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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Summer is dead... Long live the Summer

Ask any farmer, vineyard manager, gardener, and avid farmer's market shopper and he or she will tell you 2010 was not your typical Walla Walla growing season.  Spring was cold and long.  Summer was mild and never really showed up until late July.  I think July 4th recorded a high of 84! (shocking considering our first four July 4ths as Walla Walla residents came in at 102, 104, 108, and around 119, or at least they felt that way)  And when our summer heat finally did arrive it didn't come with any gusto, every night cooled considerably, which seems to be a major contributor to tomato ripening (or at least that what my farmer friends say).  So here we are, the last days of September, a couple of weeks later than usual for grape harvest and crush, and the weather is just a perfect 80 everyday, with pleasant nights, and those tomatoes I dream about in July are here in abundance... and all I want is for this to last for at least another month.  That seems fair considering how inconsistent our weather has been this year.

My favorite tomato photo of the year.

Heirloom roma tomato, oven dried, on a wafer thin crostini, extra virgin olive oil, and a couple of leaves of fresh thyme.  Boring to look at, fantastic to eat.  We were going to serve these with a bit of goat cheese... glad we didn't, they were so clean tasting served so simply.

Fresh picked local corn soup, thyme cream, and prosciutto bits.  I told Brian (the cook) to infuse some cream with a ridiculous amount of fresh thyme.  It was so powerful the cream was faintly green, and by itself tasted rather medicinal and unpleasant.  But as a component for the smooth sweet corn soup it was perfect.

So we have been obsessed with tomatoes and watermelons ever since we did a large salad for a wedding in July.  This was our sixth or seventh version of the paring done for a wine dinner.  We blanched and peeled all the cherry tomatoes, flash fried some sweet cayenne peppers, splashed some extra virgin and kosher salt, and drizzled the whole thing with some balsamic glaze (which is the part I would rather take back) and a tiny dash of smoked paprika. 

The most lovely kitchen assistant I have ever had.  This little lady (who is also my little lady) came to Terra Blanca Winery with me for a cooking demonstration/class.  She was a big help, and looks super cute in the Graze apron.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Well Now....

Summer has been a blast.  It has been so long since our last post we might as well do a summary.  Since June we have done 18 Walla Walla Weddings, ranging from down home country cookouts to three course plated affairs; numerous conpany events, and lots of medium and little stuff.  Here are some photos from the last two months.
Took the boy to his first Mariners game... they lost in 13 innings... he cried.
Our version of dessert, cobbler, or we make brownies, or we cut pre-made cheesecake.... or we order it from the patisserie.
We tie, salt, and herb all our roasts for three days.  Tenderloin headed to the oven.
Tracy our Event Manager tending the buffet.
One of my favorite things to make, gravalax.  Three days with salt, sugar, lemon, gin, and dill.  Served with creme fraiche, capers, and fresh dill, stunningly good.
Pork loin bone in, coriander, fennel, garlic.  Possibly the best thing we make.  Rice salad, japanese black rice, basmati, sauteed red peppers, carrots, marjoram, parsley, red wine vinaigrette
Stuffed portabella mushrooms, sauteed zuchinni, red peppers, roast garlic, melted provolone, roasted portabella.  Awesome.
The evolution of a dish.  Tomato and watermelon salad with balsamic reduction, and chive sticks.  Super yummy.  And then we needed an intermezzo for a wine dinner, so we reduced it to a single skewer, blanched and peeled the cherry tomato, and sat the seedless watermelon in a tiny pool of balsamic glaze.  A touch of kosher salt and extra virgin olive oil and we were in business.
Seared shrimp, white bean arrabiatta crostini.  Needs a bit of minced parsley to really make it pop, don't you think. 
Our first wedding reception at Waterbrook Winery.  240 guests for appetizers.  A lovely day.