Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Farewell Le Cigare Volant

As many know, Le Cigare Volant restaurant closed this week after its final service Sunday, December 30th.  We had a hell of a run and learned a lot.  The future of Bonny Doon Vineyard is to continue to make great wine, and it was awesome to be a part of that for a while, and really cool to see those same principles applied to a different context.

One of the first dishes I had concieved of when I knew I would be Chef of Le Cigare Volant was a reimagining of S'mores.  Growing up in the Bay Area, the Santa Cruz Mountains will always have a "camping" context for me, and the beaches always make me think of bonfires and toasted marshmallows.  When I heard about the upcoming closure, I knew I wanted to see this dish brought to completion, as a Farewell to this restaurant and the great people of Santa Cruz who supported us during our time there.

Here is an easy recipe for Marshmallows, it is great because you can change up the flavor easily:
(as long as you use a water-based flavor with little to no fat.  Think teas, juices or purees)

28g Gelatin Sheets
150g Honey (or invert sugar)
70g _________ (flavored liquid of choice, I used water with one drop of spruce essential oil)
105g Corn Syrup (or glucose)
300g Sugar
70g _________ (as above)
Powdered Sugar and Cornstarch, as needed

- Soak the Gelatin Sheets in ice water for 10 minutes
- Squeeze dry and place in a mixer fitted with a whisk, add honey and first 70g of liquid
- Bring Corn Syrup, Sugar, and additional 70g liquid to a roiling hard boil
- Pour over ingredients in mixing bowl and slowly bring up to medium speed, whipping until stiff peaks form
- Oil a plastic container and fill with marshmallow, spreading level.
- Allow to set at room temperature for 1 day
- To cut, dust with 50/50 Powdered Sugar and Cornstarch, keeping very dusty.
- Store in sealed container.

Spruce Marshmallow

For the rest of this dish, we made a graham cracker sformato by baking graham cracker crust in an oval mold.

We then piped some italian meringue onto the plate and torched it.

Next, the dish got topped with some foraged herbs, juniper and sorrel.  The dirt pictured is a bit of cookie crumbs.

To recreate the character of the melted chocolate, we tried several approaches.  In the end, the best way to recreate melted chocolate was to simply melt chocolate.  We fancied it up a bit by doing it on chocolate meringues.

The ice cream is made by toasting and then melting marshmallows into a bit of milk before freezing in the ice cream machine.  Simple, but delicious.  Creating  a recipe for this was the hardest part of the realization of the dish, because S'mores usually don't have ice cream.  We needed to find something that would create interesting temperature and texture, without disturbing the original flavor context.  Many other flavors didn't work.

The dish is finished by toasting wood chips and serving in a cast iron pan.  The guest is given the Spruce marshmallow to begin, and allowed to toast it over the flames.  Afterwards, the flames are extinguished using a mason jar (another Santa Cruz-y staple) and smoke is allowed to fill the jar.  We then set the jar over the ice cream briefly, thus creating Smoked Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream.

Here it is in video form:  My final gift to Le Cigare Volant and the wonderful people of Santa Cruz who supported us during our time there.  Thanks again.  I'm sure we'll all be seeing one another in a different setting, very soon.


  1. What a beautiful dish.

  2. where can I find gelatin sheets? would powdered gelatin work?
    reminds me of bonfire nights at sea-bright beach in santa cruz. :)

    1. Gelatin sheets are pretty difficult to find for the home cook. The best bet (as for most things) is Amazon.com It might work pretty close with powdered gelatin. I would try 28g powdered gelatin, bloomed in the 70g of liquid (since it can't be squeezed dry) and the results would probably be similar. I've never tried, let us know!

    2. thanks! will give that a try. :)