Friday, March 8, 2013

Snow Day

The snowstorm of Wednesday March 6, 2013 will go down as pretty much of a dud, but I didn't know that when I walked the dogs at 7am with fresh snow well above my boot tops, howling wind, and swirling snow that had visibility at a couple hundred yards. From everything that I could see and feel and the forecast predicting hard snow through midafternoon with more snow lingering into the dinner hours, it was obvious that none of our vendors would be sending out their trucks and it seemed a no-brainer to close the restaurant for the day. Who knew? Who knew that by 2pm the roads would all be clear and the sun would be out and everyone would be asking derisively of the weather gods, "Is that all you got?"

So what do two foodies do on the rarest of rare days, a snow day? We eat and drink! Duh!

The Star of our Day
It just so happened that Tom Leonard of Leonard's Truffière in Tennessee was in town meeting with friends of mine and had stopped by the restaurant with a present worth a small fortune, this beautiful black truffle. And it just so happened that it was sitting on my counter at home on this wonderful day off from work.

My Mandoline is Perfect for Shaving Truffles
For maximum effect, truffles are generally best when thinly shaved over warm food so that the warmth of the food liberates the haunting smell. Though they make a specialized truffle shaver, which is essentially a razor blade in a handle, I prefer my more general purpose mandoline that I can use for many other things (pommes Anna!) besides truffles.

Eggs, Perhaps the Perfect Vehicle for Truffles
The French really do know a thing or two about cooking and not only did my mandoline come from France, but so did my black steel pans. These are the pans that we use at the restaurant not only to get that awesome crust on fish and scallops, but also for cooking eggs. Does this look like a non-stick pan? It most definitely is not. But once a black steel pan is broken in, almost nothing sticks to it, if you care for it properly. The cooks at the restaurant and I love these pans. They're cheap, nearly indestructible workhorses but they do require a bit of loving care and regular oiling to keep them from rusting. After wiping it clean, I always rub mine all over with oil before putting it away.

Can You Smell This?
Our breakfast was a big pile of what I call scrambled eggs but what the French would likely call an omelette. No matter the name, it is decorated with ultrathin truffle shavings that perfumed the kitchen gloriously. There is no substitute for fresh eggs and these came from a local farmer from her Rhode Island Reds. Once every couple of years when the egg production goes way down at the depths of winter, I will have to buy some commercial eggs to augment the supply at the restaurant. You should hear the cursing and muttering from the cooks when they have to use those thin-shelled, watery, tasteless things that they sell at the grocery store.

Ann Makes Spicy Dragon Noodles
Speaking of eggs, Ann scrambled a couple more of them for lunch along with a copious amount of crushed red peppers flakes, the beginnings of the dish that she calls Spicy Dragon Noodles. To these eggs, she added large wheat noodles, soy sauce, sriracha, and brown sugar. She finished the dish with some Thai basil, though in the past she has used green onions or cilantro, neither one of which we had on hand.

Spicy Dragon Noodles

Orecchiette with Garlic and Black Truffles
Dinner was quite the simple affair. We wanted pasta (yes, our second pasta dish of the day, thank you!) and simple pasta at that. I wanted to use the remainder of the truffle and with the addition of some slivered garlic and butter, that's about all you need for awesome pasta. Truffles shine best when they don't have to compete with other flavors. This is why you so often find them paired with very mild ingredients such as eggs and potatoes, or in this case, pasta.

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