Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Menu Tasting: Old Fashion Fare (with Tweaks)

From our rsvp card: Lamb, trout, or veggie

We're having our wedding ceremony and reception at the Homestead in Virginia. Other than being our favorite weekend retreat from the city, one major reason we love the Homestead is the food. They have a 54-page banquet menu of everything you could ever imagine from nouveau high-style to country cook-out. But ultimately, we wanted old-fashioned, simple fare.

We definitely enjoy experimental cuisine (a la Blumenthal, Keller, Dufresne); however, there is just something wonderful about unembellished food. And the Homestead (and the small establishments in the area) does country-mountain classics such as duck, lamb, venison and trout with great fidelity towards local and seasonal ingredients. It is a traditional style that certainly suits our vintage-inspired wedding.

So it was a happy (and gluttonous) weekend in February when we went down to the Homestead for tastings of BOTH our rehearsal dinner and our reception menus...within an hour of each other!!

The Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner will be hosted by G's parents and take place at Garth Newel, a chamber music venue that is situated on the grounds of an old farm. It's a beautiful and rustic venue with a matching menu!

- Pork Tenderloin Diane (Chef Randy Wyche also added some Medeira to the classic sauce).

- Pan roasted chicken* with goat cheese and sweet Vidalia onion relish. Left on the bone with crispy skin, the meat was surprisingly flavorful and succulent. The earthiness of the relish cut the richness of the goat cheese.

- Wedding party stalwart, filet of beef. Served with a Shiraz demiglace and mushrooms. Chef indicated that in the Spring, there's a man who hunts chanterelles and brings them straight to the farm...and they'd be used instead of these (store-bought) porcinis.

- Poached salmon with beurre blanc and shrimp (to be replaced by crab when they come in season this Spring). Basic string beans adorned with salty Virginia peanuts. Surprisingly tasty. I like the local ingredients.

And the verdict...

Chicken and beef! Talk about traditional! However, I must say that the flavors on these very basic dishes were bursting...and I will probably even have the CHICKEN!!!

The Reception

After our tasting at Garth Newel, we went back to the Homestead to meet with our coordinator and Chef Todd to taste the reception dinner. (Probably not the most brilliant decision.) We knew we wanted a local menu of rustic mountain trout and Spring lamb. We just had to decide on the details of our cocktail-hour goodies along with the five course gut-buster.

Chef Todd and O'neill, our server.

Cocktail hour: Very light old-school hors d'oeuvres.

Thai curry shrimp. Unfortunately subtle on the curry, but oh well. (We have guests who may not know where Thailand is on the map anyway. Salmon mousse boats with caviar; goat cheese-stuffed artichoke hearts; and watercress sandwiches. Mini roast beef and mini Virginia ham and biscuit sandwiches. We'll nix the ham and the watercress sandwiches--to afternoon tea-like.


First course: I wanted to include a subtle nod to the heritage! I wasn't sure if he'd go for it, but I SENT A RECIPE TO THE CHEF to prepare a crab and asparagus soup to replace the consomme that was on our menu option. He was gracious and really tried hard...and hit a home run with it!

The second course on the menu: Basil seared sea scallops, wasabi and roasted red pepper sauce Jasmine rice in seaweed.

Palette cleanser: Champagne sorbet.

Fourth (Main) Course:

The herb and mustard crusted rack of lamb needed no tweaking. Whatever seasonal accompaniment Chef comes up with in May will be just fine (lamb will overshadow any side, anyway). For our alternative choice, we chose fresh Allegheny mountain rainbow trout. We tried two preparations: herb grilled (yawn) or pan seared with grapes, almonds and brown butter vinaigrette. We chose the latter.

But we liked the accompaniments of the former (grilled artichoke hearts)--but I also requested replacements of Jasmine rice (instead of the fingerlings) and fiddleheads (instead of the greens). He said he'd try his best--as he loves them, too. I'm thinking he either loves or hates me at this point (probably hates).

A dessert (see below) of strawberries Romanov usually follows the main course. But we like salad or cheese after dinner (I know, we're weird). Mr. R and I tussled over which to have, but ultimately chose this wonderful watercress and beet (w/ goat cheese, candied walnuts, and sweet basil dressing).
So we're nixing the dessert on the menu and will only have the
cake. But since we don't looove cake, I'm seriously considering a little something like profiteroles for just the two of us. Is that terrible?

Dessert: Strawberries Romanov in chocolate shell with lady fingers (nixed). Three cakes baked for our tasting (lemon, dark chocolate-raspberry, vanilla-raspberry). We chose the first two flavors.

After all the WONDERFUL food that day, we didn't eat dinner. In fact I had to wear stretch pants for the drive home the next day. Terrible, indeed!

*G and I don't eat chicken (I know. Once again: weird.)

1 comment:

Jay said...

Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading it. I will be back for more!

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