Thursday, January 14, 2010

Powdered wig optional: Chef Josh's menu for Sunday's Old Lightning Rod release.

Previously, I previewed NABC's fifth batch of Old Lightning Rod, which will be unveiled at Bank Street Brewhouse on Sunday, January 17.

Now, with a grateful nod to Michael Burp, Louisville's finest brewery newsletter writer, editor and web site maestro, here is the menu to accompany Old Lightning Rod, as conjured by Bank Street's Chef Josh Lehman. As an added attraction, Bank Street's soon-to-be-famous, create-your-own Bloody Mary bar will be in service this (and every) Sunday.


Chef Josh has planned a special menu for the debut of Old Lightning Rod 2010, taking into account Franklin's own favorites, native American foods he advocated for while serving in posts in France and England and foreign staples he was instrumental in introducing here at home:

Corn Soup, served with Tarragon and Parmesan Crisp

"Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world."

Franklin was a partisan of foods native to the New World and an advocate for their use at home and abroad. The quote above is part of his response to one of the critics of the now ubiquitous American grain. Franklin searched several years for a usable recipe for Parmesan, before finally finding one.

Apple and Tofu Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Shallots, Ginseng and Soy Vin

“We have the Pleasure of acquainting the World, that the famous Chinese or Tartarian Plant, called Gin seng, is now discovered in this Province, near Sasquehannah ... The Virtues ascrib’d to this Plant are wonderful.”

Franklin kept his own advice when it came to the Apple, imploring his wife Deborah to keep him provisioned when he was posted overseas. It seems Franklin himself may have introduced Tofu to the Colonies, its first known mention in an American text being a description of its manufacture he sent from London in 1770 to a friend in Philadelphia. His report on the discovery of Ginseng in Pennsylvania appeared in an issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette from 1738.

Potatoes Anna, a layered Potato Cake with Bacon, Onions and Crème Fraiche

Though it would eventually become a European as well as an American staple and be credited with reducing the incidence of famine in the Old World, the Potato was slow to gain popularity on both continents. At Franklin's urging, French pharmacist Antoine Augustin Parmentier held a banquet in Paris with the Potato figuring in every dish - including dessert. Franklin's promotion of the Potato at home upon his return has been credited with popularizing it here as well.

Turkey Breast, with Corn Cake, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Cranberries

Franklin would have preferred the Turkey to the Bald Eagle as an emblem for his country, finding it a truly "more respectable Bird and withal a true Native of America", one that was, "though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

As with the Apple, Cranberries were a favorite of Franklin's and it again fell to his wife Deborah to dutifully ship him the occasional barrel when he was away.

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