Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Local Forage Dinner

After the whirlwind of our wedding, it was nice to enjoy a nice sit down dinner at Sweet Sue's in TroyThis past weekend, J and I were lucky enough to attend Chef Josh Coletto's special Local Foraged Dinner as Chef Susan Dunckel's guests. Sweet Sue and her team catered our dream wedding meal with four different flavored pig roasts! You may know Josh from Rock N Roll Brunch at The Low Beat . This dinner was a whole new out-of-the-box experience for us, considering our only encounter with wild greens have been with ramps and fiddleheads. 

The six-course tasting menu featured local foraged ingredients with wine pairings. Wilderness educator Cait Denny was on hand to answer the five million questions we had about all the greens.

We were greeted with a glass of prosecco sweetened with honeyed angelica syrup and started the meal with this beauty:
First Course: Soft Duck Egg [Cranberry Beans, Dame's Rocket, White Pine Vinegar, Yogurt Dressing] :: Wine Pairing [Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Risling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Mosel, Germany 2012]

That soft yolk...enough said. The creamy beans were delicious but I was more drawn to the sour and bitterness of the dame's rocket, which we learned was from the mustard family.
Second Course: Burdock Root Puree [Wild Thyme Aioli] :: Wine Pairing [Naked Flock Apple Cider, Hudson Valley, New York]

I have childhood nightmares of prickly burrs tangled in my hair as we played in the woods at recess but in edible root form, it lends a nice starchy texture to soup. 
Think potato leek soup but elevated. The aioli added a lovely tang. 
Third Course: Stinging Nettle and Ricotta Dumpling [Ostrich Fern Fiddlehead, Sauteed Wild Ramps with Slow-Roasted Ramp Bulb, Smoked Trout, Chive Blossom, White Wine Sauce] :: Wine Pairing [Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rose, Cotes du Provence, France, 2012] 

We love fiddleheads so much we had them at our wedding. I couldn't quite get a taste for the stinging nettle but the dumplings were so light and fluffy and great pairing with the salty smoked trout. I made the mistake of taking a huge bite out of the chive blossom, which has a wickedly strong flavor but delicious in small doses. 
Fourth Course: Sorbet [Hemlock, Raw Honey] A refreshing palette cleanser. 
Fifth Course: Climbing Tree Farms Pork [Sous-vide and seared, Fried Mushroom, Lamb's Quarters and Parsnip Puree, Chaga Sauce] :: Wine Pairing [La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanz Reserva, Roioja, Spain, 2015] 

Acorn-fed pigs translates to a delicious melt-in-your mouth meat. My portion of pork skin could've used a lot more crisp but the flavor of the meat was just hypnotizing, and even tastier with each mop of the spinach-like lamb's quarters and parsnip puree. Chaga fungus has a very earthy taste and worked as a sauce but not so much as a tea, which we ended the night with. But if you like licorice, it's probably your cup of tea.
Dessert by Sweet Sue's: Wild Hive Oat Cake [Hand-milled Oats, Japanese Knotweed Ice Cream with Candied Knotweed, Maple, Strawberry Sauce] 

It's not everyday that knotweed makes it into a dessert. In its raw form, I'm told knotweed is tart and rhubarb-like. What better pairing than with strawberry puree. Candied, the texture is reminiscent of stalky asparagus. Pureed, it makes a delicious ice cream. 

We're rarely exposed to complex food pairings like this meal but it was a fun way to discover new flavors and learn more about a number of wild foraged ingredients available around us. I left feeling a deeper sense of appreciation for this world of local, seasonal, and sustainable resources. I'm also glad we had a panel of experts foraging for the non-poisonous stuff. Thanks Sue for inviting us! 

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