Friday, September 7, 2012

Early Autumn Tasting

I know that it's not fall yet and won't be officially for another couple of weeks, but mentally, Tony and I are off creating fall menus already. As much as we love tomatoes, squash, squash blooms, and peppers, we are ready for the change to game, mushrooms, braised dishes, conserved pork products, and bacon, bacon, bacon.

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Goat Cheese-Stuffed Figs

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Goat Cheese-Stuffed Figs. This is not an earth shattering new dish, but it is wonderful nonetheless for having been made with local figs and local goat cheese. Next up, we're already scheming to make our own prosciutto when it gets cold enough. Served with a glass of prosecco, these are a great start to any meal.

Sausage and Eggs

Breakfast. Yet another in the long list of dishes that we have so titled, this one starts with a bed of chanterelle buttons cooked up with our bison and our venison sausages. On top is a spoonful of oeufs brouillés, duck eggs with chives and a splash of cream that have been whisked over a water bath until just set, more like a heavy sauce than traditional scrambled eggs and so, so much more sinful. Maple syrup around the edge adds a sweet note.

Truffled Steuben Yellow Eye Bean Soup; Potted Confit

Beans. Definitely my favorite dish of this whole tasting, and for being a soup, the most complex to make. My guests for this tasting are frequent diners and lovers of cassoulet, and so I worded the menu in such a way as to make them think that this course was going to be cassoulet. The beans are my favorites, Steuben Yellow Eyes, soaked overnight, drained, cooked to tender, and recooked with the juice that comes from roasting our pork belly (what we call "goodness"), mirepoix, smoked Surry sausage, garlic, thyme, bay, rosemary, and sage. It's all blitzed in the big Vita-Mix and passed through our finest chinois for an ultra-silky texture. Thinned, splashed with a touch of cream, seasoned, and lavished with a big spoonful of chopped black truffles, this is a soup for the culinary gods. Served with a croustade topped with potted confit. We finely chopped some of our duck confit and pork shoulder confit, then mixed it with softened butter, nutmeg, mace, and fresh thyme.

Braaied Skilpadjies

Skilpadjies. You South Africans might recognize the minature skilpadjies that we braaied on a skewer and served with geelrys. The rest of you see small tortoise-shaped patties of minced lamb and rabbit liver wrapped in caul fat, which have been grilled and served with a fragrant yellow rice and a green tomato ketchup. Somebody brought us a bunch of green cherry tomatoes from a field that needed to be tilled under for fall crops and so we made a big batch of spicy green tomato ketchup from them.

Corn Crème Caramel with Duck Breast

Duck. Here's another savory crème caramel. I just love the silky texture that it brings to a dish. This one is made from fresh corn flavored with thyme. You also see grilled Moulard duck breast, baby brussels sprouts, and a fresh fig. I made a jus (almost a consommé but I didn't technically clarify it) from more pork belly goodness, defatted Surry sausage jus, and star anise. This jus I spooned over so that its salty essence could marry with the caramel giving a delicious sweet-salty contrast with a haunting star anise note to bring out the spice in the accompanying Barossa Shiraz.

Pawpaw Panna Cotta

Pawpaw. We've been fortunate this year to have a local forager supply us wild pawpaws which have a banana-melon-mango flavor very similar to jackfruit. But pawpaws are a gigantic pain in the ass to prepare, unlike jackfruit. Here you see a plate with pawpaw purée, crème anglaise, and maple syrup on the plate, with miniature pawpaw panna cottas scattered about. Though it's hard tell, the large ball is a ball of coconut sorbet rolled in crushed black walnuts, with an oatmeal lace cookie sticking out of it.

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