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A FRESH Point of View: A Sushi Sampler

When I was growing up in the ‘70s, sushi was about as exotic as a thing could get, in my mind. I’m from a fairly sturdy stock of people raised in the Mississippi Delta and mired in the Piney Woods of Texas. We like our food slathered with mayonnaise or suffocated with gravy – preferably white country gravy, but the brown variety would do. Sushi was reserved for our west coast cousins – that one branch of the family that seemed to abandon all that made us, us. Truth be told, I didn’t think I liked sweet potatoes back then either. Or cilantro. Or blue cheese! But my plate would be awfully empty without these today. You grow up, grow enlightened, and your taste buds grow with you.

Now sushi, especially the American hybrid, the California roll, has taken a little chunk of my heart.  I love the slightly sweet smell of nori and the toothsome feel of the short-grain sticky rice. Like Tex-Mex chili or Delta Blues music, this synthesis of cultures and ingredients makes something that’s ever-changing and altogether unique. Maybe that’s why I like it and all its permutations so much. I figure if I’m living my life right, I’m changing all the time, too.

FRESH has truly glorified the California roll – that sushi staple that starts with sushi rice, crab and seaweed.  Our sushi technicians have devised five rolls exclusively for FRESH. A few approach the California roll with cheek, some with artful reverence, and the Crazy Cajun Roll – that one’s just plain fun!

But it’s not just all California rolls. There’s traditional premium-grade tuna, eel, and salmon sushi as well. The FRESH sushi technicians can make your sushi to order according to your specifications. At any given time, you may find a dozen or more varieties of rolls and simple nigiri sushi awaiting you. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Temptation Roll: Tempura shrimp with cream cheese, avocado, eel sauce, spicy sauce, and crunchy rice topping. This one is almost too pretty to eat!

Tex-Mex Roll: A California roll topped spicy sauce, guacamole, and tortilla bits. It’s creamy and spicy

Longhorn Roll: Tempura shrimp roll topped with spicy sauce, mango, and jalapeno. Sweet and spicy!

Rock & Berry Roll: California Roll topped with spicy sauce, strawberries, guacamole and honey. This one’s creamy, spicy, and sweet all at the same time – makes my taste buds twang!

Crunchy Dragon Roll:  It’s a crab salad roll with cream cheese, spicy sauce and topped with lots of crunchy rice. This one’s been a real crowd pleaser with our guests at FRESH.





FRESH and Festive: Food for the Final Four

College basketball fans, this is your Super Bowl weekend – the NCAA Final Four. Even if your own team is no longer in the running, it’s a great time to gather around the flat screen, enjoying some of the best hoops action of the year.

But for me, just as important as catching the game is, what am I going to serve? As a longtime chef, I’m always expected to produce something more interesting than chips and dips or chicken wings – but I don’t want to spend the whole weekend in the kitchen either.

So this year, I might just shop some of the specialty departments at FRESH. Three ideas that may work for you, too:

  • Cured meat platter: One-up the old cold-cuts combo by putting together a specialty platter of salamis and cured meats from our charcuterie department. Maybe choose just one country, like Italy, and showcase specialties like prosciutto, Parma ham, soppresata, and mortadella. Or, try an around-the-world platter; select one or two from Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.S., and see which your friends prefer. Serve with some of our rosemary focaccia bread from our artisan bakery.
  • Sushi: Non-traditional sports fare? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely. Our in-house sushi experts prepare everything you’d expect from an authentic sushi bar, including nigiri sushi, featuring fresh fish atop vinegared rice; sashimi, thin slices of fresh fish, and signature rolls like our Tex-Mex roll.
  • Hummus and pita: Better than plain old chips-and-dip is this healthy, Middle Eastern-inspired concoction of pureed chick peas, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice and spices. We offer several chef-prepared varieties at our salad bar. Pair with pita chips, pita bread, flat bread or tortilla chips.