Here are photos from another recent tasting. Couple of ideas that I would like to remember here, especially the mussel soup, the kale salad, and the rabbit Bourguignon in pastry.
Mussel Soup. This dish started with a color, saffron, chorizo oil against a golden soup. From there it morphed into something of a deconstructed paella. The soup is salsify with saffron, mussel broth, and a little cream. The main garnish is a mussel salad: mussels, EVOO, Sherry vinegar, garlic, roasted red peppers, and diced tomatoes. The minor garnishes are chorizo oil, crispy chorizo, and socarrat—the crispy rice bits from the bottom of the paella pan.
Kale Salad. This is a blatant rip-off of a wonderful salad that Kelly White of Glen Manor Vineyards served me a few days ago. She's a great chef and this is a fantastic must-remember salad! It is tedious to pull off the tender, frilly edges of the kale, but after that, it is child's play. Garnishes for the salad include crispy pork belly bits, crispy bacon, grated pecorino, dried sweetened cranberries (Kelly used currants), roasted butternut squash, and croutons fried in bacon fat. To this I added some bacon fat, EVOO, lots of lemon juice, a touch of maple syrup, salt, pepper, and some minced garlic; and, surprise of surprises: I adjusted it to taste!
Rabbit Bourguignon. We are blessed with lots and lots of rabbits and so we struggle to find good ways to use them. And among the dozens of ways, we really do love this one. The trick, to sell rabbits in our market, is to take it off the bone, something that is anathema to Europeans who are used to rabbit on the bone. Once we take it off the bone, it is formless and we struggle, absent the bones, to give it form and definition on the plate. Wrapping the rabbit in pastry is a great and tasty way to present it. We have cooked the rabbit in the traditional Burgundian style with bacon, onions, mushrooms (cèpes or porcini), and Pinot Noir. A little of the reduced braising liquid serves as a sauce and some tiny Brussels sprouts serve as garnish.
Veal Shank Puttanesca; Black Barley Barlotto
Veal Shank. We lucked into some tiny veal shanks and so we did a take off on ossobuco, braising the veal in a puttanesca (spicy tomato with anchovies, capers, and olives) sauce. Rather than risotto milanese, we did a barlotto, black barley cooked in the style of risotto. Good hearty food, but culinarily unmemorable.
Pawpaw Parfait. Back in the fall, we collected a lot of pawpaws and froze a lot of pawpaw pulp against the day when there wouldn't be a lot of local fruit with which to work. This parfait looked a lot nicer in person than it does here: you really cannot see the ruby red of the cranberry jelly layer that sits on top of the pawpaw panna cotta layer. On top of the cranberry layer is a layer of vanilla custard, a sprinkle of crunchy granola, and a whirl of whipped cream. Surprises: hidden in the middle of the panna cotta is a chocolate truffle and hidden in the vanilla custard is a swirl of orange cream cheese.
Ed Matthews is the owner and executive chef of One Block West, a fine dining restaurant in Winchester, Virginia. The restaurant's menu changes daily and showcases the bounty of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.