Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Dinner: March 14, 2010

I know it is pie day, and we really should have made pies. However, that didn't dawn on us until the dessert was set, and we didn't think of a way to incorporate a gluten-free pie into the savory courses.

Inspiration this week was a brisket that we have had hanging around, and of course the smoker. But alas, I am sick of barbeque, so Jason did a fabulous job making something different with the smoked meat.

First course: Purple potato feuillete, chinese broccoli puree, walnut pomegranate sauce, garlic confit.

Course 2: Smoked beef brisket, blueberry sauce, roasted asparagus, quinoa pilaf with egg, almond and fennel.

Course 3: Shamrock or grasshopper alaska. See post here.

Feature note: Most Sundays we gather together friends, and sometimes people we just want to get to know better, to share in our joy of food and friends. We will post what we made that week, as a little food inspiration.


  1. Sad we missed dessert, but your pics look great.

  2. In a new feature, we thought we'd post reviews from dinner guests. These are unedited and anonymously collected.

    Diner#1 - I gotta say, the green sauce had me nervous, but it was delicious! I wish I could identify any part of the menu that I could criticize or critique, but I can't. Seriously. Fantastic.

    Diner#2 - First course: I liked the potatoes. I was unsure of what to do with the puree and the sauce, although they were both yummy. Lick it off my fork? Use a spoon like soup? Just dip the potatoes in it? Second course: I've always hated brisket (why are Texans so fond of it?), so no surprise there. Quinoa was tasty but needed something with a stronger flavor . . . salt maybe?

    Diner#3 - OK, I'm supposed to "review" a Davies-prepared feast. And an organ grinder's monkey is supposed to review the SF Ballet.

    But if they can be troubled to spend their time crafting such delectable and spirit-warming fare, I can take a few minutes to praise it.

    Perhaps after some other meal I'll try to express what eating in their home, bathed in the glow of their delightful, joyful, and well-loved sons, ministered to by their culinary magic has meant to my soul. But for today I'll focus on the food.

    One of the intriguing aspects of dining with the Davies' is the "what is it?" game. The "purple potato feuillete" was the main mystery food of the evening. The visual image was stunning. Perfect one-inch cubes of purple deliciousness. The feuillete was composed of perfectly al-dente thin, horizontally layered slices of potato. Not sure what made it purple, but the taste was at once clearly recognizable and mouth-wateringly pleasing. The presentation was spectacular, in a pool of broccoli puree surrounded by a ring of mysterious brown that looked and tasted like a taste-enhanced apple sauce and topped with a thin, delicately flavored garlic clove. The broccoli puree was more of a visual delight, guessable only by its color. I thought "pomegranate" for the brown ring, guessing by the tangy-sweet taste, but the color and texture kept me mystified. The proportions were perfect, just the right amount of sauces for the potato. My only suggestion, truly my only adjustment I'd make to anything in the meal, is that the broccoli puree was just a bit bland, relative to everything else. (Perhaps a tiny sprinkle of a fine finishing salt would have brought it up to the level of its companion constituents?)

  3. More comments from Diner #3:

    Second course: Smoked beef brisket, blueberry gastrique, grilled asparagus, toasted quinoa with egg, almond, and fennel.

    This reviewer is "not a vegetarian. I just eat like one."

    Except, that is, when friends serve a meat dish.

    And once a year or so I order an especially tasty sounding meat course at a restaurant, but I'm almost always disappointed. Conclusion: I guess I generally don't actually like meat all that much. So it's remarkable how delicious I found this brisket. First, the smoking and cooking had made it both especially flavorful and very tender. Second, the blueberry gastrique, made from tiny blueberries and both very sweet and slightly tangy/piquant, was a perfect complement/contrast. It just brought the meat that much more alive.

    There are lots of ways to cook asparagus, each with its own risks. I thought the grilling did a great job of preserving and bringing out the most complex flavors, and they split the difference between under-cooking and charring perfectly.

    Two of the Davies suffer from celiac disease, so they've become very creative and experimental with their grains. I thought the toasted quinoa (which I was!!! able to identify), was a great accompaniment to the meat. The strong, smokey, dark meat flavors really appreciated the light, fluffy quinoa, with the wisps of egg (think egg-drop soup) and thin shreds of fennel. The tasty crunch of the thinly slivered almonds completed the delicate-but-completely-present accompaniment.

    - Hide quoted text -
    Third course: Shamrock or Grasshopper Alaska

    After the previous courses (could one call them "meat and potatoes"???) I wasn't sure I needed a dessert. (I'd like to lose 10 pounds or so.) And the presentation scared me even further. To this culinary philistine, it looked like a huge mound of whipped cream over who knows what.

    But what a pleasant surprise! The "whipped cream" was a light-as-air meringue singed by blow torch (I guess). It was light without being dry. And deep inside we found just the right amount of mint ice cream atop a thinnish layer of brownie. (I guess, again.) The combination couldn't have been happier on the tongue, and the course rounded out the meal unbeatably with a feeling of satisfied completion.

    I said I'd restrict this review to the food, but I also want to just mention again how wonderful it feels to be surrounded by such loving, caring, and intelligent people. In addition to the D family, we loved getting to know the J's a little and giving them advice on how to show their parents things worth seeing in San Francisco. And the B's are both so talented and so insightful that it's always a stimulating joy to be around them. Thanks for a wonderful evening.