It was a great pleasure to be invited to prepare a specially designed meal for a small group of friends who hold court in a self described ‘dinner club’. The usual case is that one of the eight members picks a restaurant to attend on a monthly basis and it is their duty to further organize a date on which everyone is available, make reservations, etc. I believe their previous dinner was at Dante, and the next will be at The Baricelli Inn.
For this occasion, work began about one month ago. We narrowed down the date, and reviewed a menu, toured their kitchen, purchased raw ingredients, and finally we cooked this past Saturday! It was a treat to work in their kitchen. We did not want for a single tool, nor creature comfort as the air conditioning must have been set to a cool 60 degrees. We where even further lucky to find a food pantry stocked to the gills! We did make a fairly complete shopping list, but honey and ricotta some how didn’t make it to the party. Actually they where already there.
I’ve worked with a lot of grills in my days. Every restaurant I’ve cooked in had one, about 10 more at home, add on another 20 on picnics or camping and I would say the total number of grills I’ve cooked on approaches 45. Well I found the hottest one on earth, and it’s in Independence, Ohio. The thermostat on the hood hovered around 800 degrees, I was sure it was busted. Surely I was wrong when all the hair on my arm disappeared upon opening this beast. I likened it to a jet engine with cooking grates attached. An absolute inferno erupted the instant animal fat hit 1000 degree metal, and we where left scurrying for the hose with which the flames where quickly quenched and a small pond of fatty water accumulated not allowing for any further explosions. Most meals are highlighted by the entree, and this display of pyrotechnics assured that would be the case on this day as well. The rest of the menu played out as follows:
Foie Gras Mousse with Brandied Cherries
Pork Cheek Taco on Forest’s hand made Tortilla with Curry Banana-Bacon Guacamole
Poached Shrimp with classic Cocktail Sauce and an Avocado version
Michigan Asparagus salad, Papadew Pepper and Spinach ‘pesto’ Roasted Garlic whipped Ricotta, finished with Fleur de Sel
Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Tomato Soup, Beef Marrow Crouton
Grilled long bone Veal Chop, Mushroom Risotto, Spring Veggie (green beans, snap peas, sugar peas, turnips, carrots, boc choy and zucchini) Creamy Black Pepper Demi-glace
Vodka and Honey marinated stone fruit, spiced yogurt
and a Cheddar, Gouda, and Blue that I can’t remember the names.