• Meet Chef Briana: Crema’s pastry chef

    The Chef:

    Chef Briana Sammut grew up locally in the Salinas Valley. At age 21, she attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Chef Briana was fortunate to gain externships at several restaurants including Mario Batali’s Tarry Lodge in Greenwich CT and Jose Garce’s Tinto in Philadelphia. Currently, she is expanding her career as the pastry chef at Crema located in Pacific Grove on Lighthouse Ave. She definitely enjoys the culinary experience and it shows in all that she creates. I had the pleasure of having her pair a couple of dishes with my wine. Briana possesses the enthusiasm, creativity and drive to be successful. I for one am glad to have her on the Peninsula as she gains more experience in the culinary field. Please visit Crema and see for yourself.

    The Pairings:

    The first pairing is seared scallops with the 2010 Otter Cove Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands. The Chardonnay went through partial malolactic fermentation and started in stainless steel then moved over to neutral oak. It has a fruity nose, butter up front, tropical fruits, then finishes with a hint of vanilla and sufficient acid. This paired very nicely with the scallops. The rich texture and flavor of the scallop should be matched with a wine that is crisp and refreshing with bright acid base to cleanse the palate in preparation for another bite. The butter profile of the Chardonnay harmonized with the richness of the scallop and the olive oil.

    Seared Scallop with Red Pepper Puree and Arugula/Oregano Olive Oil

    Roasted Pepper Puree:

    • 2 red bell peppers
    • ¼ tsp paprika
    • ½ tsp salt
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

    Toss Peppers in olive oil and char over open flame until no longer red or blacken in broiler. Cover in bowl for 20 minutes with plastic wrap and allow to steam. Peel. Puree all ingredients while still warm and incorporate butter in small pieces

    Arugula/Oregano Oil:

    • 1 c arugula
    • 10 sprigs oregano
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 c olive oil

    Puree all ingredients except oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Slowly incorporate olive oil in slow stream. Set aside.


    • 10 to 12 scallops
    • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
    • Juice of 4 lemons

    Remove foot of scallop and pat dry with towel. Heat olive oil in large skillet until smoking. Season both sides of scallop with salt and pepper then sear in the olive oil until cooked to desired temperature. Add lemon juice to deglaze pan and set pan of scallops aside.


    Swipe 1 Tbsp. red pepper puree across plate. Center scallops in puree. Spoon 1 tbsp. arugula oil across tops of scallops Top with arugula leaves for garnish if desired.

    richard briana2

    The second pairing is a Greek dish called Pastitsio. It is a little more complicated but well worth it. We paired it with the 2010 Otter Cove Syrah, SLH. It was aged in French oak for 22 months. You’ll get white pepper notes up front, smoky undertones, soft tannins, with a hint of plum on the finish. The pastitsio is a blend of ground beef, sausage, and lamb. However, there are other variations from different countries. Chef Briana’s version has a bottom layer consisting of tubular pasta, with egg as a binder and a middle layer of meat and tomato spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and smoked paprika. And a top layer of a flour-based Béchamel, which is a combination of flour, milk, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika. The three kinds of meat blended nicely together and was very pleasing to the palette. The Syrah complimented the Pastitsio favorably. The spices matched appropriately with the wine.

    serves 8-10

    Meat (Lamb):

    • ½ lb ground beef
    • ½ lb ground sausage
    • 1 lb ground lamb
    • 1 c chopped tomatoes (canned)
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • ½ tsp ground clove
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • ½ c toasted pine nuts
    • ¼ c oregano (hopped)
    • 1 onion (chopped)
    • 2 tbsp olive oil

    Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add chopped onion and sauté to dark golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Add and sear beef, sausage, and lamb. Separately, combine spices, herbs, and tomatoes. Add into cooked meat mixture and simmer 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper


    • ½ c whole milk
    • 8 tbsp butter
    • 1 c flour
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp paprika

    Melt butter and whisk in flour over heat (roux). Gradually, whisk in cold milk and return to heat for 20 minutes stirring constantly. Add seasonings and salt and pepper to taste.


    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1 large yellow onion (julienne)
    • 4 sprigs thyme (chopped)
    • 1 # tube shaped pasta (penne, rigatoni, etc.)
    • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)

    Melt butter and add julienne onion. Sauté over medium heat until deep caramel color (9-10 minutes). Add thyme and remove from heat. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions in salted water and drain. Combine with onions and season with salt and pepper. Fold in eggs and set aside.

    Finish Pastitsio:

    Lightly grease the sides of a 13×9 inch rectangular baking pan. Spread the pasta/onion mix on the bottom. Spoon ¼ of the béchamel over the top. Next, layer the lamb mix over the pasta with béchamel. Last, spread the béchamel over the top, completing the pastitsio. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 ½ -2 hours or until browned on top. Béchamel will set on top once cooled.

    richard briana

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 4, 2013

    Topics: Oh, Have A Taste!


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