Please make sure that you read this entry after reading “Blue Hill in Basking Ridge, Part One.” Oh, and yes – my husband will most probably remind me that this post is waaaaay too long – so please forgive – but you foodies and wine lovers will understand why! Ok, so I know that the title of these entries is quite a statement. But I stand behind it 100%. All they (and by they I mean the “friends that will remain nameless”) needed was the vast (and gorgeous) farm outside their window showcasing the most delectable seasonal produce to compare to the real thing… Seriously. The only thing that I was regretful about that evening was the fact that I didn’t bring my camera with me. So, folks, you’ll have to settle for the google’d image that I have of the “juice” that we fueled up on when we first arrived.
We started out with the most refreshing cocktail – a take on the Kachumber Cooler served at Tabla Restaurant in Manhattan. Mind you, I could have consumed 3 or 4 but I was aware that many wines were going to be showcased throughout the evening. So I stopped at one. Cucumbers, lime, cilantro, and hot peppers were among the many flavorful ingredients that this libation consisted of. Delicious! The cocktails were accompanied by two tasty snacks – acacia roasted almonds and coriander scented gougeres. The almonds were absolutely delectable – and I continued to eat them as I remembered my mother telling me that 7 almonds a day helped your brain grow (something I never questioned but now tell my daughters as well – go figure!) The gougeres were so perfectly done – crispy on the outside encasing a tender puff of deliciousness. The coriander in the gougeres complemented the cilantro in the cocktail quite harmoniously.
Shortly after practically licking the plates clean (no joke!) we sat for our first course. Our friends had been teasing about the fact that they were saving their magnum of Robert Sinskey’s 2007 Pinot Blanc for us. So when I saw the bottle appear from the fridge, I knew that it was time to get serious and make my friends proud. Oh and we did. The reason? Not only the exquisite qualities of the wine, but the incredible pairing that was so well thought out! They presented to us Hamachi Carpaccio with Lemon and Scallion Oil and along side was a slaw of Carrot, Radish, and Scallion. The fish was sliced perfectly thin, the colorful oil was dropped in just the right spots, and the sides of the plates were flanked with tobiko on one side and FRESH wasabi on the other creating a gorgeous plate. Sorry – no photo… It’s almost a tease, I know. The fish was incredibly fresh, and the produce used in the dish had just been purchased at a local farmers market. The fresh wasabi was almost sweet. The plate was perfection. And the wine… so perfectly balanced with citrus, floral, and mineral tones. The perfect wine for the course!
We then proceeded to devour our next offering… Cold English Pea soup with Grilled Sea Scallop. Fresh, shelled peas, broth, and salt are what brought the soup to life. It was incredible. No adulterations, no enhancements. It was just fresh and beautiful; bright green and delicious; the perfect summer soup. And on top was the perfect grilled scallop. I recall my friend as he was searing the scallops say that he didn’t see any water sputtering out when the first sea scallop hit the pan. Not only did the sea scallops have the perfect crust on them, but they had the purest flavor of the sea. Our friends then mentioned that the secret was to buy really fresh fish from a trusted source. Their source (and now mine) is Metropolitan Seafood. The wine that we paired with this was the 2005 Domain Bzikot Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres. It has a lush, rich, and full textured appeal with a beautifully balanced minerality that paired really well with both the scallop and the pea soup.
The next course resulted in yet another clean plate (not at all embarrassing – I enjoyed my food!) Yukon River King Salmon and Sweet Corn Risotto with Goat cheese and French Sorrel. The salmon was cooked perfectly, flaking at each segment. The fresh corn was the perfect reminder of what month we were in, and the lemony sorrel imparted the most delicate flavor to the entire dish. What a unique combination of ingredients – and it all worked so well with the 2004 Robert Sinskey Three Amigos Pinot Noir. Delicious!
The final savory course was a tribute to the end of the sour cherry season. Stunning presentation, Pork Tenderloin with New York Sour Cherry Gastrique with Roasted baby beets, baby carrots, and baby turnips. Again, our friends visited the local (and metro) farmers markets to get the most unique and seasonal ingredients. The baby vegetables were acquired through a purveyor in NYC that sells them almost exclusively to some of the big name restaurants in the area year round! It was quite the extraordinary course. Sour cherries are so versatile, and when utilized properly in savory dishes, bring out the wonderful flavors of all the paired ingredients. The sauce was savory while making me wish that I had brought a sour cherry tart for dessert! Exquisite. The wine that they paired with this course was the Sinskey 2004 Vandal Vineyards Pinot Noir. Another amazing pairing. While both Pinot Noirs showcased incredible complexity and character, the Vandal Pinot emanated cherry notes on the forefront with a silky smooth finish. This made for the final “epiphany” pairing of the evening!
The menu was so well planned, so incredibly executed, and so amazingly tasty! I’m starting to think about my menu for when they come over next… perhaps I’ll need a few months to prep!! To “My friends that will remain nameless:”It was an honor to dine with you and to be your guests. THANK YOU again! Here’s to many more tasty memories together! Cheers!!!”