Friday, January 20, 2012

The Hokey Pokey

An excellent Salon last night; in fact, the picture of what I intended when starting the Salons. Folks from all walks of life and levels of cooking ability arrive, wine in hand, a slight bit of anxiety in the air about being in a foreign kitchen with strangers, not really knowing what's on the menu. Then, slowly, as wine is poured, and conversation begins; the oven turned on and the action commences, those layers of initial trepidation start to melt away; bonds, if not friendships are forged and people really start to cook with each other. Sitting down to the table with the menu we just created, the conversation continues, and the meal carries on long after the delicious food is consumed. And that's the spirit of the Salon--we come together in the name of spontaneously created, seasonally appropriate food, learn a few techniques and methods along the way, and construct a certain level of kinship with others joining us. It's a great thing, and it's made great by the people who attend. Me, I just facilitate it. And it's a joy to watch.

Last night's crew made a lovely red kabocha squash soup, garnished with black cumin and the squash's roasted seeds; a salad of so-strongly-flavored-and-delicious-especially-in-the-winter greenhouse lettuce, carrots, pomegranate seeds, crisp fried garlic and shaved winter cheddar; and a knockout "root cellar" risotto with golden beets, celeriac, garlic confit, lacinato kale and Gene's oh-so-tasty smoked pork rib belly. Well executed and certainly well enjoyed, it was a great meal, and a great night. As we look ahead to next Wednesday's Pasta Salon, I offer my many thanks to those who braved the cold last night and warmed up in the Salon, and I sincerely hope to see you all again.