Custom Search
CivicLifeSportsSchoolsBusinessFoodOur HomesLetters/OpinionsCalendar

Published October 18th, 2017
Comforting seasonal cuisine offered at The Park Bistro & Bar
Braised short rib, crushed Okinawan yam, Tokyo turnip and dandelion greens Photo provided

There's something fresh and exciting going on at the Lafayette Park Hotel and it involves the trio of Jason Reiplinger, director of food and beverage, Executive Chef Frank Macias and Pastry Chef Francisco Cabrera. These three gentlemen have teamed up to create a new approach to the dining atmosphere at The Park Bistro & Bar.
"Where the Duck Club was more of a special occasion type restaurant, the bistro is one where we want people to feel comfortable dining with us more often during the week," Reiplinger said. "We don't believe that guests should have to work to understand the menu, so we've evolved the menu to one that is comfortable and understandable with lots of new seasonal favorites. We're the opposite of most every other hotel restaurant, in that our regular patrons are not just traveling through, but are local community members."
While Reiplinger recruited both Macias and Cabrera from The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, both are originally from the East Bay and they are delighted to be back home, close to friends and family.
"I'm so happy to be back home, and it's also so much easier to create a seasonal menu being so close and accessible to local farmers," Macias noted. "This allows us to offer seasonal and approachable, recognizable fare." To these fellows this not only means menu items that are familiar, but also foods prepared as they were meant to be.
"I trained in classic French cuisine while working at Alain Ducasse's Benoit New York in Manhattan and those classical techniques continue to be the driving force behind good food," Macias mentioned. "Among the important lessons learned there is how to prepare seasonal vegetables as they should be prepared and cooked. Vegetables should be treated with respect."
Macias said that roasting with olive oil is a very good way to cook green beans, for example, which maintains the integrity and flavor of the vegetable.
Cabrera, a self-taught chef who ventured to Las Vegas when he was 19 years old to learn the trade, developed skills in chocolatier, Danish and banquet before ultimately becoming a chef de partie in chocolates. He enjoys making what he calls "comfort desserts."
"The best thing about comfort desserts is that they bring back great memories and take you back to a certain place in time," he said. "When I make them for guests, I get great feedback."
Currently, Chef Cabrera is making "cereal milk" frozen panna cotta. The milk for the panna cotta is infused with toasted cereals, strained and then combined with brown sugar and gelatin. He serves this dessert with caramelized bananas and strawberries or other seasonal fruits.
The Park Bistro & Bar menu changes seasonally. Chef Macias has generously shared his recipe for Braised Short Ribs and Crushed Okinawan Yams, which I made last week to my guests' delight. It was perfect comfort food and the colors of the crushed yams and carrots made a beautiful autumn plate. Because I did not have access to Okinawan yams, I used regular orange yams, which turned out to be delicious with his short rib recipe. Chef Cabrera has also shared a recipe for one of his "cereal milk" desserts. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to try the dessert recipe, but hope to soon!

Cooking Term of the Week
A quenelle is a French term for an oval-shaped dumpling made from finely chopped and seasoned fish, meat or vegetables, and poached in water or stock. It is usually served with a sauce.
Braised Short Rib, Crushed Okinawan Yam, Tokyo Turnip, Dandelion Greens
Braised short rib, crushed Okinawan yam, Tokyo turnip and dandelion greens Photo provided

(4 servings)

Short Ribs
5 lbs. boneless short rib
Olive oil to sear
Salt and pepper to taste
4 each white onions julienned
4 each carrots, peeled and cut thin
750 ml. Cabernet Sauvignon
16 oz. Balsamic Vinegar
4 quarts beef bouillon
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Season and sear the beef short ribs with the oil.
Remove the meat from the hot pan.
Sweat the carrots and onion in the same pan until translucent.
Deglaze with the red wine, add the ribs back in with the vegetables.
Once the alcohol has burned off, add the balsamic vinegar and bouillon to the ribs.
Cover with a lid and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, or until fork tender.
Remove meat from the liquid and reduce the liquid until it coats the back of a spoon.
To serve: Add the ribs to the reduced braise and glaze.

Crushed Okinawan Yam
Susie's note: I could not find the Okinawan yam, so I used regular yams, prepared according to Chef Macias' recipe and they were beautiful and tasty with the short ribs!
2 lbs. Okinawan yam
1 half-sheet pan filled with kosher salt for baking
3/4 cup of fruity olive oil
Sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 F and bake the yam on the salt.
Once cooked and fork tender, pull out of the oven and let cool slightly.
Peel the yams while still warm.
Slightly crush the yams with a fork and drizzle in the olive oil.
Season with sea salt and chives.

Glazed Tokyo Turnip
15 Tokyo turnips with greens still attached
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil water for blanching, and season the water heavily with salt.
With a pair of tongs blanch just the turnip while holding the greens above the water for 2 minutes.
Drop the rest of the turnip into the water for a quick 30 seconds.
In a sauté pan add the butter, olive oil and chicken stock and apply medium heat.
Add the turnip and season with salt and pepper.
To plate the meal: Dandelion leaves, lemon vinaigrette, Maldon salt, olive oil
Place a spoonful of the yam on the side of the plate and place the glazed rib next to the yam. Lay the turnips around the ribs. Finish with Maldon salt. Dress the dandelion leaves in lemon vinaigrette and lay a couple of the long leaves gently on the meat and yam. Drizzle with olive oil.
Cereal Milk Panna Cotta, Cornflake Clusters, Macerated Strawberries, Caramelized Banana
(8 servings)

Panna Cotta
Susie's note: Most food scales have both gram and ounce options, but in case you do not have a gram measurement device, I have put close conversions in parenthesis.
256 grams cornflakes (8.9 oz. or 5 cups)
710 grams milk (25 oz. or 3 cups)
470 grams heavy cream (22 oz. or 2 cups)
30 grams brown sugar (1.1 oz. or 3 Tbsp.)
2 grams salt (.1 oz. or 1 tsp.)
4 sheets of gelatin

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Bloom gelatin. (Bloom means to soften according to directions.)
Toast cornflakes for about 5-7 minutes.
In a bowl scale out the milk and heavy cream. Add the corn flakes and steep for at least 40 minutes.
Strain though a fine mesh sleeve, add sugar and salt.
Heat the mixture until it is warm and add the gelatin sheets.
Remove from heat and pour into silicon mold and freeze.
Unmold when completely set.

Cornflake clusters
55 grams (1/4 cup) gianduja chocolate-a paste made from 70% dark, sweet chocolate and 30% hazelnut paste
2 grams vegetable oil (1/2 tsp.)
1 gram salt (1/2 tsp.)
75 grams 70% dark chocolate (2.5 oz.)
5 grams corn syrup (1/2 tsp.)
100 grams cornflakes (3.57 oz. or 2 cups)
Melt 70% chocolate over double boiler.
Add oil, corn syrup, salt, gianduja and corn flakes.
Fold until evenly coated and spread on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Place in cooler and break into pieces when set.

Macerated strawberries
1 lb. strawberries
3 Tbsp. sugar

Caramelized banana
1 banana
3 Tbsp. sugar
Slice the banana coat one side in sugar and torch until caramel is light amber color

To plate: Crushed corn flakes
Center the panna cotta on the plate. Quarter cut the strawberries and place in staggering pattern with the caramelized banana. Break off pieces of cornflake clusters on top of the panna cotta. And sprinkle crushed corn flakes around the plate.

print story

Before you print this article, please remember that it will remain in our archive for you to visit anytime.
download pdf
(use the pdf document for best printing results!)
Send your comment to:
Reach the reporter at:

This article was published on Page B8:

Quick Links for LamorindaWeekly.com
send artwork to:
Classified ads
Lamorinda Service Directory
About us and How to Contact us
Letter to the Editor
Send stories or ideas to:
Send sports stories and photos to:
Subscribe to receive a delivered or mailed copy
Subscribe to receive storylinks by email
Our Homes

Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA