Friday, October 04, 2013

STRATFORD UNIVERSITY CULINARY SCHOOL cooks it up superbly with Chef James Kirby at the helm creating(10-3-13)

Last night as part of a charity auction event we took a pile of folks down to Woodbridge, Virginia for a novel event. As some of the folks keep kosher, we asked Chef James Kirby (a teacher at the Woodbridge University's Cooking School), previously of Blue Duck Tavern and The Inn at Little Washington, if he could do up a meatless, kosher meal. Well, the wonderful team of students out did themselves and we brought along wines from our cellar that made this a fun and novel event for sure.
It was good to see some old faces from previous dinners we have purchased from the Stratford University, and it is very rewarding to see them progress over the years in their studies and future careers.
The evening started with a BARLEY MUSHROOM RISOTTO which was graced with gorgeous sautéed CHANTERELLES, some crunch puffed rice and sprigs of Chervil. I don't think a single grain of rice was left on anyone's plate! GRUET New Mexico Brut Blanc de Noir was an amazing choice for pairing. The school's sommelier asked me to pair a Blanc de Noir and not Blanc de Blanc and this was sheer genius.
SOUS-VIDE ALBACORE TUNA and WHITE BEANS was a novel take on the Tuscan traditional dish and even had little Micro Baby Arugula on top to adorn the dish "Tuscan style." Some folks are not sushi eaters, but this tuna was indeed cooked, if for a long time and a temperature of just over 100degrees F. It was superb and flavored with Maldon Sea Salt Flakes which we use at home as well for amazing flavor. There were some sliced olives for extra flavor as well as divine Pickled Red Onion slices. The croutons on the dish were large and crunchy and scented of olive oil. The joke around many of the tables was that they resembled Pork Cracklin's! NO WAY!
Again the sommelier recommended a GRECO DI TUFO and I chose Terredora diPaolo 2012 "Loggia della Serra, a brilliant if aromatic choice that was just right.
BOUILLE a BAISSE was they way the menu described the next course and this was indeed a very novel twist on the traditional French dish here made with a gorgeous piece of HAKE (which did occasionally sport a small bone) atop a creamy but not too rich BRANDADE.
There were baby onions, carrots, potatoes and micro basil adorning the light broth and amazingly flavored dish. It was a dish that anyone at my regular farmer's market would have gulped down as it had everything oh so fresh going for it. I chose a 2009 CHEHALEM "3 Vineyard" Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley as this is a winery very special to us and indeed three years ago at our most recent Jewish and official DC wedding, it was the winery of choice for the party! A nice nod to our Third Anniversary, not to mention the 20th since our first commitment ceremony!
Dessert was a rich creamy TRIO of POT DE CREMES: Chocolate, Orange and Coconut, each of which had a dark, white or milk chocolate leaf on it. YUMMY. We chose two dessert wines that could not have been more different. An intense 2003 ROYAL Vintage Port that was just starting to drink beautifully. We had learned while in Porto this summer the REAL way to drink vintage port is with an ever so slight chill. I had it refrigerated for 20 minutes only which worked wonders, then a quick double decanting removed all the sediment and allowed the port to be served (After the bottle was rinsed) from its original bottle. The dark purple color and flavor were amazing. For those who wanted sweet and syrupy we offered up Osborne PEDRO XIMENES 1827 Sweet Sherry which was really superb loaded with honey flavors and earthiness as well.  
The crew at Stratford University Culinary School really met this challenge head on led by a superb team of teachers/chefs. What a fun evening and all truly kosher!