Monday, February 16, 2004

It was a foodie weekend, so sit back, relax, grab a glass of scotch on the rocks, and read on..

On Saturday, to celebrate Valentine's Day and Genevieve's recent promotion, we headed out to our favorite local restaurant, Fahrenheit, with our friends Kerry and Jay.
I started my meal out with a portabella mushroom and spinach salad, topped with bleu cheese. It was good, but not "spectacular". I got the feeling it was something I could make on my own, and you go out to restaurants to have something you couldn't make at home. So, though it was very tasty, I wasn't "wowed" by it.

Next up, we got a bottle of Cain Musque for the table. It was the first time we've ordered wine by the bottle, instead of the glass, when going out. But, between the four of us, it was polished off by dinner's end, so volume was not a problem ;) The Musque was a Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley. New to wines, I'm not sure really how to describe it. I definitely agree with its description of being "fruity" and, on a personal level, I found it not to be too dry. I tend to not like the really dry whites and the Musque was very nicely balanced in this respect. I enjoyed it enough that I grabbed the cork on the way out, so I hopefully I can pick up a bottle later on. Their site only gives information for joining their mailing list, where you will then receive information about purchasing wines in their newsletter. The waiter had told us though that the vineyard had a rep out there a few weeks' prior, so I'm hoping that means it's currently stocked at the local wine store.

For an entree, I ordered pork tenderloin encrusted with java and mustard, on a bed of baby greens and sweet potatoes, covered in a macadamia and balsamic glaze. Ooooh, talk about heaven. The pork was medium rare and completely tender and succulent. Really, the whole dish was immensely rich and decadent, the latter of which I always look for when going out to eat at an expensive restaurant. Perhaps the sweet potatoes could have been a tad tenderer, but I generally like mine pretty creamy, so I won't fault them for that.

For dessert, everyone got their own dish as well as a banana and caramel springroll plate to share. I order a macaroon, which was served with a raspberry sauce and cream. As some of you might know, I'm a huge fan of macaroons and this was no exception. Rich as a cheesecake and possessing the right sweetness level (one thing I've found with some is that they can become overpoweringly sweet). The springrolls were good as well, and definitely a cooking idea for the future home experiment, but after the hefty meal and desserts, I just didn't have enough room for much of it.

After dinner, we walked back to our house. Jay had brought over a bottle of Noval Ruby Port. I'd never had port before, so it was a completely new experience for me. Being a big fan of sweeter wines though, I was really looking forward to trying some. After tasting it, I don't know how the Noval would stack up against other ports, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some definite undertones of chili in there, other than that; I'm not sure how to describe it. How about "good"? ;)

Sunday was, as is becoming commonplace, "cooking day" (with a brief respite to go to the Cedar Lee to see "The Triplets of Belleville" - excellent film, btw).
I started out with simmering down some excess apples we had around the house and then dividing that up. Half I spiced right then for an applesauce and the other half went into a batch of apple butter, which I enhanced a bit with some chocolate shavings, in addition to it's normal spices. The sum of which simmered in the crock-pot for the rest of the day, until it reached a rich caramel brown. The end result was a bit sweeter than my previous batch, perhaps due to its lack of lemon rind, but was excellent nonetheless. Ah, remember how I claimed mole poblano as one of my top cooking smells? Put cooking apples in there are well. I think that has something to do with my childhood though. As most of you know, I grew up on a Cider Mill. Literally. it was owned by the family and on the same slab of land as my childhood house. Working at the Mill was my first job. I started out helping push apples up the conveyer belt (busy kid work ;) and later on worked on the actual apple press. The press wasn't some high tech gadget either. The whole process was basically that the apples got mashed up, sprayed down onto the press, then, once enough apple stuffins had accumulated, we put another a cloth other it, put another slab of wood on, and started again. Gravity and pressure did the rest. At the end, cider spilled out from this tube at the bottom into a barrel. The barrel was then emptied into cooling containers. No fancy stuff. Just pure apple cider, the *best* apple cider. So, even now, the smell of apples is just heaven to me. Apple cider, apple butter, apple pie. Needless to say, between that and my love of squash, I am big fan of fall.

Then I started a veggie stock, which we were running out of, and some black bean soup (yes, again ;). Nothing really exciting. Good veggie stock always makes me happy to have around the house though :)

For dinner, we had a creamy winter squash gratin, which could have been better. It was nice and all, but it didn't seem "all there". Being a lo-fat recipe, I think it tried to take up a lot of the normal gratin creaminess with a white sauce, which, though creamy, is not exactly that flavorful.

The day ended up me helping Genevieve make some homemade chocolate fudge (thank *you* Mr. Alton Brown) Let me just say this:
Contrary to his show, our fudge did *not* reduce from 234 degrees to 110 in anything resembling 10 minutes. Other than some serious temp watching though, it was pretty easy to make.
I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing with a certain chocolate monster running around the house ;)

Today, lunch is the fruits of all these labors, which, over my normal peanut butter and jelly, makes it all worth it :)