Sunday, January 28, 2007

spring awakening

there was a time when it was theatre, not food, that made my pulse race. it was the houselights going down and the curtain raising that gave me shivers and made me weep, feeling pleasure and warmth, and the sense that all things are worthwhile and possible.

over time theatre has left me less and less sated, a meal that always sounds better on the menu than it does in execution--both onstage and off. today it was a complete repast for me at a sunday matinee of "spring awakening." i felt 12 again, mouth agape at what can only be called (no avoiding the cheese) the magic up under the lights in front of me. raw and electrifying, surprising and exciting.

lobster five ways

The perks of the job started rolling in last week; I was able to snag an invite to a dinner at the James Beard House, hosted by wisconsin chef/proprietress and slow food supporter Tami Lax. She and Justin Carlisle, the chef from her Madison restaurant, Harvest, prepared lobster 5 ways, with a wine pairing.

The Beard House is an awkward space, ill-suited, it seemed to me, to host the sort of dinners they are trying to host. That being said, it was one of the top 5 meals of my life.

amuse: lobster financier, uni, micro shiso
paired with: tempier bandol rose, france 2005
[very interesting lobster flavored pastry like base with uni cream/foam]

first course: sashimi of spinny lobster, vanilla, wasabi, fine herb salad
paired with: moon rabbit sparkling sake
[astonishing! raw lobster--a first for me. smooth and strange, like tasting sushi again for the first time.]

second course: lobster and salsify tapioca
paired with:zind-humbrecht pinot d'alsace 2004
[absolute favorite, surprised me since i didn't think i liked tapioca balls. a chowder of sorts, rich and toothsome. the wine was musky and wonderful, a perfect complement.]

third course: roasted lobster tail, truffle spaetzle
paired with: fevre chablis champs royaux, france 2005
[straightforwardly delicious. huge truffle slices]

fourth course: lobster and pleasant ridget reserve fondue
paired with: belrondade lurton rueda blanco, spain 2002
[rich and cheesy, with a hunk of lobster of a skewer]

hard not to be drunk as a skunk after 5 glasses of wine. not too drunk to realize lobster is good all ways and any, but especially good as prepared by these talented folks from Madison.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

avant garde

Those of you who know me have probably wondered when I'd get around to fusing my two passions. When would I write a play about pea soup or cook a meal in three comedic acts? Perhaps you wondered these things with a bit of dread. Connie, and her illustrious band of pranksters have provided that venue-- a delectable evening of food and, um, theatre. As of now I am on board as resident menu planner and co-cook.

I don't want to say too much about this venture, because the joy of attending as an eater and audience member is not knowing what to expect. However, please save the date --March 17-- for the next installment of Avant Garde Restaurant. New Year's Eve Eve's show had a menu of

Assorted Appeteasers
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Celery Root/Green Apple/Walnut/Gorgonzola Salad
Wild Mushroom Quiche and Swiss Chard Quiche
Make your Own Sundae

We seek to use seasonal ingredients, and make food that tastes good. And to make you eat and drink until you plotz. Also you will laugh, maybe dance maybe make a few new friends.

The three keys to a good quiche:

1. Buy a good crust (unless you are a gifted crust maker, which I am not).

2. Buy a good cheese, such as gruyere or smoked gouda. What's nice about smoked gouda is that it gives a smoky taste that convinces the eater that they are eating ham or bacon. A great vegetarian trick.

3. Use cream.

And so:

Saute your vegetables in butter, garlic and generous seasoning (salt, pepper, thyme)
Grate the cheese and line the bottom of the crust with it. It provides a shield from the wet ingredients so your crust doesn't get soggy.
Beat about three eggs with some whole milk and some cream. Salt and pepper the egg mixture.
Place vegetables over the grated cheese.
Pour in the egg/cream/milk mixture.
Cook at about 375 until quiche is firm and golden on top.
Eat hot, cold, room temp, whatever.

See you on the 17th.....