During a complimentary press dinner Tuesday night at Solea, we were treated to a dip in humidity and a pistachio semifreddo that signaled talent was making pastries in the W South Beach Hotel kitchen. The man behind this cooling and creamy lime green mound, topped with olive oil ice cream and Isomalt shard, is Executive Pastry Chef Antonio Bachour.
Born to a Lebanese mother and French father, Bachour, 34, grew up in Puerto Rico working at his father's classic French bakery. He first found inspiration at age 10 in an eclair.
"Always eclairs. That was the first thing he taught me how to make," he explains. It wasn't long after that he made the trip to New York to attend the French Culinary Institute, graduating in 1996. He first arrived in Miami in 2001 and has played the executive pastry chef role at Talula, Devito South Beach, and Scarpetta, both in the Fountainebleau and most recently in the Big Apple.
With a team of six, Bachour is making sweet dreams happen for the hotel's restaurants, room service, living room, and banquet operations.
Short Order rang Bachour yesterday in the kitchen for a quick Q&A and to request a couple of recipes.
SO: You've spent a lot of time in New York over the years. What are some of your favorite restaurants there?
AB: Del Posto, Convivo, A Voche, Per se, Gotham Bar and Grille, and WD50. 11 Madison Park is my favorite.
SO: What is your vision for desserts at the W?
AB: Right now my focus is the Mediterranean for Solea. My father lives in Spain, and that's a big inspiration. Like every restaurant over there has at least one Michelin star. You know, they use a lot of goat cheese in the Mediterranean. We're
using our ice cream machine to make gelato, semifreddo, pannacotta...
But we're trying to do something different here than at other
restaurants. I'm working with new techniques, and molecular gastronomy, using additives like tapioca powder that turns fat into powder
SO: What ingredients are you excited about now?
AB: Everything is fresh. We make everything every day here. We're changing the menu next week with the season. I'm doing a crema Catalana foam and a molten carrot cake with cream cheese sorbet, and an apple brioche with gingerbread doughnut and green apple sorbet... I always love chocolate, like good dark chocolate from Valrhona and El Rey from Venezuela.
SO: How do you come up with new desserts?
AB: When I have some idea I talk to Chef Gilligan, and we go to the farm to get fresh fruit, like Florida organic figs from Tropical Delights.
SO: So can we have a recipe?!
AB: Of course.
6 ½ ounces almond paste
6 ounces butter, unsalted
5 ½ ounces granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise & scraped
3 large eggs
4 ½ ounces cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 ½ oz sour cream.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Beat almond paste, butter, sugar and vanilla beans until light and smooth. Add eggs slowly, mixing between each addition. Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together over egg mixture. Add sour cream and pour into 4-ounce aluminum tins. Bake 25 minutes.
Olive Oil Gelato:
10 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups milk
9 oz heavy cream
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
Whisk the hot milk into the yolks mixture and transfer to a saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly to form a crème anglaise. Do not overheat or the eggs will curdle. Cool to lukewarm. Whip the cream and fold it into the crème anglaise; add the olive oil. Place in an ice cream maker to freeze.
4 cups heavy cream
10 oz. sugar
10 egg yolks
3 1/2 oz. Pistachio paste
Whisk yolks, sugar, and pistachio paste in medium metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over large saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk until yolk mixture is thick and resembles softly whipped cream and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160°F, about 4 minutes. Remove bowl from over water and continue to whisk mixture until cool to touch, about 3 minutes.
Beat cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold cream mixture into yolk-pistachio mixture in 2 additions. Transfer to prepared ramekin, freeze overnight.
1 ea orange segment
1 ea grapefruit segment
Vanilla bean simple syrup
(Macerate the citrus segment with vanilla bean syrup.)
Olive Oil Powder:
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80 grams tapioca maltodextrin
120 grams extra virgin olive oil
Place starch in Robot Coupe and add olive oil. Spin machine and scrape side and bottom with spatula. Add starch as needed to create desired texture.