There’s really just one word to describe the weekend we had: cheesy.
We kicked off our Valentine’s Day dinner with an appetizer of sliced, toasted bread from Olga’s, topped with dollops of creamy ricotta from Narragansett Creamery, a drizzle of J.B. Hamann’s local honey, a sprinkling of fresh thyme and flaky Maldon salt. The combo is totally ganked from our favorite place in Brooklyn, Marlow and Sons, and it’s still one of our favorite little bites, any time of day.
We moved on to a salad of thinly sliced Meyer lemon and impeccably fresh Matunuck oysters, both dipped in buttermilk and a whisper of flour before being fried until crisp and golden, and served on a bed of tiny, lemony sorrel leaves from Ledge Ends Produce. I whizzed up a creamy dressing comprised of a clove of garlic, a blob of grainy mustard, sea salt, champagne vinegar, olive oil and creme fraiche to drizzle over our salads, and we paired them with (what else) a glass of fizzy.
The main event was duck two ways: Mike broke down a whole duck, confiting the legs, which he crisped in our iron skillet; and smoking the breasts in our stovetop smoker with Earl Grey tea and cherry wood shavings before searing them in the iron skillet as well. I made a reduction of red wine, pomegranate, peppercorns and thyme to serve with the breast, and a gratin of thinly sliced potato and turnip to go underneath the confit.
Monday, you see, was all about the cheese. I was given an incredible opportunity to take photographs for the fine folks at Narragansett Creamery, and let me tell you, it was awesome. I continue to be impressed with the quality and flavor of the things they make – they are truly a local treasure, and I was delighted to spend the day working with their product.
To get me in the mood, I started the day with eggs from Hickory Hill Farm, baked with tomato and Salty Sea feta. After being around these wonderful cheeses all day, I just had to go for a cheese-centric dinner, too:
This was a similar soup to the one I made here, but with a few modifications: I used the white and green parts of a spring onion instead of shallot, reduced the flour to a little over a tablespoon, and used a quarter cup or so of heavy cream instead of the milk I used in my previous version. I also added a couple of cups of potato, peeled and cubed, a healthy hit of Tabasco instead of paprika, and the ale I chose was Hennepin from Brewery Ommegang (I didn’t measure, but I’d say I used probably 1/3 of a large bottle). I wanted a more rustic texture in the soup, so I only pureed some of it, leaving chunks of the vegetables intact. The cheese I used, was, of course, some of Narragansett’s gorgeous clothbound cheddar, and I served the soup with hunks of crusty bread from Olga’s, and a mustard-dressed salad of mesclun from Ledge Ends Produce. What a fabulous and tasty finish to a great long weekend.