From savory appetizers to the scrumptious entrée, chic cocktails to mouthwatering desserts, cranberry deserves more attention than being made into sauce for the holidays.
Last Thursday, I was invited to learn about it from very talented chefs and mixologist at Waterbar in San Francisco. Waterbar is located right along Embarcadero Street, only a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal. It’s quieter there and the view of the bay and the bridge from the second floor deck is just amazing, even during the day.
[Summer Breeze made with light rum, cranberry juice cocktail, lime and pineapple juices, jalapeno infused syrup, Chantilly and crushed ice and dried cranberries.]
After we mingled with the host and guests with Summer Breeze in our hands, we sat down and started tasting the cranberry course, first prepared by the executive chef, Parke Ulrich.
Chatham Oyster on the 1/2 Shell with Cranberry Granite. Chatham oysters have deeper cups, keeping the juice from spilling out too much. Chef Ulrich explained that the right amount of brininess is the key to compliment sweet, tanginess of cranberry. Not only was the flavor great, the granite kept the oyster extra cold. This was a brilliant idea!
Sea Scallop Ceviche with Cranberries, Serrano Chile and Pineapple. It seemed and sounded pretty simple, but only a very talented chef can create such a delicate flavor like this. There was subtle flavor of sweet, tart, salty, spicy and herbs. I’m sure the amount of each ingredient was adjusted to a very fine point. I’m sharing the recipe at the end of this post. I know some of you might like spicy, but please do not ruin it by adding an extra teaspoon of jalapeno.
Seared Tuna on Avocado Toast with Cranberry Gremolata. There was no order of which appetizer to start. So, while I kept this to my last, I could hear my neighbor woooing and ahhhing over the tuna even before I got to it. It was definitely the most rich and complicated one of three. Creamy avocado with crunchy cranberry gremolata and toast, served with coma-inducing juicy chunk of tuna. Wow. At this point, I was convinced. I’m coming back to Waterbar.
Besides seafood, what else can go with cranberry? Seared Duck Breast with Corn Blini, Arugula, and Cranberry Mascarpone. It was accompanied by 2007 Handley Pinot Noir Anderson Valley. Duck breast with semi-sweet fluffy pancake, creamy cranberry mascarpone, dried cranberries and fresh arugula, such a crazy combination, but it worked. It was tough call between the duck and the tuna. But I’m not that tough, so I choose both! What I really loved and was impressed about these dishes was that they are not just tasty or beautiful; they were all pretty healthy, using a various ingredients, hitting all food groups, and taste buds, too.
The cranberry mascarpone was made with cranberry powder/dust. Have you ever seen or heard of cranberry powder? We hadn’t. The chef brought us samples to the table. The color you see here is exactly what we saw; bright hot pink, hard to believe it was from cranberry. Though it didn’t have that much of cranberry taste, I could think of all kinds of use for it, like Matcha powder. It would be great for Valentine’s Day for sure!
The sweets came next, but I’m sure you’re all virtually stuffed already. So we’ll cover the rest next week.
Recipe of the Day
Sea Scallops Ceviche with Cranberries, Jalapeno and Lime
(Courtesy of Parke Ulrich, executive chef at Waterbar)
Ingredients (serves 4):
1/2 lb sea scallops, sliced into rounds about 1/4” thick
1/4 c lime juice (the juice of one lime)
2 tsp finely grated lime zest (the zest of one lime)
1/3 c cranberries (about 2 oz)
1 Serrano chili, minced (you may only need half of a large chili)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 Tbsp pineapples, brunoise
2 Tbsp chives, minced
1 Tbsp red onions, minced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Chive blossoms, picked
Fino Verde (small whole basil leaves), picked – or larger leaves cut in chiffonade
In a large bowl, toss the scallops with the lime juice and zest to start the curing. Mix well. With a very sharp knife, slice the cranberries into thin rounds, like small coins. Set half the sliced cranberries aside for a garnish when serving. Cut the Serrano chili in half crosswise, and using a wooden skewer, pick out the seeds. Cut the seeded chili crosswise into very thin slices, or rings.
Add the remaining cranberries, the Serrano chili, jalapeno, pineapple, chives, red onion, olive oil and salt to the scallops and stir to combine.
To serve, using tongs or folk, lift the scallops from the dressing and divide them among four plates, placing the slices flat. Scatter the reserved cranberries around the scallops. Spoon the juice and any dressing remaining in the bowl over the scallops and cranberries. Garnish each plate with a chive blossom and basil leaves. Serve immediately.