10 Can't Miss Dishes
(page 4 of 10)
Nantucket Bay Scallops and Hazelnut Chiboust
Ten years ago, chefs Jeffrey and Nina Gimmel left Manhattan to run a catering business on Nantucket. “In some parts of the country, the first day of hunting season is an unofficial holiday,” says Jeffrey. “In Nantucket, it’s the first day of scallop season. Everyone goes out and rakes for them, and once you’ve done it, you can’t help but love them. They’re fabulous — larger and sweeter than the ones from Long Island or Cape Cod.”
Nantucket proved to be more seasonal than their business could tolerate, so after two years the Gimmels moved to Hudson, not far from Nina’s home town of Saugerties, and also close to Bard College, where she planned (as Jeffrey puts it) to “get a degree in a real school.” (He’s from Maryland.)
Nina’s original plan to be a ballet dancer was derailed by knee injuries (but not before she’d performed at Lincoln Center). “I’d always been a foodie, so I switched ideas,” she says. After interning at high-profile Manhattan restaurants like Le Bernadin and Union Square Cafe, she discovered she had a natural talent for baking, and enjoyed it, too.
The couple opened Swoon six years ago and immediately attracted Hudson’s transplanted New Yorkers and weekenders, who raved from the start about Jeffrey’s New American savory cooking and the fact that rarities like oysters on the half shell turned up on the menu. Nina’s desserts — well, they’re “beyond your wildest dreams,” swooned one critic. Big, jungly flower arrangements became a signature in the restaurant’s modern interior.
Hazelnut Chiboust: Lightened with meringue, this nut-flavored pastry cream makes a fine finale to Swoon’s caramelized scallops (above)
As for those scallops: Jeffrey quickly sears them in a hot pan with a little neutral oil, like canola. “The trick is to get caramelization but keep them moist and juicy,” he says. One possible side is caramelized cauliflower with toasted almonds, raisins, and capers.
The menu, updated daily, is driven in summer by what local farms are producing. In winter, you’ll find comforting braised meats like veal rib and lamb shanks, or spice-rubbed skirt steak served with potato purée and grilled onions. Among the desserts there may be pear dumplings, or strawberry napoleon. New and no doubt swoon-worthy: hazelnut chiboust.
By the way, if you’re wondering about Nina’s “real school” detour, she studied photography, with plans to become a food photographer, but luckily for us soon realized she’d rather be in the kitchen.
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