Foodie Chap With Chef Carlo Espinas of Comstock Saloon
KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
Working odd hours in the restaurant industry, Carlo Espinas found himself always on the search for a spot that consistently offered great food and drinks from early afternoon to late night in a warm and lively environment. As Comstock Saloon’s Chef, he is excited to do just that. His menu includes the perfect bar snacks to compliment cocktails as well as hearty entrees and desserts.
Born and raised in Fremont, California, Espinas first set his sights on a writing career and, after graduating in print journalism from the American University in Washington DC, worked as a freelancer in New York for a few years. Having worked in restaurants since he was 16, he soon realized that his true passion lies in the kitchen.
In 2004, he moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the California Culinary Academy. His externship with Incanto restaurant led to a full time line cook position after graduating in 2005. Here, Espinas says, Chef Chris Cosentino set his foundation for cooking – learning everything from practical skills to the importance of utilizing the whole animal and having seasonally changing menus.
Toward the end of 2006, Espinas joined Piccino Café in San Francisco as opening chef. His California-Italian influenced menu received praise from local and national press including the San Francisco Chronicle, Gourmet magazine and New York Times. After two years, he joined Camino restaurant in early 2009 as a line cook to gain experience from renowned Chef Russell Moore.
In February 2010, Espinas joined the Comstock Saloon team as Saloon Chef. Best described as turn-of-the-century saloon fare, the menu echoes Espinas’ commitment to a simple, rustic approach incorporating dishes influenced through his research of cookbooks from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. “Together with Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin, we have conceptualized a menu that examines dishes of this time period and applies these traditions to our time,” says Espinas. His favorites include the Beef Shank and Bone Marrow Pot-Pie and Potted Pork with country ham, mustard and warm bread. .
Chef and Comstock’s Jeff Hollinger (author of “CRAFT OF THE COCKTAIL”) will join me Saturday August 31st for my final INSIDE THE KITCHEN culinary tour; THE CRAFT OF THE COCKTAIL. We’ll showcase one of Jeff’s killer concoctions and a sample of chefs bangin’ eats. (www.anyroad.com/insidethekitchen).
We had some hang-time recently for conversation and time in the kitchen making the “Hangtown Toast”.
Enjoy the talk and a delish twist on the “turn of the century” recipe. OOH and find out why people flock here on Fridays! Could it be the FREE lunch…?
“5 Tasty Questions with Chef Carlo Espinas”
Executive Chef Carlo Espinas | Comstock Saloon
For The Brine:
1 quart white wine vinegar
1 quart water
¼ cup salt
4 whole dried chile pods (we use chile de arbol) or 1 tablespoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon paprika
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon whole mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 sprig of thyme
1 dozen eggs – preferably eggs that have sat out of the fridge for at least half an hour.
1. Place all brine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then let cool.
2. Hard-boil the eggs. The goal is an egg with a yolk that’s set, but without the sulfurous green rim of an overcooked egg. Some people are very devoted to their manner of hard boiling an egg. Below is our way, but you should really do whatever works best for you
3. Bring a large pot of water (about 3 quarts) to a simmer; or just below boiling. Technically, we’re looking for about 190° F.
4. Once the water is up to temperature, carefully place the eggs in the pot and cook for 11 minutes. After they’re done, pull them out and place them in an ice bath or under cool running water to stop the cooking. Typically, I’ll cool one egg first and open it to check the cooking. Sometimes they are a bit under and need another minute or two.
5. When the eggs are cool, peel and place them in a clean jar or [nonreactive] container. Pour the cooled brine over so they are completely submerged. Unless you’re well-versed in pickling & canning, I think it’s best to store the pickled eggs in the refrigerator. The eggs pick up the pickled flavor after a day or two, but the longer you let the eggs sit in the brine, the more pronounced the flavors become.
1 cup shucked or jarred oysters
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 spring thyme
½ -1 cup olive oil
1 shallot, peeled
1. Add the thyme and shallot to the vinegar in a small sauce pot, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring the vinegar to a simmer. Poach the oyster in the vinegar until slightly firm, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, pull out the oyster and let cool. Reserve ¼ cup of the poaching liquid and the shallot.
2. Using a blender, puree the oysters and shallot together. Depending on your tastes, add in half or all of the reserved poaching liquid. If you like a sharper, brinier flavor, then use all. If you like a more rounded mouthfeel, use less.
3. Finally, with the blender still going, add in your olive oil to emulsify.
1. Toast your bread, slice your eggs and tile it across the bread. Lightly dress the eggs with the oysters and garnish with crumbles of bacon and tiny sprigs of chervil.
Alternatively, this makes a great salad – kind of a play off a classic bistro salad. Instead of bread, use a mix of frisee and endive, dress the salad with the oyster dressing and toss in the eggs and bacon.
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