Another Day in Poe's Kitchen at The Rattlesnake

Chef Brian Poe shows you the world in the back of the house.

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The Hit Machine: Poe’s Kitchen’s Customer Playlist

The menu at Poe’s Kitchen is constantly evolving thanks to our customers—whose insights, cravings, and even quirks inspire me in the kitchen. So why not get their input on music to set the mood of the Rattlesnake?

From the requests we solicited both in the restaurant and on our Facebook page, we came up with an initial playlist that’s been growing and growing ever since, with great help from all of you. It’s as eclectic as we are, ranging from punk to R&B, classic rock to country, hip-hop to jazz. (Special thanks to Sara Steele Rogers at The Daily Obsession.)

So what do you think? What should we add? How should we organize it? We want to hear from you—so you can hear what you like!

Send Me on My Way / Rusted Root
I Ran (So Far Away) / A Flock of Seagulls
Hips Don’t Lie / Shakira (feat. Wyclef Jean)
Hang Me Up to Dry / Cold War Kids
Dancin’ on My Grave / Ghostland Observatory
Papa Don’t Preach / Glee Cast
Where Is My Mind? / Pixies
Blues Traveler Travelogue / Blues Traveler
Stars Fell on Alabama / Billie Holiday
Who Says / John Mayer
All the Small Things / Blink 182
ABC / Jackson 5
Touch of Grey / Grateful Dead
Ring of Fire / Social Distortion
Smooth / Santana (feat. Rob Thomas)
Crash into Me / Dave Matthews
Don’t Stop Believin’ / Journey
Baby / Brandy
Vultures / John Mayer Trio
Breakdown / Jack Johnson
Say / John Mayer
Everyday / Dave Matthews Band
Ball and Chain / Social Distortion
Toes / Zac Brown Band
Stay (Wasting Time) / Dave Matthews Band
Tempted / Squeeze
Start Me Up / The Rolling Stones
Soul City / Southern Culture On the Skids
Scarlet Begonias / Sublime
Iko Iko / Dixie Cups
Oye Como Va / Santana
I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) / Pitbull
Here Comes the Hotstepper (Heartical Mix) / Ini Kamoze
Vasoline / Stone Temple Pilots
C.R.E.A.M. / Wu-Tang Clan
(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To / Weezer
Sweet Jane / The Velvet Underground
Fall to Pieces / Velvet Revolver
Wolf Like Me / TV On the Radio
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) / Arcade Fire
Tessellate / Tokyo Police Club
Killing Me Softly With His Song / Fugees
Sure Shot / Beastie Boys
Going Back to Cali / LL Cool J
Kiss / Prince & The Revolution
Mexican Radio / Wall of Voodoo
Dirty Water / The Standells
That’s Not My Name / The Ting Tings
Sexual Healing / Jules
I’m Alright (Theme from Caddyshack) / Kenny Loggins
And She Was / Talking Heads
The New Pollution / Beck
Soul Meets Body / Death Cab for Cutie
Hey Baby / No Doubt & Bounty Killer
Soma / The Strokes
Party in the U.S.A. / Miley Cyrus
Some Beach / Blake Shelton
Whiskey River (Live) / Willie Nelson
Manhattan / Kings of Leon
Dear Doctor / The Rolling Stones
With a Little Help from My Friends / Bornagen Beatles

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Independence Day Lessons I Learned in My Backyard

Here’s how I roll: After going on a crazy grocery spree, I invite 30 of my closest friends over for a cookout. I supply the beer; if they want to bring more, I won’t argue.

We pull up a large table next to the grill. Pile it high with the groceries, knives, cutting boards, crazy spices—Mexican smoked sea salt, jalapeno powder (made with dried jalapeños, prosciutto powder and cilantro-citrus dust—and lots and lots of chili peppers. Crank the stereo and stand back—we’re about to mix it up.

Chilean BBQ

(Some of us mix it up more than others.) 

Right now on the table there are habañeros, jalapeños, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, three different kinds of mushrooms, red onions, white onions, countless other veggies and every garden herb imaginable—plus a duck, a chicken, a beef tenderloin, pork loin, pork ribs, lamb racks, a leg of lamb, salmon kabobs, and a heap of shrimp. (The greatest part of private catering? The leftover supplies!)

I scan the crowd. It’s the United Nations of cookouts, filled with CouchSurfers—a social network of people, young and not so young, who love to travel and manage to do it in a beautifully karmic kind of way: by sharing their homes with one another on globetrotting jaunts. The rest are industry colleagues who share the same philosophy of life: travel light and eat well!

First course: grilled tomato salad with basil, onion, and cucumber, gently drizzled with tomato vinegar (a super-concentrated vinegar I get from a company in Parma)  and Chilean olive oil. While the gang’s chowing down on that, I’m working on the next round—grilling oyster mushrooms and mixing a truffle-basil dressing into a portobello-crimini slaw. Then I toss the shrimp in garlic and habañero oil, grill it up and serve it with a habañero puree. It’s gone in a matter of seconds—which is why it’s also on the Unleashed menu. Some lessons are best learned in the backyard!

Next come the duck, the ribs, the salmon kabobs, the tenderloin, and then my citrus-and-serrano beer can chicken (which you can watch me whip up right here at How2Heroes).

My musician friend Jose Moreno brings his guitar and plays for hours on end—and I just keep cooking. The barbecue’s looking just like so many I experienced in South America: a bunch of hippies from all over the world—Argentina, Brazil, Britain, India, and, yes, the U.S.—sitting in the moonlight around a smoky firepit in the ground, passing around a leg of lamb and a giant bottle of Peruvian bar. Just as the lamb racks come off and the salmon goes on, one guest—a kind and sincere young lady—whispers, “Brian, I just want a hot dog. Do you think you could grill a few for me?” I chuckle. Even the world’s greatest adventurers sometimes just want the comfort of home. Food takes people to places they’ve never been—but it also takes them back to places, people, and times they will never forget.

 

Dining al fresco Chilean-style, 2008

Dining al fresco Chilean-style, 2008

We call the 4th of July an American holiday, but that diverse group reminded me that America is more than 50 states. America the Beautiful stretches across two continents, and there is a bit of every country in our country. This weekend, as we celebrate Independence Day at Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, you’ll be able to relish it all on our Unleashed Menu: think bacon-wrapped Cornish game hens with feijoada puree, grilled watermelon salad, blueberry cobbler à la mode, and chocolate-chip-cookie ice cream sandwiches. Come Saturday, I may even cook up a hot dog or two. Join us on the roof deck to watch—and taste—the fireworks!

Settling in and cooking

 

Ahhh…who knew that two months could pass in what feels like days? In two months at the Rattlesnake, we’ve completely changed the room, the feel, the menu, the drinks, and I think we are all having fun with this.

Having traveled so much last year, I’m also feeling really good about having a home for both my culinary ideas and for all the people I love cooking for. The journey stimulated the creative juices (also known as wine!) and completely enhanced my cooking style. But now that I’m back, there’s no more nail-biting about whether the foie gras will fly past airport security on the way to San Fran; no longer do I fret over which office in which city I left my notebook in. When I reach for the black lava sea salt, it’s right where I left it. I can make habañero-saffron pickles or chipotle beef jerky and stick around long enough to taste the results. And I can pack up my broken Spanish and Portuguese. It’s good to be home. 

Here at the Rattlesnaek, I’m really settling in nicely. A fantastic kitchen staff is coming together. It’s a young team, but it’s bursting with professionalism as well as physical and creative energy.  We had a little trial run with a few of the newer ones and everyone clicks.  The guys at the front of the house are paying attention, learning and moving forward as well. Drink lists, wine lists, menus, crew, all moving forward—this should be fun! Bring me good weather and we’ll take care of the rest!

Speaking of good weather, this is that very strange time of year in New England where as a chef I start to think spring, but the weather plays with my mind. Sixty degrees one day and a foot of snow the next. I can’t wait for the ramps, fiddlehead ferns, fresh herbs, live baby eels, and all that other fun stuff to start coming in. I even found myself kicking around the ice on the roof deck last night trying to find the perfect spot to plant some vegetables! Just a few more weeks and we’re there.

Meanwhile I’m going to kick off an additional menu—the Unleashed menu. It’s your ticket to an ever-changing world of dishes!  Rogerio, my sous chef, and I are bringing in diverse ingredients like black garlic, caul fat, yuzu, pork belly, and more. We’re going to lay them out on the table and just make stuff up. We’ll poach fish in vanilla oil, we’ll add wasabi sorbet to old favorites like tuna tartar in soy-chive vinaigrette, we’ll revisit my good friend Giovanni’s oven-roasted, bacon-wrapped figs stuffed with Maytag blue cheese.  We started a nice pork stock a few days ago and I’m definitely going to do a small-plate trio called Three Little Pigs. All in all, we are just going to have fun and keep playing. We should have it all ready to go by Wednesday night, so stop by if you’re in the nieghborhood. 

Thursday, in addition to the Unleashed and regular menus, we are doing a $35 three-course prix fixe, with portions of the proceeds going to a cause very near and dear to my heart: Curt and Shonda Schilling’s SHADE Foundation. Rattlesnake partner  Tony Caz is personally battling with melanoma since his wife was recently diagnosed. The two of them have been amazingly strong in the process and we’re praying for and proud of them as they move forward. 

Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m., Poe’s Kitchen remains a kitchen—but then let the dancing begin! We’ll have DJs mixing it up with the foodies. Don’t tell anyone but we’ve already seen a few great chefs living large here last week—I’ll never do shots with the boys from Bonfire again! But the rest of you can be my guest.