Kurobuta Pork Chop, Black Beans, Cilantro Rice, Mojo De Ajo

Mojo is one of the greatest sauces ever made.  It is found in Cuba and Puerto Rico.  If you've ever been to Versailles in LA, then you know exactly what I am talking about.  Mojo de Ajo, literally means Mojo "of Garlic" and that is exactly what it is.  Mojo is a sauce made with tons and tons of garlic, steeped in olive oil, and finished with citrus like bitter orange and lime juice.  It is an awesome awesome sauce.

Anyway, I definitely wanted to have a dish on my menu that highlighted Mojo de Ajo.  I worked on a pork chop dish today.  It was not just any old pork chop but a "Kurobuta" pork chop.  Kurobuta pigs are the prized black pigs of Japan.  They are called Berkshires in English and they are one of the pigs I love deeply, the Black Pig.  Well I seared up one of these beautiful chops in my cast iron, put it on top of some of my savory black beans and cilantro rice, and I dressed it with red onions and the amazing Mojo de Ajo.

Make sure you try this when the restaurant opens!

Deep-Fryer: Out of Order

So last week I tried using the deep fryer at my test kitchen.  Turns out the deep fryer is not in working order.  I tried to go the old-school way and fry in a pot on top of the stove.  It went okay, but not to my exact requirements.  It was too difficult to maintain a precise temp which is crucial for deep-frying.  I did test out my recipe for salt and pepper calamari.  And I near perfected the flavor for my Ale Battered Fish 'n Chips with Malt Vinegar Tartar Sauce, but I was not pleased with the texture of the chips and the dish's overall presentation.

As a kid, I always wondered why my fish 'n "chips" came with fries.  I decided to actually serve this with potato "chips."  This is my nostalgic take on a dish I loved as a child.

I will have to resume my deep-fried recipes after I get a deep-fryer that is working properly.  In the meantime, I will be working on some dishes for our 4th of July barbecue: Roast Pork with Mojo Onions, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, and Currywurst.


Cooking and its narcotic effects...

I don't know how to dance.  I can't sing.  I've never been good at sports.  I never liked to study.  And I suck at art.  But when I cook...  Even if I am doing mundane chopping and dicing, I feel I am finally doing what I love.  I love cooking and I love food.  I think about food all day long and dream about it at night.  And I feel blessed that God has given me a gift in that I can create what I love, which is good food.  And when I make a good dish - I mean like a really good dish - a sense of euphoria rushes through me.

Am I sounding crazy or what?  I mean it's like cooking has this narcotic effect on me.  Today I worked on my brandade dish.  And it turned out near perfect.  I could not believe that my hands made this and that my mind thought it up.  Does any other cook feel this?  Am I pathological?  I feel like an artist who has created a small masterpiece.  Do artists feel like this?  Does a poet feel like this if he writes a perfect sonnet?  Does a musician feel like this after writing the perfect song?  Please tell me I am not a freak...

Perhaps it is lofty of me to even compare myself to true artists.  But this is what I love and this is the only thing I'm good at.  And this is what I created today...  a brandade of salt cod.  A brandade is a puree usually of salt cod and potatoes.  Every country in Europe has their own version of this.  It is a very simple dish.  A humble dish.  I made the puree super smooth.  I added tons of olive oil and thinned it with whole milk.

But I wanted to elevate this humble dish.  I added a soft boiled egg on top.  I felt like the yolk oozing onto the puree when you dig into it would add to the unctuous goodness.  But this dish still needed something.  Perhaps a vinaigrette?  Some acidity to cut through the richness.  Not just a regular Italian vinaigrette though.  How bout a hot vinaigrette???  How bout a nice, hot BACON vinaigrette???  Oh my...  It came out sooooooo good.

I know every time I make a dish, it won't be this special.  But every time I work in a kitchen, I do strive to produce something good.  To do something with my craft and experience the good feelings that come with it.

Here's my little work of art...

Brandade of Salt Cod, Soft-Boiled Egg, Hot Bacon Vinaigrette


"So what kind of food are you gonna serve?"

I get asked this question all the time when people hear that I am opening a restaurant.  And almost every time I give a variation of an answer to them.  I haven't yet concisely iterated what kind of food I will serve at the Black Hogg.  It's not because I don't know what I want to serve, but because it's hard to really categorize my menu into a neat little box.  Hopefully, I can provide a sufficient answer here on my blog...

In a nutshell, the food I will serve is the food I love to eat.  I am going to be serving you the food that I like, and I believe that most of you will like it as well.  So what do I like to eat?  First of all, I love meat.  Grill it, braise it, stew it, sear it, roast it, or even give it to me raw...  As long as its done proper and seasoned perfect, there is nothing more satisfying.  My menu will definitely be "meat-centric."  Meatballs, sausages, steaks, chops, burgers, stews, braises - given the season, they will all be on my menu at one time or another.

Second, I love "old-world" culinary traditions.  "Old world" meaning the timeless, lasting cooking styles found all throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.  This style of cooking really embraces simplicity.  The food is rustic, hearty, straightforward.  Ingredients are not manipulated much.  It is the quality of the meats, produce, and the seafood that speak for themselves.  It is simple things like jamon serrano on bread and butter.  It's raw oysters and minionette.  It's brandade of salt cod,  It's chicken liver on toast.  It's olive oil drizzled on almost anything.  It's fish and chips... It's just simple delicious food!

Lastly,  I love bold flavors.  I love chilies, curries, vinegars, peppery olive oils, garlic, ginger, spices, tangy citrus, cilantro, pungent herbs.  Alongside "old world" dishes, look for "new world" spices and sauces.  Chimichuris, mojos, salsas, adobos, turmeric, asafetida, five-spice, szechuan pepper, ras el hanout... all these bold flavors will find their way onto my menu.

This is the food I am gonna serve.  How do I say this in a short succinct way?  Maybe I'll just tell them to read my blog...

[This week I really want to start testing out the deep-fryer.  Dishes I will be working on: Salt and Pepper Calamari, Fried Castelvetrano Olives, Minted Fries, Fried Oysters and Chipotle Remoulade, Fish and Chips w/ Malt Vinegar Tartar Sauce.  Will keep you posted.]


Octopus anyone?

By the grace of God, it looks like owning the restaurant in Silver Lake is becoming more of possibility.  The current owner and I have finally signed all the escrow documents and I sent them in today!  Let's hope that there aren't any major obstacles that'll turn up through escrow.  If all goes well, Black Hogg could open its doors in 6-8 weeks!

In the meantime, I've been renting out a restaurant kitchen to begin developing the dishes on my menu.  My very own test kitchen.  Hopefully, I'll be able to show you what kind of dishes to expect at the Black Hogg.  The moment I got into the kitchen last week I got to work pickling just about everything.  I made pickled green beans, pickled garlic shoots, pickled garlic, pickled habanero red onions, pickled chile de arbols, pickled indian chiles, pickled carrots... As you can see, I do love my pickles.

Chef David Sutton, he owns the kitchen I'm renting.

The reason I pickled so many things is because an important facet of my dishes is to have a distinct acid component in most of them.  For instance in my Buttery Lamb Burger, I plan to use a tangy goat cheese and top it with my habanero pickled red onions.  Can't you just taste the tangy spiciness cutting into the salty, fatty, buttery goodness?  I can, and my mouth is watering as I write.  When a dish successfully uses an acidic counterpoint to balance the savory aspects, you will know it, your salivary glands will tell you.

Anyway, back to the point.  The first dish I have been working on is a dish that I have been imagining for a while now.  It is an Indian-inspired dish.  I loooooove Indian food, but my wife - not so much.  So we rarely ever go eat Indian food.  So all I can do is daydream about Indian food.  The dish I've been working on is my take on a potato and cauliflower dish called Aloo Gobhi.  I love this dish.  It's almost never done right at most Indian restaurants.  This dish should have some major kick.  I have made my dish with some major kick, we're talking ninth-degree black belt level stuff...

While Aloo Gobhi is traditionally a vegetarian dish, I wanted to add a protein to it.  In my head I kept thinking it would be perfect with a nicely charred grilled octopus.  After making it, I was right.  Match made in heaven.


Where's the acid component you ask?  It's in the braise...


What is a Black Hogg???

I would like to explain how I came up with the name, the Black Hogg.  For the longest time I planned to name my restaurant the Black Pig.  Turns out that there is a Black Pig Meat Company (www.blackpigmeatco.com) in Sonoma, CA and a Black Pig Pub (www.theblackpig.net) in the UK.  So that name went out the window.

Then I thought, why not the Black Hog (Hog with one "g")?  Googled it and discovered there is a Black Hog BBQ (www.blackhogbbq.com) in Maryland.  But I really liked the sound of this name, so I thought, why not just spell it with two "g's"?  The Black Hogg.  I liked the way it looked too.

Turns out a "hogg" is different from a "hog."  A hogg is actually a year-old sheep.  If I decide to use this name I am changing the whole notion of my original namesake, which was an ode to the Berkshire - the Kurobuta - the beautiful (and delicious) black pig!

But the more I thought about this subtle twist in the name, the more I loved it.  After all I think there are all too many eateries named after pigs, boars, hogs, and all other forms of swine.  But I really don't know many named after the humble little lamb.  I really dig this name.

A black hogg is a black sheep.  A black sheep represents someone who is different, maybe even an outsider.  That is how I feel trying to open my own restaurant.  LA has overnight become inundated with new restaurants opening one after the other.  All these famous, celebrity chefs have jumped onto the scene creating this loud buzz.  But here I am little old anonymous me.  Who the heck knows who I am except my 325 facebook friends???  I am an unknown, a nobody right now, a black sheep.

But I actually like it like this.  I never ever thought I would share my boring thoughts on a blog, but I need to get the word out for my place whatever way I can.  If anyone is reading this, can you inform someone else about the Black Hogg?  Thank you!

So this is how I came up with the name the Black Hogg.  The best part about this name is it makes a lot of sense now to have a signature lamb burger on the menu.  The rest of LA may have their HAMburgers, but just wait for the "Buttery Lamb Burger with Minted Fries."  You'll love it.


bumps in the road...

Well I was supposed to open escrow a week ago.  That hasn't gone according to plan.  Apparently the seller has some personal housekeeping matters that they wish to resolve first before signing any papers.  I have been waiting over 3 months for this restaurant to become available.  I have passed up other opportunities waiting for this...

Damn, I don't want to bore anyone with the endless list of obstacles I've confronted trying to open a restaurant.  It's been frustrating, upsetting, annoying, and is as difficult as people have said it would be.  So I guess I should be comforted in that.  Anyone who has opened their own restaurant has faced countless bumps in the road - I am not alone.

Instead of complaining, I will trust God and pray.  If I need to wait, I will.  If I must move on, then I must. 

Anyway, I don't know if anyone is reading this blog yet or will ever.  But to me and whoever else is out there, Here's some pictures of my very own Black Hogg, my little boy Ericsson!


And so it begins.

In all things God works for the good of those who love Him...

I believe this and I know that God is opening doors for my family and me.  I am in the process of purchasing a restaurant in Silver Lake.  It has been a fixture of this community for decades.  With some tender loving care, it will be the beautiful home to the Black Hogg.  If all goes well I should open escrow tomorrow.
God-willing, this is the future home to the Black Hogg.

Until the restaurant opens, this blog will be where you are brought to when going to the website for the Black Hogg.  Afterwards, this blog will be just a little link on the official Black Hogg webpage.  Hopefully if I'm not too lazy or boring, I can garner some followers and tell them a little about me, my family and, of course, the food!

My beautiful wife and me, with little Ericsson in her tummy.