Secret Salad Bar
(memorial day. number 39.)
We wanted to do a Secret Restaurant that stripped back many elements of our usual formula, took some inspiration from last year's garden party potlucks and our recent forays into on-location dinners and catering, to produce a meal that was casual in presentation yet challenging in creation.
For this rainy afternoon, we condensed the double living room to one, setting up the space so everyone would sit on blankets and pillows surrounding a giant bouquet of flowers. Everything was served buffet-style.
Of note: Our beautiful large kitchen garden from last year, Secret Garden, was decimated and turned into condominiums this winter and spring. We bounced back and made a new garden, even as they tore up the ground around us. Photo shown within the gallery.
In the back yard, we planted a garden of mostly greens (unsure of just how shady our much smaller space would be), and with this S.R. we were able to debut the first of it. Just like last year, produce grown by us will be tagged with (S.G.) for "Secret Garden."
A RANDOMIZED LIST OF EVERYTHING WE MADE THIS DAY
• Barley Tabbouleh
Barley cooked with loads of middle eastern spices. Lightly pickled spring onion, red pepper, parsley, lemon juice. Blanched, then toasted/crushed almonds.
• Flageolet, Kalamata Olives, Feta
Slow cooked flageolet beans, simply prepared with olives, feta, chives, and chive blossoms. Served cold.
• Flageolet, Crème fraîche, Spring Garlic, Rosemary
Alternative take with the flageolets, served warm. Homemade crème fraîche
• Oregon Wild Rice, Oregon Wild Porcini, Oregon Native Purple Heirloom Mountain Spinach (S.G.)
Rice cooked in broth, porcini sauteed in butter, spinach folded in to wilt.
• Spring Salad Greens (S.G.), Assorted Edible Flowers (S.G.), French Breakfast Radishes (S.G.)
Served washed and torn, radishes thinly sliced, ready for dressings.
• Blue Cheese Dressing
Point Reyes Blue Cheese, homemade creme fraîche
• Herb Vinaigrette
Lemon thyme (S.G.), Marjoram (S.G.), Salad Burnet (S.G.), white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper
• Quick Pickles
Garlic cucumber and Chive Blossom Turnip. The first inspired by 'Japanese Farm Food,' the second totally made up.
• Baba Ganoush
Somewhere in between David Tanis' and Yotam Ottlenghi's take on the classic middle eastern eggplant spread. I listened to them and burnt the shit out of those eggplants. The results were excellent.
• Lima (Butter) Bean Hummus
Inspired by a recipe in French & Grace's exceptional 'Kitchen & Co' cookbook.
• Raisin Roti
Indian whole wheat flat bread. I made them with golden raisins one day at home, improvisation style, to eat with charred eggplant, and then dreamt up doing them for this dinner to pair with the baba ghanoush (and, well, the rest).
• Spring Onion Focaccia
Riding on the heels of the focaccia we served for the 'Shamble Manor' catering job, this one featured the subtle combination of sweet spring onion and orange Hawaiian crusty salt.
• Strawberry Barley Water
Lemon peel/strawberry skins/barley soaked in simple syrup, then diluted to a lovely refreshing beverage.
• Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb syrup incorporated into fresh lemonade
• Rhubarb Polenta Cake
A hearty, zingy cake perfect for a rainy spring afternoon. O, thank you Nigel Slater. What ever would we do without you?
• Not Nutter Butters
Face-slappingly obscene. Who started this trend of exquisitely home-made recreations of classic grocery store cookies? It's a zone we're happy to explore dangerously.