This first week of September is typically fairly quiet, and 2013 shows no signs of disrupting that trend. (Speaking of trends, there was a Q/A with NYC food critic Pete Wells this week, and one of the readers asked him what he thought the most overrated food trend was at the moment. His answer - that the idea that trends are important. I loved that.)
Anyway, the trend at Brooks Tavern is to go with the flow. We are having a very pleasant week, as the summer morphs into fall, and that is the way we like it. Wednesday night's prix-fixe featured the ever popular St. Brigid's Farm meatloaf, and it was a sell-out by 7PM.
First, though, diners had to work their way through this bowl of house made gnocchi tossed with a bit of cream and Black Bottom Farm pork. What a trial!
The meatloaf - which photographed much better than it usually does - featured the aforementioned St. Brigid's Farm veal with the addition of mushrooms. I was granted a sliver while Kevin was portioning it for service, and even cold it held great promise.
For dessert, Cherelle is on a roulade (ha!) and so she made her first Walnut Roll. It turned out great:
Some people had peach/cherry pie for dessert. The addition of Bing cherries to the peach pie was pretty but didn't do a whole lot to the flavor. It just tasted of peach. I think sour cherries would have been better, with their tartness offering more of a counterbalance to the sweet peach. Nonetheless, it was good, especially if you added a bit of ice cream on the side.
We're still canning. This week it is hot sauce. We didn't make any last year, and supplies are low. In our garden we have some of those hot cherry peppers, plus we got some beautiful hot peppers from Godfrey's last week, particularly some poblano look-alikes that are mildly hot. We decided to make a batch of green sauce, as well as our traditional red, and ordered some green tomatoes from Cathy to round out the green hot peppers. We kept the green in the walk-in until we made the red yesterday and canned both batches together.
The tomatoes and peppers, with a little garlic, cook with part of the vinegar until they are very soft.
They have to be soft enough to get through the Foley food mill.
Here's the green sauce after it went through the mill. You add the rest of the vinegar, some sugar, and a cheese cloth bag holding the spices and cook it until it is as thick as you like.
And there you have it - the Christmas sauces! The green turned out most interesting, not super hot but with a nice tang from those unripe tomatoes. It could become an annual thing!
Last night we had a guest who was redeeming her "Chef's Dinner" gift certificate that we donated to an organization a few month's ago, for an Earth Day celebration. I'm always meaning to photograph one of these elaborate meals, but never seem to remember. Last night I finally managed to take pictures of five of the eight courses they enjoyed. Kevin puts out a sort of "tasting menu" for these donation meals, combining some menu stuff with some from his larder.
Last night the meal began with fig Marsala jam and herb cream cheese to spread on croutons.
Next was a sample of our recent menu addition - duck gumbo. I missed the preceding course, which was a wee composed salad of spinach, roast tomato and mozzarella.
Next was the head cheese. Kevin actually made the head cheese in the morning in anticipation of a VIP group coming in for lunch. He was able to make his own gelatin from the pig's head and feet, and set it up in a Depression glass bowl with the meat and accompaniments congealed within. It was beautiful. One of the two guests enjoyed this savory dish - the 15 year old dining with his mother did not. He did try it though, so he gets a lot of credit!
I missed the fish course, but the final plate before dessert was some of the menu meatloaf, in a slightly different - and smaller - presentation. I think they had a good time. The mother made the comment that we often get when we serve these menus, that she ate things she might not normally try. I suppose her son felt the same way, but at fifteen, he wasn't saying much.
Mostly, however, the orders going out to the tables last night looked like this:
Soon we'll be hearing the geese...