In January I was hired by Johanna Eliot to be the consulting manager for Eliot & Vine, her shiny new, modern-European restaurant opening in Halifax at the end of April. The Eliot & Vine opportunity appealed to me for a number of reasons, the biggest being, that since January, I’ve been learning, and figuring out, many of the ins and outs required to open a restaurant from scratch. Of course, as the owner, Johanna’s ins and outs have been much more extensive than mine, but still, I’ve been privy to just about every single, behind-the-scenes detail.
One of my favourite things about working with Johanna is her ardor and zeal for all things food and wine. Once the mundane daily tasks of inspections, permits and tweaks to construction have been discussed and put away, we get to brainstorm recipe ideas, sample bottles of wine and talk about how we will fit everything together on the Eliot & Vine menus and lists. With the wide brushstroke of ‘modern European’ as the heralding concept of the restaurant, our team is writing menus that stay true to the core values of Eliot & Vine – uncomplicated, rustic, classic European elements – with nods to our exquisite Atlantic coastal home.
As an avid food magazine and food blog reader, one ingredient I continually encountered in my menu research was preserved lemons. I find the idea of preserved lemons intriguing first and foremost because I LOVE LEMON. Second, I’ve read that the flavour is reminiscent of a salty, briny, citrusy caper. And third, I adore the notion of a simple ingredient adding extra layers of depth and complexity to a dish. I’ve never eaten a preserved lemon, but I’m already planning how I will use them once they’re ready. I think they’d be wicked in a garlic oil based pasta, on top of baked fish, in a risotto with spring peas or asparagus, or on top of crostini with homemade ricotta. There are so many options that I know I’m going to find it hard to be patient during the required 30 days.
Please note – because I’ve never eaten preserved lemons, I decided to omit the spices in this, my first batch, and used only sea salt and lemon. I wanted to get a sense of what the lemons taste like on their own before I start jazzing them up with other flavours.
To make your own preserved lemons, do what I did and follow David Lebovitz’s super simple step-by-step ‘recipe’ here.