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Posts tagged ‘Farmer’s Markets’

Sunday (I don’t want to get on the Jitney) Dinner

Sunday Dinner at the Loboscos in Sag Harbor, NY.

Crisp white wine, sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes of different shapes, sizes, and vibrant hues, savory and salty baked clams– the flavors of summer in themselves are an escape from the city during these especially hot days and nights. Sunday dinner after a beautiful weekend in the Hamptons is always a bittersweet event. Fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market, friends, and family, always make for an amazing meal, but supper is always the last thing I can fit in before boarding the bus headed back to Manhattan.

Tonight I was a guest at my friend Stephen’s house in Sag Harbor for dinner. After a completely kitchen-free weekend, I was happy to throw together a few no-fuss sides to add to an already impressive spread. I had been talking so much about my watermelon and arugula salad the day before at the beach, I decided to make it again this evening with some ingredients from the Amagansett Farmer’s Market, along with some quick pickled red onions and cherry tomatoes.

The produce at the Amagansett Farmer’s Market is amazing, and my friends, despite being foodies, still could not quite understand my excitement over my salad supplies. The baby arugula was the most tender, peppery, absolutely perfect green I have ever tasted, I have to say, it was probably worth it’s $6.99 per 1/4 of a pound price I failed to notice.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pepitas, and Lemon Vinagrette


For my watermelon salad I mixed the arugula with some frisee to bulk it up enough to serve the group of 10. I cubed half of a sweet seedless watermelon, and about 6 ounces of salty ricotta salata cheese. I tossed in a bunch of salted pepitas (sunflower seeds are delicious too) for a little crunch, and I usually dress it with a simple lemony champagne vinaigrette (1 shallot, minced, juice of 1 lemon, 2 T champagne vinegar, 1 T dijon mustard, 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper). This salad is incredibly light and refreshing, easy, and goes well with almost any summer meal.

Stephen’s dad grilled a steak and burgers, and whipped up a batch of baked clams in the backyard (which deserve much more attention than my vegetable side-dishes) while we enjoyed the pool, some Southampton Double White Ales, and the company of three very funny little dogs. We ate under the vine-covered pergola, and Stephen’s mom set the table with blue checkered cloth and wildflower bouquets, my favorite combination for any summertime spread.

The table being set up...


Clams!


Before we could see sun setting, or the paper lanterns illuminated in the trees of the yard, we were having our last laughs, sips, and bites and running out to the car. Now, typing this and only seeing the red glow of brake lights out the window of the bus, it seems much more than 100 miles away from that special tranquility, comfort, and certain contentedness that can be found in the summer at home.

Vespa!

Homemade Maraschino Cherries with Fresh (In Season) Sour Cherries

Fresh Sour Cherries from the Farmer's Market

Brilliant red, plump– ready to burst with sweet and tangy juices, the sour cherry is certainly a seasonal farmer’s market treasure. Only in season a few short weeks, while these delicious fruits can be used for all kinds of cooking, I wanted to be able to preserve them for later in the year. While pies, tarts, sauces, etc. are great now, come Fall, I can’t wait to savor these homemade Maraschino cherries in an ice cold Manhattan.

Homemade Maraschino cherries are incredibly easy to make, especially when you have a cherry pitter, like the one by OXO pictured here:

A cherry pitter can also be used for olives, and if you have room in your kitchen drawers for one, it really saves a lot of time compared to using a paper clip or pin to remove the pits. Make sure to wear an apron for this task though, sour cherries have a softer, thinner skin than the regular variety, and are extremely juicy– which can easily lead to quite a mess.

Once your cherries are pitted, simply warm Maraschino liqueur to a gentle simmer, and pour them over the cherries in a clean canning jar. Maraschino is made from Marasca cherries, and crushed cherry pits which lends an almond-like flavor to the liqueur. These cherries will be far from the sticky-sweet cherries from your Shirley Temple days, and if the boozy flavor is a bit too strong for your tastes, the liquor can be mixed with a bit of water and sugar to your taste.

Use these cherries to top any ice cream sundae this summer, or come cooler weather use this recipe for the perfect Manhattan cocktail:

2.25 oz Rye Whiskey
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes bitters

In a rocks glass filled with ice, combine all ingredients, stir, and garnish with a cherry. Or, to serve up, stir all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, strain, and serve in a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.

Still on a Rampage.

Ramps from Mountain Sweet Berry at Union Square Farmer's Market

After the harsh winters of New England everyone is ready for a sure sign of spring. For chefs and foodies, the new season will mean the slow introduction of some of natures most elusive gifts, with some flavors, after all the waiting, just sticking around for a few short weeks. Spring invites color back into the landscape with buds and leaves appearing on trees, and flowers beginning to bloom, just as much as it brings color back to plates. Colorful dishes mimic the palate of spring, filled with a range of green hues, bright yellows, and vibrant reds. The flavors that these ingredients hold are just as exciting. The tender and delicate bite of a ramp, the spiciness of a round red radish, the earthy lightness of a morel mushroom, or the sweetness of peas straight from the pod.

But there is no taste of spring as entising as the ramp. Also known as the wild leek, the ramp is an onion native to North America. The bulb resembles that of a scallion, but has the beautiful dark green flat, broad leaves to set it apart. Ramps have been available in the Union Square farmer’s market for the past few weeks, as well as in the Chelsea Whole Foods, Eli Zabars, and Eataly, and will remain in season until early June.

Enough pickled ramps for a few weekends worth of bloody marys.

Lightly sautéed they are a great addition to pasta dishes, they can be made into a pesto, and pickling them is a great way to keep them around when they are no longer available (plus, the pickled version makes a killer bloody mary). See my recipe for pickled ramps on the Martha Stewart Everyday Food blog here. In addition to the pickled ramps, here are a few other dishes I’ve made lately.

Homemade pasta with sauteed ramps, oyster mushrooms, and fiddlehead ferns


Cheddar and Ramp Biscuits


Ramp Sausage at Marlow & Daughters in Williamsburg


Ramps, Asparagus, and Lilacs. Spring in a single picture.

Not So Plump Dumpling

Dumplings with Winter Farmer's Market Veggies (and Siracha of Course)

Everyone loves a good dumpling, but if you’re just ordering from the Chinese place around the corner, chances are their veggie dumplings will be made with thick dough, and filled with little more than cabbage. This appitizer is suprisingly easy to make at home with store-bought wonton wrappers, and it’s possible you can even have a healthy, flavor-filled batch ready before take out could arrive at your door.

You can get pretty creative with how you stuff your dumplings, just decide if the ingredients need to be cooked prior to filling (steaming only takes about 5 minutes, and you want the filling to be soft… so if it won’t be soft (or for a protein, cooked) in 5 minutes give it a quick saute), and then give them a quick chop in the food processor. Even in the winter you can find amazing greens and root vegetables that are in season, and incredibly nutritious (and of course, delicious).

For my dumplings I used some of the amazing produce I got yesterday at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. I got Shiitake and Pioppini Mushrooms from John D. Madura Farm. The Pioppini have a great peppery flavor, and are an excellent addition to stir-frys as well.

Shiitake and Pioppini Mushrooms from John D. Madura Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket

I also diced, and sautéed some Sweet Potato. I also quickly sautéed the Baby Bok Choy, even though it was super tender, I just wanted to make sure the bottoms of the leaves had no crunch in the dumpling.

Baby Bok Choy

While the ingredients cooked, I made a sauce based on a Mark Bittman recipe for Steamed Shrimp and Cilantro Shu Mai . A simple mixture of Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Rice Wine, Scallions, and Fresh Ginger this sauce will hold the ingredients together in the dumpling, as well as serve as a dipping sauce later.

I gave the cooked ingredients a quick pulse in the food processor along with a few tablespoons of the sauce.

Fill the won-ton wrappers with about a teaspoon of the mixture. Moisten the edges with water, fold in half to make a triangle, and crimp the edges just like a pie crust. To make a Shu-Mai shape, just gather the edges around the center instead of folding, pleating the edges, but leaving some filling exposed.

Steam for about 5 minutes (until wrapper is completely tender), or give a quick pan sear like I did.

For Sauce:

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 T Rice Wine
1 T Sesame oil
1 T Minced Ginger (or more… to taste)*
1/4 Cup Chopped Scallions (White only)

*To peel ginger try using a spoon, much easier!

Sunday Morning Breakfast Sandwich (After The Saturday Afternoon Farmer’s Market)

Just because I haven’t been blogging for the past few weeks, certainly doesn’t mean that I have not been cooking, or eating (believe me!) I’ve moved on to level III of the Classic Culinary Arts program at the French Culinary Institute, and moved on from Chef Scott, to the infamous “Chef X.” Chef X has a more Gordon Ramsey-esque teaching still, and while we must remain almost completely silent throughout class, his thick accented voice has not problem carrying over our pots and pans, and knives chopping.

There is no debate it has been a tough couple of weeks so far, but Chef X keeps reinforcing something that at this point in the program people really need to figure out. As he sees it “if you cannot cook from your heart, than you shouldn’t be here.” While his criticism, rules, and yelling isn’t easy to deal with after working for 8 hours, I can say that I very quickly have had to lose my bad habits, and get organized, focused, and just COOK!

This means, that when I do have free times on the weekends, I have been doing a lot of cooking also. It’s been a great few weeks while friends had time off for the holidays to get together for some informal dinner parties. A few of my friends became vegetarians, and vegans, for their new year’s resolution, so this has been a fun opportunity to try some new dishes. There have been lots of seasonal salads, fresh pasta dishes, and winter produce such as butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squashes, kale, beets, and when available wild mushrooms.

This is my first full weekend back in the city for a few weeks, and after a couple of fun-filled nights with my friends, I dedicate this post to the very important weekend breakfast sandwich. The sandwich I made today made use of ingredients I purchased at the Union Square Farmer’s Market yesterday afternoon, and while it involves cheese, and just enough grease, it felt a little less guilty than your average Bacon, Egg, and Cheese, because of it’s fresh ingredients.

I got these wonderful Araucana blue chicken eggs from Lynnhaven farm at the market that I couldn’t wait to use. Here is the photo of the finished sandwich on Bread Alone sourdough bread, with a sweet potato shallot hashbrown, scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms, and arugula, with the recipe to follow!

Ingredients
(Makes 2 Sandwiches)

For Hash Brown:
1 Large Sweet Potato
2 shallots
Fresh (or good quality dried) thyme

For Eggs:
Assorted Wild Mushrooms (Oyster, Maitake…)
3 Whole Eggs
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I used Cabot Clothbound)

arugula
2 thick slices bread (toasted)
Vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper
Unsalted Butter

Sweet Potato Hash Brown
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Shred potato over a towel
-Season with salt and pepper and thyme
-Sweat shallots in a small saute pan with butter until some color develops
-In the towel, squeeze excess water out of potato.
-Remove shallots from pan, add to potatoes. Wipe pan clean and add a good amount of vegetable oil. Wait until ripples form in the oil, it is important that it’s very hot, or the potato will stick!
-Add potatoes and press down with spatula. Add more oil if necessary, pull hash brown up at edges to check color. When golden brown, flip. Brown other side, then top with few small pieces of butter, finish in oven.

For Rest of Sandwich:

-First cook mushrooms in a pan with a little bit of oil until golden brown. Season once color is achieved.
-I put my eggs with a little salt and pepper right in the same pan and scrambled. I scrambled them loosely and let them form and cook to the shape of the pan so it wouldn’t be as messy on the sandwich.
-Shred cheddar on top, place in oven until it melts.

To Assemble:
-Butter toast.
-Remove hashbrown from oven, cut in half, place on toast for,one each sandwich.
-Remove eggs from oven, cut in half, place one top of each hashbrown.
-Top with arugula, and a few dashes of hot sauce to taste.
-Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Recap

Now that we are no longer the stuffed, satiated lushes we were since Wednesday, (and no longer able to sleep in), I figured I have no excuse not to be productive and post about my holiday meal. Thanksgiving went by without a hitch this year… well almost (we won’t talk about my bacon related meltdown at the local Stop & Shop– the result of which my mother officially labeled me as “one of those obnoxious food people”). After trying to go completely local and seasonal, there were a few things that I forgot to add to my list, one of which was slab bacon. But otherwise, besides quite a mess, I feel everything came out really well. By taking on all the cooking, I hope my family got a little more time to enjoy each other’s company, or at least find some amusement or time to relax. The wine certainly helped if my cooking did not.

The Thanksgiving Spread

Vermont Cheeses

For the cheese plate I picked all Vermont cheeses that I purchased at Murray’s Cheese Shop:

Jasper Hill, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar: Nutty and sharp, aged one year.
Champlain Valley, Triple Cream: A buttery and rich creamy cow’s milk cheese from Vergennes, VT.
Consider Bardwell, Manchester: Raw Goat’s Milk, Intense and biting in character, paired best with the Wolffer Big Apple Wine.
Dancing Cow, Lindy Hop: Raw Cow’s Milk Blue, very earthy and barnyardy, also tasted great with the Big Apple wine, could also be paired with something even more sweet.

I served the cheeses with sliced granny smith’s and some La Quercia Proscuitto. I also made some simple maple roasted pecans.

1 bag pecans
2 T Vermont Maple Syrup
2 T Oil
Fine Salt (Sea Salt or I used Fleur De Sel)

Toss all ingredients and bake approximetly 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Sprinkle with salt while warm. Experiment with different herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, or even cayenne.

Uncle Gary Carving the Bird

The turkey came out really well and was extremely moist with I attribute to the brining process, something I have been doing for the past few years. I use Martha Stewart’s Brine Recipe, a mix of salt, sugar, and seasonings. Brining for 24 hours ensures that the turkey will retain much more of its moisture, and absorb much of the flavors added to liquid. I stuffed the turkey with carrots, celery, fennel, sage, lemon and thyme before cooking. We all really noticed the difference in flavor and moisture with the farm-bought bird and plan on making it a tradition.

Brussels and Potatoes

I made mashed potatoes for my two little cousins, and the secret here is as you probably guessed: butter. When you think there is enough butter, add some more.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon:

1 stalk (roughly 16oz) Brussels Sprouts
3 slices thick bacon
3 T Vermont Maple Syrup
3 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine all ingredients. Roast 20-30 minutes until sprouts have carmelized.

Acorn Squash with Sage & Cream, Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cherries, Pecans, and Sausage (and Leeks)

The recipe for the squash can be found in the post below. The stuffing I adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. I also used a box of Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix because after making pie crust, cranberry sauce, and brining the turkey after arriving in Connecticut Wednesday night, I just didn’t feel like making cornbread too. But here is the recipe for the Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Dried Cherries, Pecans, and Leeks.

1 lb bulk sausage
1 large onion
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and greens
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 box, bag, or batch of cornbread stuffing, or cornbread
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3 eggs

Brown sausage in saute pan and place on paper towel. Leave drippings in pan, and saute onions, celery, and leeks until translucent. Add stock to deglaze any sucs in pan. Pour over stuffing. Combine all ingredients and pour into 9 x 13 in baking pan. Cook about 15 minutes in a 300 degree oven.

I will add the photos and recipes of the desserts tomorrow, so keep posted!

Easy as Pie… (Well… Kind of…)

Cold Rainy Day... Perfect for Warm Apple Pie!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I figured it was time to start experimenting a bit with pie. Pie, especially apple, is such a classic New England dessert, and the favorite of so many people– that’s why it is really such a shame when a delicious holiday feast is finished up with store-bought or frozen crust pies. Because that is what really separates a good pie from a bad one, after all– the crust.

While I really enjoy baking, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by making my own pie dough. My mom told me she attempted it in the past, but I had never seen her do it, and my grandmother had always bought decent apple pies from the orchard down the street from her home in Connecticut. Whenever I baked pies while in school, I would use Vermont Mystic Pie’s frozen pie crusts. When baked, it’s really difficult to tell these crusts are store-bought. They are so good, I’d always bring them back with me for the holidays. But I have not been able to find these crusts outside of Vermont, and expectations for Thanksgiving this year are high because of my culinary schooling, so thus, I broke out some flour, butter, and a rolling-pin, and had at it.

We have a pie and tart dough lesson at the FCI in two weeks, but I asked Chef for advice any way. I thought it would be difficult without a food processor, but Chef assured me it wasn’t. On a clean countertop, I cut the cubed cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until it was the size of small peas. I then made a small well in the center to which I added my cold wet ingredients a little at a time. I had read in last months Cook’s Illustrated that by replacing some of the water with vodka, because gluten won’t readily form in alcohol, you are able to add more liquid to the dough which makes it a little easier to work with. (The flavor burns off during baking). I had plenty of vodka in stock, and was looking to make things as easy for myself as I could, so I decided to try this method.

I then fraisaged the dough, a technique Chef emphasized in ensuring a really successful flakey crust. To do this, you form walnut-sized pieces of dough and smear them against your work surface with the heel of your hand. This makes even thin layers of butter within the dough.

It is important to refrigerate your dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. I didn’t have a lot of free time this week, so I ended up keeping mine in the fridge for two days. I let it sit for a few minutes before starting to roll it out on my floured work surface.

The rolling wasn’t easy. Every recipe I’ve read stresses applying even pressure and rolling from the inside out, but I found my dough did crack a bit, which forced me to handle it a little more… warming it up further, and making it even more difficult to work with. I guess it just takes a bit of practice.

I keep my filling fairly simple and not overly sweet. My favorite apples to work with are cortland. They are tart, crisp, and hold their shape well. I couldn’t find any locally grown cortlands at the Union Square farmer’s market, so I bought macintosh apples which tend to lose their shape and are better for apple sauces. I took the advice of Lucinda Scala Quinn from her cookbook Mad Hungry and balanced the sweet flavor of the macs with some tart granny smiths. I cut the apples into fairly thin, even wedges, (about 1/4 cm), I usually use about 8 apples. I go easy on the sugar, keeping it to under 1/2 cup (I use organic cane sugar), because I also add some Vermont maple syrup for sweetness. I add lemon juice, lemon zest, and for spices I use a good amount of cinnamon, and just a pinch of allspice, ginger, and some freshly grated nutmeg. I covered the pie and refrigerated it for about a half hour before baking for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Here is the recipe for “Foolproof Pie Dough” I used from Cook’s Illustrated. In the original recipe it called for 1/2 cup vegetable shortening in addition to the butter, because it is a pure fat with no water (water encourages gluten development), but I just had butter, so that’s what I used.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks COLD unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup cold water

I topped my warm apple pie with a few thin slices of Shelburne Farms 2 year cheddar… and I have to say… it was pretty amazing. I think for my next pie I will try a different dough recipe, and hopefully learn a few more tips in class to pass on before thanksgiving. Please comment with any advice you might have! And of course to keep in theme with last post… Both Quinn and my friend Annie’s grandmother agree… Men love desserts, but pie is their favorite. Didn’t get to have this one tested as planned, but hope to get some input on next weeks experiment.

Upcoming Events: Eat Drink Local Week

Click Here to find out more about the second annual Eat Drink Local week, a collaboration of Edible Communities, Grow NYC, and local restaurants, wineries, breweries, farmers, food artisans, and more. Described not just as a restaurant week, but as a get-to-know your local food market, farmer, and artisan food-maker week. Events feature locavore meals and deals, the Sotheby’s Vegetable Auction, the Stone Barns Harvest Fest, and more.

Butternut Squash, Wild Mushroom, and Sage Risotto

That brisk breeze in the air this week has been quite the relief. No more air conditioners, and hopefully a final farewell to the general stickiness, smelly-ness, and other joys that make up summer in the city. Fall is also a time to welcome back our favorite sweaters, scarves, flannels, the warm colors of the changing leaves, and some of the most comforting ingredients from local harvests. Fall means apples, winter squashes (Butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin), leeks, root veggies, Brussel sprouts, and beans. These are some of my favorite vegetables, and autumn dishes are some of my favorite of the year. I am looking forward to doing a lot of experimenting while practicing my knife skills and cooking techniques for school.

This week I made a simple Butternut Squash, Sage, and Wild Mushroom Risotto. Risotto is easy to make, inexpensive, and can make a hearty main dish as well as a rich side to meat dishes. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash
1 cup Arborio rice
1 quart homemade or free-range chicken stock
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
1 T chopped fresh sage
Hen-of-the-woods (Maitake) mushrooms
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Procedure:

1. Peel the squash, remove seeds, square off, and chop into 3/4 inch cubes. Put on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper Roast about 30 mins.

2. Mince shallots, and in a large pot, melt butter. Saute shallots until clear. Ass the rice and cook for about 3 minutes.

3. Add stock one cup at a time, simmering on low heat, about every ten minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms in a rough chop. Saute in oil or butter, adding water, until somewhat soft (about 10 minutes, but it’s best to taste for doneness).

5. Cook for about 45 minutes total (until rice is al dente). Remove from heat.

6. Add squash, and stir in cheese and chopped sage.

7. Garnish with cheese.

Stay tuned for my next fall recipe, Savory Polenta with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes, Japanese Eggplant, and mozzarella Cheese.

Maitake Mushrooms, fresh from Union Square.

So Long, Sweet Summer.

It is a bittersweet thing to say goodbye to summer, but there is nothing like a colorful bounty of late August produce straight from the farm to bring the season to an end. John decided this would be exactly the way our summer should come to a close, by enjoying all our local community could offer us before I had to depart back to city life–and the French Culinary Institute! Oh, yeah, and… work– full-time.

While I had been anxiously awaiting John’s party all week, myself and the rest of the Island were also just as anxiously anticipating Hurricane Earl. Determined that the show must go on, John ventured to the East Hampton farmer’s market early Friday morning before the storm could get really bad (which it never did, excluding our very wet entrance, and a brown-out that killed our melancholy mix of music for a brief moment).

John had picked up a diverse and mouth-watering wealth of produce– from red, orange, yellow, green, and deep purple heirloom tomatoes of varying shapes and sizes, scallions, vibrant (and incredibly fragrant) basil, and of course no meal would be complete without some of David Falkowski’s mushrooms (this time they were oyster, which John had been telling us all summer, are the absolute best). He had also picked up some mozzarella cheese, made that morning in East Hampton town. And Vanessa and Conor had brought over a selection of veggies from their garden as well, including carrots, plum tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

Straight from Vee's Garden

While sipping Campari and Sodas (though we agreed given the weather, Dark and Stormys may have been more appropriate), John prepared our first course, a really simple dish that he promised would really surprise us. Sautéed Scallions with a little ground black pepper and sea salt– it doesn’t get easier than that, yet I had really never thought about serving them alone. The fresh scallions were so flavorful, and incredibly delicious.

For our next course, I prepared stacks of heirloom tomato slices, the FRESH (did I mention it was made that morning?) mozzarella cheese, and basil, topped with a little extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and just a fine drizzle of a really beautiful bottle of balsamic. We soaked up the tomatoes’ juice, oil, salt and vinegar with some fresh baguette.

Now with the flavors of this mild, sweet, airy cheese, the occasional salty bite, or zesty and herbal from the basil, we moved on to our fourth bottle of wine, and the main dish.

The Impossible-to-Describe-How-Good-They-Are Oyster Mushrooms

The main course would really be a showcase for the beautiful oyster mushrooms. Sautéed lightly in butter and garlic, he served the mushrooms over fregola, with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley and shaved parmesan.

Our conversation, the music, our wine, and most of all our food was spectacular. The mushrooms stole the show– we dedicated a solid five minutes to trying to put together some words to describe just how amazing they are. If we came up with anything, that thought out definition must have gotten lost in the wine.

For Dessert I baked a really simple Kutchen with some sugar plums I had bought on the North Fork. Not too sweet, with just a hint of cinnamon, topped with some vanilla frozen yogurt, and of course, paired with some more wine, it made for a pretty fabulous finish to an incredible meal.

We held toasts to many things that night. To great friends, great food, and some new and exciting things happening this Fall. Outside, it no longer seemed like summer, but we were full and warm from wine and the comforting of the season. Autumn will arrive soon with new ingredients for another dinner party, and the promise of more fond memories to come.

About the Wine (Thanks for helping me remember John).

With Appetizers:
Chateau Le Thil Comte Clary Pessac Leognan 2004 White Bordeaux. We loved this. Great light wine with a beautiful lychee finish.

With Mozzarella:
Domus Vitae
Brunello di Montalcino 2004. Started great but faded quickly. Started with a smoke and cherry front, after breathing a bit flavor became less complex and more fruity.

Then…
Clos Del Conde
PRIORAT 2004 Spanish Grenache/Carignan/Cabernet/Syrah Blend. We loved this.

With Dinner:
Patrick Lesec
Chateauneuf Du pape “Galets Blonds” 2006. We really loved this. With a higher alcohol content, this flavor quickly hit the back of the tongue. Full-bodied and complex, we tasted fruit flavors and a sweet tannin along with a hint of richer, darker flavors like espresso.

Thank you again John for being a wonderful host, and to Vanessa, Conor, and Jim as well for being the best company!