Thursday, July 24, 2008

How good will THIS be?

Oh boy, I'm so excited!

I'm preparing a sort of bistro-style Belgian dinner for some close friends this weekend, and it occurs to me that cooking seasonally, locally, is getting easier all the time. The increased availability of local meats and dairy products is what I've been wishing for since we returned to Tallahassee three years ago.

We'll start with a wheel of Titan from Sweetgrass Dairy. This individual wheel is of younger affinage than the sampling we tried a couple of weeks ago; a very different animal to be sure, but incredibly good in its own way. This is a really stellar washed rind goat's cheese -- more German than Belgian only in that the wash for the rind is Celebrator, a German Doppelbock. The cheese itself is less pure and self-conscious than most German cheeses, a distinction that can also been seen between German and Belgian beers.

We'll have veal birds braised in Matt's own Belgian Blonde ale: A well-seasoned forcemeat of Sweegrass's ground veal and Thompson Farm's pork wrapped with proscuitto and pounded scallops of veal (the veal for the scallops also from Sweetgrass), browned thoroughly and braised gently in the heavenly summer brew that will also accompany the dinner. I'm sure that a bit of cured local ham or bacon would easily rival the proscuitto. In fact, Sweetgrass's pigs feed on acorns from the oaks in their pastures (think Serrano ham), even though they receive much of their nourishment from whey left over from cheesemaking.

... served with a potato gratin (potatoes are not local this time of year) made with Kurtz and Sons or Sparkman's milk, SGD cheeses, and homemade creme fraiche. If we'd really planned well, we could have used heavy cream from Full Circle Farm for the creme fraiche.

... and... Ms. Martha's tiny ladyfinger field peas.

For desert, a fig clafouti made with figs from Turkey Hill, milk from Kurtz and Sons, Tupelo honey, and eggs from Ladybird Organics. I may offer some Tupelo honey-sweetened creme fraiche alongside.