“What’s new?” Wolfgang Puck asks Cut’s Executive Chef Andrew Skala during his frequent calls. Skala explains that Wolf is always “pushing our thinking.” Right now, what’s new on DC Cut’s raw bar is a dish based on hard-to-source Maryland crab. “Wolfgang was recently in Paris,” says Skala, and Puck raved about a celeriac remoulade he had there. Skala’s riff on this classic is a crab salad made with celery root that he punctuates with persimmon – adding a complex “sweetness” and tang
Also, on the raw bar menu is another “new” dish that riffs on a “modern classic” – tuna tartare. “Now is the season for the Atlantic blue fin tuna” that Skala prizes for its “winter mix of fatty and lean.” He contrasts the tuna meat with a maitake mushroom topping and finishes with a touch of pine nuts pureed with horseradish.
Vegetables are very important to Puck who was one of the pioneering California chefs driving miles to seek out farmers. Skala, also, “did a lot of visiting farms” in the mid-Atlantic when he first came to the region. This winter he is featuring an appetizer based on locally sourced cauliflower. The floret is seared and then roasted in a wood-burning oven. It is accented with chili and honey, along with a labneh made with dill, and topped with toasted pumpkin or sesame seeds.
Grilled Virginia rockfish, the basis of another featured dish, also pays tribute to the mid-Atlantic region. It also exemplifies what Skala describes as Puck’s “global cuisine – pulling flavors from different parts of the world.” In this dish, the fresh fish and sweet delicate squash contrast with an Indonesian-inspired sambal. Skala finds this cross-culinary approach “a way of learning about cultures.”