Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to Basics... Wines and some Seasonal Veggies

Dinner #19 was a very fun one to work with. To say that it was earthy would be a huge understatement. The theme was a very simple one to choose, one step outside last week would have clearly reminded you that it was already Fall (in case you had forgotten). One trip to the TriBeCa Green Market (greatly recommended by our former guest and TriBeCa Citizen writer, Erik, whom I ran into at the market) would tell you that squash and pumpkins were back. And if you did not know, the great variety of both is amazing.  So squash and pumpkins had to be the theme. Now to figure out what to do with them… but that is always the fun part.

As for the invitees, we had the great pleasure of having our wine consultant Christy from Frankly Wines with her husband, Melissa from VinoVino with her husband, and Dinorah and Jorge two very good family friends that flew in from Mexico just in time to participate.

We always ask our guests to bring some wine, but I forgot to tell Dinorah and Jorge that we had invited two wine gurus to the dinner. As more wines come out from the Frankly Wines set (brought to us by Melissa and Christy), the level in which each was being described in can only be defined as pure love and passion for each bottle of wine. Our Mexican guest then realized that not only do they not have much to say about the wines they had purchased, but they almost felt bad in pulling them out after such magnificent presentation from enologists. Granted they brought two magnificent blends from South Australia (Adjenda - Shiraz, Cabernet & Malbec blend) and had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of (we love South Australian wine by the way).

In retrospect, the wines did steal the show for this dinner, they were all absolutely amazing. The stories behind each one was told as if the actual winemaker was with us explaining the journey that each particular grape made before reaching each bottle. The food was a fantastic accompaniment to the amazing wines. The earthly flavors of the ingredients definitely reminded us that fall is back but with it is a sense of companionship that these dinners always give us.

The menu for Dinner #19 was:
Appetizer – Fresh squash & Zucchini blossoms with goat cheese seasoned with rosemary and basil, served on a quinoa bread.
Main Dish – Duck with Worth Kitchen sauce, butternut squash pasta, and grilled squash julienne
Dessert – Pumpkin  Crème Brûlée

As the appetizer was served, the dish was explained, the wine was served and the autumn inspired dinner was ready to go.
If you have read a lot of this blog then you will know, but if this is your first time, let me tell you that quinoa is quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients to work with. In this case, I placed one cup of rinsed and dried quinoa in the food processor for 5 minutes until it became flour. Then, by using two eggs and ¼ cup of olive oil mixed together to create a batter, I baked it in the oven at 350° for 15 minutes and made quinoa bread. This served as the bed for the squash and zucchini blossoms to lie on.
The main plate was a combination of duck in our special sauce (not like McDonald's, but the recipe for that one is amazing and unbeliveable. Anybody that wants it please email me), fettucini with butternut squash sauce (absolutely delicious), and grilled squash (tasted almost like french fries since they were grilled with the duck fat... mmmm). (Oh, also I bought the duck at Eataly, way too expensive, and ran into Mario Batali, and he was doing a great job of managing and working the place, instead of PR)
I will take advantage of any moment to show off the Worth Kitchen table (We love it). Also you will notice that in fact there is a lot of space on the plate. You might think to yourself "hhmmm they barely serve anything to their guests!" Not true! Its all part of the presentation. I prefer a more minimal one, and I never want my guests to leave with a feeling of being "stuffed" nor do I ever want them to leave hungry.

Caramelizing the sugar on top of the Pumpkin Crème Brûlée. The dessert came out spectacular.  For final presentation purposes and added flavor, I grated some Indian nutmeg over the dish (it added a sweet and peppery flavor, think white pepper) For the recipe, please see my Crème Brûlée recipe, additional to that cut into pieces about 3 cups worth of sweet pumpkin. Add the pumpkin to the mix as the mixture heats up. Once the pumpkin is soft (about 15 minutes) blend it. As you return it to the pot to let it sit, strain the mixture. 
The final interactions after dinner are always so much fun. The conversations can go anywhere. Sometimes they stay on topic (as here we continued to talk wine), sometimes they can go into a completely different direction. Thank you to all our guests for such an excellent night! Hope to see you soon.
Please stay tuned to a separate post about the wines... we will list them all out.
(also I have noticed the incredible amount of parentheses used in this post, they are used as my sidenotes. I almost feel as if I have so much more to say, so I use these parentheses to add some more thoughts!)


  1. pumpkin creme brulee!!! wow, so curious, so curious!

  2. GOOD DAY!