Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Vagabond dinner

Another month, another Vagabond dinner. Vagabond is (sort of) a movable restaurant, though it seems to have settled in Portalis, a local wine bar with a teensy kitchen. Visiting chefs create "sexy one-pot meals" as part of what's usually a three-course dinner.

Last night's chef was JJ Johnson. Oddly enough I'd never heard of him, but he's been around Seattle for quite some time. Looks like his next gigs are cooking at Il Bistro and Matt's in the Market.

The menu was what got me to decide we had to be there -- a roasted asparagus salad, seafood stew, and chocolate-dried cherry bread pudding. And boy am I glad we went! As usual it was an eclectic mix of folks sharing the repast, some we knew from cooking classes and others who were having their first Vagabond experience. I heard a lot of smacking lips and happy eaters, that's for sure.

The meal started with a rosemary foccacia that was very good, and went over the top with homemade butter seasoned with fleur de sel. And then the salad: roasted asparagus and thin chips of jerusalem artichokes, tossed with pancetta and a sherry vinaigrette and topped with soft-cooked egg. Wow. The vinaigrette used a special sherry vinegar (Solera 77) that had an incredible nuttiness that was perfect with the other elements in the salad. I've got to get some of that vinegar!

The main course was served in an interesting way -- escarole with kalamata olives (very subtle) and bits of peppadews were passed with an assortment of seafood (halibut cheeks, monkfish, mussels) which we put into bowls. The chef then came around and ladled broth over and put a dollop of aioli on top. The broth was a ling cod base, very rich in itself, with white beans. The white beans added a body and creaminess that reminded me of the gelatin you get in a good meat stock. I cleaned my plate -- as did everyone else I could see around me.

I love dried cherries and chocolate, so the bread pudding couldn't go wrong in my book.
Overall great food, great drink, great company. Just what Vagabond is supposed to be about.

1 comment:

April said...

It was pretty awesome back in the kitchen too. I probably wont get the urge to peel a soft boiled egg anytime soon.

Also, if you haven't been there yet, here's my site: