fiddlehead definition

fid·dle·head [ fídd'l hèd ] (plural fid·dle·heads) noun
Definition: edible fern shoot: the coiled frond of a young fern, often cooked and eaten as a delicacy

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Four Coursemen Adventure

Nancy, Matt, Eddie, Damien, Patrick and Randolph

There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrityand accomplishment.
--Norman Peale

On a quest to celebrate local and sustainable ingredients, The Four Coursemen are off on a new adventure on the Cooking Channel where they must source, cook and serve a 5 course dinner party of 30 guests in a locale unknown to them before they arrive. The challenge here is really sourcing the ingredients and dining location because whipping up an incredible feast for 30 is a skill they have mastered.

Since 2008 The Four Coursemen have been hosting dinners for 28 twice a month in a cozy Athens house to the lucky online registry winners. Make that very lucky. Dinners sell out in less than ten seconds these days. There is a reason they sell out this quickly. Passion for food, wine, local fare, sustainable ingredients and fun exudes from this bunch. Each dinner is a celebration of their community, sustainable and seasonal  ingredients, the craft of the brewer or cheese maker, and the challenge to make it great and never do the same thing twice. Quality components make for a great meal but intentionality is an ingredient not to discount.

In last night's premier episode, Damien, Matt , Patrick, Eddie and Nancy found their Denver destination  in their silver information pig (Hermholz?) and headed off for adventure. Upon arrival in Denver, a document case revealed their true destination of Carbondale, a 3 hour drive.  Once on the road, they began their pursuit of local ingredients, tableware, accompanying wines, and a spot for the gathering. Here  is what they purchased:

Crystal River Meats--purchased 30 lamb shanks and locally harvested hay and found a venue (the owners' brother's home)

Leroux Creek Vineyard--The first course wine. Leroux Creek grows Chambourcin and Cayuga grapes organically. They also purchased freshly foraged chanterelles.

Zephyros Farm and Garden- lemon cucumbers, black tomatoes, and others . All in all, 5 boxes of veggies.
Avalanche Cheese Co.- fresh (4 day old) chevre for the dessert course

Highwire Ranch- 6 Elk hearts, 15 bison bones (for marrow), 10 bison "fries" (testicles); Peak Spirits--gin mash for marinating
Revolution Brewery-a growler of their dark stout (Stout Ol Friend) for marinating; Ela Family Farms- Peaches so good that Eddie said they were better than Georgia peaches. (gasp!); Farmer's market- produce and spices; Sopri's Liquor and Wine- 10 bottles of wine, 12 bottles of beer; Bethel Party Rentals-tableware; from the venue garden-- cabbage, broccoli.

After a heady brainstorming session, the menu was set, the guests were invited and the lamb was braised. Patrick set up the dining area with the same feel as dinner parties in Athens: slightly angled napkins, printed menu,water glass, wine glass and simple flowers. It looked gorgeous, especially with the view.

After guests arrived, Damien rang the dinner bell (well, triangle) and welcomed everyone to the feast.  You could see familiar faces in the crowd from the day's shopping excursion.

1st Course:  Bison fries with a ring mold tomato cucumber tartare over yogurt, arugula and oregano flowers (tzaziki style). This was paired with an Infinite Monkey Theorem Albarino.

2nd Course:  Chanterelle Mushroom Soup with olive oil and nasturtium flowers and leaves as garnish. Guests thought it paired nicely with the Leroux Creek Chambourcin ( I think), as it brought out citrus notes from the mushrooms.

3rd Course:  Marinated and seared elk heart over roasted broccoli with a bit of anchovy and topped with bison marrow butter (unsalted butter, trragon, lemon zest, roasted bison marrow and a bit of the anchovy brine). Nancy paired this with a 2009 Lapierre Morgon, (Marcel Lapierre's last vintage before he died). Elk heart recipe here.

4th Course:  Braised lamb shanks in hay over cabbage slaw with carrot greens and black tomato jus. This course was paired with beer--a Great Divide Belgium Yeti Imperial stout. Lamb shanks in hay recipe here.

5th Course:  Goat's milk ice cream with chunks of chevre with peaches, lemon zest and thyme shortbread and honey basil sauce.  Nancy paired it with a Domaine Huet sparkling chenin blanc. Ice cream recipe here.

Cheers to Colorado. Cheers to The Four Coursemen! Can't wait for another episode. I have been doing finger exercises to be quicker when the reservation status is open for a Four Coursemen dinner in Athens. I must admit I shed a few tears at the end of the viewing. I am so happy for a group of people challenging themselves with what they love and supporting local growers, brewers, wineries and cheesemakers.  They are good people, on and off the air.



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