Last month I shared our plan for Crosswinds’ menus over the next year and I would like to take a few minutes of your time to go over a few things that are very special to me and my team. The average restaurant takes 2 months to compose a new menu, to experiment and get everything just right. With the Ohio seasons, we only have about 2 weeks in comparison. If we drag our feet, the crop we had our heart set on will vanish. Timing, thinking ahead, communication with growers and fast execution are the keys to menu success!
Shrimp and Grits
This has been a team favorite menu item for quite some time and I hope it stays around for a while. We start with Na*Kyrsie Maple Bacon lardons then add course milled cornmeal from Shagbark Seed and Mill in Athens. We cook the grits with 2 parts chicken stock, 2 parts Snowville heavy cream and finish with Middlefield sharp cheddar. I like to think of the Wild Gulf Shrimp as just a garnish because we finish the sauce with a splash of Lakehouse Chardonnay and mount it with Na*Kyrsie Sweet Nduja. The richness from the fat, the Calabrian chilies, aging and subtle smoke completes this dish.
Charles joined our team in 2014 and is one of the best line cooks I have ever worked with. He started on our wood oven and is the only chef I have ever worked with that would not get “weeded” by pizzas on a busy Saturday night in July. He has taken this talent to the wood-fired grill and continues to dominate his station. Think about this for a minute – on any given night we have 6-8 different steaks from 2 different farms along with burgers, pork chops and fish specials that come off the grill. This is no easy task, especially when everything is cooked to temperature. Charlie’s Special is his pizza and my tribute to his hard work and dedication to us!
Boneless Short Rib
I’m going to be honest here – this is not a boneless short rib but a beef navel. I do not understand why people will eat pork belly, but they get squeamish with beef navel when neither one is organ meat! Here are a few facts about the carcass; pork belly is not the belly but rather a pork fresh side and a beef navel is not a belly button! Because a pig is small, the side meat is one primal. In a beef this would be broken down into 2 primal cuts known as the plate and the flank. These 2 primals would then be broken down into 6 sub-primals which consist of short ribs, outside skirt, navel, sirloin flap (aka bavette), inside skirt and flank. If I were to take the best part of a pork belly it would be the navel. This cut is one of my favorites and we use it at Na*Kyrsie to make our beef bacon and pastrami. I like it better than short ribs for a couple of reasons. The main reason is because it has a much better lean to fat ratio, meaning it has less fat and more meat! If you like short ribs or brisket then I urge you to try beef navel! On this menu we are pairing it with a potato/parsnip puree, Rainbow brussels sprouts and Avant Garden maitake mushrooms.
In a whole animal usage world if we want to make bacon we have to sell pork chops! We buy a whole pig from Miller Livestock every 2-3 weeks and we use the pork chops exclusively at Crosswinds. Why? Because they are the best and they don’t come cheap. We started with this pork from Day 1 and it is something I keep very close to my heart. I share a lot of my work with my chef friends, Na*Kyrsie customers and Ashtabula County restaurants, but there are still a few things they aren’t getting and these chops are one of them. Everything else from these pigs is fair game! Whole animal usage is a balancing act – if we miss this dish and it doesn’t sell, we throw the whole system off kilter. I am very excited about this dish. It’s not the pork, it’s not the greens, it’s not the chutney…it’s the sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes are a tropical tuber and very rarely do we find a locally grown crop of good quality. While the extremely warm and dry September raised havoc with greens and cool weather crops, it did wonders for the sweet potato crop at The Red Basket Farm in Kinsman and I’m so very proud to have these on the menu!
I have a rule in my kitchen, if we serve pasta we will make it from scratch! This dish was a last-minute addition and the tedious but proud work of Ryan Richard. Sometimes things just come together by accident. A month ago I ordered 4 bushels of San Marzano tomatoes from Rainbow Farms and told Ryan to make a sauce for the winter. I would have left the skins on and cooked them down but what he did was truly magnificent. He blanched and peeled every single tomato then roasted them for at least 8 hours and the flavors that developed were far better than anything found in a can. We wanted a pasta dish that was meaty, hardy and reasonably priced. I did not want to compete with my friend Johnny Senger’s Beef Bolognese over at Bascule Bridge Grille, but that’s what I was kind of chasing. Meat trimmings are quite abundant for me so it would make sense, but John’s Bolognese is so on point that I did not think I could compete. So, we present the Butcher’s Ragu – hand cut pappardelle, braised pork trimmings, preserved San Marzano tomatoes finished with a little Snowville Cream and Yellow House’s Styx Mountain pecorino style cheese.
Are you slightly disappointed that these items may be changed before you have a chance to try them all? Well, we thought of that. Many of our favorites are offered on a happy hour small plates menu Wednesday-Friday from 5 pm-7 pm with discounted wine, beer and Ohio spirits so you have no reason to not sample our favorites!