Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Very Spring-tastic Food Night

Food Night. Spring. Spring + Food Night. What an opportunity!! Ramps. Asparagus. Peas. Eggs. Mushrooms. Oh, and Durden is in the house (literally). The outdoor dining zone is in play…

So please, witness what happens when Spring and Food Night collide....

Spring Orgasm Soup is what we called this. And full disclosure… Food Night got that terminology from Dan Step. This Spring, when all the ramps and asparagus and greens started appearing at Heartland, Dan sent me a text to the effect of “It looks like Spring had an orgasm in here!”. That slayed me, so I retained and reused that here. Yes, Food Night is so eco-friendly, we even reuse clever wordplay. So what... we've got here... is...... asparagus (blanched and shocked), English peas (ditto), ramp greens (ditto), parsley (ditto), all vitamix'd with a little half and half, and lemon. Silky springy goodness. That vitamix is a life altering apparatus, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. (Thanks again Mpls Auxiliary Chapter!!)

Pasta. Pasta is never a bad choice. Unlike milk, which yes… is sometimes a bad choice. But this time Food Night tossed a bit of white wine into the dough, to great success. The pesto was a little disappointing – I mean it worked, but I was efforting this (HIGHLY encourage you to check out that link… really). If anyone knows how to get pesto to look like that… like it’s had cream added to it… please let me know. My right arm is now twice as strong as my left from all the mortar-and-pestling, but my pesto did NOT look like that. Sure it tasted fine, delivering fresh basily and pine nutty goodness, but let’s just move on.

Chicken confit. Pea puree. Seared oyster mushroom. This....... was the REAL DEAL. One of the best things ever at Food Night. Just ask Alex. D-Step taught* Food Night the mushroom technique – mushrooms, tossed in oil, roasted in a 375ish oven until they have some color (10ish minutes? Maybe more… free country remember), then finished in a HOT pan with butter, hit with some fiiiiiiiiinely minced shallot and garlic, finished with a healthy pinch of fresh herbs and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. So literally the time from when the mushrooms enter the pan until they are done (if your pan is HOT enough…) is like a minute. Bang. That just happened.

*And apparently Adam Vickerman taught Step that technique... you want to cook (good) mushrooms like this is all I can say.

Hash. Smoked lamb shank (via Heartland), duck confit (via Food Night), fingerling potato, oyster mushroom, fresh herbs, brussles sprouts. Pea puree. Couple bacon lardons. And a perfect sunny side up egg. Looks good enough to eat, right? We thought so….

*We really aren't doing the pea puree justice here. I think Food Night first-timer Scott said "I could eat this stuff like yogurt". Yes - what he said.

To drink? This ......happened........

It's been a debate here at Food Night Home Offices... how much to really say about wines? Because after all, how interesting is it to hear about a wine that someone else drank? It can be informative, it can be interest peaking, it perhaps can even be mildly entertaining. But Food Night thinks... maybe less is more when it comes to the wine frothing at the mouth? So let's just say two things about this incredible wine...

1). The Dunn 2000 Howell Mountain (in Food Night's opinion) was vastly superior to the 2005 Clos Des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape, which we also (thoroughly) enjoyed that evening. And the '05 Clos Des Papes was not exactly Yellow Tail, seeing as how it earned Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" distinction in 2007. So... there's that.

2). The Dunn drank like high end bordeaux, and was consistent with the two prior Dunns we've had (the 1992 while on Food Night Field Trip, and the 2001). It was decanted for 10 hours prior to consumption, and drank perfectly. It probably elicited between 10 and 20 "Holy S&%t is this stuff amazing!!!" type comments during it's consumption from various consumers. Rich, full bodied, balanced, with a minty/eucalyptus tinge that we found very appealing, and a finish that I think I'm still tasting a week later.

Let's leave it at this - if Food Night was stranded on a deserted island, and could have a lifetime supply of one domestic CABERNET producer's wines (thus eliminating Calera from consideration....) dropped from a C-130 onto said island (a likely scenario, obviously)... Food Night would request Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet.

Yes... it's that good. Easily.