Just a few days ago I was honored to throw a party for a few really cool new friends. Co-hosted by Delish’s owner, Deb Clark, the dinner was enjoyed in Delish’s kitchen classroom. There was a theme of “Diner en Vin Blanc,” featuring 6 courses of white wine friendly courses, with wines paired by the guests. Everyone in attendance brought a bottle or two of white wine that was aimed to be food friendly. Spanish whites, Southern Rhone, 13 year old Riesling, Orange Wine, homemade Meade, unoaked Chardonnay, and Champagnes were just a few of the selections.
Guests walked in to the crowded café style room were met with old new wave songs by artists such as Kraftwerk, Joy Division, and The Cure, with a tv screen streaming old videos straight out of a CBGB memory. It was glorious. Met with a glass Moutarde Champagne upon arrival, guests began to mingle and meet new friends. Seated at large communal tables, guests sat down as the first course arrived in a small glass votive holder.
Nori cured fluke was inside, woven with pickled kelp strands. The fluke was sitting atop a frozen broth of soy seasoned dulse broth, finished with the puffed fluke skin “flukarrones” dusted with nori powder. The dish was finished with a hot crème fraiche sauce seasoned with horseradish. The first bite was refreshing from the icy chill of the frozen broth and chilled fish, but the dish evolved as the horseradish began to melt the ice and allow it to interact with the dish. The idea of an evolving dish that changes as the hot cream melts and even begins to further coagulate the protein of the fish. An intriguing idea I would like to continue to work on.
Next came a simple dish of roasted carrots from Dan Oles Family Farm. The carrots were roasted with the skin on, tossed in a bit of spruce oil until tender. The dish featured citrus ricotta, pickled carrot ribbons, and crispy carrots. The dish was finished with a vinaigrette of spruce oil, spruce cocktail bitters, and orange juice. The use of cocktail bitters in savory cuisine was the central idea for this presentation. Our friend CGS made the bold prediction that cocktail bitters would become a savory centerpiece in 2014 here
A clean presentation of barely poached Arctic Char poached in Lockhouse Vodka arrived on a piece of dark slate. Lockhouse has been producing their vodka for sale for just a short time now. The spirit is based on grapes and shows a truly unique set of flavors that worked particularly well for savory use. Check them out at the pierced arrow building as product becomes available. The salmon was gently poached at 106 degrees Fahrenheit for a few moments in the vodka, seasoned with coarse salt and charnushka. Oles farm rutabaga were cut into tubes and caramelized in butter, along with compressed apples. The raw vodka was set into an agaragar-thickened gel to tie the components together.
The seemingly elaborate soup course came next, with all components coming together to play a beautiful tune. A flan of licorice root pudding was thickened with gelatin so that it would melt into the soup slowly into the course. The star of the show, the curried butternut squash bisque patiently sat on the side lines until the dish was complete and finished for the guests. Pickled ribbons of squash bulb provided a bright punch to the bowl, as well as the crunch of the puffed green pepitas. A bit of yoghurt was nestled in seasoned with red yuzu kosho, a spicy citrus condiment native to Japan. The soup was finished with a chiffonade of mint. The dish came together with layers, texture, interest, and harmony. The idea of small pools of flavor that all come together to change the dish is again the main idea. The soup had wonderful flavor alone, but as the licorice, yuzu, spice, and mint melt and you get little bites of those flavors, it again develops.
Guests continued to mingle over different samples of wine, as friends talked about the selections they were enjoying. The next course was being prepared while anticipation built. The large bones of veal shank were stripped of their marrow and mixed with a myriad of delicacies. Flat 12 oyster mushrooms, garlic, bone marrow, and mie de pain stuffed the bones. Roasting in the high temp oven, the marrowfat perfumed the room. While the marrow bones were cooking, the simple plating began. Vinaigrette of black garlic here, pieces of arugula there, with multi- colored fingerling potato chips for texture. When the stuffed marrow was warmed through, they were finished with a bit more of peppery arugula and the rendered bone marrow fat. Bites of the marrow and mushrooms with the black garlic vinaigrette came together as a lovely finish to the savory dinner.
Proprietor Deb Clark of Delish provided the sweet course of the evening. A frozen layer of dacquoise separated layers of banana toffee and espresso. A crisp buttercrunch tuile finished the dish. With the food portion of the evening finished, guests continued to chat and enjoy libations and old Bowie jams. As some guests began to filter out, there was one surprise left for the evening. Each of the guests names were inscribed on the outside of a scroll. Inside was band poster designed for the event for guests to remember the experience. As guests filed out, laughter in the air, strangers left together to continue the night. Which to me, bringing strangers together as new friends was the greatest part of the evening.
and the menu-delish menu
A big thanks to Adam Goetz at Craving for helping us with plates, silver, and glasses. Also James Roberts for specialty sourcing and grateful use of the immersion circulator he uses to make baby food. He literally let me take the food out of his child’s mouth. Also to Charles Beasley for poster design, Chad Vosseler for printing. Rick Criden for his meaty lovelies. The staff of Jess’s at Delish for their hard and professional work. Our friends at Omakase Buffalo for their continued contribution to our scene. The folks at Tabree Restaurant for allowing me to take over their kitchen and sourcing. Jessica Railey for doing everything that wasn’t food for the event with a smile. And Jeff “Pow” Yanuzzi for bitters help and serving/plating/lifting. Thats alot of thank yous for a 24 person dinner!