Community Grains has been coming up with some terrific flour, and chefs and bakers on both coasts have been making exciting food with it. For example, our guest chef, Justin Smillie’s whole-grain pizza at Upland in New York is extraordinary. So as part of his visit with us, he suggested a pizza party.
We’ll serve Justin’s pizza and some of our own. Plus lots of other food.
For the past decade, Community Grains has been working to develop a better complete grain system. Based on the values of nutrient-rich soil, advanced whole milling, and radical transparency in our supply chain, we’ve developed whole grain wheat flours that are different from anything else that’s commercially available. By testing and improving over several years, we’ve arrived at the point where our Patwin variety x-fine wheat flour can compete head on with white flour for texture and mouth-feel, with enormous upsides in nutrition and taste, while at the some time growing a better, soil-based local grain economy.
New Year’s Eve 2018 Menu
Stuzzichino: Chanterelle mushroom soup with Perigord
Salad of Dungeness crab, winter citrus, and avocado
Hudson Valley foie gras torchon with huckleberries and
Acquerello Carnaroli risotto of 101-month aged Parmigiano
Reggiano cheese and roast poultry sugo
Tortelloni of fontina alla valdostana with candied walnuts
and Perigord truffle honey
Roast Bandera quail with Kabocha squash, radicchio,
pomegranate, and old aceto balsamico
Pancetta-wrapped wild venison loin with parsnip crema,
cranberry confitura, and juniper
Pan-seared big eye tuna with Hachiya persimmon, fennel,
radish, and golden beets; pine nut salsa
Desserts, to be announced
Vegetarian options will be available
Jonah’s prix fixe dinners are exquisite, perfectly balanced, properly portioned, and delicious.
Prix fixe menu—Five course, early seating 5:00 to 6:30 • $ 90.
Six course, late seating 7:45 to 9:15 • $ 135.
HONEST INGREDIENTS • COOKING with SKILL and DEDICATION • FRESH THINKING.
– Chanterelle mushroom soup with Perigord black truffles
– Pancetta wrapped venison loin
– a crab salad
Full menu next week.
The pasta—Malloreddus with whey-braised Magruder
bison short ribs: Also great.
Bone-in Magruder bison rib chop with Chanterelle mushrooms, D’Anjou pear, sunchoke crema, and saba: By all accounts (every diner in the restaurant) the rib chops were sweet, tender, delicious and perfectly grilled.
They were afraid that they could loose the whole herd to pneumonia due to the Paradise fire smoke. Cattle and particularly sheep are susceptible.
And then for major long term angst, we learned about the Potter Valley Water Project. A portion of the Eel River is diverted to headwaters of the Russian River in Potter Valley via a scheme known as the Potter Valley Project. The Sonoma County Water Agency draws drinking water from the Russian River for sale to several hundred thousand residents of Sonoma, Mendocino, and northern Marin counties. Santa Rosa’s Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant treats sewage from several communities to tertiary standards and returns some of it to the river by way of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. This entire water system is up for sale—a deal that could not only devastate Mac’s Potter Valley, but also impact Mendocino, Sonoma and Northern Marin Counties. It’s a very big problem. https://www.pottervalleywater.org
Despite impending calamities, we had a great night.
A few of these chops left tonight. We’ll then be moving into New York steak cuts of the Buffalo.
Pappardelle with whey braised short rib and and ricotta salata cheese
Wood fire grilled cut of buffalo
Mac and family will join us for dinner on Wednesday, so come by and say hello.
I could have driven to Alba, sold the truffle and made enough to buy a car, but Sunday night I drove to my regular pre-flight hotel in Milan. I became well known there for all the smells. In a marble bathroom, I’d clean the truffles all night, 12 pounds, so they’d pass Agricultural inspection at SFO when I arrived on Monday. By Tuesday night, our 604 gram truffle had bloomed with an extraordinary fragrance. It took an exceptional dog to find this adolescent so deep in the ground.
We want Truffle Dinners at Oliveto to be fun. Truffle Dinners aren’t exactly fun at $25 per gram in a stuffy dining room. We find that at $7-$8 per gram you can still have some fun. Once we have our truffles in hand on Monday we’ll put out the final menu and report on their condition and price.
Tajarin al burro
Raviolo of house-made ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and farm egg yolk with brown
butter, sage, and old aceto balsamico
Tortelloni of Caseificio Tosi Gorgonzola cheese with Pink Lady apples and spiced
Agnolotti dal plin
Potato gnocchi with wild mushroom ragù
Maltagliata with chicken liver and Madeira ragù
Secondi: grills, sautés, roasts, and rotisserie
Spit-roasted porchetta stuffed with figs and wild mushrooms, with Floriani red flint
corn polenta and braised radicchio
Charcoal-grilled Magruder beef with braised Savoy cabbage, wheat berries,
and Gorgonzola crema
Liberty Farms duck breast with black Futsu squash, chestnuts, pomegranate, and
Brussels sprouts; old aceto balsamico
Pan-roasted black cod with Black Trumpet mushrooms, Lacinato kale, and celeriac
crema; truffle salsa
Roast Black Futsu squash with wild mushroom and root vegetable medley, fonduta
Val d’Aostana, and cured egg yolk
I called Aldo Vacca our old friend in Barbaresco this morning to get a read on the season. It’s been warm and dry up until a couple of weeks ago, and the truffles had been few, expensive and not first quality. It has since become cold and wet, and the truffles have improved with prices coming down. A late season, not good for the October Truffle Fairs, but on November 13-17th, we’ll be in great shape.
Over the past 20 years, we’ve had a fair number of challenges—
A year of floods: slightly water-logged truffles.
Very wet years: limited truffle harvest because it’s difficult for dogs to smell.
Warm, dry years: fewer, less fragrant truffles.
The call came, we were to drive half an hour south to a supermarket parking lot below Bettolle. As we started out, a black blanket of clouds rapidly replaced the blue sky, and an extraordinary downpour followed.
Next to the shopping carts, protected from the deluge by the market’s overhang, was our hunter. He had big beautiful truffles, 60 to 80 grams—lots of them. He could have sold them for twice the price, thousands more, in Alba. But that was a 6-hour drive away. He had just gotten married and didn’t want to spend the next two days delaying the honeymoon. It was perhaps our greatest truffle triumph, except for that described in Chapter #4 of Tales of the Truffle Trade, next week.
Menu will also be posted next week.
When travelers want to experience white truffles first hand, they travel to the Piedmont region of Italy, specifically to the Truffle Festival in Alba. The Piemonte is a remarkable place to visit in late fall. Its vineyards are changing colors, with patches of reds, purples and yellows draping the already splendid landscape like a quilt. Alba is alive with smells and people and music.
Our truffle trips always began in Alba, rarely to buy, but mainly to understand that year’s quality and market. It’s a magical place to go in late fall, a sort of gateway to the truffle fairs in the rest of the country. I tried a selfie standup (never before shown) outside Alba’s newly developed truffle pavilion in 2010. Note the Hitchcock cameo.
Inside the fair, you don’t find much magic.