As if a weekend at the cottage isn't glorious enough, we brought our own chef. Natasha, as loyal readers know, is hands-down the greatest undiscovered culinary wonder I know. I was more than happy to play sous chef and food stylist last night as she designed and executed the most incredible five-course meal, complete with wine pairings which we selected during an epic trip to the liquor store. Two bottles of prosecco, fifteen bottles of wine, and two beautiful bottles of pink Veuve Clicquot.
Drunk and satisfied doesn't begin to describe how the nine of us felt when we finally went to sleep last night.
We started with Curry Coconut Shrimp, baked on the BBQ, and served with a spicy orange marmalade dipping sauce. Yeah, seriously. It paired perfectly with our standard-issue Italian sparkling (Prosecco di Valdobbiandene, $14.10). Jumbo shrimp, expertly cooked, swathed in sweet flakes of toasted coconut with the kick only curry can provide. The sweet marmalade was a worthy counter to that bit of heat.
Next we moved onto Ginger Soy Chicken Lollipops, served with a lime, honey and ginger mustard. Spicy and tangy, charred on the grill. She paired the chicken with grilled cantaloupe and prosciutto and served with an icy-cold rose (Château la Cour L'Evêque, $18). The way Natasha frenched the drumsticks put the whole thing over-the-top. Talk about high-impact details.
A welcome break from the kicky spice of the first two courses, she followed the chicken with Belgian endive; a dollop of crème fraiche, a few slivers of smoked salmon, cracked black pepper and a smattering of fresh chives. Doused in lemon juice, it was a bright, fresh and delightful. The bitterness of the endive was countered with a fruity chardonnay (Bonterra Vineyards Organic Chardonnay, California, $18.95)
And with that out of the way, Natasha pulled out the big guns. Panko-breaded and pan-seared lambchops served with a mustard roux. I mean, really. I feel like that says it all. But she took it up a notch with a deconstructed Greek salad; cucumbers, kalamata olives, and feta cheese doused in an oregano-infused olive oil. An unexpected side of black currants were a perfect match, providing a tart bite. Served with a suitably-fruity and rich California merlot (Cellar No. 8, 2008, $17.95) this course had all of us freaking out a bit.
And to bring it all to a decadent finish, we put together what we're calling Beef Tenderloin á la Caprese. A walnut-crusted, balsamic-glazed tenderloin of beef, sliced and served alongside heirloom tomatoes, market-fresh bocconcini and basil from Natasha's garden. With a full-bodied California red (Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, $35) we were done.
(Oh, if you're wondering, we drank the pink Veuve with dessert: Salted-Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon zest Cream Cheese Icing - I was too far gone to capture those final moments. Needless to say, they were delicious.)