I spear my first piece of rabbit sausage with my blood-stained dagger that I've just removed from the garter around my bulging, sweaty calf, and curse the Visigoths while wearing my horned battle helmet and brandishing a flagon of mead. Or, I'm a barmaid servicing hundreds of heroic Knights Templar just returned from delivering justice to another defector, thirsty and starving for food and attention from a fair lady. . . . (I never said I was a history buff, but I've seen Monty Python, ok?).
Huh? Well, let's just say that Monday's Farm Dinner was transporting in flavor and time, hearkening back to a bygone era of small mammalian foodstuffs and fowl as a centerpiece for the meal.
Course 1: Rabbit mortadella with dried fruit mostarda, cultured butter, and traditional garnishes
Preliminary Pairings: NV Bele Casel Prosecco, 2008 Rudolph Muller Riesling Pfalz Shine, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Organic Lager
As we all know, mortadella is simply the fancy term for bologna, and traditional mortadella is always studded with some kind of nuts, usually pistachios. In this case, Gunthorp Farm rabbit loin and cinnamon accents comprised most of the mortadella, and Sous Chef Mike made cultured butter with a beautiful apricot tinted salt as an accompaniment (remember, cultured butter is the same fancy French stuff that rich people and foodies keep in their fridges to spread on their toast points). Plums, cherries, and raisins, a little dash of Patrick's magical mustard oil (which acts like wasabi on the sinuses), and Unibroue's Maudite Ale made up the yummy fruit mostarda, which Mike and Jason chose to present membrillo-style (fruit paste) instead of the usual spreadable jam-style. Finally, a lovely light salad of fines herbs and cornichons added the necessary acid and crunch to the plate and warm slices of hearty Fox and Obel pumpernickel and rye bread lent depth of flavor and herbal notes.
It's been awhile since we tasted bubbly with Farm Dinner and I always like doing a touch of sparkling with charcuterie--all that lively acid cuts through the fat so nicely, and usually complements the tartness, sweetness, and lightness of most accompaniments. Since mortadella is Italian in origin I thought demure little Bele Casel would be lovely and I was quite correct. Just the right amount of juicy fruit and crisp bubbles to match the fat and tang of the meat and cornichons, with a slight sweetness to pair up to the mostarda. Rudolph Muller Shine was a truly interesting pairing. A riesling from Pfalz, Shine tasted very fruity and off-dry when drank solo but with food showed much more pronounced minerality and complex flavors. Hmm. Muller was a bit of a wild card, but I was very curious and in the end found it engaging with Course 1. Finally, at Mike's suggestion we tasted Dortmunder Gold Lager and enjoyed it immensely--really, Dortmunder served Course 1 in the same manner as Bele Casel, with a crisp mouthfeel and bitter hops cutting through the mortadella and complementing the garnishes.
Course 2: Pan roasted duck breast with Jerusalem artichoke, Jayden winter squash, dates, and duck liver-leek roulade
Preliminary Pairings: 2007 Corvidae Wine Company Cabernet Franc The Keeper, 2006 Chateau Saint Andre Corbin St Georges-St Emilion
For me, the standout of this dish was the duck liver-leek roulade, simply for the creativity behind it. With an inkling to create a bone-marrow-esque piece as the visual focus of the dish, Jason made a deliciously decadent mousseline with the Gunthorp duck livers and calvados, cream, and onions. Braised leeks were rolled around a dollop of the pate, and the whole thing was crisped and placed upright at the center of a bowl and finished with date honey to truly imitate a bone bursting with rich, glistening marrow (can you see why my imagination zoomed where it did?). Anyway, the rest of the dish was no slouch, with the beautiful duck breast seared and sliced over caramelized Green Acres sunchokes and Jayden squash, and dates lightly spiced with red pepper. All of the vegetables were braised in calvados and licorice root and the liquid was used for a consomme, poured tableside, over the whole dish.
The Keeper was, as they say, a keeper. Heh, heh. Truly, a wonderful match. The Keeper is smoky, earthy, and velvety, with silky, integrated tannin and lush, dark fruit. Really, not much else to say, other than this pairing should not be missed. The Bordeaux, while absolutely fantastic, with a hint of violet and mint, crisp tannin and leathery earth, had a bit too much bite with the duck and lacked The Keeper's slight jamminess. All in all, slightly too dry and light-bodied. Ah well, it'll have its day.
Favorite: The Keeper
Course 3: Pumpkin oatmeal beignets with toasted oat ice cream
Preliminary Pairing: NV Chambers Muscat
Fried to order! Yes! Lovely Three Sisters Organic's oats served as a binding agent in the cake-style donuts and in the ice cream, and local pumpkins were cooked and pureed with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cracked pepper and provided the filling for the beignets. A lliberal application of pumpkin-butterscotch sauce garnished the plate. Chambers, a caramelly, slightly orange-spicy muscat from Australia looooooved this dish, from the butterscotch sauce to the pumpkin filling. Just the right amount of dark, brooding raisinated flavors complemented the oaty aspects of the beignets dish.
Until next week, my brethren!