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Ad Hoc cookbooks Thomas Keller

A Morning with Thomas Keller: Ad Hoc at Home Book Signing

Ad Hoc hosted a special book signing event called “A Morning with Thomas Keller” at the restaurant yesterday, and I was lucky enough to get an invitation. Chef Keller spent the morning signing Ad Hoc at Home cookbooks alongside Ad Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz as the Ad Hoc staff served up hors d’oeuvres featuring selected recipes from the cookbook.

InvitationThe Invitation

It was an exciting day for me because I finally got to meet Thomas Keller and shake the hand of a man whose restaurants have changed my life. As I’ve written before, my first meal at Ad Hoc in June 2007 was a major culinary epiphany for me. It changed the way I thought about how food was prepared and sourced, and it made me appreciate a level of dining that I normally would’ve avoided based solely on cost.

Plowing through booksAd Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz (left) and Chef Thomas Keller

When I approached the table, Chef Cruz leaned over and told Chef Keller about my blog and the Ad Hoc Menu Archive. I told Chef Keller about our dinner at the brand-new Bouchon Beverly Hills last weekend (took my mom for her birthday), and he was glad to know we had a great dinner. I also let him know that the entire city of Los Angeles is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Bouchon Bakery. He didn’t really respond to that, but I think he knows that LA wants that bakery. :)

Meeting Thomas Keller...Is he really interested in what I’m saying or does he think I’m a crazy fanboy?

In the end, Chef Keller shook my hand, thanked me for all the support and graciously posed for a picture. Thanks, Simone for snapping this pic. :)

I think this moment could only be topped if I ever met Magic Johnson. :)

Now that that’s out of the way…on to the food! The first thing we were offered were the Albondigas, a veal meatball atop a tomato compote. Unfortunately, I was too busy devouring these to take a picture. Here’s the rest of the spread…

Toast with Fig JamToast with Fig Jam

It’s not really an Ad Hoc party without some fried chicken.

Fried Chicken LollipopsFried Chicken Lollipops
Beef StroganoffA bit of beef stroganoff.

The ratatouille was a simple and brilliant spoonful of soffrito topped with tomato confit, eggplant confit, and zucchini confit.

RatatouilleRatatouille as you’ve never seen it before.

The lemon bars were like mini lemon meringue pies but also reminded me one of my favorite desserts, Bouchon’s Tarte au Citron.

Lemon BarsPerfect Little Lemon Bars

What more do you need when there’s chocolate cupcakes?

Chocolate CupcakesChocolate Cupcakes

Overall, it was a really fun event, and I was honored to have been invited. Thanks to everyone at Ad Hoc for always making me feel at home. Here’s the full set of pictures:


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Ad Hoc reviews The French Laundry

Memorial Day Maine Lobster Rolls at Ad Hoc

Yeah, yeah…another Ad Hoc post. I know. I’ve been meaning to write about some of the cooking I’ve been doing, including baking my first brioche or my thoughts on liking traditional waffles more than Belgian waffles, but when Ad Hoc’s daily menu email update arrived in my inbox yesterday morning, the words “Maine Lobster Rolls” jumped out at me.

Maine Lobster RollsThis was the full portion for two people.

Ad Hoc recently started doing barbecue nights on non-fried chicken Mondays, but for Memorial Day, they decided to offer the Maine Lobster Rolls to give dinner more of a picnic vibe. Now, I’ve never had an authentic New England lobster roll, but I think I may have spoiled myself by having this one, which features lobster from the same purveyor that supplies The French Laundry, a custom sweet roll from Bouchon Bakery, shaved celery, red onions and garlic aioli.

Maine Lobster RollsThe sweet, housemade pickles were excellent, too.

The meal started off with fried French Laundry chickpeas that were like fried, salty edamame—an amuse bouche of sorts, but they don’t use words like that at Ad Hoc. :)

French Laundry Fried Chickpeas

The leek salad featured more French Laundry vegetables and some crispy Jamon Iberico, what Bac-O’s aspires to be when it grows up.

TFL Leek Salad with Jamon Iberico

The cheese course featured Rogue Creamery’s aged and creamy Caveman Blue, raspberry-vanilla jam and beer flatbread.

Rogue Creamery's Caveman Blue with raspberry-vanilla jam beer flatbread

The toasted lemon pound cake with chantilly cream and macerated blueberries ended the meal on a surprisingly light note.

Toasted Lemon Pound Cake

I was content to spend Memorial Day chillin’ at home and watching Game 4 of the Lakers/Nuggets Western Conference Finals battle, but since the Lakers ended up playing poorly and losing, I’m glad I spent my time up in Yountville enjoying the sublime comforts of a great meal instead of stressing out at home yelling at the TV.

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Ad Hoc reviews seafood Thomas Keller

Ad Hoc – 2/8/09

The thing I love most about Ad Hoc is that you never eat the same meal twice, and this was no exception. I’ve noticed from looking at the menus that they’re coming up with some really interesting first courses that deviate from the traditional soup or salad paradigm.

As I was getting out of my car, I ran into Nessim, one of Ad Hoc’s lead servers, and he asked me if I wanted to meet Claire Clark, the former French Laundry pastry chef who’s spending time at Ad Hoc making desserts before going back to the U.K. This was an unexpected treat since we were there specifically to try her dessert course. I also reconnected with Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz, and he was kind enough to send over an additional course to our table in between the first and second courses.

MENU

Maryland-Style Crabcakes
fingerling potatoes in remoulade,
shaved celery salad, hass avocado

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Brook Trout
hen of the woods mushroom conserva
(additional course)

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Whole Roast Lamb Leg
fennel gratin, borlotti bean ragout,
garden rosemary, dijon mustard
dried mission fig jus

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The Cheese Board
marcona almonds
marshall’s farm wild flower honey

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Red Velvet Cupcakes
white chocolate-cream cheese frosting

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The crab cakes were outstanding. They were fresh and free of any flour “filler”—just crab with seasoned panko to hold it together. It was served with some nice fingerlings in remoulade and some avocados cooked sous vide, which made them even creamier.

The lamb was local and less gamey than the Colorado lambs that Ad Hoc sometimes gets, which I liked. It was served with fennel gratin and Borlotti bean ragout that the entire staff was raving about, and it easily outshined the lamb although it was a tad salty for me. My wife, who loves salty foods, had no complaints.

The cheese course featured toasted almonds, cheese from three different animals (goat, sheep, and cow) and was served with a really nice bitter orange jam.

The red velvet cupcakes were smaller than a typical Ad Hoc dessert, but when they’re this pretty, does it really matter? Technically, this was a great cupcake. It was dense (by design), and the texture reminded me of pound cake . The white chocolate and cream cheese frosting had just the right amount of sweetness and the Valrhona chocolate pearls added some crunch to it. However, I’m coming to the realization that I just don’t like red velvet cake. I think my eyes see red cake and expect something bold, but the flavor is always much more subdued.

Or maybe I just don’t get it and that means there’s more red velvet cake in the world for the rest of you. :)