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Archive for June, 2012

I’m not quite sure where I first ran into Brad Greenhill, but I do know Shana introduced us.  In the period of recovery from my accident, I was struck by the idea that I wanted to throw a big thank you dinner for the many really wonderful friends who had helped me through the roughest period and Shana said she’d like to cohost and (bright girl) “we should get my friend Brad to cook. He’s doing some of the best cooking in town.” Sold! Next thing I knew, we were chatting over my dining room table, talking plates and counting vegetarians. And then next thing I know, Brad was standing in my kitchen on a Saturday night, calm and collected and turning out a miracle of a dinner for 18 people. Ok, there may have been a drop or two of sweat on his brow but in spite of that he produced CARROT SOUP with hazlenut, nigella, yogurt, and mint,CECI BEANS dressed with sesame, jalepeno, meyer lemon, scallion, and OMG RAVIOLI short rib, rojo (Brad’s patented red sauce), fiore sardo and basil and DEVIL’S CHICKEN aleppo (shown, in all its glory, above), salsa verde, warm bread salad and OLIVE OIL CAKE with a citrus glaze. The guests were generous in bringing wine, and there was good food and friendly conversation until all hours, and though I felt there was little I could do to repay the amazing generosity of my friends during my time of need, I ended up feeling like dinner by Brad was a pretty good start. Love and a fuly laden table . . . they do go together, don’t they?

Since that first meal, I’ve made a small hobby of stalking Brad’s cooking. and luckily he hasn’t made it or himself hard to find. He’s been doing “Pop-up” dinners around town, located in some interesting venues and full of small and tasty surprises. You can find out about them at his website,  (one coming up soon at the late. lamented Jefferson Market)where he is also kind enough to share a few recipes including one for that trademark rojo

We joined several friends at his Jefferson Market dinner in April, where we ate:

SAIGON TOAST
pig face pâté, pickled roots, sriracha aioli, cilantro

63° QUAIL EGG
fiddleheads, pea tendrils, anchovy

CHARRED CARROTS
green garlic, aleppo, lemon oil, crumbs

RABBIT RILLETTE
apple, celery root, hay, ‘shrooms

SHEEP’S ASS GNOCCHI
ewe’s milk, ramps, black pepper

PORCHETTA
braised coronas, arugula, lemon, horseradish

PETIT GATEAU
salt caramel, brown butter, sage

 And drank and chatted with a room ull of loud and happy townies and felt, ourselves, glad to live in Ann Arbor where such things are possible. Another night in April, we went to dinner at 327 Braun Court, a space in Ann rbor new to me, as was much of the food, but in both cases I fervently hope those first weren’t lasts. More onsen eggs please!
The “About Brad” section o his web site tells us:”Brad has been cooking professionally for over 13 years. He first cut his chops in various Ann Arbor restaurants before joining his friend Michael Berardino in the two-man kitchen team behind Carmen, in Boston’s North End. During his tenure, the restaurant’s cuisine was featured in The New York Times, Bon Appetit and Gourmet in addition to receiving two “Best of Boston” awards. Over the last seven years he has chosen to work under the radar: hosting underground dining events and catering for small, private parties and weddings. His influences are the cuisines of Italian-America, Southern bbq, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean and McDonald’s. (Can’t wait to see what he does with the big Mac concept).Brad’s dinners are usually served in two seatings. If you want to linger late, you are encouraged to sign up for the later seating.  Tickets are available online and are one price and have the option of beverage pairings (more on that icoming up).So, great fun for me at these dinners has been partaking of the cocktail pairings. Although I have known and loved wine pairings for a long time now, I had never considered cocktail pairings, and I now see they give a little more room to roam, and a bit  more chance for surprise, than wine. The mixologists Brad has hooked up with have done some lovely things with herbs, bitters and fruit juices. They make the food seem even better.Which is a tall order as it’s pretty darn good, cocktails aside.  The thing I want to call out especially about Brad’s cooking is the variety and novelty of the flavors. Consider the ASPARAGUSwith morels, kerisik, mint, and lime from the Braun Court dinner.  At one point there was a conversation at our table that went: (mouth full of asparagus bite) “What’s going on in here?” and (second mouth also full) “I don’t know, but I really like it.” A little while later, I noticed both my table and Shana’s had diners studying their i-phones as we looked up new ingredients like kerisik (coconut butter, turns out). I want to call Brad’s food challenging, but I’m afraid that might suggesst its hard to eat, which it isn’t all. It’s challenging in the sense of not being familiar. The tastes are new and that’s why I love them, and I venture even some of the most jaded palates will feel the same.
a perk of patronizing Brad’s dinners is that he’s doing some nice work with other local businesses. He sources wine from Everyday wine and attractive floral decorations from Pot and Box, and of course he’s giving exposure to those venues like Braun Court and The Jefferson Market. Eat good food and dsupport our local folks at the same time. Bonus!In an email chat bout his start in cooking, Brad reminisced a bit about his time in Boston  and then said “After about two years there I began getting burned out and queestioned whether or not I wanted to be or am a chef. I felt a bit of pressure, be it societal or how I was brought up that i needed to be more than that in life. In those days being a cook / chef didn’t have the “cool” cultural cache and level of career acceptance it does now. . . . right about that time  books like Soul of the Chef, Kitchen Confidential and the Food Network started to bloom. Anyway I left the business and started my current web business. I vowed one day I’d be back but on my own terms and with my own restaurant / bar, which is something I’ve wanted to have since I was in college.” Me. I’m glad those questions had an answer that led to my eating Brad’s food, and I kinda hope the restaurant works out in Ann rbor, so I get to keep doing so.

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