Friday, December 18, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: At Home, Part 29

I'm having trouble believing that my next post will be C&S: At Home, Part 30. Part 30?! How did that happen! I definitely miss dining out and going to the movies, especially this time of year when all the awards shows are usually announcing nominations, but for now, I'm still enjoying cooking and entertaining myself at home. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and for a good laugh, this is 7 year old me - my parents' favorite Christmas ornament.

I can't think of any meat more luxurious than lamb. It's definitely my favorite protein - give me a lamb shank over a steak any day - and with the help of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself, it doesn't need to be intimidating! I recently made her Lamb Shanks and the meat was incredibly unctuous and perfectly cooked. Her recipe calls for adding Orzo during the last 30 minutes, but I omitted that part and made my own Cheesy Polenta with Gouda. This would be great with mashed potatoes, rice - really any starch to soak up all the tasty juices. Oh, and one more note - leave your Dutch oven uncovered so the meat can brown nicely in the oven! Here's Ina's Lamb Shank recipe.

The Lamb Shank in all its glory

Whiplash - I recently re-watched this excellent film, and went back to find my C&S review of it from 5 years ago. I only cringed a little bit at my writing, so I'll link it for you here. It really is a great movie, with incredible performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons (who won an Oscar for this role!)

Happiest Season - A refreshing holiday film that focuses on a romantic relationship between two women during the holidays, and all the complications that ensue. Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis are the leads, but the real stars are the supporting actors - Dan Levy, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Mary Steenburgen. The film may not end the way you want or expect, but the journey is a pretty good, not great, one. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Farmhouse at Veritas

If you're looking for a getaway this holiday season, complete with incredible views and wines, AND one that's within driving distance from the Triad, look no further than the Virginia wine country. I recently stayed a few nights in Afton, VA and it felt like I was in Napa. I highly recommend The Farmhouse at Veritas for dinner - they serve a decadent 4 course meal Wednesday through Sunday evenings. It's fine dining at its most elegant, and you will be blown away by the food they churn out in such a tiny kitchen. Veritas Winery is producing some of the best wines in the region, and each course is paired with one of their stunning wines. The Farmhouse is also incredibly COVID-conscious and you'll have plenty of space, if not your own dining room. And fun fact - the chef used to work at Print Works Bistro in Greensboro!

The first course set the bar extremely high. We kicked things off with Cauliflower Soup with Charred Scallions, Corn and Shitake Mushrooms, finished with a dusting of Truffle Powder. First of all, anything with truffle is fabulous in my book. The soup was so smooth and velvety, and the smoky savoriness of the scallions, corn and mushrooms broke up some of the richness. The dish was served with a lovely Viognier, and for someone who always prefers red wine, I thought this white was exceptionally easy to drink.

Cauliflower Soup

Our second course was Tamarind Caramel Glazed Duck Breast with Butternut Squash Puree and Braised Cabbage. The presentation was stunning and I absolutely loved these sides. I had very high hopes for the duck, but it was a bit on the rare side for me. The tamarind caramel more than made up for it though. It struck the perfect savory-sweet balance and complimented the sweetness of the butternut squash puree nicely. This was served with a buttery, oakey Chardonnay - just how I like my Chards.

Tamarind Caramel Duck Breast

The main event was a showstopper. A perfectly cooked, locally sourced Beef Filet was served with wilted Swiss Chard and the most luxurious Cranberry Bean and Bacon Ragu I've ever had. In fact, these were the first cranberry beans I'd ever had! They reminded me of pinto beans, very starchy and satisfying. And bacon really does make everything better. Veritas' Claret is a big, bold red - the perfect pairing.

Filet with Cranberry Beans and Swiss Chard

Dessert felt like it was prepared just for me: Autumn Spice Creme Brulee with an Almond Florentine Cookie and Cranberry Coulis. The custard was luscious and had just the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg. The crunchy, sugary topping is always so satisfying, and the almond florentine cookie was a nice additional crunchy, nutty bite. The cranberry coulis brought necessary acidity to balance the sweetness of the dish with the also sweet Petit Manseng dessert wine.

Autumn Spice Creme Brulee with Almond Florentine Cookie

I am eagerly awaiting the day I can return to The Farmhouse at Veritas. It's a scenic, beautiful little bit of paradise in the middle of Virginia. And if you stay overnight, you will be blown away by their gourmet breakfasts! Y'all should put this place on your list - it's under 3 hours from the Triad and will transport you to a really magical place.