When I first started "interning" at AOC over a month ago, I got myself the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook, in order to familiarize myself with Chef Suzanne Goin's food and taste palette. The recipes are arranged by seasonal menus, highlighting beautiful in-season vegetables. I absolutely love this book and was very excited to cook one of the winter menus for myself and my parents.
I started off the dinner with a Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts, minus the arugula. Wow. I loved the combination of flavors in this salad. The tart pomegranate seeds with the nutty freshly toasted hazelnuts over fresh baby spinach was awesome. My only complaint lies with the quality of the persimmons I got. Not even close to being the juicy ripe goodness that was supposed to be the star of this salad.
Well since I know how good this salad is with unripe persimmons, I can only expect greatness when I use beautiful juicy ones next time. The recipe calls for arugula as the lettuce of choice but I used baby spinach because I needed the spinach for the roasted sweet potatoes (which I completely forgot to use it for). I served Domaine Cherrier Et Fils Sancerre with this first course.
Then the main course: Cured Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes with Bacon [and Spinach], and Romesco. Wow again. It's all about the brine. The combination of the fennel, juniper, coriander, onion, and herbs packed so much flavor into the pork. This was my first time brining but I may get hooked. Instead of grilling them as the recipe instructed, I seared them in a pan then roasted them for a little bit in the oven. Topped with the smoky, nutty romesco, the juicy pork was further complemented.
The roasted sweet potatoes were carmelized, nutty, and sweet, and studded with smoky salty bacon lardons. I didn't know so much delicious comfort could fit onto the end of a fork. My mom has already asked me to make this dish again a few times. And served with these two delectable winter dishes was romesco, a Spanish sauce made of peppers, nuts, and bread. I think the piece of bread I added may have been too big. The recipe says to "drizzle" over the pork and sweet potatoes and there was no drizzling possible with my romesco. More like spooning but still delicious. For this main course I served Mark West Pinot Noir Vintage 2004.
We finished the meal with a cheese plate of a double creme brie (forgot the name), St. Agur triple creme blue cheese, and Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat cheese.
I don't reallly care for the holidays too much... except for the food that is. Food is a great way to celebrate with friends and loved ones. But it's also an awesome reason to celebrate in itself. Cheers to delicious food!