Ancient Grain Makes Comeback; Kumquats Watch in Awe

Executive chef Devon Boisen marked the start of the halibut season at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley last night with a dinner/spectacle that went up, eventually, in flames (but on purpose). Pan-seared Alaskan halibut with forest-mushroom strudel and chocolate manicotti with kumquat flambé (hence the flames) were part of a production punctuated by Boisen’s sly riffs. “We’ve done what you’re not supposed to do with Parma ham,” he said as servers distributed plump smoked prawns with crisp Parma-ham cracklings, “and that’s cook it.” Of a corn fritter accompanying duck confit, he shrugged, “Call it a johnnycake, I don’t care.”

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