Showroom classic: William Bradley: Addison at The Grand Del Mar, Del Mar, CA.
To say Addison has a dining "room" is to make a gross understatement. It's not a single room, but several immense rooms, separated by a slalom of ornate free standing stone columns, four limestone fireplaces, iron and glass doorways trimmed in 22 karat gold, and a 20-foot pyramid ceiling.
The Venetian plaster ends inside Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef William Bradley's lair where modern stainless steel and slick inky black subway tiles take over.
Bradley presides with conviction, his jacket and apron pristinely ironed (likely starched) with military precision. His flawless presence hints at his disciplined character, instilled in him by his father, a fire chief.
All of Bradley's dishes share perfect symmetry and a centered visual aesthetic reminiscent of the cinematography of Wes Andersen. At the pass, a toppled chive, wayward roe, or sauce that ebbs from its Bernardaud or JL Coquet destiny, compels due diligence.
The waitstaff refers to him as "old school," but Bradley has no qualms shrugging off modern and contemporary cooking fads, championing instead the pantheons of haute cuisine that evince what he calls "respect for the gourmands." He pays homage to Japanese culinary traditions inserting traces into his cooking. Enter the duck. A well of Koshihikari rice mixed with candied peanuts the purse prize to be treasured as highly as the coffee-roasted canard.
"I don't fall victim to showy presentations. Like TK says, 'trends have a beginning and an ending.'" ("TK", a.k.a, Thomas Keller, is a strong supporter of Bradley's.)
Earnest about his influences, he returns from the kitchen with a copy of L'Ambroise. "Ever heard of these guys?" The classic dishes created by the father-son chef team Bernard and Mathieu Pacaud, never fail to delight him. Bradley grasps the smart simplicity, "What comes first are the ingredients, then the power of restraint." Like Seinfeld, knowing when to walk away takes maturity.
"The older we get the less we put on the plate." He points to Alain Passard. "He's a pioneer, a revolutionary who put in jeopardy his three Michelin stars just to devote himself to vegetables. Not many people have the chutzpah to put caramelized onions on a plate with goat cheese and basil and not be petrified of the Michelin Guide."
As a banquet cook at a small Italian restaurant, Bradley got his first introduction to the kitchen and the draconian brigade system. "There was the tournant, the banquet chef, the butcher. I thought, 'there is a different side to this.'" Formal culinary school was not in Bradley's designs. Working himself up under the tutelage of great chefs was.
"Organizing myself and cooking in volume helped me refine my craft." At Mary Elaine's The Phoenician, he worked with James Boyce, someone he considers an amazing influence. "He taught me how to carry myself. He's a simple man. He pushed me to find my own influences in food."
He also cooked in Sandro Gamba's kitchen at NOMI Park Hyatt, Chicago, "an eye-opening experience." "Gamba had just worked with Ducasse, Robuchon, and Roger Verge, and immediately afterwards came to the States."
At Addison where Bradley himself dines now and then, his team is put to the test. "Pressure builds diamonds," he coolly says.
"As a chef you have to be a mentor and a businessman, a connoisseur of nice things. All of this helped me become who I am. Everything has to be thought through. Everything has to be immaculate--down to the chefs shoes."
KING CRAB CAKES Makes 20 For the king crab cakes: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 white onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 1/2 cups arborio rice 1/2 cup white wine 2 1/2 cups chicken stock 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 1 egg 3 king crab legs, about 4 ounces each, poached in shells, chilled, meat removed and shredded 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons whole milk 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs 2 cups vegetable oil for deep frying Sea salt, to taste For the garnish: Edible gold leaf dust
FOR the KING CRAB CAKES: In a high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute, stirring until soft. Add rice, cover with white wine, and continue cooking, stirring until the wine has evaporated. Heat chicken stock, and add it to the rice, 1/3 cup at a time, stirring until liquid evaporates. Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and transfer the mixture to a bowl, continuing to stir until the rice has cooled. In the same bowl, add the egg and crab meat, and mix until well-combined. Roll 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a ball, repeating until all of the mixture has been used. Place on a sheet tray and refrigerate for 1 hour. When set, roll balls lightly in flour, dip into milk and coat with breadcrumbs. Place on sheet tray and chill in refrigerator for another hour.
TO SERVE: Heat a deep fryer to 350 degrees. Fry the balls in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with sea salt, roll in edible gold dust, and serve warm.
KING CRAB DUMPLINGS Serves 4 For the king crab dumplings: 6 king crab legs, poached in shells, chilled, meat removed and shredded 1 large egg, white only 1 cup chopped braised cabbage 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar 32 wonton wrappers For the king crab consomme: 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled 1/2 pound whole king crab legs, shell on, chopped 3 teaspoons crushed ginger 2 kaffir lime leaves 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and chopped 1 liter water 2 tablespoons soy sauce Sea salt, to taste
FOR THE KING CRAB DUMPLINGS: In a medium bowl, combine shredded crab meat, egg white, braised cabbage, mayonnaise, vinegar and sea salt, and mix thoroughly. On a clean work surface, place 32 wonton wrappers and cut 2-inch rounds using a scalloped plastic cutter. Place a level tablespoon of crab mixture in the center of each wonton round. Lightly brush the outside rims with water. Place another wonton wrapper on top of the mixture and press to seal all sides. Inside a bamboo steamer arrange the dumplings 1/4-inch apart from one another. Fill a pan with enough water to fill the bottom of the steamer rack. Bring the water to a boil. Stack the steamers in the pan, covering and steaming the dumplings until the filling is set, about 10 minutes.
FOR THE KING CRAB CONSOMME: In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add shrimp, chopped crab legs (including shells), ginger, lime leaves, lemongrass, and water. Puree for 2 minutes or until a smooth paste is formed. Place the paste in a medium-sized pot and cook over low heat, allowing liquid to simmer and a raft to form. Over low heat, cook an additional 10 minutes. Using a ladle, press down into the raft and extract the liquid. Ladle through a fine mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter, 4 ounces at a time. Pour the strained liquid into a medium pot, add soy sauce and bring to a simmer.
TO SERVE: In a bowl, arrange 4 dumplings in a circle and pour consomme over them. Serve hot.
DEVILED EGGS with KING CRAB Serves 4
For the deviled eggs with king crab: 4 eggs 2 king crab legs, about 4 ounces each, poached in shells, chilled, meat removed and shredded 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 2 tablespoons creme fraiche 1/4 cup chives, chopped 1/4 cup cornichon, finely chopped For the garnish: 2 ounces golden osetra caviar 2 spears asparagus, tips only, trimmed and shaved Sea salt to taste
FOR THE DEVILED EGGS WITH KING CRAB: In a medium-size pot, add eggs and cover with cold water. Bring to a rapid boil. Remove the pot from the heat and cover with a lid. Allow eggs to set for 11 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water for an additional 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and cut into halves; set aside. Remove the yolks and set aside in a small bowl. Add the shredded crab meat, mayonnaise, creme fraTche, chives, and cornichon, mixing well. Using a teaspoon, scoop crab mixture into the cooked halves.
TO SERVE: Place one halved deviled egg onto a plate. Top with a dollop of caviar and shaved raw asparagus. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
KING CRAB SALAD Serves 4
For the king crab salad: 4 4-ounce king crab legs, poached and chilled 1/3 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon ground espelette pepper Sea salt to taste For the avocado puree: 2 almost-ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/3 cup creme fraiche 2 tablespoons olive oil For the fruit: 1 small honeydew melon, seeded, and peeled 1 small Cavaillon melon, seeded, and peeled 2 large Asian pears, peeled and cored 2 tablespoons Gewurztraminer grape juice For the garnish: Petite basil leaves Lemon zest
FOR THE KING CRAB SALAD: Remove crab meat from shells and shred by hand. In a small mixing bowl, add crab, mayonnaise, lemon juice, espelette pepper, and sea salt. Mix all ingredients until completely incorporated. Using a #100 scoop, shape crab mixture into 2-inch round balls and place on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
FOR THE AVOCADO PUREE: Spoon avocado flesh into a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the creme fraiche, lemon juice, and sea salt. Puree on high speed, slowly adding the olive oil, and blend until the mixture is completely smooth.
FOR the FRUIT: Using a Parisian scoop, make small balls of melons and pears. Place balls in a bowl and season with Gewurztraminer juice, olive oil, and sea salt.
TO SERVE: In the middle of a large, chilled plate, add the crab salad. Add the balled fruit and avocado puree, alternating between each to form a concentric circle around the crab salad. Garnish the avocado puree with basil leaves and the pear with lemon zest.
William Bradley tells it like it is. "I'm not the creator of the wine, but the creator of the food. I let the pros do their jobs. I trust their descriptions. They have the expertise, and they understand I'm a chef." To that point, Advanced Sommelier Elizabeth Huettinger maintains Addison's Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning collection. She gained her experience managing a huge list while at Spago Beverly Hills. Huettinger worked closely with M.S. Chris Miller as they redesigned that Grand Award cellar. The list at Addison is as expansive as the dining room, drawing from far corners of the globe. As the team leader Bradley needs and depends upon, Huettinger constantly trains and challenges the front of the house to comfortably comment on current producers, methods, and sources, and on how flavor impacts a meal.
FRUITS DE MER Serves 4 For the king crab consomme: 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled 1/2 pound whole king crab legs, shell on, chopped 3 teaspoons crushed ginger 2 kaffir lime leaves 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and chopped 1 quart water 2 tablespoons soy sauce Sea salt to taste For the king crab gelee: 2 cups consomme, from above 5 sheets bloomed gelatin, softened 4 large uni tongues, cut in half 4 tablespoons salmon roe 8 large Kumamoto oysters, shucked 1 pound baby octopus, poached, chilled, and sliced 2 large king crab legs, poached, chilled, and sliced 1 lemon, halved Sea salt, to taste
FOR THE KING CRAB CONSOMME: In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add shrimp, chopped crab legs (including shells), ginger, lime leaves, lemongrass and water. Puree for 2 minutes, or until a smooth paste is formed. Place the paste in a medium-sized pot and cook over low heat, allowing liquid to simmer and a raft to form. Over low heat, cook an additional 10 minutes. Using a ladle, press down into the raft and extract the liquid. Ladle the liquid consomme through a fine mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter, 4 ounces at a time. Place the liquid into a medium pot, add soy sauce and bring to a simmer.
FOR THE KING CRAB GELEE: Pour king crab consomme into a small saucepot, bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Add bloomed gelatin sheets and whisk until gelatin has fully dissolved. Using a 4-ounce ladle, pour into 4 individual bowls and chill in the refrigerator for 5 hours.
TO SERVE: Plate as shown.
CAESAR SALAD with KING CRAB LEGS Serves 4 For the Caesar dressing: 6 salted anchovy filets packed in olive oil 1 garlic clove, peeled 2 large egg yolks 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/2 cup vegetable oil For the Parmesan and feuille de brick croutons: 1 tablespoon honey 1/3 cup clarified butter 2 sheets feuille de brick pastry 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano For the butter-baked king crab: 4 king crab legs, about 4 ounces each, cracked 1/2 cup French butter, softened For the dish: 1 head baby Romaine lettuce, leaves trimmed and cut into spears Sea salt to taste 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 12 salted anchovy fillets packed in oil
FOR THE CAESAR dressing: In the container of a blender, add anchovies, garlic, egg yolks, and Dijon mustard. Puree over medium speed, slowly adding vegetable oil until dressing becomes thick and emulsified.
FOR THE PARMESAN AND FEUILLE DE BRICK CROUTONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small pot over medium heat, add the honey and clarified butter, stirring until completely incorporated. On a Silpat-lined sheet tray, place feuilles de brick sheets side by side. Lightly brush with honey-butter. Stack the sheets, and lightly brush top sheet with honey-butter. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Cool, and break apart into small pieces. Set aside or store in an airtight container.
FOR THE BUTTER-BAKED KING CRAB: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a pot, add crab legs and butter. Place in oven for three minutes.
TO SERVE: Place a crab leg in the middle of a large plate. Arrange the Romaine spears and season with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. Dot plate with Caesar dressing, add the rolled anchovy fillets, and top with feuille de brick croutons.