On a recent cold winter night I found my way to Creo to meet with a Goddess of Fire and about 50 other folks who signed up for the 2015 Lamb Dinner. Dee Woessner brought her lamb to Chef David Gibson and we all got to enjoy the results.
As well as eating local I got to drink local since the bar had Hudson Rye from Gardiner New York's Tuthilltown Spirits in a positively lovely Manhattan cocktail. So by the time we were escorted into our group's dining area I was in the mood for a really great evening. I wasn't disappointed either.
Dr. Gary Kleppel, the author of The Emergent Agriculture: Farming, Sustainability and the Return of the Local Economy biologist and a farmer himself, kicked off the evening by emphasizing the importance of the knowing the people who produce our food, and introduced our farmer for the evening, Dee Woessner.
Dee gave us a sketch regarding the farm and how the lambs are raised, and Chef Dave gave us an introduction to the first course.
The Lamb Agnolotti was topped with a bright tomato jam and sat on a bed of white beans. It was a beginning that promised a skilled hand at lamb dishes. The sauvignon blanc was a bright and crisp complement.
Zena did that goddess thing she does and we sat with Brian White and his mother and two other couples that made up a great table. Have her use this superpower when you go out with her and you'll be assured of superb conviviality.
After the first course had time to settle and we were ready to try something new the Lamb Loin and Rib Chop course was brought to the table. Chef Dave wanted us to taste the lamb with no special seasoning, which took the shape of the lolly pop shaped chop, right alongside a marinated loin made utterly delicious with garam masala and dusted with fennel pollen. All this on a chick pea pancake. A beaujolais beautifully brought out the savory goodness of the simple and complex lamb pieces. Zena had to use her super powerful fingers to actually get at the loin, which had tough silverskin that she couldn't pierce easily with a knife. We have to think that the kitchen overlooked this during moments of rare carelessness in preparing the meal.
The final lamb course was Lamb Leg with figs, foie gras, fingerling potato and tarragon jus. Zena's not a fig fan, but I relished the combination of the beautifully tender lamb and the rich gentle sweetness of the figs. The rioja made it the perfect mediterranean course. By this time we were telling our life stories to each other and enjoying every moment.
Such special dinners are an ongoing series at Creo and are happening more and more frequently at regional restaurants. They give chefs the opportunity to explore beyond the restaurant's daily menus in a setting that provides diners an opportunity to meet new people while sampling special and unique preparations.
What I hope to see is more nights like this that celebrate our region's fabulous producers and their delectable products!