Patio Popsicles: Watermelon-Mint

Watermelon-Mint Pops

3 c. water
3 c. sugar
6 c. watermelon juice
2 c. half and half
fresh mint, finely chopped

Combine water, sugar and watermelon juice in sauce pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Puree with half and half.

Add fresh mint to taste. Stir.

**For very best consistency, this is best done in an ice cream machine or bowl, then transferred to popsicle molds.**

Freeze. ENJOY!

Patio Popsicles: Lemon Rosemary

Lemon-Rosemary Pops

3 c. water
3 c. sugar
6 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 c. half and half
fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Combine water, sugar and lemon juice in sauce pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Puree with half and half.

Add fresh rosemary to taste. Stir.

**For very best consistency, this is best done in an ice cream machine or bowl, then transferred to popsicle molds.**

Freeze. ENJOY!

Pig Roast 2012

The Chefs

A photo of our team on pig roast day….

(I’m Terri, the office manager, guest blogging. I’m also trying to figure out how to make myself a contributor to the blog – and I thought I had done this successfully – but apparently I messed up something. Ah well, will try again later.)

We’re big believers in having a postmortem following any new event we do. We’ve found it helps us discover our hits and not repeat our misses. We haven’t had the pig roast postmortem yet, but our folks are taking notes. Here are ours…. any from you? We’d love to know if you attended (or didn’t) any thoughts you might have.

(1) When it’s 97 degrees, have the water available. Immediately and continuously. Good heavens, how did this slip by us?
(2) Grill takes about 50 lbs. of charcoal. Pigs take about 6 hours at 30-40 lbs./pig. Both good to remember.
(3) Get grill and rotisserie from here again: http://www.absoluteequip.com/
(4) Doing some pigs inside = good.
(5) “Enter here” signs would have been helpful.
(6) Keg of beer was a good beverage choice.
(7) Polo shirts for staff were good, but t-shirts would be even better.
(8) Consider doing this earlier in June OR later this year, maybe September.
(9) Recipes would have been nice to hand out.
(10) When your aunt and uncle from Boardman come to the pig roast with friends, get them a shaded table. Sorry Aunt Joey and Uncle David. ūüė¶

For more photos, check out our Facebook album: http://tinyurl.com/79ac93c

Top 10

Top 10 Reasons We Have a Bistro

10. Cranberry likes casual.
9. All guests not (apparently) turned on by marrow bones.
8. Burgers go better with TV than osso buco does.
7. Hosts can stop fielding calls that begin, “Is it okay if I wear shorts?” (It’s okay.)
6. We love making flatware roll-ups.
5. Great for last-minute planners.
4. TVs can distract your companion when you start checking Twitter on your phone.
3. Happy Hour!
2. Needed appropriate venue for Radiohead.
1. We had to call it what it was: a bistro

Everything’s coming up green.

Last year at Restaurant Echo, we planted some herbs along the back of the building, about four varieties along a 40 x 2 foot strip of dirt adjoining the parking lot.  Thankfully, a lot of those herbs came back up in full force this spring. Oregano, thyme, mountain mint, catnip, and lavender that are storming the lot this year.

The inspiration of watching that growth in this early spring year, coupled with an abundance of space to the west of the restaurant, pushed us to take our growing program¬† a few steps forward.¬† Chef Chris O’Brien was the chief engineer of Echo Farm, a project that will be ongoing for years I’m sure. First we sent Pauly Walnuts (Paul Lesczynski), the greatest steward known to man and jack of all trades at Echo, across the creek with the lawnmower to mow half of the woods down (just scrub, brush, and thornbushes).

Phase two involved installing our bees.¬† Mandy Morales, our young Garde Manger chef, had put us in touch with her parents, who are very enthusiastic beekeepers.¬† Stephanie and Israel Morales, proprietors of Izzy’s Busy Bees, brought us a young queen, who we have named Elise (after one of our cherished servers) and ten thousand of her friends and progeny.

Part 2, Echo Farm, to follow…

“Take a ride on the flavor train.”

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Josh Bader, our beverage director.

Josh is a recent transplant to Pittsburgh (originally from Ohio, most recently from Michigan), and he’s wild about drink and food (and tattoos and rap).

He’s taken a bit of time to gather some thoughts on wines of the Loire Valley. And he talks about patios and the flavor train. Nice.

————————————————————————————————

The Loire Valley‚ÄĒ

Crisp acidity, restrained fruit, bracing minerality and most of all, great value. These are all adjectives that could describe the wines of France’s Loire Valley. Located in Northwestern France, the Loire is one of the most diverse growing regions in the world. Several grape varietals are grown here, but a few of them truly shine. In the famous regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme. Unlike New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, these bone-dry wines are less about the grapefruit and more about a certain steely minerality that only the Loire can produce. The high acid in these wines makes them great for summer and they pair well with a variety of lighter dishes. If you want to experience a classic food and wine pairing, get yourself a chilled bottle of Sancerre, some quality goat cheese and crackers, head out to your patio and take a ride on the flavor train!

Speaking of patios, there is no better wine to simply drink while relaxing outside than a fruity and dry rosé from the Loire Valley. Every sub region in the Loire makes rosé but rosés from the large district of Anjou are the most well known. These wines are made from several grapes but Cabernet and Cabernet Franc are the most common. Do not confuse these with the poorly made sugary swill that is white zinfandel. These are wines with character, dry and complex, certainly some of the best wines to pair with a wide variety of cuisine. A simple plate of charcuterie and a good rosé is a match made in heaven. The best part is, you can typically get a really good bottle for under $15!

When it comes to reds, Cabernet Franc finds its best representation here in the Loire. While in most other regions it is mainly used as a blending grape, Cab Francs from the Loire are often bottled on their own or with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Two of the best sub regions are Chinon and Bourgueil. The best of these wines display a palate full of red fruits with a slightly earthy and green component to them. The lighter body and mouthfeel of these wines makes them a good red for warm weather drinking.

So next time you’re in the wine store, walk past the chardonnay and step outside the box with a wine from the Loire. You will be rewarded.

Burning the early night oil.

Everyone at the Echoplex is working hard.  Restaurant Nephew (and son to Private Events Coordinator Nicole) Aiden Rasmussen having a crack at the books.

Beautiful weather tonight, a change of atmospheric sound in the Brew Room and the bar, and a fantastic new cocktail bringing in a lively crowd on a Friday night. A few folks in the bar tonight that wanted to talk bees, hoping to maybe relocate their hive in our direction.¬† It’s amazing how one thing can lead to another.¬† Building a community happens in so many ways when you put yourself out there, and I’m so proud of the team at Echo and the way that they’ve thrown themselves into the work with enthusiasm.¬† Anyone that walks into the building should get a sense of excitement that we all share.

The bees themselves are pretty chill, as Aiden and I took a trip cross-creek to investigate and found them lackadaisically buzzing on their respective stoops.  Everything is heading to bloom, and we are trying to mitigate the effects of the quasi-winter storm from the other day.

The First

The first time I’ve posted on a blog, but this is still the first time opening and operating a restaurant, so it’s less daunting.

Restaurant Echo is sixteen months and thirteen days old, and it still feels absolutely brand new.  There are no shortages of places to improve, of ways we can better express our mission, of ways to communicate with our guests and our potential guests.  This is one of those ways I suppose.

Right now it’s all about the garden and the changing season and getting the most out of the product, out of ourselves, and out of the building. ¬†WIth 16,700 square feet to deal with and a few acres outside, you are never wanting for work. ¬†I’m sure anyone doing this has a full dance card, but the focus now is on doing the most with our work.