Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A seasonal explosion of fruit is occurring right under our nose here in the south and many southerners have no idea. A true culinary delight comes every year during the summer months here in the south. A fruit that is so unique and mysterious most people have no clue what to do with this succulent gem. For years I have looked forward to this time of year to play with this inverted flower of a fruit, yes I am referring to the luscious fig. The fig takes me to a far away place of wonder and enjoyment, when tearing one open and peering into its heart, it seems somewhat of a fireworks display. The reds, purples, yellows, and greens really seem to be from another place far from the south, however this is not the case, it can be found right in our own back yards.

Now that it’s that time of year we must ask ourselves what to do with this wonderful little gift from nature. Most of us who do know about the fig will say to make a jam out of it, as good as this is it not the only application for the fig. Truth be told this fruit can be used in savory to sweet dishes, sauces to condiments, and much more. An endless array of applications and techniques can be applied to the fig to insure an outstanding outcome. The representation of the natural beauty and flavor of the fig are my intentions when I prepare it in any dish. In other words, I let the fig be a fig and represent itself with only a slight manipulation by my hand. When nature produces something so perfect it doesn’t need some hotshot chef to come along and mess it up, it can stand-alone and should be treated with respect.
Here is a recipe that I have prepared and would like to share with you all that is dear to my heart and I’m sure you will enjoy it this summer as I will and have in the past. There are three parts to this dish, after each component is made you will then layer them on top of each other in a champagne flute. If you want to take the easy way out you can stop by Restaurant Tyler and try it with none of the hassle.

Local Fig and “West Point” Pecan Parfait

Crème Layer: yield = 8 parfait
24oz cream cheese (room temp.)
8oz brown sugar
1c sour cream
1T pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in mixer and blend with paddle attachment

Candied Pecans:
1T Canola oil
2c Local Pecans
4oz Maple syrup
Pinch salt

Heat oil and add pecans, toast until golden brown. Add syrup and salt, toss and chill.

Fig Sauce:
½ bottle Muscadine wine
20ea mission figs (small)
8oz brown sugar
1# butter (unsalted)

Reduce Muscadine wine by half with brown sugar, add figs and cook for 2 minutes, add butter and cut off heat, stir until butter melt, chill.

In champagne flute layer crème, the pecans, then and fig sauce, repeat this process once more. Garnish with fresh mint.


Chef Ty Thames

Friday, February 19, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV

Because of great friends and staff, in recent weeks, I have been very fortunate to be able to travel. It's not often that an opportunity arrives to be able to attend the Super Bowl, the Saints organization after party, followed by the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The food and experience will last me a lifetime.
Starkville was very cold the day we flew to Miami, so you can imagine the excitement we felt when arriving to 70 degree weather in Miami. Our first stop was a restaurant called Next. With a raspberry Mojito and Cuban sandwich in hand, we started to enjoy this South Beach experience. Sitting on the patio surrounded by Miami natives all bronzed and immersed in conversation, we began to enjoy our lunch. The tropical birds were all swooping around scouring for leftover crumbs of food and sometimes the untended plate. All was good except for the inevitable bird poop that landed on Brian and me, which shocked us both. Needless to say, anytime thereafter we made sure not to sit under any trees. After lunch we did a little shopping and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the night. That night we saw Usher and Jamie Foxx at the Bud Light Hotel and called it a night.
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We left the hotel early the next morning to start our tailgate marathon with other Saints fans at a hotel next to the stadium. This epic event involved food, drink, and a band from New Orleans. I don't believe the hotel had any idea what the Who Dat nation was going to bring. After many hours of song and dance, we met up with some friends and headed to the stadium. The excitement of the fans, which measured about 10 to 1 in the Saints favor, was such a presence of loyalty and force that it brought chills down my spine. Every play seemed to be as monumental as the last and the crowd never seemed to blink. It was truly overwhelming. When the interception was made by Tracy Porter, the stadium seemed to levitate and the crowd never seemed to come down. After the game, the Saints fans stuck around until security tried to kick everyone out. No one was budging until the last player left the field, and everyone wanted to live the experience as long as possible. I saw many tears that night which is a true testament to the level of loyalty and connection not only to the team and its players, but also to the rebirth of New Orleans.

After being dragged from the stadium, we attempted to get a cab ride but were very reluctant. For some cabs this was a great way to price gouge tourists- one cab wanted $300.00 dollars for a $40.00 dollar cab ride. It took a while to find an honest cab driver. The after party was more than I ever expected. Walking into the hotel ballroom was a" WOW" factor to say the least. Tables made of ice with every type of sushi you can imagine, layers of oysters on the half shell towering to eye level, and small canapes of all types that had such detail that only a team of chefs could prepare. Each table displayed the name and roster numbers of Saints personnel, indicating where the respective players and their families could sit. Many celebratory speeches were given by the coach and players followed by a variety of bands including Kenny Chesney. As we mingled with the players, we felt a part of the greatness of what they have achieved for themselves and the city. It truly was a special night.

When we returned to Starkville, I had only a few days to get the Valentine's Day menu up and running. When preparing a menu, such as the one we had at Restaurant Tyler, many people do not understand the amount of time and the strategy that goes into executing a successful night with such a menu. Prep work sometimes begins days, if not weeks, ahead of the schedule date. From curing your own meats to drying homemade pasta, great things take time. When you are cooking for 300 people it is much different than when you are cooking at home for 2 to 6 people. Everything has its own timeline and must be treated accordingly. Needless to say, I have to give it to my staff for executing the menu and being the magic behind the scenes that allows us to continually strive to create exciting and "new south" food and an enjoyable and memorable experience. Also, I want to thank the customers that trust us in that process of trying things that one might not normally try. You trust us, and you will not be disappointed. I will personally guarantee this.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentines Day

For a chef, the holidays can be more about work than about family. This is due to the nature of the beast. There are two holidays that come to mind that I have always known I would not be able to have off, one being mother's day and the other being Valentine's day. On mother's day, I have always had to do something with my mother the day after. Sometimes just a phone call had to be sufficient. Valentine's day on the other hand, well lets just say, not so much! Nevertheless, for better or for worse I have always made it to work. Besides some minor personal dilemmas, I have always enjoyed this holiday. Anytime I can create a menu that surrounds passion I am all about it. Over the years I have infiltrated my menus with foods that have aphrodisiac qualities. Foods that are to be shared and experienced as a couple. Foods that will be talked about with each other, that may, in some subconscious way, spark a feeling of intimacy and joy of being in the company of the one you love. I believe that this holiday is more about sharing your love and devotion to another person than just by going through the standard act of giving flowers and a teddy bear in order to get the day over with. This is the belief and thought process that I go through in making every Valentine's menu. I want to make the menu so that when the guest eats the food, the flavors intertwine with them and their experience in the sharing process and devotion to one another. In this way, I feel a part of making something special, even if I'm in the dog house in my personal relationships. This year I came up with two separate menus, a him and her menu per se. Of course you can order off of each one, get the whole thing, or just parts of it. I will leave the amount of the experience up to you. If it were me, I would pick at least 2 things and share the dessert.

Restaurant Tyler
Happy Valentines Day
From The Land Menu

First Course
Braised Short Rib
Slow cook beef rib wrapped in mustard green, served with Muscadine braising liquid, and resting on a savory pancake
Francis Coppola, Pinot Noir, California
Second Course
Seared Lamb Chop Lolly Pop
Served on a ratatouille of seasonal vegetables covered in molten Taleggio cheese, and finished with veal reduction sauce
Root 1: Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chili
Filet Mignon
Grilled beef tenderloin served with Parmesan cheese grits and topped with smoked pork belly, Gorgonzola, and red grape relish
Forefathers, Cabernet Sauvignon, California
Chocolate Fondue
Bittersweet Chocolate served with Marshmallows, brownies, pretzels, and fresh strawberries
$60- per person
With Wine $85- per person

Restaurant Tyler
Happy Valentine’s Day
From The Water Menu

First Course
Seared Ahi Tuna
Lobster salt-crusted sushi grade tuna loin seared rare, topped with sweet corn and roasted beet salad, served with Gorgonzola vinaigrette
Mezzacorona, Pinot Grigio, Italy
Second Course
Crab and Brussels Sprout Bisque
Velvet smooth crab bisque pureed with fresh Brussels sprouts and garnished with buttermilk battered fried Brussels sprout
Spy Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
Mid Course
Mango shrimp cocktail with mint cream
Rainbow Trout
Pan-roasted rainbow trout served served with local pecan almondine sauce, vegetables, and creamed grits
Cakebread Cellars, Chardonnay, California
Chocolate Fondue
Bittersweet Chocolate served with Marshmallows, brownies, pretzels, and fresh strawberries
$60- per person
With Wine $85- per person

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

That Little Green Bud

As a chef, I am always asked what is my favorite thing to cook, and I always reply "what is in season of course". The seasons are a gift that we often look over in our world of fast food and super markets. It has been beat into us by the food industry at an early age that boxed food and processed food saturated with hydrogenated fat is the best for us. Well I'm a man of variety and I'm here to celebrate each season with the excitement of the last. If you cook with the seasons, you will appreciate each season. It not only gives you something to look forward to having next year, but you will also be getting the best of each ingredient during its season when its flavor is the freshest. Seems like common sense I know..... Come on people, we got this!!!!! Every year I fall in love with the same vegetables all over again, and I love to cook them in different ways. Right now my passion is focused on the Brussels sprout. This little green bud of love has so many uses and is actually one vegetable that many people have trouble cooking. This week at Restaurant Tyler I have devised a menu with this guy as the star. The special appetizer will be a Gorgonzola and Brussels sprout salad with Red grapes and candied pecans. For the second course we have a Brussels sprout and crab bisque garnished with a fried Brussels sprout. For the entree I put together some rosemary and garlic sauteed Brussels sprouts paired with a lump crap meat stuffed Filet Mignon with a Muscadine butter sauce. Come share the love of the Brussels sprout with me this week at Restaurant Tyler.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NFC weekend

Over this past weekend I had the opportunity to experience some amazing events- camping in south MS, the saints winning the N.F.C. championship, and running into Emeril Lagasse and Jimmy Buffet while dining in the great city of New Orleans.
I started my day on Thursday packing my car and cooler full of steaks, eggs, vegetables, beer, and every gun I own. I have been waiting for this day all year. You see, this is the weekend of an annual camping trip that I attend every year with old college friends from my days playing rugby for USM in Hattiesburg MS. After a few hours of packing, I was off, ready to feed a small army as well as to defend one. Many things passed through my head on the way down, such as the thought of me not surviving the weekend alive, and the memories of past trips and the fun we all shared. With the sounds of the country surrounding me I pulled up to my friends house in Brooklyn, MS. Getting out of the car, it sounded like I was entering a stadium full of crickets and toads. The sky was so crystal clear that as I looked up I felt as if I was falling through space with stars all around me. As the stars engulfed me it gave me this overwhelming since of belonging to something much greater than myself. With a few beers down and my old friend starting to show up one by one I knew it was the start of a great weekend. Throughout the weekend, we hunted, fished, shot some skeet, drank too much beer, and ate some really good food, all accompanied by old stories, jokes, and a few practical jokes. It was everything I could have hoped for, and best of all, I made it out alive. However, I did manage to get my car stuck in the mud on the last day, which one of my friends found really funny. I believe I was the only person there that didn’t own a truck. It had started to rain Saturday night and everything I owned was soaked. I woke up to my friend Luke cussing and complaining that my tent was leaking on his privates, which I found to be quit amusing, only to roll over to my soaked pillow which wasn’t so funny.
Soaked and my Camry covered in mud, I headed towards NOLA for the Saints game which started around 6pm that day. After a quick shower I met up with some friends and headed to the quarter. We ate at one of my favorite restaurants called Stanley’s on Jackson square. I had the Reuben, which was delicious. I find their different egg dishes to be some of the best in the city. After pre-gaming at Lucy’s (retired suffers bar, in the warehouse district) we were on the way to the dome. The endless sea of Saints jerseys flooded the streets with the WHO DAT chants surrounding us. We seem to float to the superdome with excitement. When we reached our seats the roar of the crowd was so great that the beer in my cup was vibrating like the cup of water in the movie Jurassic park when the Tyrannosaurus Rex was approaching their truck. The involvement of the Who Dat nation was like no other I have experience in the superdome; we didn’t sit one time throughout the game. When that kick went through the uprights it was a joy that has been a long time due in New Orleans. The Saints have truly united the city.
After the game we headed to Emeril’s to eat a late dinner. While sitting at our table we notice Emeril coming out of the back to join a table in a private room next to us. On his way to the table he stopped at the table next to us to shake the hand of Jimmy Buffet, which we had failed to notice sitting there on our way in. It was good to see that everyone was enjoying the Saints win and the excitement of the city. It was a weekend that I will never forget.