Friday, November 02, 2007

Cooking with Jerry Traunfeld

Well, maybe not cooking exactly, as this was a demonstration class. Rather, it was having Chef Traunfeld, known for his 17 years running the kitchen at The Herbfarm, prepare a meal for 14 people while we watched, listened, and learned. The class was at Dish it Up!, a local kitchen store that has a very nice facility for cooking classes.

I've eaten at The Herbfarm several times, and meals there are always memorable. I loved standing at the counter where they plate the courses to talk to the chef about what he was doing (that kept me from drinking too much of the great wines Ron Zimmerman serves). Chef's last night there was last weekend, and he's getting ready to open his own place in Seattle, hopefully by the middle of next year. He does already have a name picked out: "Poppy," after his mother.

Anyway, the theme in this class was local and seasonal -- and around here that means lots of wild mushrooms and crab, among other things. Chef had some beautiful matsutake mushrooms, a huge cauliflower mushroom, immaculate porcinis, and the usual chanterelles and other fungi. He made a crab flan with a roasted slice of matsutake and greens that was delicate and delicious.

A great demo was making strudel dough for a lentil and goat cheese strudel. It actually looks like I can do it, and I plan to give it a try. And the strudel was good, I think that filling would be really good doing vegetables farcis, too.

This wild mushroom and farro risotto, I swear, had $100 worth of mushrooms in it. I don't think I'd had farro before, which is a pretty ancient grain. It's nutty flavor and chewiness was a good match for all those 'shrooms.

We ended the class with a fresh huckleberry cobbler with rose geranium ice cream. And espresso. I get so excited when I get to watch someone with Traunfeld's passion work. It was very inspiring. Definitely looking forward to his new place!

Wine dinner at Elliott's Oyster House

Last week we had an incredible dinner at Elliott's Oyster House when they brought in wines from Terra Blanca (Washington State) and let Chef Jeremy loose on matching seafood with them.

We started with oysters on the half shell (duh) but a real treat was having the tiny Olympia oysters, the only ones truly native to the Northwest. The first course was a white prawn and grilled stone fruit Napoleon with a pomegranate beurre blanc, paired with a 2005 Yakima Valley viognier. Yummy!

But it got better. I'm not much of a chardonnay person, and especially not with a salad. But that's what we got, and it was heavenly. Actually, it was a lobster and wild mushroom tart served with frisee. (2004 Red Mountain Chardonnay)

Next came two courses of "surf and turf." The first was a seared scallop with oxtail, on a slice of seared butternut squash with veal jus. This was paired with a merlot (2002 Red Mountain), which had just the right level of fruitiness to compliment the sweetness of the scallop and squash.

The second surf and turf was just off the map -- the chef used some body meat of the king crab that is actually shaped like a pocket, and inserted a seared beef filet into it. I've never seen anything like it -- sort of like a reverse steak Oscar, served with a classic Bearnaise sauce. Of course for this you have to have a rich red, and we had a 2002 Onyx, a Bordeaux-style blend.

And after all this? Apple fritters (made from choux paste) for dessert with a 2005 late harvest Riesling.

After all that wine, we were really glad we only had a short walk to get home!