Jean Anderson Cooks & Books Lunch | The Story of 20 New Fall Dishes
Wine Pairings, Wine Dinner, Wine Class | Pumpkin Fest
Fearrington House has received some exciting awards recently. Not only is the Inn tops in the South, US, and internationally with Conde Nast Traveler’s readers (read more here), but we’ve learned we are now also tops in the world for best culinary experience. Thank you Conde Nast Traveler!
Just ahead: Jean Anderson is joining us for a Cooks & Books Lunch Thursday, Nov. 15th: six recipes from From A Southern Oven, from the six-time, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author. We are looking forward to this intimate and delicious cookbook lunch with our neighbor Jean. A few spots are still available – more information here!
Gorgeous photos of the delicious fall Fearrington House seasonal and tasting menus are up. They were taken by Krystal Kast, wife of our wine director Maximilian Kast. And though a picture might tell a 1000 words, we thought to let you in onthe story on how 20 new dishes landed on the Fall Menu.
Before a single guest was served a single fall dish, the entire Fearrington House team of wait, wine, bar, and kitchen convened at a long table in the upstairs dining room for a full day (on Monday, normally their day off) tasting all the fall menu (except Chef’s Tasting and dessert). We tasted 20 dishes and with them 20 wine pairings – the entire Fall menu! We’ll do our best to describe the day:
Chef Colin Bedford had been up all night preparing notebooks for all, before finally falling asleep on his computer keyboard. Each dish got its own page of ingredient notes. There’s the outline of a white box on each page of dishes and some of us sketch in the box the presentation and note the seven to nine distinct ingredients. Some take photos on their cameras or phones. The overall idea is that everyone is to taste everything and no questions, qualms, suggestions are irrelevant.
None of these dishes has ever been on the menu before. Colin doesn’t repeat dishes, so diners have something to look forward to, but also so the kitchen is challenged. And also good knowing we’ll be doing this again come Winter.
For the first courses, we tried three out of six at a time, with Sommelier Maximilian Kast’s first thoughts on accompanying wine. Between the courses, the kitchen staff hurries back downstairs to cook and assemble the plates, while everyone discusses what we tasted, and the wine, which we’re encouraged to sip, not drink too much of (which is really difficult — can you imagine being asked to not drink of all your Delamotte Champagne, Le-Mesnil-sur-Oger with the carpaccio or Pommery, Brute Royal 1999 from Reims with the Truffle and Madeira Custard).
The bona fide, overall winner: the Beef Carpaccio (studded with crispy quinoa, pumpkin seed, blue cheese, radish, beet and mustard). Chef’s notes tell us: “We use a strip loin; it has a better texture and more marbling. Once the strip has been trimmed, it is seared, brushed with mustard, then rolled through a dry spice which plays off the pumpkin spice that consists of black pepper, coriander seed, allspice, cinnamon, and clove, before chilling and slicing very thin.”
Also a top choice: the Truffle & Madeira Custard (which is also on the Vegetarian Tasting Menu and plays on fennel pollen, artichoke and sunchoke) and the Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup (also vegetarian and with caper custard, raisin capers, black garlic with sherry, and peppery micro watercress – wonderful with the prosecco) the Wild Game and Peppercorn Pave (outstanding! many of us said this a major contender), also the Chilled Lobster Salad with Squid Ink, Seabeans and Tarragon & Reisling Bubbles and the Pear-cider Bloomed Beau Soleil Oysters (“from New Brunswick, the farthest north Beau Soleil, a 2.5- inch virginica oysters, and the flavor is refined and light, but with brine, and something of a yeasty warm-bread aroma you get with good Champagne…we bloom these in pear cider.”) Max’s favorite pairing that day was this one with the oysters: Louis Metaireau, Muscadet Sevre-et-Loire, Cuvee Carte Noire, 2010. Max tells us, “if ever there was a classic one for seafood this is it, from Nantes and tastes of freshly squeezed lemons, seashells, canned peaches, green apples. On the palette it is bone dry, with medium-plus acidy, with a refreshing citrus and mineral finish.”
Our day goes on like this, plate by plate, with intense notes on ingredients and wine pairings.
For second courses: All loved the Seared Tuna (with candied lemon, sweet potato, spaghetti squash, cashew). Sweetbread fans (the kitchens staff) went high for the Sweetbreads with Johnston County Country Ham, Garlic Chips and Matsutake; and Fearrington Foie Gras fans loved Seared Foie Gras with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms (the wait staff went for all of it — the ginger bread and the smoked hen of the woods mushrooms, sunchokes and bruises and iced wine prep); everyone also loved the comforting Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sweet Onion, Smoked Farmers Cheese, Kale, Pecans and Roasted Pheasant (with parsnips). The most fall love might have been for the Roasted Pheasant with Parsnip (cinnamon brioche, dates, Brussels sprouts, apple, smoked bacon. The most southern dish had its own following: the Lamb Loin with Rutabagas, Poached Biscuit Dumplings is in itself great, better even paired with the state’s best McRitchie, Ring of Fire, Yadkin Valley, NC, 2010.
For main, we had the most mind-stops and hails for best-of on the Confit Rib-Eye (with savoy cabbage, port-pickled red onion, potato, elf mushrooms, baby vegetables and bernaise — paired with Blackbird Blackbird, Arise, Napa Valley, California, 2009, from the Oak Knoll district.) was the most surprising to all, just a stellar dish on what could be a standard menu staple. Paired with the Blackbird, Arise, Napa Valley, 2009, from the Oak Knoll district. But the requisite NC Pork Plate won the hands-down rave: House-smoked Bacon and Braised Pork(we learn the “belly is dry cured for three days, cut open like a book, then smoked; then the pork cheeks are classically braised, roasted and then cooked for three hours” and served with sage infused hard-cider jam, sweet potato, mustard, quince, baby radish). Paired with the Paitin, Barbera d’Alba, Campolive, Italy, 2009. What else? We all think Colin is ingenious with fish and his Flounder with Pasta Leaves and Paddlefish Caviar, paired with the Lemelson, Pinot Noir, Thea’s Selection, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2010. And the NC Redfish with White Port and Sherry Maple Sauce with green beans cut into coins and salsify served as a noodle, and pear as a tart tatin — served with a Sancerre. So too the Venison Striploin(butter braised sun chokes, juniper and huckleberry sauce, bacon, pear, Brussels sprouts and cocoa). Finally, amazing to us all the Duck Breast with Celery Root and Blue Foot Mushrooms. Paired with the biodynamic Freestone, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2008.
The Fearrington Wine Team, as Max Kast is now calling it, is going way out offering new wine pairing options that expand the opportunities for our guests’ enjoyment in many ways, “be that from delving into the Sommelier’s perfect world wine pairings, or customizing your pairings to be focused on a single grape, a single vintage, or even an all beer or all cocktail tasting,” says Max. The opportunities are endless, just imagine!
Also don’t miss the final Wine Maker Dinner of 2012 – Perception Winery’s Mark Ray joins us for a Wine Maker Dinner on November 11th. And Australia is the focus for theWine Class at the Granary on the 15th.
Finally, we won’t let a little rain and wind deter us – we are carving away as we speak – over five dozen hand-picked pumpkins from local fields, each given a satisfyingly goulish face or image by for our gardener and chefs. We’ll be ready for all the the little gremlins to show up tonight for Pumpkin Fest(regardless of the weather!).
Happy Grazing from all of us at Fearrington!
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- Wine and food Pairing: A Primer (redenvelope.com)