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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Is Nothing Sacred

We were invited to Con Agra Foods to do a dinner for the production line employees. The boss wanted something special for the 90% Latino workforce so we agreed to do posole and a few other favorites. Then he made the mistake of posting the menu in the lunchroom a few days before. The employees were stoked, posole! Then they found out some white guy was making it.

At Con Agra every time I entered the building to get water or use their test kitchen oven I was met with stunned silence and disbelieving stares. Once the initial shock wore off the questions came "Who made the posole?... Who taught you to make the posole?... Do you have a Mexican Grandmother?" Me. Me. No.

I didn't let on that years of eating posole I have come to the conclusion mine is better than any Mexican Restaurant's I have had the pleasure to have. But definitely not better than Ruth Moya's Mother's version, a former 7th grade science student. That was the best posole ever.

La Calanderia Chips, mild red salsa, spicy roasted tomatilla salsa
Warm La Calanderia corn tortillas
Corn on the cobb, butter, cojita cheese, chili flakes, lime
Tamales from Dora's Worm Ranch (non ww people, a bait shop - really, maybe best Mexican food in town)
Posole, cabbage, lime
Dessert: Ice cream, stewed nectarines, cinnamon

After the meal the boss asked around. Rate it 1 to 10. All responses 9 or 10, a few even said "best posole I have ever had". I was chatting with an employee later and he asked "Did you make all this?" Yep, but bought the tamales. And he gave me the best compliment I think possible. "It tastes like Mexico."


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two-Fer: Dawn and Katy's Wedding (not to each other)

The final big wedding weekend for us, and we hammered it, absolutely hammered it. (that would be a good thing, as opposed to 'getting hammered', a bad thing.)

Dawn and John were married at Terra Blanca Winery and had the reception in their backyard, which happens to be on the slopes of Red Mountain out Benton City way, something like that. The weather did not play nice. It was misty and rainy and just a tad cold, not ideal weather for guests or outdoor grilling.

We served up a few appetizers, my favorite new thing being a crab and cheese stuffed jalepeno popper with a cilantro lime buttermilk dip.

For the dinner buffet, John (the groom) sourced us some beautiful halibut which we poached in olive oil and served with extra virgin olive oil stewed cherry tomatoes from Martinez Family Farm. Grilled whole beef tenderloins were glazed with a red wine, honey, herb sauce adding a perfect little charred wine/herb flavor; served with horseradish cream. Amity has some beautiful fingerling potatoes which we grilled, then tossed with dijon, chili flakes, garlic, and olive oil and served with aioli. Local greens tossed in a simple red wine vinaigrette, bread and butter, and some tasty vegetable gratins filled out the buffet.

Cheryl, uber-server extraordinaire proclaimed this to be the finest buffet she has taken part in. I have to agree. Just about perfect. (that is really hard for me to say.)

Katy and Matt were married at Walla Walla's beautiful and rainy Stone Creek Manor. 170 guests partook of simpler Graze Catering fare. Platter self serve appetizers followed by a rustic and homey buffet.

Grilled on-site rosemary chicken and aioli, vegetarian stuffed pasta shells, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, whole leaf ceasar salad, end of summer roasted vegetables, and baguettes and butter. The rain started in the morning, faked us out in the afternoon, and started again in earnest that evening. But a good time was had by all, and when Katy called me at the end of the reception her raves were indeed welcome and appreciated.
So the big ones are done. A couple of more posts regarding older events to come. And now we are on to the Fall and Holiday season. Next weekend the family heads to Portland for some r and r. And then the discussions for next years weddings begin!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Too Much Good Stuff

Is that the slogan for 7-11 or Taco Bell? I can't remember. But it could have described our weekend.

Friday evening saw us to the home of Sherlee and Larry for a simple backyard grill wedding rehearsal dinner. Grilled salmon, chicken, spinach salad, roasted red potatoes, and the end of summer's finest vegetables. Simple, fresh, tasty.

We quickly shifted gears and headed to Areus Bed and Breakfast/Yoga Center for Kristy and Dan's Wedding.
It was Areus's first wedding reception and David and Giancarlo had the grounds in tip top shape.

100 guests, passed apps, and a two course plated dinner.

- Corn soup with pistachio butter, white bean and corn cannoli, and an arugula salad. (the picture below)

- Grilled beef tenderloin, red wine and veal sauce, truffle butter, mashed potatoes, and the end of summer's vegetables.

It was quite a show. Brilliant rentals from Seattle. Tip top wines from Northstar, Reininger, and Rotie Cellars. Perfect weather. And the food wasn't bad either. (My only regret was missing the Second Annual Walla Walla Wiffle Ball Tournament to perform the wedding catering, my second year of conflicting schedules. Next year I vow to cater the wiffle ball tourney just so I can play in it... victory will be mine.)

Sunday was the capper. Eric and Morgan headed back to Areus for a post wedding panini/snack bar for many of the out of town wedding guests. Dave headed to Basel Cellars to do a four course dinner for some jet-setters from the wet side of the state. I headed to Abeja to titillate Walla Walla Wine Alliance guests from around the country with appetizers, whom visit our fair city to taste our more than fair libations.

A picture of the bruschetta of caramelized onions, prosciutto, goat cheese, and thyme. (A homage to Becca's favorite pizza from our early meeting days) Hopefully I can re-create it in Abeja's new wood burning pizza oven. (If they do not invite me for a pizza making bash I will be most seriously hurt. I was not referred to as a 'pizza-jedi' jokingly.)

And to finish a tired night and weekend, this plane decided to show up and garnish a very lovely sunset.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Stephanie's Wedding

It was a busy weekend for us. My son's first day of real pre-school at Betty's on Thursday.

Stephanie and Chris's rehearsal dinner at Three Rivers Winery Friday.
Amity's tomatoes, fresh mozz, basil, and bariani extra virgin olive oil.

For the rest we had a nice green salad, rosemary lemon grilled chicken, flat iron steak with hotel butter, and roasted red potatoes with dijon/garlic/thyme/mayo/bacon dressing.

The view from the deck of Three River's toward the end of dinner.

Saturday Chris and Stephanie had an Irish/Scottish reception. Chris, God bless him, got married wearing a kilt (the pants issue solved on day one). We did three passed apps, two of which passed as 'scot/irish'. Cured salmon and creme fraiche crostini, hard cheddar and cows milk cheese and crackers, and heirloom tomatoes with 25 year old balsmic and sea salt on toasted baguette slices.

The dinner buffet:
Spinach salad, citrus vinaigrette, shaved mushrooms, toasted almonds, jarlsberg cheese.
Roasted beets, carrots, and turnips with orange oil and chives.
Colcannon potatoes (cabbage and mashers).
Slow roast salmon and lemon butter.
Herb roast beef tenderloin and horseradish cream.
Veggie pot pies for the vegetarians.
Baguettes and Irish soda bread.

Then we brought out the desserts from Colville Street Patisserie. There is no better dessert, wedding buffet maker than Matt in the Pacific Northwest, of this I am convinced.
Lots of nice compliments from the good folks attending the festivities at Stone Creek Manor.
And to cap the weekend, Sunday we headed to Biscuit Ridge for an impromptu wine drinking, food snacking celebration for our friend's new land 'vineyard to be' purchase.

It really is tough living in Walla Walla sometimes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Erin's Wedding

First we killed 'em with appetizers.

And more appetizers...

Followed by a three course dinner, wedding cake from the Patisserie and Erin's Grandpa's super yummy ice cream.

Basel Cellars was our venue. The weather held nicely. Below is the menu printed for each table. I have no idea why this table was called Peanut Butter and Company.

Missing is a picture of the second course I like to call "Corn Explosion". Corn ravioli, mascarponed sauteed, corn and white bean filled cannoli, truffle oil, and parmesan crisp. (very tasty, never again will I make ravioli for 90 guests, sheer insanity)

Picture of the main course, tenderloin, truffle butter, mashers, local sauteed veg.

All in all, a very tasty wedding feast.