There is bold, inventive and highly assertive cooking happening at the Ryland Inn, located in Whitehouse, New Jersey.
Chef Anthony Bucco leads his brigade through the dinner rush with the studied calm, like the captain of a multi-million dollar yacht plying an often stormy ocean. He moves like a prize-fighter, light on his feet. Adapting to the cadence of the orders and the firing of the meals. He's concerned with details and when he grips your hand and looks into your eye, he means it.
Chef Bucco expedites and choreographs his talented cooks under his tutelage. He challenges his cooks to do better, go forward and learn new techniques. His flavors are passionate and bold. Case in point the steak tartare pictured above. This is emotional food. Everything is from scratch and as local as possible. There is passion in each bite. Food on this level must be made from scratch. There are no shortcuts in Chef Bucco's kitchen. He challenges his guests to eat and drink on a higher level. This level, however is not pretentious or condescending. There is love of cooking in every metered bite.
I recently spent a dinner service taking pictures and watching the food get prepared, combined, tasted and sent out to an appreciative and hungry clientele. New Jersey food has matured. This is no longer just a state of one or two fine dining establishments. The gene pool is crowded with highly trained and talented cooks. At the Ryland Inn they have elevated fine dining to a new level. This may well be one of the finest dining restaurants in the country.
Chef Bucco is not a snob like so many highly trained chefs paint themselves as- when it comes to fine dining. He truly loves what he does- you can see it in his eyes, his wry smile and his hands when they gesticulate his thoughts. Chef Bucco wants the very best from his talented cadre of young cooks. All have their passion and talents. Each does their job to the best of their ability.
This kitchen has smiling cooks in it.
I've always said that when there are smiles in the kitchen, this translates to better food. That warmth in the hands is the key to being in touch with flavor.
The food knows and responds accordingly.
Bar Captain Christopher James offers this seasonal recipe for his part of the Ryland Inn.
Chris weaves liquid driven memories into each of his carefully crafted cocktails. One of these new cocktails in his stable of drinks is called the Rusty Apple.
THE RUSTY APPLE
1.0 oz Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky
1.5 oz Berentzens Apfelkorn
1.0 oz honey crisp apple juice (local if possible)
0.5 lemon juice
0.5 agave nectar
DRAMBUIE FOAM (Use the Isi Charger for this foam)
2 oz DRAMBUIE
1 oz Berentzens Apfelkorn
.5 oz lemon juice
4 egg whites
Add all ingredients to an ISI charger and use a single charge.
Dispense enough DRAMBUIE foam to fill a chilled coupe glass 1/3 of the way. Shake the ingredients for the cocktail and strain into the chilled coupe through one part of the foam to avoid ruining the separation effect. Finish off with an apple fan and some freshly hand grated cinnamon on the surface of the foam. This cocktail is intended to be a seasonal mash-up of an Apple Martini and the classic Rusty Nail.
Hand cut ice is not an afterthought. These chunks, glimmering like diamonds are a marvelous departure from the usual cocktail ice. When drinking a fine Bourbon or Rum, your ice is as important as the liquor in your glass.
I'm learning to be a better bar man myself! Day Five (last Saturday night) kicked me into high gear!
This may have been the most exciting food I've eaten outside of Paris! Served in a plastic cup no less! Amazing! Ethereal!
This quote from Eric Ripert is mounted on the kitchen wall at the Ryland Inn
Warren Bobrow is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey.
He is one of 12 journalists world-wide, and the only one chosen from the USA to participate in the Fête de la Gastronomie- the weekend of September 22nd., 2012 in Burgundy.
He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2011/2012.
Warren presented freestyle mixology at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon. (2012)
Warren judged the Iron Mixology competition at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (2012)
Warren has published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles.
You may also find him on the web at: http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com
Warren is a published food writer and former cook.
He's written food and cocktail articles and news for Edible Jersey, Chutzpah Magazine, Voda Magazine, Tasting Table, Serious Eats and Total Food Service Magazine.
Warren attended the Kentucky Derby and the Oaks Day Races this year while on assignment for Voda Magazine.
He writes for the "Fabulous Beekman 1802 Boys" as their cocktail writer. (The Soused Gnome)
He writes for Williams-Sonoma on their Blender Blog.
Warren began his climb to becoming a cook as a pot scrubber at the York Harbor Inn in York Harbor, Maine in 1985.
He cooked at Alberta's in Portland, Maine during mid-80's.
Warren is the former owner and co- founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in Charleston, SC while cooking at the Primerose House and Tavern. (Also in Charleston)
He spent Hurricane Hugo (1989) in his former home in Charleston and lost his business.
Warren was # 30 in Saveur Magazine's 100 for his writing about the humble Tuna Melt.
Warren works three nights per week at the Ryland Inn as a Bar/Back.