PAWPAW…. YES, YOU CAN EAT IT

Keith D, F&B Director and Forager Extraordinaire!

What a tough summer for a forager.  No rain means little grows, and that is especially true when it comes to fungi/mushrooms.   Again, it shows that we are under the mercy of the weather & Mother Nature.   So goes the ways of a forager.  You pick what’s available or wait for a new season to change options.  So with no rain, I have been checking and waiting for a fall gem, the PawPaw.

What the heck is a PawPaw?  Probably never heard of it, right?  How can that be?  It has an unusual genus name, Asimina (uh-SIM-min-nuh), probably derived from an Algonquin Indian word where “min” means food.  And the word PawPaw is probably a corruption of the American Indian word papya, or version shortened by Spanish. The PawPaw is a native to the temperate woodlands of the eastern U.S., and is actually the largest native North American fruit, and ripens in the fall, usually September and October.  It is a deciduous tree that grows 12 to 25 feet, in the Magnolia family, usually close to streams and in low light areas that have a canape of larger trees above.  Extremely rich in nutritional value, including high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, riboflavin, niacin and manganese and is higher in protein and fat than common fruits like bananas, apples, or oranges.

The texture of the PawPaw is like that of a custard, and tastes like a combination of banana and mango, with a hint of melon.  The best way to probably eat it is in the woods, where you pick it, rip the skin away, and slurp the pulp, and discard the seeds.  It is a gooey sensuous experience. But for culinary use, think frozen or icebox desserts, smoothies or salsas.  The flesh oxidizes quickly, and its distinct flavor compounds are volatile, so its best used in recipes that don’t expose it to heat.  It also can be used in baking cookies, cakes, and quick breads.  It also makes great beer, such as Weasel Paw PawPaw Pale Ale http://www.weaselboybrewing.com/eat-drink/#our-philosphy .

But being good for you doesn’t make them marketable.  They bruise easily, last only a few days at room temperature, a week at most under refrigeration.  They are also extremely difficult to propagate, though strides are being made. They are starting to show up at some farmer markets, but availability is very limited.  So for now, if you want to taste this native delicious tasting fruit, you need to go out and forage for it.  I know.  I bet you anticipated that I would say that.  But, after all, I am a forager.  That’s just what I do.

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A RIPE PAWPAW CUT IN HALF

For a video on how to forage for PawPaw, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T0tHrfrc8E

COLD BREW CRAZY

By Todd L., Banquet Manager at the Hilton Christiana

The newest way to enjoy your coffee is to make Cold Brew, especially during a hot day. Start with cold water and coffee grinds and then wait to see what happens next. The “what happens next” is a full and smooth flavor with a rich body finish ….truly a coffee experience you won’t soon forget. I have done it myself and the waiting is kind of exciting. The process does take a little bit of guessing, trial and error but, in the end, you get the satisfaction of a well-crafted coffee beverage.

Trust the Process!

The cold-water-extract process requires grinding: coarse-ground beans are soaked in water for a prolonged period of time, usually 12 hours or more. The water is normally kept at room temperature, but chilled water can also be used. The grounds must be filtered out of the water after they have been steeped using a paper coffee filter, a fine metal sieve, a French press or felt. The result is a coffee concentrate that is often diluted with water or some type of milk, and can be served hot, over ice, or blended with ice and other ingredients such as chocolate.

The Reward!

The reward for the cold brew coffee experience is the many applications it has. You can use it in the kitchen with a trendy dessert so that the rich and bold coffee flavors jump right out at you. At the Hilton Christiana, we create our own specialty coffee drink with a little simple syrup, caramel and chocolate sauces, or vanilla cinnamon syrup. We also offer some at the hotel bar and have reached perfection with a little addition of a cordial and some cream. It can make an afternoon pick me up truly delightful.  ENJOY!

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The sky’s the limit for things to add to your Cold Brewed beverage.

PROVIDENCE FOOD LOVERS’ GETAWAYS

It’s almost here – officially. September 22 marks the first day of autumn. New England has earned its awesome reputation for it’s incredible leaf-peeing opportunities. The Providence Marriott Downtown is nestled between the historic East Side (beautiful fall foliage) and downtown Providence. But it is still located near local farms and beautiful walking trails – oh the joys of being the smallest state in the US. Discover why fall is many Rhode Islanders’ favorite season. Online guide to trails in RI.

Autumn is also that time of year when we begin to crave foods that are a bit more decedent and nourishing. If you are going to visit Providence in the Fall, you are wise to take advantage of one of the amazing Food Lovers’ Getaways created by the Providence Marriott Downtown. Whether you want your own private bourbon tasting when you book the Bourbon & Bites or you are interested in Rhode Island’s array of craft beers with the more casual Beer & Blue Jeans Escape, or you want to see how the chefs at the Bluefin Grille can rock your taste buds with the Chefs’ Tasting Escape. Anyone who loves food will love these getaway packages.

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Fall doesn’t last long in Rhode Island. It only takes one Nor’Easter to pull the colorful leaves down before their time. Visit the week of Columbus Day for the projected by fall foliage.

CHEF’S TABLE: A CULINARY EXPERIENCE

Keith D ~ Director of F&B aka Forager Extraordinaire!

I’ve always had a passion for food and cooking, even as a small child. I would rather help my mom cook dinner than play outside, and so it still continues as an adult.  As a graduate of the CIA, or Culinary Institute of America, life is all about food, and when we have a Chef’s table at the hotel, it really becomes a special day.  And if you are lucky enough to attend one at the Christiana Hilton, then you’re in for a treat.  The following is a series of pictures of food and events for one of these Chef’s tables we recently did.

EXECUTICE CHEF ROBERT FRATTICCIOLI EXPLAINS THE PREPERATION AND LIST OF INGREDIENTS TO OUR GUESTS IN OUR PRIVATE DINING ROOM

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FRESH LOCAL INGREDIENTS ARE KEY TO GREAT FOOD.  IN OUR COURTYARD GARDEN, I SHOW THE GROUP THE HERBS WE GROW AND USE IN THE FOOD THAT THEY ARE ABOUT TO EAT.

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LOCALLY FORAGED ELDERBERRIES, SWEET PUREED WATERMELLON, AND LEMONAIDE MAKE UP THIS REFRESHING SUMMER BEVERAGE.  GARNISHED WITH A SPRIG OF PINAPPLE MINT FROM OUR HERB GARDEN.

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FIRST COURSE: SAUTEED LUMP CRAB CAKE OVER LOBSTER QUINOA AND TOMATO        SAFFRON LOBSTER REDUCTION.    GARNISHED WITH FRESH BASIL AND RED AMARANTH

 

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CHEF ROBERT AT WORK IN THE HILTON KITCHEN PLATING THE NEXT COURSE

SECOND COURSE: BABY HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD WITH BURRATA CHEESE AND A   SUNDRIED TOMATO CRUSTINI.  FINISHED WITH A DIJON OREGANO VINAIGRETTE AND GARNISHED WITH PEA SPROUTS AND RED AMARANTH.

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THIRD COURSE: ROASTED MARINATED VEAL TENDERLOIN TOPPED WITH PORTABELLO MUSHROOMS AND VEAL DEMI; ON A BED OF SPINACH, LEEKS, AND FENNEL WITH BROCCOLINI AND ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE. SERVED WITH STUFFED CRISPY ASPARGUS GNOCCHI TOSSED IN PARMASIANA CHEESE AND TRUFFLE OIL.

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FOURTH COURSE: FRESHLY MADE VANILLA CINNAMON CREPE STUFFED WITH GRILLED LOCAL PEACHES AND CHEESECAKE , DUSTED WITH POWDER SUGAR AND GARNISHED WITH MORE PEACHES, RED RASPBERRIES, PINEAPPLE MINT, LAVENDER , AND RASPBERRY SAUCE

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