I love the holidays in the Bay Area for many reasons. I like that we don’t get any snow, but if I wanted, I could drive to Lake Tahoe in a few hours and be in a Winter Wonderland. It’s great to see all the lights in the neighborhood and to go ice-skating in Union Square. Most of all, I love that I get to spend time with my kids and my family.
Something else I really enjoy about the winter months–fresh ingredients at the farmer’s market that I can’t get other times of the year. Winter citruses like clementines are unbelievable this time of year, and carrots are outstanding! I can also find in-season persimmons, walnuts, radishes, watermelon, beets, and Marina di Chioggia (a sweet winter squash). I also can get great truffles from Europe for specialty items.
My ultimate favorite winter ingredient is Dungeness crab. After Nov. 15 you’ll find the freshest, most robust crabmeat. If you buy before then, the meat can become a little withered. Instead of cooking traditional dishes at home during the holidays, I’d rather create more interactive dishes like steamed crab that I can do with my family. My kids and I cover our table with newspaper and have fun breaking the crab with rocks–they love it!
A favorite crab dish I love to cook is “Poached Turbo, Sticky Rice, Dungeness Crab with a Condensed Milk Broth” I make it entirely from local crab, and serve it with a rice and carrot puree, which makes a really flavorful broth. I cook sticky rice (a yellow-orange rice with crab sauce and squash), then add a piece of cooked fish on top, and voila! This dish always makes me feel great, like when the Giants won the World Series!
For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at The Dining Room, we offer a special six-course tasting menu featuring traditional foods in addition to some of the more lavish ingredients I find at the market (including
the crab!). I usually feature a beef dish, too, and of course, the menu includes dessert. For New Year’s Eve, we celebrate with a special seven-course tasting menu and feature a live band with dancing.
I look forward to providing you an exceptional experience at The Dining Room and wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.
Chef Ron Siegel
The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
600 Stockton st.
San Francisco, CA 94108
Persimmon and Crab Salad with Tarragon Gelée
» 8 oz. picked crabmeat
» 1 cup orange juice
» 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
» 1 English cucumber
» 8 sprigs fresh tarragon
» 1 Fuyu persimmon
» 1 lime
» 10 Italian chopped parsley leaves
» 4 grams leaf gelatin
» 1/2 cup of mixed greens
» Pinch of salt
Take the orange juice and reduce it in a non-reactive pan over low heat until about cup and is thick and syrupy, yet sweet in consistency. Strain through a chinois into a bowl.
Slowly whisk in olive oil to thicken, making sure the end product has the taste of the olive oil and the orange. Set aside.
For gelée, peel cucumber and slice into pieces, then purée in blender. Add a pinch of salt and about 8 sprigs of tarragon leaves. Strain this liquid through a napkin and measure out to 1 cup of cucumber juice. Reserve two of the tarragon leaves.
Soften leaf gelatin by placing in a bowl of water until they bloom. Warm cucumber juice up to a low simmer. Stir in the soft gelatin, then pour into a container. Allow it to harden.
To assemble, peel the persimmon and slice paper-thin on a mandoline. Layer slices on the plate. Zest the lime using a microplane over persimmon. Drizzle about a teaspoon and a half (per serving) of olive oil over the persimmons.
Chop the two reserved tarragon leaves. Mix the crabmeat with the tarragon leaves and chopped parsley. Take the orange oil and fold it in to help bind the mixture. Put mixture into a ring mold and place on the center of the persimmons. Place an assortment of lettuces on top of the crab. Drizzle with more orange oil to dress the leaves. Cut the gelée into desired shape and arrange pieces on the plate. Serve.