A Few Good Meals

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Well
this is kind of embarrassing, but here I am. Politics still driving me crazy, but one must eat, after all.

Food.
Of course I have been eating all through this ordeal (though there have been a
few moments when I actually lost my appetite.) Some highlights really stand
out.

A
visit from Dave and Krissy Tallent in Apalachicola. We had
the best meal ever at David and Ryanne Carrier’s Avenue Sea. We all ordered the tasting menu and
it’s worth reliving here:

Started
with 3 oysters on the half shell for the oyster eaters, with citrus mignonette
and tiny julienne radish and candied tangerine peel. (I had the green salad
with fines herbes and cabernet vinaigrette.)

Cobia
carpaccio with Thai peppercorns on a small heap of shredded cabbage with rice
vinegar and sugar.

Oysters
poached in olive oil with picholine olive tapenade, garlic, and shaved fennel
with a crisp toast. (I had a poached egg yolk and rapini, poached garlic and
olive oil.)

Gulf
hopper shrimp sautéed in their shells in smoked paprika oil with green garlic
and preserved lemon.

Carrot
soup with curry scented crème fraîche.

Chevre
agnolotti with roasted beets and a beet reduction.

Octopus
in casuela with chick peas and chorizo (I had risotto with cabrales and apple.)

Roasted
grouper in Benton bacon on lentil du puys with sauce Robert

Beef
on pomme de terre puree (I had wild mushrooms, sautéed.)

Cheese
– Rocastin (French sheeps milk cheese), pecorino noce, sweet grass dairy
Georgia gouda, sweet grass dairy ripe goat with vegetable ash, Epoisses,
cabrales, candied pecans, quince paste, apples, sherry soaked golden raisins.

Butterscotch
crème brulée with pecan sandies; olive oil cake with chocolate sorbet and
bitter orange sauce; crepes with almond mousse and strawberries; some kind of
chocolate pave with tangerine sorbet.

Oh
my God it was good!

Two
great side benefits of that Florida trip – cooking with Dave which is always
the most fun, even in my tiny Apalach kitchen and Dave going out with David
Carrier to meet his seafood suppliers and arranging to get FRESH GULF OYSTERS,
SHRIMP AND GROUPER OVERNIGHTED TO BLOOMINGTON!!! As a direct result we had
fried grouper cheeks and chips with a smoked paprika remoulade one night at
Restaurant Tallent and I can’t even tell you how good that was!! One of the
best things I’ve ever eaten.

Another
highlight of the last weeks (months?) has been a couple of wonderful meals at FARMbloomington. One was breakfast – amazing
biscuits and gravy even I can get excited about (that’s them in the
picture above.)

Now,
remember, here in Indiana, “biscuits and gravy” usually refers to a white
sludgy flour concoction full of sausage and tasting strongly of black pepper,
slathered over biscuits. I am not saying it doesn’t hit the spot every once in
a while, but mostly that’s because it’s one of those white comfort foods that
kind of puts you into a refined starch coma.

But
the biscuits and gravy at FARMbloomington are eye-opening. First the biscuits
are really something – flakey and rich and wonderful. But it’s the gravy that
really turned me on – it’s actually light and flavorful, full of red and green
peppers and chunks of kielbasa. A vibrant (and much healthier) cousin to the
usual Hoosier fare.

And
then there was dinner. I was invited to a departmental dinner there recently
(old I.U. colleagues) that had every single one of us doing back flips.

We
started with a couple of “welcomes from the chef” – a salmon tartare that was
herby and spicy and just superlative (I have had these excellent raw fish preps
from Daniel Orr before and they are always knockouts) and a wild rice pancake
with goat cheese that I’d have been content to have as an entrée.

For
a first course I had the tuna ceviche in white balsamic and coconut water –
more raw fish wonder, this one crunchy with bits of coconut (tiny chunks, not
shreds) – just super. Jer had the butternut squash banana bisque that is
becoming legendary around here – it was garnished with crab meat and fruity
chiles. Elsewhere around the table, out of reach of my questing fork, were
Caribbean prawns on a bed of tropical slaw and soup made from house-corned
beef. I did snag a bite of pizza with shitake mushrooms, ricotta and truffle
oil, which I have had before, and which I love.

My
main dish was the best thing I think I’ve ever had at FARM: a vegetable plate
with spinach and basil risotto in the middle, butternut squash with blue cheese
and hazelnuts, grilled veggie and mushroom ragout, tofu with curry and sesame,
fried leeks, mixed grain pilaf, and broccolini in garlic oil. Every component
was perfect and an adventure to boot. (And, just because I love them, I had a
side of Daniel’s fries, covered with chiles and cheese.)

Jer
had duck in a barbeque sauce on a bed of warm potato salad, which he said was
great, and others had the tandoori salmon, the skirt steak and frites, and the
chicken with black vinegar and chile paste.

We
managed dessert – barely. Jer and I split a berry tart full of lemony pastry
cream.

And
while I am on a FARM roll, I should mention a recent meeting with farmer
friends that ended up being a bar snack feast – soup (tomato), edamame with
dipping salt, fries (natch),  pizza, white bean hummus, and I can’t even
remember what else, but really, really good stuff!

Lots
of other good stuff going on here (foodwise) but tons of deadlines and the
relentless beat of the primaries. I will post again soon.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ronnie says:

    good to have you back. Great pic

    Like

  2. Lynette says:

    Had nearly given up on you posting again. Welcome back.

    Like

  3. vsmith says:

    I thought you taught political science. If so, you must know that Obama’s and Clinton’s voting records are nearly identical. In 2007, they only opposed each other 10 times in the Senate. I’m no politics teacher, but their records are very similar while McCain’s record is vastly different from theirs. The talk of protesting seems counterproductive to either candidate’s policy goals…but whatever.

    Like

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