm)

COLD
Cheesemonger’s & Salumeri Tray
Salumeri and Antipasto edited
Ceviche Tasting‡

Ceviche Tasting Station

Scallops /Habanero /kumquat / sweet potato / smoked sea salt

Chef’s choice of white fish / Aji Amarillo /pineapple /vanilla/tomatillo

Arabesque: tuna / soy /citrus / chile Verde / sesame seeds

Cold passed appetizers (con’t)

Crab Salpicon (Jumble)/avocado aioli

crab tostada (not mine)
Photo by T.Tseng

oysters

caviar-deviled-eggs-not-mine
Caviar Deviled Eggs
Hot passed appetizers

Albondigitos: mini lamb meatballs / Sherry cream sauce/pea purée

Albondigos Peruvian

SOUP  (served at 8:30 pm)

Haitian New Year’s Eve Soup: savory pumpkin soup/beef broth/Scotch Bonnet chile

OR

Saffron Mussels and Smoked Scallop Chowder

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SMALL PLATES (Starting at 8:45)

Salmon Three Ways: Salmon rillettes/ House-cured tequila cilantro salmon/ Endive Wrap, creme fraiche, Golden caviar

Salmon 3 ways edited
Salmon 3-ways: Salmon Roe/ Tequila-cured Salmon/Salmon Rillettes

OR

Grilled Calamari Citrus Chile

Calamari/anchovy butter and lemon

Steak Tartare/salt & pepper cured egg yolk/ beet carpaccio

 Steak Tartare edited

Classic or Kale Caesar prepared tableside

Caesar Salt Cured York

OR

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Holiday Salad

Tamal de Cazuela

tamal de cazuela from book

OR

Roasted Root Vegetable Tart

veggie-tarts-ready-to-roast

SURF & TURF LARGE PLATES (served at 10 pm)

select a “surf” course from the following)

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BourbonRoasted Lobster ‡/ herbed butter/succotash

OR
Ahi Tuna 

Tuna (not mine)

TURF

Coffee-crusted Sous Vide Filet Mignon

OR

Surf ‘n Turf Plate

surf-n-turg

DESSERT BAR (served at 11:00 pm)

Chocolate Chipotle Flourless Torte

choc chipotle bundt

Poached Pear

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photo by neenahkay

Spiced Cranberry Sorbet / Pistachio Dust

Fig Sorbet

Grilled Mexican Corn Cake

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soaked with agave and rum

‡ indicates dishes with premium pricing
Seafood Specialties

Seafood Specialties

Whenever possible, I cook with sustainable seafood, sourced from local fishermen who meet rigorous standards so as to guarantee the highest-quality. The following is just a sampling of the dishes I prepare.

APPETIZERS

Salmon 3 ways edited
Salmon 3-ways: Salmon Roe/ Tequila-cured Salmon/Salmon Rillettes

Ceviche Tasting*

Ceviche Tasting Station

Rosemary / Pancetta Shrimp Skewers

shrimp-skewers-rosemary-proscuitto

Seared Scallop / Parsnip Purée / Pressed California Caviar 

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Crab Salpicon Meaning “hodgepodge” or medley in Spanish, in Mexican cuisine, the term refers to a salad mix containing thinly sliced or chopped flank steak, onion, oregano, chile serrano, avocado, tomatoes, and vinegar. This version combines delicate, sweet crabmeat, crunchy jicama, scallions and lime juice. Served with housemade tostadas.

 

crab tostada (not mine)
Photo by T.Tseng

Grilled Calamari

Grilled Calamari Citrus Chile

SOUP

 Saffroned Mussel and Smoked Lobster Chowder

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Chilled Corn Cob Stock & Buttermilk Soup / Crabmeat and Crispy Prosciutto

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Sopa Siete Mares/Seven Seas Soup, also can be an entrée

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ENTREES

Crispy Halibut/ Handmade Udon/ Wild Mushroom Broth/ Bonita Flakes & Chicharron Crumble

Chef Gray's Crispy Halibut Handmade Udon Wild Mushroom Broth Bonita Flakes & Chicharron Crumble

Pecan-crusted Wild Salmon Pecan-crusted Salmon edited

Crab Carbonara with Meyer Lemon, Black Pepper and Parsley (James Beard Foundation recipe)

Sole Meunière/ Haricots Verts/ Peruvian Purple Potatoes in Truffle Butter

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Mexican Paella

Saffron Rice / chicken bites/ housemade Chorizo/ scallops / shrimp /mussels

house-roasted sweet red peppers / sugar snap peas

Paella

Sous Vide Ahi Tuna

Tuna (not mine)

Plantain-wrapped Halibut

(from my Cuban Taste Adventure Menu)

Chilean Sea Bass / Pipian Sauce /Mango Salsa

Halibut Plate

Roasted Garlic Scallops with Toasted Almonds

Red-Chile Seared Scallops with Jalapeño Polenta

Surf & Turf: Bourbon & Brown Butter Poached Lobster Tail/ Sous Vide Filet Mignon

surf-n-turg

Pescado Pibil

45 - Pescado pibil

Shrimp Volavanes

from my Comida Alfrancesada (French-Mex) Menu

68 - volovanes de camaron

Shrimp / Hazelnut Mole / Wild Rice

Cuban-style Fish

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* These items are served raw or undercooked, or contain (or may contain) raw or undercooked ingredients. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.

Gluten-free, Holiday Menus, Latin Cuisine, Mexican Specialties, Mother's Day, Valetine's Day Dinner

Summer Floral Notes 6-course Dinner Menu

Nothing says “Mother’s Day” quite like flowers! In this unusual menu, I infuse something floral in every course to create an unforgettable meal.

AMUSE BOUCHE

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Salmon Candy/ Edible Flowers

APPETIZER
69 - Stuffed zucchini flowers
Flores de Callebaza Rellenos
Squash blossom flowers / Bellwether Farms ricotta

SALAD
Raw Artichoke Salad / Parmigiano Reggiano / Mint

baby arugula / Napa Valley EVO

ENTRÉE

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photo by Ann Larie Valentine

Quail in Rose Petal
(the very same dish that was made famous in the bestseller Like Water for Chocolate)

served with
HANDMADE TORTILLAS WITH PRESSED EDIBLE FLOWERS

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DESSERT
GELATINA ARTISTICA
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Rosa Rodgriguez prepares an all-natural gelatin dessert which is completely edible, artwork on a plate in a French tradition that migrated to Mexico

BBQ, Latin Cuisine

Argentinian Grill

Celebrate summer like they do in Buenas Aires, with a spread of meats hot off the grill! In the true spirit of Argentina, don’t offer just one, but rather an array from which your guests can choose, always with the requisite Chimichurri Sauce and Salsa Criolla,  accompanied by several heaping platters of creative salads! Don’t forget the have our bartender prepare a cocktail with Apostoles Gin, artisanal gin with notes of yerba mate, eucalyptus and pink grapefruit, or a Campari and Soda. Or, offer an Argentian wine tasting!

AMUSE BOUCHE

COCONUT-MANGO CEVICHE * G

aguachile

APPETIZER

SWEET POTATO AND GOAT CHEESE EMPANADAS

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GRILLED MEATS

GRILLED BAY LAMB CHOPS

(shown here served family-style with grilled artichoke hearts)

baby-lamb-chops-family-style

PORK TENDERLOIN

(shown here grilled as sliced, also available as medaillions)

Cuban Pork Roast

BEEF TENDERLOIN MEDALLION

(shown here with Finocchio al Forno)

filet-fennel-plate

served with Chimichurri Sauce and Salsa Criolla

Argentiniansalsas

SALADS 

Bay Salad 2
Best of the Bay Salad
Chef Gray's Tri-colore Smashed Beet Salad with Radicchio, Frisée and Toasted Garlic Chips
Tri-colore Smashed Beet Salad/ Radicchio/Frisée /Toasted Garlic Chips

 

Chef Gray's Cal-Mex Panzanella
Panzanella
Chef Gray's Endive Salad with Housemade Gravalx and Ruby Red Grapefruit.45.15 PM
Endive/House-cured Salmon/Strawberries

 also available, traditional Argentinean Sweet Potato Salad /Guajillo-lime vinaigrette

Dessert

LIME ICE WITH BERRIES  G

 G  INDICATES GLUTEN-FREE

* These items are served raw or undercooked, or contain (or may contain) raw or undercooked ingredients. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.

Feature image by Ricardo Velasquez

Healthy Menu Options, Salads

Healthy and hearty and just in time for summer (but good all year round!): main course salads

Celebrate summer by offering a buffet of salad options and keep the heat out of the kitchen. Can be served as a plated (restaurant-style) dinner as well, allow me to recommend how many courses and pair a cold soup and appetizer with your salad entrée

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Frisée and Radicchio/ House-cured Gravlax/ Organic Strawberries/ Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Called Palta Relleno in Peru, the concept of stuffed avocados present a variety of culinary options to play with:

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Avocados Stuffed with Ahi Tuna* G

Vegetable Salad-filled Avocado G

with fresh peas, corn kernels and roasted poblanos

Avocados Stuffed with Shrimp or Crab Salpicon G

photo (62)
Massaged Kale or Traditional Caesar*

(add chicken or shrimp)

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Corpus Christi Salad, photo by Adriana Almazan Lahl G

:
75 - Corpus cristi salad

ESCABECHE
Escabeche is combined with crispy carnitas, butter lettuce and red onions, served with cilantro/lime vinaigrette. G

34 -escabeche
Escabeche, photo by Adriana Almazan Lahl G

CARNE APACHE SALAD*

Traditional Yucatan preparation in which premium grass-fed beef is marinated in lime juice with a hint of japaleño until “cooked” (similar to how ceviche made)

tossed with arugula and topped with Queso Cotija

carneapachesalad

GRILLED CHICKEN JICAMA MANGO SALAD
with baby organic spring greens and a raspberry/chipotle vinaigrette G

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(TRADITIONAL OR) LAMB PANZANELLA
Seasoned, roasted lamb in a twist on traditional bread salad: crusty baguette, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, served with a rosemary vinaigrette

SIZZLING STEAK PEAR ARUGULA SALAD
Warm steak does a beautiful job a creating wilted greens in this unusual salad, served with lemon and Napa Valley extra virgin olive oil, topped with parmigiano Reggiano G

SHRIMP AND SALAD RAW ARTICHOKE SALAD
with baby arugala and Napa Valley EVO G

83 - Salpicon
SALPICON DE RES o  CANGREJO
A Mexican favorite, combining cold grilled tri-tip with yellow fingerling and red Bodega potatoes, radish coins, and red onions. Traditionally served on a crispy tostada with a slice of avocado. Also available as Crab Salpicon or made with Bacalao (salt cod) G

GLUTEN FREE

* These items are served raw or undercooked, or contain (or may contain) raw or undercooked ingredients. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.

California Cuisine, Salads

Salads

Living in Northern California means an abundance of amazing seasonal produce, inspiring new  and creative salads that are as colorful as they are delicious!

Frisée and Radicchio/ House-cured Gravlax/ Organic Strawberries/ Blood Orange Vinaigrette

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MICROGREENS, BOSC PEARS
pomegranate, herbed goat cheese crumble, toasted garlic chips

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Ensalada de Nopalitos

photo by Adriana Almazan Lahl from Celebraciones Mexicanas
photo by Adriana Almazan Lahl from Celebraciones Mexicanas

grilled baby cactus paddles, sliced thin, tossed with tomatoes, Spanish white onion, a hint of cilantro, topped with Queso Cotija

Best of the Bay Salad

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Grilled Smashed Beets, Arugula and Napa Valley Goat Cheese

toasted garlic chips

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Caesar Salad (prepared tableside)

Caesar

arugalagrapfruitsalad

Salad of Two Tomatoes
Heirloom or cherry tomatoes (depending upon market availability), fresh “green” tomatillos , organic baby spinach, Queso Fresco, lime Chile vinaigrette

Photo from The Culinary Geek
Photo from The Culinary Geek

Traditional Lebanese salad of romaine lettuce, scallions, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, mint and radishes tossed with pita croutons

Chopped Salad

      organic baby mixed greens, chopped tomatoes, fresh corn niblets, avocado, house-made bacon bits, lime Chile vinaigrette

option to top with chicken or shrimp

Classic Caesar salad

    traditional dressing prepared tableside: coddled eggs, lemon juice, fresh garlic, romaine, croutons, Parmigiano Reggiano (anchovies optional)

Shaved Asparagus and Baby Carrots

Ricotta salata, lemon, almonds

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Wedge Salad Una Señorita

crisp organic iceberg wedge, topped with diced avocado, red onion,

Queso Añejo, Chorizo crisps

Fennel / Radicchio / Mandarin / Kumquat

pilconcillo-toasted walnuts /agave-lime vinaigrette

Lentil / Napa Valley Goat Cheese

Capers / currants / pistachios / maple-cider spiced vinaigrette 

DESSERT SALAD

Winter Fruit Salad

Apples / blood orange / pomegranate seeds / kiwi / banana / mango

Ginger-lime dressing