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Jardiniere's Dish Evolution

Traci Des Jardins’s Scallops with Truffle Mashed Potatoes

 Then: 1992 ($14); Now: 2012 ($25)

In September, chef Traci Des Jardins celebrated Jardinière’s 15th anniversary by sprucing up the menu and buying out longtime partner Pat Kuleto. But one thing hasn’t changed: By popular demand, this dish returns to the menu every winter. “Actually, I first made it in 1992, while working at [the now closed] Elka’s,” says Des Jardins. “I was cooking on the fly for John Mariani [Esquire’s critic].” Below, proof that there was a day when restaurants here didn’t always source locally or seasonally (not to mention, hadn’t yet discovered the “smear”).

The Mashed Potatoes

“Honestly, I think I was one of the first people who did truffle mashed potatoes, if you can believe that. It predated the crazy trend of people putting everything under the sun with mashed potatoes, like wasabi and roasted garlic.” “I used to use russets. Now we use whatever potatoes are seasonal from a local farm, like Full Belly. I’m always looking for waxy, creamy, and sweet. Typically, we use Yellow Finns or German Butterballs, which make the dish really yellow. The mashed potatoes are, like, half butter.”

The Scallops

“Back then, we just labeled them as scallops—not ‘Massachusetts day-boat scallops caught by a diver with one fin and one arm.’ You know—not like today.” “Now we use diver scallops. We used to just sear them in clarified butter, but today we do this crazy butter basting.”

The Black Truffles

“We actually used canned black truffles and truffle oil from a bottle, which allowed us to serve the dish year-round.” “We use truffles only when they’re in season. Our own truffle oil is made with the trimmings from the truffle, and we also put microplaned fresh black truffle on the top.”

Originally published in the December 2012 issue of San Francisco.

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