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March 31, 2006

Switching Gears

Ginger Crusted Onaga, Miso Sesame Vinaigrette,
Kamuela Sweet Corn, Shiitake Mushrooms
Who needs Pahu i'a anyway, right?

We had always planned on cancelling one night's reservation at Pahu i'a to try out another restaurant, but we didn't expect it to go so well.

Given how much we've enjoyed our lunches at the Hualalai Grill by Alan Wong, it's really ridiculous that we didn't get around to trying it for dinner until tonight. We gave the tasting menu a shot, and had a really fun and delicious meal. Alan Wong is decidedly not subtle, but apparently that's just what we're in the mood for at the moment... very sweet, very spicy, very sour... very everything. The dish pictured above is a perfect example. It's a hot fish with a cool sauce that was extremely sweet and tart, with raw sweet corn. There's absolutely nothing subtle about it, and we loved it.

So we're ditching Pahu i'a and going with Alan Wong for the next two nights. More to come.

As a side note, I'd now like to officially recommend the Fujifilm Finepix F11 as the perfect restaurant cam. The resulting low-light photos require a lot of level and color balance adjustment in Photoshop, but I'm seeing more detail in the edited photos than I was in person. We basically ate this meal by candlelight (with a very, very dim overhead light), and the F11 is still turning out impressive photos that are somehow, miraculously, in focus.

March 30, 2006


Well, we're back on track over at Pahu i'a, thanks to this fellow.

A lot of the fishes over here go by either their Hawaiian or Japanese names, so there's usually a little translation involved in figuring out which is which. Shutome is swordfish, onaga is snapper, mahi mahi is dorado, monchong is pomfret, moi is threadfin and ono is... ono, apparently. Or wahoo, but ono sounds way better than wahoo. Maybe it's just because I can't hear wahoo without seeing the Cleveland Indians mascot and his giant, toothy, defiantly anti-PC grin.

Anyway, ono is a Hawaiian specialty, and apparently it's a close relative of the mackerel. Mackerel is one of the few fishes I haven't eaten raw in significant quantities, but based on last night, I may have to start. I started with a trio of Hawaiian Poke... hamachi, ahi and ono. All were delicious, but the ono was definitely the standout for me. The flesh was slightly pink, very firm with a full flavor, and a little creamy and sweet. Jern said she felt it had a touch of a fishy flavor, but I didn't pick up on that (though I suspect her tastebuds are more sensitive than mine). It was lightly dressed, topped with a little bit of sweetened shaved coconut and some herb that I was completely unfamiliar with.

I also had some tasty monchong in a light, sweet chile sauce for an entree, but the ono was the star of the evening. Further research is necessary.

In some unfortunate fish news, it appears that the glorious moi from our last trip won't be available this time around. It was explained to us that they're currently out of season. This isn't usually a problem, as the restaurant has worked out some kind of exchange program with an Australian restaurant (they have complementary moi seasons, apparently), but some problems down under have pretty much decimated the Aussie moi crop this year, and what little they have they aren't shipping to Hawaii... and, by extension, to my belly.

March 29, 2006

Uh Oh

Dominic Armato
My favorite part of vacation planning is restaurant research.


I love combing the forums, researching chefs, finding menus online or calling places to ask if they could fax one to me, making reservations months ahead, if necessary. When I was in college, I always felt that having a stack of four or five tickets for upcoming concerts was a great feeling. These days, I feel that way about restaurant reservations. As such, our restaurant planning for this trip was something of a departure.

On our last trip to Hawaii, I made us reservations at five different restaurants over six nights, spread all over the Big Island. We decided to do two nights at the resort restaurant, since it was highly regarded and easy. We ended up cancelling one of our other reservations to do a third, and came home wishing we'd eaten there more. The name of the restaurant is Pahu i'a, and I returned last April, declaring it the best fish restaurant I'd ever come across. Over three meals, my sweetheart and I tasted 11 different dishes, the least of which was excellent, and the best of which may very well have been The Best Fish Dish I've Ever Tasted. So when we were making plans for our return, I asked Jern if she felt the need to have dinner at any other restaurants. Yeah. Me neither. So we booked Pahu i'a for five nights straight, starting with last night. Since we managed to get through nearly half of the entire menu on our first trip, I felt comfortable in assuming that we didn't just happen to catch a couple of great dishes that gave us an inflated opinion of the place.

So now I'm worried.

Our dinner last night wasn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination. It was just... underwhelming. Especially considering the incredible standard they'd set on our previous visit. It started well enough, with both of us getting sucked in by a trio of soups... Lobster Bisque, Chilled Edamame Soup and Molokai Sweet Potato Soup with Poached Shrimp. The lobster bisque was delicious, but not unlike any lobster bisque we could get from any number of other establishments. I thought the edamame soup was wonderful... light, sweet, green, slightly creamy and generally delicious. And the molokai sweet potato soup was fantastic. There were a myriad of flavors going on, many of which seemed very familiar, but none of which I could quite put a finger on. It was aggressively seasoned, spicy, pungent, explosive... really, really enjoyable.

Then, entrees.

I had a grilled kanpachi with an orange sauce, shaved fennel, orange segments and fritters made with corn and shrimp. It was... okay. The execution wasn't crisp. The flavors didn't pop like they did on our previous visit. I couldn't say it was a bad dish, but it just didn't have any of the life and energy we'd previously seen. It seemed like all of the components for greatness were present, but lazily assembled. Jern, in a brief moment of total insanity, opted to skip fish altogether and have a vegetable risotto. It was rather loose for a risotto, I thought, and desperately in need of salt... a simple and necessary adjustment that would have been plainly obvious to anybody who bothered to taste it, much less the chef who prepared it.

Afterwards, I tried to determine if they'd had a change in lead kitchen personnel, but the host had only been with the restaurant for three months and didn't seem to know. Here's hoping last night was an aberration, or it will go down as one of the most unfortunate restaurant deaths I've yet to witness.

March 28, 2006

The French Laundry

Dominic Armato
Boy howdy, where to start?

I've been wanting to visit the French Laundry for a long, long time. Somewhere on the order of 8-9 years, I believe. But I remember exactly when it became a must. Alain Ducasse, arguably the world's most famed active French chef, did an interview for Le Monde. At this point, I'd had the opportunity to dine at Ducasse's Louis XV in both Paris and Monaco, and it was plainly evident to me that while he was an egotistical rabble rouser with a penchant for obscene decadence and the occasional bold failure (read: Spoon), when it came to traditional and slightly modernized French cuisine, the man knew what he was doing. And while it could certainly be argued that he was simply trying to get a rise out of French traditionalists, he made a rather controversial statement that made me want to book a flight and go straight to Napa. I don't remember the exact wording, but the essence was this:

"The best French cuisine in the world is no longer being made in France. It is being made in Napa Valley by Thomas Keller of the French Laundry."

Of course, this statement set off the kind of editorial free-for-all that is mystifying to those who are neither French nor culinarians. But the point was made. Something very, very special was going on in Yountville, California. When my sweetheart and I went to Napa last summer to scout locations for our wedding, it was all I could do to stay away. But owing to my sweetheart's restrictive work schedule, we had to do a one and a half day surgical strike. It was either skip the French Laundry or skip one of our three potential wedding destnations. So we resolved instead to make the French Laundry our first fine dining stop as a married couple. We were married this past Saturday, and are now off to a fantastically delicious start.

The French Laundry is, as its name suggests, housed in an old stone laundry building in Yountville, about ten minutes north of Napa. It's an unassuming little place from the outside... beautiful, but nothing that would grab your attention were you not searching for it. The first thing to bring an enormous smile to my lips was the fact that there was a beautifully tended vegetable garden just across the street. In reading up on Keller, I'd learned that while his dishes are often exceptionally creative modern twists on French cuisine, when it comes to sourcing ingredients, he's decidedly old-school. In fact, standing in sharp defiance of the current slow death of the art, he recently decided to open a butcher shop near his restaurant. But that will be another story for another trip. Walking the length of the building led us into a serene, walled courtyard with a view of the kitchen, partially obstructed by trimmed hedges. The kitchen was, unsurprisingly, impressive to watch. It was one of the kitchens you only see at this level... a flowing display of skill, precision, grace and economy of motion. There was none of the madness of most establishments, with shouted orders and flying pots and pans. It was Thomas Keller's art, reproduced again and again with calm efficiency in a pristine, white environment. The Man wasn't present, but his minions worked tirelessly in his absence. The restaurant itself was rather subdued... dark wood, blue upholstered chairs... as clean and minimal as classic French decor can be. The food, however, was on the opposite end of the spectrum.

There were three tasting menus to choose from... the vegetarian, the nine course, and the seven course. While the full nine course was exceedingly tempting, there were a few items on the seven course that grabbed us, so we decided to go in that direction. And everything, from start to finish, was absolutely spectacular. Much like Jean-Georges (my hero and thus far my gold standard for fine dining), he creates bold, simple dishes that are still monumentally creative. It isn't the Bobby Flay school of cooking, where you take every flavor under the sun and figure out how to pack it into a dish. Rather, through perfect ingredient sourcing and spotless execution, he creates dishes that are simultaneously minimal and powerful. Each and every dish blows you away, and upon finishing it you wish that you had just a few more bites... until the next dish arrives and blows you away yet again.

The dishes we tasted were, in order:

Sadly, I don't have photos of the amuse bouche. I wasn't quite feeling brave enough to break out the camera. But when a woman at the next table started brazenly walking circles around her table, snapping everybody's plate with flash and laser autofocus, I started to feel significantly less concerned about subtly taking a quick snap with my tiny, silent ultracompact. At any rate, our first amuse was simple, traditional gougères. Oddly enough, I'd never actually had them before. But these were little bite-sized crisp pastries, filled with a creamy, warm, melted gruyère. A simple, tasty opener.

Dominic Armato
Salmon Tartare

Here, things started to get interesting. The salmon tartare amuse was still a very traditional dish, but presented in a very playful and enjoyable manner. Tiny scoops of the tartare, about the size of a melon ball, were served atop tiny, narrow crispy tuille cones, which were filled with what I believe was crème fraîche. Delicious.

Dominic Armato
Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Water Chestnuts, Pea Shoots and Black Truffle "Coulis"

This is where the supreme domination of awesomeness began. Sadly, this is the worst photo of the bunch. I can assure you that it was far more appetizing in person. While I adore sea urchin, I understand why it's intimidating to a lot of people. That said, if everybody could have it like this, I suspect there would be a multitude of converts. The urchin roe itself was fantastic, with a delicate and smooth quality. It embodied the sweetness of the sea without being overly briny. And the black truffle pairing was both completely unexpected and spectacular. A few tiny bits of minced water chestnut added some welcome crunch, and every once in a while a bit of coarse salt gave it some punch.

Dominic Armato
Moulard Duck "Foie Gras Poêlé", Belgian Endive "en Ravigote", Royal Blenheim Apricot "Purée", Yountville Mustard Blossoms and "Sauce à la Moutarde en Grains"

Well, Keller's use of quotes in his dish titles may be a little overdone, but his foie gras is not. Though it may appear burnt to a crisp in the photo, this was only on the outer edge. The inside was perfectly cooked, creamy and rich. Mustard and a fruit puree were, of course, fairly traditional, but I thought the use of the braised endive was very interesting. It was an unusually mellow foil for foie gras that I thought worked exceedingly well in concert with the other more aggressive flavors.

Dominic Armato
"Sautéed" Fillet of Japanese "Kanpachi", Grilled Abalone Mushrooms, Glazed Baby Bok Choy, Sweet Carrot-Scallion "Emincée" and Yuzu Emulsion

Here, Keller almost wandered into Jean-Georges territory, and not in unwelcome fashion. What with the hamachi jr., bok choy and yuzu, this was clearly the Asian-influenced dish. While I don't see Keller unseating Jean-Georges as the master of this particular marriage anytime soon, this was, nonetheless, a spectacular dish. Two things made it for me. The yuzu-butter emulsion was wonderful, to be sure, but that's no stroke of genius. First, the consistency of the fish was absolutely divine. The presentation side was very heavily seared, resulting in a crispy crust that was as delicious as it was texturally pleasing, but the underside was still perfectly moist and flaky and everything else that you expect from an expertly prepared piece of fish. The second item that grabbed me was the mushroom. As our server explained, it had been poached in milk and then grilled. The result was a mild and delicious mushroom steak of sorts, the flavor of which had been beautifully coaxed out by the light grilling. It was an understated work of art on its own, and was a perfect complement to the fish.

Dominic Armato
Pan-Roasted "Calotte" of Nature-Fed Veal, Roasted Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, Slow Poached French Prune, Applewood Smoked Bacon and "Sauce Colbert"

I am, admittedly, predisposed to enjoy any dish that utilizes bacon. But this really, truly was a wonderful use of our porcine friend. All of the other components, even when expertly assembled like this, wouldn't exactly seem inventive. And even in its complete form, it's no revolutionary dish. But taking a very traditional veal preparation and adding not just bacon but thick cut batons of excellent salty, smoky, porky bacon just elevated the dish to something special. It was not the most interesting dish of the night, but it may have been the most delicious.

Dominic Armato
"Persille de Beaujolais", Braised Celery Hearts, "Espelette Vinaigrette" and Celery Seed "Melba"

This dish, however, was both delicious and fascinating. This was the one that cemented Keller's place in my mind as one of the true greats, to sit alongside my idol. It would have been so, so easy for Keller to simply offer a traditional cheese course, perhaps with a fun marmelade or two, and nobody would have thought any less of him. But instead, he took a delicious cheese that was absolutely delicious enough to stand on its own, and built a work of art around it. The cheese was a cow's milk bleu, pungent, dense and creamy with very few veins. Then he provided both hot and cool counterpoints. The celery hearts were soft, moist and comforting, while the vinaigrette was... much to my surprise... spicy. It had been spiked with a healthy dose of ground chile pepper. And the only thing more surprising than the approach was that it worked so well. The celery tamed the cheese's pungency on the front end while the vinaigrette's faint burn enhanced it on the back end. Beautifully calculated and expertly executed.

Dominic Armato
Jacobsen's Farm Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Yogurt "Mousse", Almond "Nougatine" and "Frascati" Biscuit

When you're dealing with an ingredient like the Meyer lemon, especially when it's in season, you don't have to do much to make it awesome other than condense the flavor. This sorbet was very straightforward, but carefully dressed, and it was a great follow-up to the cheese.

Dominic Armato
Field Rhubarb "Torte", Jamaican Gingerbread, Tahitian Vanilla "Mascarpone" and Green Cardamom Syrup

I've always felt that a tendency to work with rhubarb is a good sign when getting to know a chef. There's something about the vegetal sweet and sour quality that lends rhubarb a captivating quality for those who care to look. This dish was a rhubarb bonanza, as it were. The crisp on top was rhuarb, the sorbet was rhubarb, the side walls of the torte were rhubarb, and the sauce was rhubarb. So with all of the sweet and sour going on, a little cream and spice was all it took to round out the dish. Awesome.

Dominic Armato

Since they weren't the most visually stunning of the night, I've shown only one of the many treats that were brought out to complete the meal. My sweetheart received the vanilla creme brulée (pictured), while I was given a cinnamon panna cotta in a small ceramic pot. Of course, we switched midway through and both were delicious. We were also given a few wafer thin tuille cookies, toasted macadamia nuts that had been baked into some kind of chocolate pastry shell, and a small bag of shortbread to take home with us.

For the past eight or so years, my mantra when it comes to fine dining has been this:

While we've had the opportunity to experience a multitude of wonderful restaurants, Jean-Georges in New York is operating on a plane of its own, head and shoulders above the rest.

In the end, I am beyond thrilled to report that Jean-George finally has some company in my mind. I think I still prefer Jean-Georges' dishes, but only as a matter of personal preference. With the heavier Asian influence and a penchant for purer, bolder flavors, Jean-Georges simply pushes all of my culinary buttons. But based on last night's meal, I could not for a moment say that he is a more capable, interesting or accomplished chef than Keller. In many ways, I think they're very similar. They both seem to have an obsession with detail that governs their creations. Keller would call it finesse, for which he has posted the dictionary definition in huge letters over the doorway of his kitchen. They both try to avoid palate fatigue by shocking your tastebuds with bold, simple flavors and then giving you just enough to leave them wanting. And they are both masters of consistency, turning out spectacular dish after spectacular dish without the slightest lull, lest they leave you with the impression that they might just be mortal.

They most certainly are not.

March 27, 2006

Stay Tuned...

Dominic Armato
For the past eight years, my fine dining mantra has been this:

While we've had the opportunity to experience a multitude of wonderful restaurants, Jean-Georges in New York is operating on a plane of its own, head and shoulders above the rest.

As of last night, Jean-Georges has some company.

Details to follow...

March 26, 2006

In-N-Out Addendum

Dominic Armato
As a little side note to yesterday's In-N-Out excursion, I tried a new item on the secret menu. In the lower left corner of the photo, lurking in blurry fashion like the Loch Ness Monster, you'll note an order of french fries, "animal style". Why it's called animal style, I have no idea. But they take their fries, melt on a slice of cheese and top them with a pile of caramelized onions and secret sauce (read: thousand island). Some of my compatriots weren't nearly as enthused, but they earn my hearty recommendation. Though the woman at the counter seemed a little taken aback when I requested a fork.

March 25, 2006

The Big Day

Dominic Armato

I'm getting married today.

I can't think of a better way to lay down a good baseline, calm the butterflies and set up a six course fine dining reception with wine pairings, can you?

Didn't think so.

March 20, 2006

Tuna Tataki

No recipe, since it's essentialy Nobu's, but here's a little drool imagery, anyway:

Seared Tuna Tataki with Onion-Ponzu DressingDominic Armato

March 19, 2006

A Thing of Beauty... and Sharpness

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't even familiar with the tradition of giving your spouse a gift for your wedding. But, ho buddy, am I all about it tonight!

We've been fans of Berti knives for a number of years. My father first stumbled upon Berti pocketknives while perusing a knife shop in Florence, and they quickly became an obsession. Colleterie Berti has been making traditional Italian knives on the outskirts of Florence since 1895, and they're absolutely beautiful. So when we discovered this past fall that Berti also produces kitchen knives, it was really just a matter of time before we all had them. I kicked off the frenzy by giving one to my father for Christmas. And it continued today, when my sweetheart gave one to me as a wedding present.

Dominic Armato
It's fantastic. There's an incredible old world quality to these knives. The blade is a hefty steel, sharpened to an impressive degree. The handle is made of horn with the traditional Berti symbol inset. It's the kind of instrument of the art that I fully expect will eventually end up in the hands of my grandchildren. There's actually a huge line of Berti kitchen knives, and they're all this stunning. But this isn't a matter of form over function. I did a little test drive with a big hunk of gingerroot I had lying around and ended up with a case of the giggles. The feel is just phenomenal.

Originally, tracking them down took some work, but I'm happy to pass the fruits of my labors along to anybody else who's interested. The exclusive distributor for Berti knives in the United States is a small knife shop in Boston called Stoddard's Cutlery. As far as I can muster, Stoddard's doesn't even have a website. So as tempting as it is to keep this semi-secret to myself, here's the info. The number is 617-426-4187, and they'll be happy to ship anywhere. Everybody I've encountered at Stoddard's has been extremely friendly and helpful, but most of my dealings have been with a fine fellow named Matt. If you call, let him know that Dominic referred you.

An interesting side note: it's a common European tradition that when you're given a knife as a gift, you must give the giver a small coin in return to ensure that your friendship won't be "cut". Thankfully, I remembered and handed my sweetheart a quarter. Otherwise, it may very well have ended up being the worst wedding present ever.

Disaster narrowly averted!

11/27 Update: I wish I could say this is a recent update (hiatus, and all), but I've learned that Berti has a new U.S. distributor, a company called MATCH. Though on a selfish level, I loved knowing that I could call the friendly little neighborhood knife shop in Boston to get my fix, this is certainly great news for Berti, as their knives will now have a nationwide audience. My father recently spotted them at Sur La Table, and the first online retailer is, in a happy coincidence, one of my favorite sites, Unica Home. I'm also told that MATCH will be launching a repair and restoration service for Berti knives come January.

March 16, 2006

More Brunchy Goodness

Aaaaaaand, the other recipe from the birthday brunch. This one involved conquering a couple of former nemeses... poached eggs and hollandaise. I've always had trouble keeping my poached eggs from turning into egg drop soup. This time around, I finally discovered that dropping them in the water and then leaving them the hell alone was by far the best policy. I also tried the method of shocking them in ice water and later reviving them. I've always been familiar with it, of course, but until recently I'd assumed that it was a corner-cutting measure that would result in a less-than-awesome egg. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that the eggs suffered no ill effects of any kind. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my hollandaise. The last time I made hollandaise, in an unfortunate show of hubris, I tried to do a quadruple batch that broke and caused me to suffer my first Iron Chef loss by hundredths of a point. But I recently stumbled upon the blender method, and I thought I'd give it a shot. Again, I was more than a little skeptical until I discovered that it's endorsed by Julia Child. Who wants to argue hollandaise with Julia? Sadly, as Julia's disclaimer mentions, if you're used to a hand-whisked hollandaise, blender hollandaise is somewhat suboptimal. I'd use it for large batches when necessary, but it isn't a substitute. So for the purposes of the recipe, we'll go with the traditional method.

This one's a little tricky. Not only does it involve poached eggs and a hollandaise-based sauce, but it involves juggling a lot of components, all of which need careful attention, right up until assembly. The poached eggs are easy to do ahead of time, and the choron can be prepared ahead as well. Just be careful about trying to hold the sauce, as it'll break fairly easily. Let it sit at room temperature or, at most, sit the sauce in warm water or near the stove. I suppose you could try preparing the potato pancakes early and then giving them a quick shot in a frypan to reheat and crisp them, but I think the dish would lose something if they weren't coming straight out of sizzling olive oil and butter and right onto the plate. In any case, this dish is a great exercise in timing and pot juggling. If you pull it off, you're definitely in control of your kitchen.

Dominic Armato

4 large eggs
2 Tbsp. white vinegar

2 small shallots, chopped
3-4 black peppercorns, cracked
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 C. tarragon vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/4 C. dry white wine
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 C. clarified butter
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 C. coarsely grated russet potatoes
1/4 C. coarsely grated carrot
1/4 C. coarsely grated onion
4 oz. chevre, or similar goat cheese
Salt, to taste
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
12 oz. salmon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 C. diced tomato
Chives, minced
Salmon and Poached Egg with
Crispy Goat Cheese Potato Pancake and Choron Sauce

Serves 4

First, poach the eggs. Fill a large, shallow pot or saucepan with water, add the white vinegar, and bring it juuuuust short of a boil (about 200º). Crack each egg individually into a cup, then gently slide the eggs into the water. Cook for about three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the eggs and set them directly in a large bowl filled with ice water to halt the cooking. Also, take a small pot of lightly salted water and heat it to approximately 130º (for reheating the eggs later).

Next, prepare the potato pancakes. After grating, squeeze the potatoes and carrots in a kitchen towel to get them as dry as possible. Combine the potato and carrot with the grated onion, then season generously with salt and set aside.

Then, preheat the oven to 400º and start on the choron sauce. Combine the peppercorns, fresh tarragon, tarragon vinegar and white wine in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to 2 Tbsp. Strain and combine in a double boiler with the egg yolks. Whisk for 1-2 minutes until the yolks become thick and silky. Drop in one Tbsp. of the cold butter, and whisk until the butter is melted and emulsified with the yolks. Add the second Tbsp. of cold butter and continue whisking until it is melted and emulsified. Begin slowly (SLOWLY!) adding the clarified butter, a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. The butter can be added more rapidly as you progress. If you see even the faintest hint of graininess or lumps in the sauce, remove the pan from the heat and dunk the bottom in ice water, whisking constantly to cool the sauce. Then, return to the heat and continue. If you're feeling brave, you can add an additional 1-2 Tbsp. of butter, but bear in mind that it's more likely to break when it sits. Whisk in the tomato paste, and adjust for salt and acid (with a little fresh lemon juice) if desired. Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.

In a large skillet, combine 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and foams. Swirl the oil and butter around the skillet, and drop in four lumps of the potato mixture, 1/4 C. each. Shape the potato mixture into thin, round pancakes and press with a spatula to flatten as much as possible. Crumble the goat cheese over the cakes, then add another 1/4 C. of the potato mixture to the top of each cake and press, sealing the cheese in the center. Continue frying, pressing frequently, until the underside is brown and crisp. Flip the pancakes, and continue cooking to crisp the reverse side.

Meanwhile, prepare the salmon. Slice the salmon into four thick pieces, and season with the paprika, salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over high heat, then add the salmon and sear on one side. Flip the salmon and immediately transfer to the hot oven. Roast for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon, until it reaches the desired doneness

To assemble the dish, drop the poached eggs into the hot water for 3-4 minutes to refresh. Lay one pancake on each plate. Top with a piece of salmon and poached egg, then drizzle with the choron sauce. Garnish with the tomato and chives, and go to town.