Friday, July 31, 2009

Enjoying a 100 Mile Menu, with Farmer Bob

Leg of Lamb
A little over two weeks ago, Brownie and I received a special treat-we were allowed to enjoy the first of Great Performances' Farm to Table series, a celebration of the 100 Mile Menu, at the 620 Loft & Garden. And we got to see our new best friend, Farmer Bob.

The View
The 620 Loft & Garden is located directly above Fifth Avenue in the British Empire building of Rockefeller Center, across from Saks Fifth Avenue, and it's one spectacular venue. We've been there before, specifically when we hung out with Canadians. Luck was with us as the evening the dinner fell on gave us some absolutely beautiful weather.

Cherry Julep
This time around also included drinking a cocktail or two in the garden area, my choice being a cherry julep.

Joe's Dairy Ricotta Drizzled with Honey
While enjoy our drinks, we got to preview what was ahead at dinner with hors d'œuvres and amuse-bouches. Though we both loved Joe's Dairy Ricotta drizzled with honey-it was a good balance between sweet and tart,

Katchkie Farm's Fried Green Tomatoes
and we listened to Farmer Bob comment on the perfect, cookie-cutter size of the fried green tomatoes,

Beef Burger with Flying Pigs Bacon
but my favorite was the beef burger with Flying Pigs bacon. Just enough burger to whet my appetite, I did wish it was a little more raw, but the crispy, meaty bacon let me overlook any wrongs. I was very tempted to eat just the bacon off a number of baby burgers.

Pea Sips with Crème Fraîche
On the other hand, Brownie kept eyeing the pea sips with crème fraîche. I believe she called it refreshing, and very green.

Lettuce Bar
We also both partook in the lettuce bar with the incredibly big lettuce leaves from Katchkie. We saw the heads in person just a few days before, but when the leaves were laying out separately in front of us, they looked massive, crunchy, and super fresh.

Braised Pork Belly with Sour Cherries
Soon it was time for the proper dinner in the loft area. First course was Meiller's Farm Braised Pork Belly with sour cherries and baby greens. My piece was perfectly cooked, a light crunchy skin covering a good layer of melt in your mouth fat, and then moist pork underneath. The sour sweetness of the cherries and earthiness of the greens really complemented the pork belly.

Bedell First Crush
During this course, we were introduced to Kareem Massoud of Long Island's Paumanok Vineyards, and taste one of his reds. Almost everyone at my table was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine, some even remarked about acquiring a bottle. It appears that Long Island wine really has come a long way, and should be respected among the great wine-producing regions.

Monkfish with Wheat Raviolo
Next was the fish course, with fresh New Jersey monkfish atop a wheat raviolo which was hiding some of Katchkie's kale and roasted peppers. The fish was superb and tasty enough that I quickly ate the entire portion. I loved the presentation on this one, if you gently lifted the raviolo to peer underneath, there was this shock of color with the green wilted kale and the bright red peppers.

Cutting of the Lamb
Then we witnessed the cutting of the roasted lamb by Chef Chris Harkness. The next day, we had an impromptu "what Blondie ate at dinner last night" and my British boss quipped "My, that's one leg of lamb." It was, oh, it was.

Lamb with Beets, Spinach, and Carrots
Moist and tender with a perfect balance of seasoning, it was absolutely scrumptious. The beets, spinach, carrots, and blackberries added the right blend of sweet to the meat. But when topped with some of Schoolhouse Kitchen's SmoothSweetHot Mustard (of which I got to take home a jar, hehe) it was beyond delicious.

<Three Fruits of July
After all this savory, it was time for some sweet. The main dessert dish, themed "Three Fruits of July," included a Locust Grove cherry milkshake, with one cherry in the shake, accompanied by a blueberry clafoutis and a raspberry linzer. All were excellent letting the full flavor of the fruits come through, and not overwhelmingly sweet.

Popsicles
While I was enjoying my dessert, one more was being brought around, strawberry and blueberry popsicles. My choice was, of course, blueberry and I have NEVER tasted a blueberry pop like this. It tasted like fresh, ripe, flavorful blueberries. If they sold these in the stores, I might actually consider it instead of my usual ice creams, it was that spectacular.

Oh, and the next Farm to Table will be up at the farm, next Saturday the 8th! Tickets are still available for that, and all the following Farm to Tables going on throughout fall. For the entire schedule and to order tickets, go to 100milemenu.com.



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