The Chef’s Take — Jeremie Tomczak’s Farro Salad with Beets and Blood Oranges at King Bee
The New York City dining scene is chock-full of options. But until King Bee opened, Acadian cuisine was not one of them. Now it's here. Acadian food, you ask? Well, it's inspired by the culinary evolution from the Acadian emigration to Louisiana. Think New Orleans country cooking meets the Pacific Northwest. It comes to the East Village in the form of a cozy little nest, decorated like a vintage cottage tucked into the mountains. A fire might as well be blazing on a hearth.
The menu by Chef Jeremie Tomczak — of Aquavit, Red Rooster Harlem and the French Culinary Institute — is hyperseasonal and much of it is sourced from partner Eben Klemm’s upstate family farm, Red Fox, in Sharon Springs, N.Y. While the menu veers toward NOLA's indulgent side in dishes like grilled oysters with cabbage and garlic butter, rabbit rillettes, Louisiana crawfish and brioche, and a Creekstone rib eye with beef vinaigrette and potato leek terrine, Tomczak is an unabashed fan of vegetables and grains.
His menu includes an impressive selection of inspired vegetarian plates: buckwheat risotto with maitake mushrooms and kale, the Upstate Raw Salad with turnips, cauliflower and sorghum, a smoky all-vegetable Gumbo, and this brightly flavored farro salad with kohlrabi, beets, blood oranges, almonds and buttermilk vinaigrette.
"A lot of the Acadian cuisine is heavy, and you can use a lot of vegetables and balance it out," he says. "It's just about respect for vegetables. It's not music if you don’t have a drummer; the guitarist isn’t everything. Vegetables, they're the drummer."
Farro Salad with Blood Oranges, Beets, Almonds, Kohlrabi and Buttermilk Vinaigrette
**Note, this will make a lot of leftover stock, which you can freeze for later use
Roughly chop all vegetables and sweat in a stock pot with a generous drizzle of olive oil for about 5 minutes
Add water, shiitakes, and sachet of herbs and peppercorns.
Bring to boil, and then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Place beets in a small roasting dish with salt and a little water. Roast until tender and cooked through.
Peel the beets and quarter them.
In a large bowl, toss the beets in the red wine vinegar to marinate, along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt to taste.
Meanwhile, saute the beet stems and set aside.
Cover a pot with a little olive oil and sweat the shallots over medium/high heat until soft (do not want any browning)
Add the farro to the olive oil and cooked shallots, toast for about 1 minute
Add the wine and cook until reduced.
Add enough hot vegetable stock to just cover the farro, with about 1 inch of liquid covering the grain.
When stock is reduced, continue adding more so farro is always fully covered with stock.
Repeat this step until farro is cooked through and tender.
Cool farro on a baking sheet.
Whisk the buttermilk, honey, vinegar, and olive oil, add salt to taste.
In a bowl, toss the farro with the almonds, kohlrabi, beet stems, buttermilk vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste (reserve 1/4 cup of the buttermilk vinaigrette).
To plate, top the farro with blood orange slices and quartered beets.
Toss the arugula in the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk vinaigrette, and place atop salad as final garnish.
Andrea Strong is a freelance writer whose work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Edible Brooklyn. She's probably best known as the creator of The Strong Buzz, her food blog about New York City restaurants. She lives in Queens with her two kids, her husband and her big appetite.