In our first feature exploring the joys of sourcing local food, journalist Elise Watness interviewed Chef Alan Davis about the favorites on his menu. Chef Davis is the man behind Hound + Bottle (formerly Scout Cafe + Honor Bar) in Manette. He sources local ingredients to create culinary magic on his rotating seasonal menu. Fun facts: He still plays music with some of the members of SoundGarden, and much of the stylish decor comes from his wife’s window designs for Barney’s of New York and the like.
1. What are your favorite things to make from locally sourced food in the winter?
In the winter months, ones options for fresh produce narrow in a bit. But they do not diminish in complexity. All the green leafy things out there build up their delicious “antifreeze”, and are at their tastiest of the year. The heartiness of those plants growing beneath the ground are equally at their annually unique.
We have a dish that features cider braised carrots and griddled Brussels sprouts. Making sure not to over do it while cooking is important. I want to see those vibrant colors. I just dress them up with lemon spiked yoghurt, good green olive oil and some Urfa ground chili.
2. What do people love about your local menu?
One of my favorite subterraneans of the winter are Sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes. You can do so much with them! They are both delicate enough that you can simply shave them into a salad, and also hearty enough to make into a surprisingly great mash. You can fry them into chips or purée them into a sauce for fin fish. Right now I have them sautéed with leeks and local mussels. They impart their exceptional flavor to so many dishes, in a variety of ways. It also doesn’t hurt that they visually look like they came from another planet!
3. What do you want people to know about local food?
At Hound and Bottle we are lucky to have a great community that comes out to support us by eating, drinking and just hanging out. I find that people like to take that seasonal ride. We do a menu switch every three months, with specials sprinkled in each quarter. As much as people let me know that a certain dish should “just stay” on the next menu, they realize the ingredients belong to a certain time of the year, and they seem to revel when a rendition of what they loved swings back around the next year!
What I want people to know about locally grown food, is simple. There are people not too far from where they call home that are in their fields watching closely and working diligently to grow food from soil cultivated in as many ways as there are farmers. My job is to take their products and prepare them in a way that makes the diner care as much as the farmer and the cook. I adore the times that I get a delivery from one of our farmers and folks in their seats get to see these hard working beautiful bada**es bring in crates of food that will wind up on their plates!