(why doesn't he run for office again?) made some of these points in his introduction to the meal, pointing out the importance of good food. The chefs knocked themselves out creating memorable dishes and Francis Fecteau of Libation (read his wine words here on most Fridays) matched the food with the wine superbly.
Appetizer: Liberty Heights Fresh chef David Hammel made an open faced "slider" of Canyon Meadow beef on a potato pancake sided by a beet chip topped with lavender-laced chevre, plus a shooter of honeydew and cucumber. Atrea "The Choir" and Uinta Brewing Company's Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner (that's one of the ones with the Leia Bell labels) were the beverages.
First course: Forage's salad of baby vegetables wtth edible dirt-one of the restaurant's signature dishes featuring a lovely plated garden of baby carrots, Christmas radishes, some pickled, some blanched, some raw, sprinkled with toasted malt and served with Gruner Veltliner Hiedler, Loess. Chef-owners Viet Pham and Bowman Brown lined up the plates in the kitchen in an assembly line and built the arrangements with better-than-Detroit precision.
Greg Neville of Lugano made agnolotti del plin, a vegetarian pasta dish with all the umami of heavy beef. As usual, Neville waxed scholarly about the tradition and preparation of this dish-he researches his food nearly fanatically. The pasta was made with organic eggs from Milford Farms ("not as yellow as pasta made from Italian eggs," chef observed), stuffed with kale and other greens ground like meat and served with more chard, butter and Gold Creek Farms Parmesan. I think I got that right. Check it out for yourself-it's on the menu at Lugano. People were literally licking their plates. I won't name names.
Nathan Powers from Bambara devoted his usual day off to doing what he says he does at home on Sundays anyway-grilling chicken.
Last night, it was thighs from Heritage Valley Organics-pick up the latest issue of Salt Lake magazine to read all about this chicken rancher up in Tramonton). Powers wrapped the thighs and some fresh figs in pancetta, grilled them and finished them off with sweet corn butter. Fantastic. Fecteau picked a 2006 Venta Mazzaron, Vinas del Cenit, from some ancient tortured Spanish vineyards to go with. I forgot to take a picture of my food until I had eaten half of it.
Michael Richey from Pago grilled chunks of Morgan Valley lamb sirloin and served it over "beluga lentils," a pretty metaphor for quinoa because it has the mouth-popping quality of whitefish roe and minted baby carrots. Warwick, 3 Cape Ladies, Red was the wine, but by this time I was fading out on the notetaking and the picture-taking.
Only to be shocked wide awake by Amber Billingsley's extraordinarily wonderful dessert. She's become the gelato queen, making it for the dessert menu at Vinto where husband Robert Angellili (also a mushroom dealer) chefs. Last night, she made a gelato from candy cap mushrooms-no, really -and plopped it on a sweet corn galette, sprinkled with chunks of ripe peach and caramel scented with the same sherry we were served as our final wine-Bodegas Alvear, Montilla, Morales, Solera 1927.
This was a concentration of food geeks who loved being interrupted in their eating by a chef or by Francis, giving details about the food and wine.
But I have my own personal proof of how successful a dinner this was: I was seated next to Linda and Jamie Gillmor, owners of Morgan Valley Lamb; instead of talking about how they raise their animals, which restaurant buys their lamb, how they cook lamb themselves, general restaurant and food gossip, we became engaged in a meaningful conversation about the importance of listening to the music your children enjoy.
Good food, well served, leads to conversation, human interaction, community. As much as nurturing the planet and our fellow creatures, as much as fostering healthy eating and wholesome meals, this is what Slow Food is all about.
Well, I didn't get it all done this weekend. I still need to go by and try at Campfire Sundae at Bambara. But we covered plenty of good food.