Monday, May 25, 2009

Chef's Cheese Degustation: course five

Our review of orenji's recently created Chef's Cheese Degustation continues...

As we progress into the middle third of the meal, the flavors, too, begin to progress. As you may recall, we began with cheese, a re-imagined salad, a deconstructed pizza, and then "soup and sandwich"-- each highlighting locally produced produce and international cheeses. Comparatively, however, these initial courses were "light" in the fact that they didn't have a meat or fish as their center, but rather produce and cheese. Course five marks a purposeful transition, introducing meat in the form of duck confit (duck leg poached and cured in it's own rendered fat). Tender, juicy, salty, and flavorful, duck confit is a classic ingredient which we chose to pair with a non-traditional accompaniment-- gnocchi!

Gnocchi are, of course, Italian soft noodle or dumpling traditionally made from semolina or potatoes. In this case, we created gnocchi from local fingerling potatoes and Queso di Mahon (Spain). This firm cheese is made specifically from grass-fed cow's milk, rubbed with paprika, and aged for at least one year. The result is a nutty, spiced cheese with herbal undertones. The cheese's unique flavor and scent permeated the gnocchi, creating a surprisingly delicious gustatory experience.

The gnocchi were served with a ragout of fresh broad beans and grilled baby artichokes, topped with the meaty duck confit and crisp sage. A juniper berry pan jus-- acidic and somewhat astringent-- completed the dish, balancing the richness of the duck and gnocchi without overpowering the fresh produce.

As beautiful as it was delicious, this course begged for a perfect wine accompaniment. We selected an Australian shiraz: Green Point, Shiraz, Victoria, Australia, 2004. Complex and intense, this bright red wine provided a spicy and fruity taste and aroma-- blackberry, licorice and plums, with peppery hints! A perfect match!

Next, we take on the currently popular, but generally much-maligned, pork belly in what was perhaps the surprise favorite course of the evening for many of our guests! Be sure to come back and see what all the fuss is about...

No comments: