Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, chef Dennis Spina of Brooklyn’s Roebling Tea Room waxed poetic about the roasted caciocavallo cheese at nearby Roman’s, as prepared by chef David Gould. Now it’s time to check in with Gould and see which dish recently rocked his world. What do you say, Dave?
Who: Dave Gould, chef at Roman’s, Brooklyn
What: Poblano soup with crispy pork belly, grapes, and crème fraîche
Where: Lazy Ox Canteen, Downtown Los Angeles
“It was really creamy — like a bisque almost, super rich — and they floated little crispy bits of pork belly into it. It sort of crunched in your mouth like a crouton, and I thought that it was revelatory.”
We asked Lazy Ox Canteen executive chef Josef Centeno to tell us what inspired the soup:
“Back when I was at Opus, Jonathan Gold came in by himself during, like, a fifteen-course tasting dinner, and I wanted to give him something special. So it’s something that actually came about for him on the fly. I was trying to figure out which soup to use because I’d just run out of the one that I was using for that night’s tasting. There were some roasted poblano peppers that we were using for a soft cannelloni next to the fryer, and there was a slab of pork belly that we’d just finished braising. So I kinda put the peppers together with some half-and-half and made a quick poblano puree as the base, fried the pork belly, and added some crème fraîche and cilantro. It took off from there and became one of the menu items. It’s always been in my repertoire since then, but I guess you could say it was Gold-inspired.
I have a lot of dishes that I’ll use when they’re in season that I put on the shelf. Then something will trigger my memory about it and I’ll look at it with a different perception and it kind of grows from there. There are a number of dishes that have gone through that evolution. You forget about it and then add new ingredients to bring it back to life or different techniques that you can use with it. My pork chicharrones have gone through an evolution and gotten better and better as I’ve learned which braising times work better for the finished results. The different components of the dish have evolved, but the foundation of it has stayed the same.
I stop using it when the poblanos get too spicy, because that takes away too much from the dish. When you get poblanos in their prime, it’s the best flavor. Mixed with the pickled grapes, the chicharron, and crème fraîche, it really pulls the flavors together.”