Saturday, October 4, 2008

Come On Baby, Do the ‘Local’-Motion

By Erin

First off, let me apologize for the lack of new posts recently. It’s crazy sauce around here with both of us working and schooling, and Xani is currently up in the Great White North (aka Alaska – and NO, she cannot see Russia!!) for work, so hopefully she’ll have some great eats to report. I told her to kill a moose for me – we’ll see if she comes through for her little sister.

Anyway, back to business! Last weekend, the BCD parents welcomed their first official out of town guests (besides us, of course) to Blackacre! Those guests were our Uncle Michael (dad’s bro) and Aunt Gloria, who came all the way from New Mexico to see the new digs – especially Kitchen Stadium. Sorry to be a tease but our ridiculous cooking adventures will be in the next post. First, we’ll talk about our first meal of the weekend together at Restaurant Local. Restaurant Local is located in Easton, MD, and – you guessed it – they specialize in using local ingredients. It’s a pretty upscale place and we were very excited to try it after all the hype we’d heard.

Xani and I drove in from Baltimore and got there early, so we had champagne cocktails at the bar while we waited. We often order this old-timey cocktail (sugar cube, angostura bitters, and champagne) at fancy places, and it’s amazing how few bartenders are familiar with it. Luckily the recipe is pretty easy so we can usually get what we want without looking too much like the tremendous snobs we are. Whew!

Once the BCD parents and Michael and Gloria arrived, we settled into our big round table in the dimly lit, but modern, dining room. Everyone ordered more cocktails, and we began to peruse the menu. We decided that our plan of attack would be to share a bunch of appetizers, but get our own main courses (with the plan of allowing others to try our mains, of course!).

But before we could do anything, we got an amuse bouche from the chef: tuna tartare with black sesame seeds, sesame oil, and other Asian flavorings.

Then came the first course. We ordered:

  • Duck Foie Gras, with Spring Berry-Jalapeno Jam, Smoked Hazelnuts, Brioche Crouton, and a Spearmint Gastrique
  • Caviar “Potato Skins” – Mini Potatoes with Crème Fraiche, Chives, and American Paddlefish Caviar
  • Lobster Bisque (the soup du jour)
  • Crab Spring Rolls with two dipping sauces
The foie gras was of course out of this world. Rich and decadent and loads of flavor, boosted by the awesome berry-jalapeno jam and perfectly toasted brioche. It was a shame to have to split this into five parts!

The bisque was also absolutely amazing and I really had to hold myself back from licking the bowl. It was really intensely flavored with seafood and herbs (and, let’s be honest, cream), and had a nice basil oil drizzled over the top.

The spring rolls were crispy and delicious, and the dipping sauces were very good as well. One was a peanut-based sauce so it was saltier and thicker, while the other was sweet and hot and more syrupy. The only criticism I had was that the flavor of the crab got lost from the flavor of the sauces.

Last was the winner for “most adorable first course”: the caviar potato skins. For once, the phrase “so cute I could eat it” isn’t totally inappropriate! These were teeny tiny baked potatoes with caviar and other accoutrements. I personally did not partake since I have not yet acquired a taste for caviar, but everyone said they were good. They also said they could have used more caviar. Go figure.

Ack! So cute!

Next was the main course, where we each got our own thing but were constantly giving “tastes” to everyone around the table via passed bread plates. With this course we ordered some delicious wines – both red and white since people were eating different things. In addition to our wine glasses, we had water glasses AND our cocktail glasses. It was a little ridiculous with all the glasses….

Michael got the Hudson Valley Duck, with Pan Roasted Breast, Confit Leg, Bok Choy, Crispy Fingerlings, Roasted Fennel-Ginger Demi.

Gloria got the Wood Grilled Filet Mignon, with Roasted Garlic Whipped Yukon Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, and Wild Mushroom Bordelaise

Dad got one of the specials, the Halibut, with bulgur and some other stuff that’s not listed because it was a special. Whatever it was, it was good!

Xani and Mom both got the “Zabuton,” explained to us as a type of American Kobe (not Wagyu, as it is commonly called) with Squash Gratin and MORE mini baked potatoes (this time with bacon). The cut wasn’t specified but it seemed to be a NY strip.

Last, I got the GQ Burger, which was Kobe Ground Beef Stuffed with BBQ Brisket, Topped with Southern Slaw and Tomato Onion Jam, on a Cracked Pepper Parmesan Brioche Bun, served with French Fries.

To be honest, it was a bit of a whirlwind experience with so many people, all talking and laughing, passing plates, trying bites of everything, that I can’t remember TOO much detail about these dishes. (Perhaps all the wine played a role as well.) But, I can tell you that Mom and Xani’s kobe steaks were very tender and delicious, and the duck was moist but had a fabulously crispy skin.

And of course, I remember my burger. My wonderful burger. Who knew that one kind of beef stuffed with another kind of beef would work so well?! Perhaps those Turducken people were onto something. The meat was really flavorful, very tender, and went so well with the sweet tomato-onion jam and the crunchy slaw on top. The fries were also very good. Xani gave this burger 9 out of 10 burgers!

Finally, it was time for dessert and coffee. Dad, Michael, and Xani ordered espressos, and Mom and I ordered coffee. Our coffee came in our OWN mini French presses! So cute, and VERY good coffee.

For dessert, we ordered two desserts and shared between the six of us because we were so full by then. We ordered the Hazelnut Mousse Cake with Chocolate Ice Cream, and a Trio of Cheesecakes: Oreo, Dulce de Leche, and Strawberry. The Hazelnut Mousse Cake was okay, not spectacular. The “chocolate” ice cream didn’t taste like chocolate but we couldn’t put our finger on it, so we just didn’t say anything. The cheesecakes were very good, and very cute. They each came with a delicious sauce and everyone was very happy with these. The only disappointment with the cheesecakes was that they didn’t have a crust! If only they had had a little contrast in texture from a crust, they would have been golden!

Hazelnut Mousse Cake

Trio of Cheesecakes

After dinner, we drove the 45 minutes into the middle of nowhere to Blackacre and rested up for our day of cooking the following day. We really enjoyed the food and atmosphere of Restaurant Local, but as BCD Dad always says, much of that was outshined by the wonderful company.

Stay tuned for more Blackacre eats!


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