Friday, March 11, 2011

Game Changers

Diner commentary at the Food Night table (pictured) has always led me to believe that the seared scallops at Food Nights past have been up to par.

And looking back, I honestly do think they were pretty good. But Food Night isn’t satisfied with “pretty good”. So in a quest to turn that culinary par into a birdie (or better), Food Night tried something new with the seared scallops this time. The results? I’ll let this picture say a thousand words………

I mean………… THAT is how you sear a scallop! End. Of. Discussion.

Food Night actually has a bit of a foodgasm every time it looks at that picture. I may even go to Sears and get wallet sized copies of that picture made and pass them out to strangers on the street, like some people do with pictures of their grandkids. And you think I’m kidding…

I guess what I’m saying is, this scallop searing methodology “tweak” was a bit of a GAME CHANGER. And actually it was only one of TWO game changers that transpired at “Food Night – Quack Edition”.

Game Changer #1; The shockingly simple scallop searing scenario.

Game Changer #2; DUCK CONFIT. Please witness….

Food Night is a bit ashamed it took this long to confit some duck. You know how sometimes when you are reading the letters to the editor of your favorite magazine, and someone writes in to say something like:

“Dear Sports Illustrated, it was actually Sven Blimpenberg and not Hugo Richalds that scored the game winning goal for Canada against Greenland in the Frozen Tundra Cup in 1962”.

And after printing the correction letter, the editor usually follows it with a “SI regrets the error”. Well, Food Night regrets the error, and will be confiting the bejezuz out of many fowl legs in the weeks and months to come.

And you should too! Therefore, Food Night is gonna show you how. That is…. if succulent, moist, rich, tender, literally falling off the bone goodness like this…

… would be of interest to you. And if it isn’t, well… I don’t know how to help you. You’re on your own.

So, two game changers, and we haven’t even BEGUN to discuss the wines of the night! Some were new and unique, some were familiar favorites, and then there was this guy… the winner of Best-In-Show for the evening…

*This seems like a good time to mention that, obviously, someone that knows what they are doing with a picture taking device was in attendance at Food Night. That would be Dan Stepaniak, the very same Dan from Heartland that provided the incredible duck product for “Food Night – Quack Edition”. THANK YOU Dan for your excellent contributions, culinary and otherwise, to Food Night!

To sum up; in the coming posts, we are going to revolutionize your scallop searing skills. We are going to build on your duck egg pasta making skills (that you have no doubt been practicing) via goat cheese raviolis AAAAAAAND via course #4 at “Food Night – Quack Edition”, dubbed Duck Three Ways...

*Come on, I can’t show you ALL the photos yet!!! But I can tell you, Duck Three Ways was located in the plates above, about 10 seconds after that picture was taken. And, I dare say, it was the highlight of the evening’s food stuffs.

So have a look at the menu for “Food Night – Quack Edition”, and your server will be along shortly to take your order…

Heartland Duck Charcuterie
procuitto, sausage, duck fat fried chipotle ciabatta

tomato, roasted red pepper, guajillo chile, foie gras buttered crouton

braised fennel, chipotle salsa, orange zest, hedgehog mushroom

Duck Three Ways
duck egg pasta, duck confit, foie gras butter

Goat Cheese Ice Cream, Mocha sherbet

Louis Latour, Pommard-Epenots, Premier Cru

Chateau Pichon Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac

Leroy, Bourgogne Blanc

Domaine des Remizieres, Hermitage Blanc, Cuvee Emilie

Le Are, Amarone della Valpolicella

Casanova di Neri, Pietradonice

Parusso, Barolo, Bussia Vigna Munie

Antinori, Guado Al Tasso

The Standish Wine Company, "The Relic", Shiraz, Viogner

Clarendon Hills, Old Vines Grenache, Kangarilla Vineyard

Sutter Home, White Zinfandel

Friday, March 4, 2011

Food Night - Quack Edition

Before we get to the deets on how to turn the duck egg pasta you've no doubt perfected into a succulent goat cheese transportation device, I thought you might be interested that...

FOOD NIGHT is happening tomorrow, March 5th!!! Yes, I know, it's a big deal. Food Night shunned it's day job today to prep and shop and generally freak out about the menu, which... if things go according to plan... is really going to be special and rather thematic. Thematic in two ways...


Yep, Food Night is throwing down a mass quantities of DUCK. Now, Food Night knows what you are thinking; "Wow, cute duck! But, isn’t this a new protein for you, Food Night? Have you ever cooked duck before?". And the answer is "Yes, that is a cute duck and his name is Fritz, and he was unharmed by Food Night. And no, of course I've never cooked duck before." But I was inspired and encouraged by, you guessed it, Ruhlman. Ruhlman basically said I was insane if I wasn't confit'ing duck. And since I'd basically jump off a bridge if Ruhlman told me to, I thought I better get on this duck confit thing.

But there was a problem... where do I buy duck? Grocery store? Um, no, not gonna buy frozen Donald legs from the grocery store. Nope. And no, not gonna mail order some Quacker legs from D'Artagnan. Doesn’t seem right, poultry via mail. So what does one do when one lives in Mpls/St. Paul and one wants duck stuffs? One goes to theme #2...


Heartland Farm Direct Market! This place is transforming the way I shop. The proteins they pedal are so pristine, perfectly portioned, and properly procured, I cannot walk in there and leave without grabbing something to throw in the cast iron skillet. And it just so happens that they offer duck stock, too. And duck eggs. And duck prosciutto. And duck fat. But Heartland is more than a duck emporium, sometimes you can get things like wild boar chops, or the most succulent and tasty beef tenderloin you've ever had… (you remember how to cook beef tenderloin, right? Thought so.)…..

…and a million other things like house made sausages and other cured meat treats that reside in their glass case of food-emotion!!!....

Food Night has shopped the living hell out of Heartland recently, buying this, trying that, eating this, cooking that. And when you frequent a place enough, sometimes you strike up a vibe with the people on the payroll. So when a spot at the Food Night table recently opened up, I offered the vacancy to Dan at Heartland. And I’m happy to announce that Dan will be joining the festivities on Saturday! Dan has contributed a pile of knowledge and product to this Food Night table, and we are fired up to have him dine with us.

This Food Night also has an "A" list of Haskell's folks coming, so the wines are guaranteed to be completely ridiculous. And in case anyone brings a small child, Food Night's resident pediatrician Dr. Tom will be on-site.

PLUS - courtesy of said pediatrician and the rest of the gang at the Minneapolis Auxiliary Chapter of Food Night, this marks the first time Food Night has had THIS little beauty at its disposal....

As you can see, things are shaping up quite nicely this Food Night's Eve. We are churning out a menu full of new flavors and ingredients… stop back soon to see how it shakes out.