Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Man Cave Moves Upstairs...

After what seemed like an impossibly long hiatus during the Holiday Season, etc. the gang finally reconvened at Teddy's house for a meal that promised not to disappoint.  I arrived early & surprisingly sober for a meal that had my mouth watering ever since I got the menu email the day before.

Teddy moved us into the kitchen as the Man Cave has now turned into his home office.  No matter though as we were now much closer to the food & action on the stove. There was a cornucopia of alchohol flowing around as we waited eagerly for the first course.  My personal favourite was the growler of Rouge Deadguy ale which really didn't last long at all (boo!)

First course: Snails, parsley and bacon on duck fat toast.  Teddy powered up his panini press & churned out this excellent opening dish.  The smoked bacon was an excellent addition, but surprisingly not salty at all.  I had expected it to overpower the dish, but the flavor was extremely subtle.  The snails (w/tarragon & rosemary) were really tasty. Velvety, rich (thank God for duck fat!) & morish... Teddy knocked this one out of the park.

We moved right on to the second course; Duck and pork terrine with apricots and pistachios, English Cumberland sauce. Oh Lordy! I was so excited about this dish after seeing it on the menu. The terrine had pistachios, prunes & apricot & was wrapped in bacon (which Teddy called 'the stockings').  It was really dense & tasted awesome.  I thought that the Cumberland Sauce (port, citrus, honey, mustard & stock) was a bit on the sweet side, but it went right down my cakehole like the rest of the food.

We took a break here to compose ourselves & sign our DNR agreements. Skate, ragout of onion, peas and chives, fennel custard, caper crumbs. I was so glad that this course was on the light-side.  I could already feel my arteries constricting...  The pan seared skate (which was dusted with salt, pepper & flour) was light & fresh. The fennel custard (which, unfortunately, is impossible to see in this picture) was the first savory 'flan' that I've ever had.  I say Flan because that was the general consistency of it & boy was it good. Basically made from fennel seed & cream, I have no idea how Teddy came up with this idea, but I'm glad he did.  The peas were prepared with fish stock, cream & chives.  All in all, a light, buttery dish.  The caper crumbs added an awesome little crunch too.

The waft of beefy goodness leaking from the oven had us all begging for this course: Orange and ginger braised beef short ribs, quinoa with wild mushrooms, confit baby tomatoes.  The ribs literally fell apart at the slightest touch.  I didn't even need a knife for this dish.  The ginger & orange was a nice spicy/sweet touch & tangy as well.  The sauce was a bit on the oily side, but I'm not going to complain about that.  This was by far the heaviest dish of the menu, probably due to the truffle butter (I wish you guys could smell this!)

After another break & lots of drinking, we moved on to the last course: 'Manhattan Special' affogato, dark chocolate Marcona almonds.  Honestly, this was the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted since Mike P's Bacon Martini, Hence the lack of pictures.  I don't like floats in any way, shape or form, so this was NOT my cup of tea!  I did manage to pick out most of the coffee ice cream which was awesome.

I'm glad that the club is back in full swing & as a side note, Teddy & Serena had a baby girl today, so I'd like to give a huge high-five to them.  Baby Rome is going to be the best fed child in America!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

JC's Thursday Night Explosion

August 20th, 2009.

It's almost embarrassing how much time has passed since this date. It is February 21, 2010 today, and 6 months have passed to this day. But I could not let JC's Thursday Night be left without my attempt at a proper acknowledgement.

8/20/2009 was my first night at JC's home and prior to arriving he had warned us that we should be prepared for a very warm night as his A/C was not cooling off his home on this particularly hot summer day. What he did not tell us is that he was offering us showers of sweat with his wonderful meal. I recall that Teddy phrased it nicely: "It's like we walked into a lung!", while Adam mentioned that he at least now knew what it would be like to be cremated.

So drenched and drooling, JC began to show us how he does TNC.

Bacon Explosion & BBQ Sauce.

A meal former President Bill Clinton would thoroughly enjoy no doubt. I had yet to try this American terrine surrounded by a criss-cross of crispy, thick bacon. I had obviously heard about it, but did not realize just what exactly it was that I was missing out on. But now I understand the infatuation with this dish: your fork penetrates through the crisp piggy outside, then draws delicious juices from the porky moist inside... simple right? Simple or not, it is truly an amazing all American dish. I must say, it reminds me a little too much of the Superbowl for some reason, which I detest. But it is a great recipe for bacon lovers, and for those who want to venture exploring the extreme deliciousness of bacon and pork.

Macaroni & Cheese with Lobster and Truffle Infusion.

Even before this plate hit the table, we couldn't help but notice the truffle aroma lifting off of the gooey layers of pasta and cheese. Bite after bite, the taste of truffle and lobster consistently teased my palate and made me want more. This meal was paired with a wonderful sharp white pinot grigio that cut through the tasty bechamel that included cheddar, fontina and Parmesan. I also recall that this cool wine also made survival in JC's cheesy human stove possible. We were also all very happy with how the meal was baked under a perfect parsley, chive and breadcrumb crust.

Meatloaf with Millionaire Mash.

This wasn't just any meatloaf. Elk, veal and pork all made an appearance. And it wasn't any old mashed spuds. This was a version of Hester Blumenthal's mashed (Teddy explains that Hester studied cookery under the great Marco Pierre White, and and was responsible for a wonderful restaurant known as "Fat Duck"). As JC put it, he "did a bit of butter, then thought I should add some potato." But the real star was definitely the meatloaf. The celery in the meatloaf added a little crunch to the meaty goodness. But the moist meat was just so perfect... paired perfectly with the BBQ sauce. I wish I had a better photo, and perhaps one of the inside of this meatloaf. You just have to trust me: this was hands down the most delicious meatloaf I have EVER had, and JC should be damn proud.

Banana & Ginger Pudding.

JC made a big deal about not being happy with the pudding. He wanted it to be more "solid" and less floury, and perhaps it should have been a little more cooked. But I thought it was still delicious and the chocolate sauce over the pudding and the spice ginger and tender pieces of banana were quite tasty.

Despite my delay in acknowledging his wonderful meal, I suppose it says something about JC's skills in the kitchen that I still remember, 6 months later, how delicious it all was. As I sit here writing, I especially crave the meatloaf - oh, that perfect meatloaf. Perhaps I am hoping that JC does another night soon, although I know my own turn to host is long overdue. Hmmm, maybe I can just do JC's meatloaf for my turn to host... it is certainly a dish that could be the centerpiece, no, a masterpiece, to any dinner.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin