Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chef's Cheese Degustation: course eight

As the review of orenji's recently created Chef's Cheese Degustation continues, we turn our attention to the "entree" course-- although in a degustation, there technically wouldn't be one course identified as the entree. In this case, all of the previous tastes our guests experienced were building toward this exciting, and often-overlooked ingredient: rabbit!

To showcase the delicate flavors of the rabbit, we pan seared the loin, wrapped it in seasoned Swiss chard (for a bit of bitterness), and surrounded it with a smooth and creamy polenta redolent with fresh herbs-- tarragon, chives, and thyme. We served our "terrine" with oven roasted trumpet de mort (black chanterelles, a particularly earthy wild mushroom), sweet young garlic shoots and cloves, and a light and herbal pea shoot and chayote squash vinaigrette. The fresh highnotes of the vinaigrette nicely countered the earthiness of the mushrooms and the sweetness of the caramelized garlic.

As the focus of this particular degustation was cheese, we added a whipped Mascarpone fresca (Lombardy, Italy), a smooth, white, triple-cream cow's milk cheese with a light and natural sweetness. To the cheese, we added some shaved black truffle-- the most fragrant and richest of the truffle family, adding a deep and earthy (what the Japanese would call "umami") sense to the dish. A drizzle of white truffle oil completed this amazing plate.

As with our other courses, we paired one of our favorite wines with our rabbit terrine-- a large and well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon (Hall, Napa Valley, California, 2005). The wine's notes of fruit, spice, oak, and earthy leather were a robust accompaniment to the delicate flavors of the food, without overpowering them!

We begin the final leg of our degustation marathon in our next post-- the first of two "dessert" courses, begging the question, "Can you serve a cheese course in a cheese degustation?"

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