Tag Archives: dinner

Small Plates, Big Taste

Do you ever go to a favorite website/blog and get disappointed when you see the same post holding court at the top of the page? Well, it gets pretty old when that happens over and over. You just hope that someone will write something, anything. Well, when that was happening to me when I’d check out Eat Local Memphis, I realized I’m the only one that could fix it, as I am the only writer (maybe some other folks might want to share their thoughts on here, just a thought…if you would want to, holler at me). So, here we go. My usual spring includes a lacrosse induced writing hiatus, as I coach a team of scrappy laxers from January through May, and that both limits my time to eat out and to write. But, who can fault someone for coaching, right?

Back to the beginning

I think that sometimes the best way to get back into the groove is to get back to the basics. So, instead of hunting down the newest place to check out (don’t worry, I’ll get to all of those spots soon!), and K and I went to our faithful date-night spot, Tsunami. Well before I started writing about food, Tsunami was the place for me and my family to go get a great meal. The same thing was true for K and her peeps, so it naturally became one of our spots from the beginning. I read somewhere that people love to read lists, so here is one for you to try out.

Reasons Tsunami is awesome (not an exhaustive list)

  1. Delicious
  2. Consistency – both in quality of food, but also in quality of customer service. It certainly helps that so much of their staff have stayed there for a long time.
  3. Energetic atmosphere
  4. You always see someone you know
  5. Great bar
  6. Creativity

I’m going to expand on the last one, as that’s what keeps calling me back. One of my absolute favorite parts of the Tsunami menu is the list of small plates on the left side of the menu. These dishes rotate constantly. A dish could be on the list for a week, two, but often not too much more than that. This is the go-to list of what is fresh, fun, and in-season. The second benefit is that the plates are actually small, with smaller protein portions, which mean they cost a little less and make it easier to try more things. Win-win-win.

So, here’s what we got the other night from the small plate menu. If you want to try these, you should hurry on over there. First was a delicious portion of salmon (notice that small does not mean tiny), served over a bed of crawfish hash with a mustard sauce. It was awesome.

Salmon and Hash

Summer means Succotash

I love the summer. I like sitting on the porch and enjoying the shade and a nice breeze, as I am doing right now. Shorts, love em. Patios, parties, pools, punches, etc. Summer is also succotash season. That time of year when corn, beans, tomatoes, etc all come together, joining to make the ultimate summer side.

Halibut and Succotash

It is such a refreshing dish, full of fresh flavor. Tsunamis was edamame based, and was a perfect match for this flaky, delicious halibut. A perfect dish for a warm, summer night. Get out there and get this little plate before it is gone.

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Tsunami
928 Cooper St
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 274-2556

The Shack Out Back at Felicia Suzanne

K’s and my friend Felicia Willett is awesome. If you’ve met, you’d agree, and if you’ve eaten her food at Felicia Suzanne downtown, you know what I’m talking about. So, I was pumped up when I heard that she was redoing the patio on the side of her space. We went to check things out for the official grand opening in November at the first annual JR Willett’s Banjos and Bonfires, which raised money to fight prostate cancer in honor of her late father, JR Willett.

Felicia Patio - band
The Side Street Super Club kept everyone warm with some great bluegrass. Notice the new seating on the patio.

Felicia Patio

The bar (dubbed the Shack Out Back), was lit up and rocking.

Felicia
Felicia shows off the new turkey burger sliders from the patio menu as K laughs, most likely at one of my hilarious jokes.

Felicia Patio - turkey sliders
Close up.

Felicia Patio - tamale pie
Cornbread “tamale” pie. This was awesome, especially on such a cold November night. Not cold like it was earlier this week, but it was pretty serious at that point in the year.

Felicia patio - tacos
Fish tacos. I really need to get one of these taco stands. And some more of these tacos…

Felicia Patio - hushpuppies

Hushpuppies. I might have eaten the whole tray of these.

Felicia Patio - meat pies
Is it me, or are meat pies popping up on menus all over town? Second question, what took so long?

Felicia Patio - hot chocolate and stache

 

The party ended up with a few last songs, some cookies, and hot chocolate, spiked it you like. Overall, this was an awesome event for a great cause, and I look forward to it becoming an annual event. And lastly, it is clear that with the new bar, furniture and menu, Flo’s Patio and the Shack Out Back are going to be huge hits downtown whenever the weather is anywhere close to manageable.

Felicia Suzanne is already one of the best places to get a bit and a drink in Memphis, and with the addition of this more casual patio, it just gets better. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Felicia Suzanne – Flo’s Patio and the Shack Out Back
80 Monroe
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-0877

Felicia Suzanne's on Urbanspoon

The Second Line is First Class

Second Line 2

Ever since The Second Line was announced, Memphians (and a lot of food publications) have been eagerly awaiting Kelly English’s newest venture in the 901. I had the great pleasure of joining some friends and family for one last practice run before the official opening on Saturday at 4 (note, as they wait on a full liquor license, it will be beer-only for a bit).  The more I eat Kelly’s (and his team’s) food, the more I recognize how much I like everything they’ve ever put on my plate. So, like many of you, I’ve been dying to try his favorite casual New Orleans favorites.

Second Line 1

The Second Line is in a renovated house on Monroe right next to Restaurant Iris and roughly across the street from Overton Square. Inside, it has a nice large bar, a number of table for two and four, and a major patio out back that probably doubles the seating. Once we get into patio weather, it is going to blow up out there. A couple TVs at the bar mean this will be a prime place to take in a game with a nice meal and some drinks. I love the copper and teal color scheme going on inside, and the comfortable, open feel of the place. The interior is only broken up by what looks like an old brick fireplace that separates the main dining area into two spaces.

Second Line – First Course

My mom and I were joined by a new friend Jen, a New Orleans native, who gave our table some instant credibility and great company for a really fun dinner. It is well written on this blog that I love getting seated with new people at dinner, as it is such a good way to get to know some new people. To get started the four of us ordered up some appetizers from the Eat These First section of the menu. Everything looked strong, so it was a trouble to limit our order to only four items…

Second Line 4 meat pie

I love meat, and I love pie, so obviously we had to get the meat pies. These were excellent with a crispy crust and a tasty interior. Definite recommend, but do I really need to recommend a meat pie, c’mon?

Second Line 6 happy enchiladas

We also tried out the happy enchiladas, which have a pretty awesome provenance. Angela English described dreaming about this dish complete with the mole on top, white cheese on the bottom and pork inside. She woke up and told Kelly that these had to be on the menu. Here they are on day one, and I’m a big fan. When you see her, ask her about how they got their name for another good story.

Second Line 5 hushpuppies

The  next skillet had some tasty crabmeat and corn hushpuppies. Yum!

Second Line 3 midnight snack

My highlight of the starters was the gulf shrimp midnight snack, which is a piece of brioche toast topped with gulf shrimp, remoulade, and a poached egg. Get out of here. Just so delicious and rich.

I saw some of the other starters around, and the shwarma, the Brignole salad, the pimento fries, and the rangoons all looked pretty sweet. Hell, it all looked good. (See full menu)

For Richer or For Poboys

At this point the three of us were pretty pumped up and starting to boarder on a little full. But that wasn’t stopping anyone from getting some poboys. Kelly had been telling me recently about the importance of the bread, and this bread from New Orleans did not disappoint.

Second Line 7 johny snack ham poboy

I got the Johnny Snack, which is a ham and cheese poboy with gravy. The bread was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and made even softer by the gravy. The ham and cheese were flavorful and the pickles were the icing on the cake. The fries were dark, crispy, and tasty. Our dining companion was excited that Crystal hot sauce was at every table, as she says it is the go-to hot sauce, so much so that she gave it as wedding favors. It was a great addition to the sandwich and fries, for sure. Use it.

second line 10 Verno

Jen went with the Verno, a braised chicken thigh poboy named after Chris Vernon. Listen to his show if you don’t already. Like the ham, this one got great marks. She got hers with the stewed beet greens, which would make an awesome part of a veggie plate.

second line 11 beet greens

My mom went old school with the shrimp poboy, and she loved it. Just pure, fried shrimp goodness dressed to impress with lettuce, tomato, and pickle.

second line 8 shrimp

She got an awesome side of the Asian-inspired Fancy Ass Cole Slaw, which was great and had a nice little kick to it.

second line 9 slaw

Final First Thoughts

I’m pumped about Second Line opening up for real on Saturday. I’m proud of Kelly and Angela for all of their hard work in creating a new, exciting place that serves excellent food and has great service. They’re creating jobs and giving people a great place to hang out. As a Memphian, I love people that are behind our city and trying to push us ahead both to outside audiences and the one inside that sometimes needs a little extra love. These two (and all of the team at Iris/TSL) are just that, and Memphis is lucky to have them.

So, get on over to Monroe, and enjoy their version of easy, comfortable food, and enjoy it. I’ll see you there, often!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

The Second Line
2144 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104

The Second Line on Urbanspoon

Heading Southward

Press play.

Now we can begin.

Southward

 

One of the benefits of this whole Eat Local blog business is that every now and then my friends invite me to cool food events, knowing what a good eater I am. That’s what went down recently when I was invited by good friends to join them at one of Southward’s friends and family nights. The kitchen and the front of house served up their menu to a packed house to get a little more practice before the official opening, which I believe was today.

We nearly tried everything on the menu, so this little photo journey should give you a pretty good idea of the awesomeness that awaits your upcoming trip to the Regalia shopping center out East by Oak Hall. Tucked in the back in the old Circa location, Southward has gotten a full makeover and sports a cozy bar that gives way to a high-ceiling dining room with excellent design that features a great community table. There’s also an upstairs room that will be great for business meetings and small parties. Anyway, on to the Fare and the Libations.

Continue reading

The Hold Up – Burger Time at the Holding Pen

In the one year that Hog & Hominy has been open, it has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat in the world. At once it is both extremely high-level and easily accessible. From brunch to hot dogs to sweetbreads to tasting menus to pizzas that are great hot and allegedly better when eaten cold out of one’s fridge the next day, this place has been killing it from day one. I’ve liked everything that I’ve ever had there, so imagine the excitement when the word started to get out about the Holding Pen, their new dive bar located on the H&H back patio (see Pamela Denney’s article in May’s Memphis Magazine).

The key piece to the whole thing was going to be the John T. Edge hamburger that is only available Thursday-Saturday nights after 9pm. This was huge, as we now had two of Memphis’ best chefs working on their version of the tried and true classic. Or, just another reason for me to head out to Brookhaven on the even-more regular. So that’s what we did last weekend.

Holding Pen 1 - sign

The first thing that you notice is that the Holding Pen is accessible via secret bookcase door in the back of Hog & Hominy, which is awesome, obviously. Then you get out there and find that they’ve covered the patio, added some huge sliding barn doors on the back, and put up at least one growl towel for every win the Grizzlies had last year. A nice mural backs the bar, and they’ve got classic tunes pumping through the record player.

Menu options are limited to hamburgers and a few specials. While we were there they had a Frito pie in the crockpot, boiled peanuts, a couple of cheap beers, and a pitcher full of a special cocktail. It would be like if you went to your friends house for a pool party. Is there a better compliment of the Andrew/Michael family of restaurants than to say that whenever I go, I always feel like I’ve gone to a friends house? With the caveat being that these friends are extremely good cooks.

My party of four ordered up four burgers and some drinks before heading into H&H for a late night dinner. Here are a couple of them.

Holding Pen 2 - Burgers

Amazing. This burger is completely unpretentious and totally delicious. It is an Oklahoma style burger, meaning that it is cooked on a flat grill with onions pressed into the excellent Claybrook Farms meat before the first flip. This caramelizes the onions and maintains moisture in the patty. Since it is cooked hot and flat, the meat is just the right amount of crisp on the outside while being the right temperature on the inside. Add some melted cheese and the coup de grace, which is pickled lettuce, and then slap it all on a simple, cheap bun, and you are on fire.

Holding Pen 3 - Close up

I highly recommend reading Leslie Kelly’s article on Serious Eats about this burger, the reason it is named after the head of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and the time that Thomas Kellar told Andy and Mike that they are the future and not to “f it up.”

It was a long wait from May when I heard about the burger until last week, but it was worth the wait, as most things are when Andy and Mike and their team are involved. So, look for me on any Thursday-Saturday night, I’m sure I’ll see you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

The Holding Pen on the Hog & Hominy back patio
707 W Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

Reminder – The Holding Pen opens earlier, but the burger is only available on Thurs-Sat after 9pm. Worth the wait.

 

Aye? Chiwawa!

A Remembrance of Treasures and Tacos

38_513682114949_8484_n

Once upon a time there was a kid that grew up in Memphis. He can still remember that anytime his parents would take him Downtown or into Midtown, they would pass a jungle of a building on the South side of Madison. The impressionable youth would ask what it was all about, probably assuming that some kind of natural disaster like a zombie attack had occurred on the site. No, son, that used to be the prime pizza spot in all of Midtown. For years and years, he could not believe this, as it was seemingly abandoned and overgrown his entire life.

This short little story could be about me or about just about any of you that read the blog and are roughly 30 or so. Before that old building was transformed into a modern taco and hot dog shop by the Chiwawa team, I can not remember ever seeing one of Madison’s best pieces of real estate in anything other than its jungle glory. It was like the old built in grill in the back of my parents house that was overtaken by the ivy that lived in the yard.

But like Indiana Jones and anyone else that has gone into the jungle with an eye on a treasure, the Chiwawa folks saw gold in that spot. A little work and some elbow grease later, and Midtown has a sweet modern building with a double patio. Instead of sitting idle on the sidelines of an Overton Square resurgence, the space is home of a hopping taco and hot dog spot. Editor’s note – there are no hopping tacos. Hopping is in reference to the spot.

Taco Time

I’ve been in for lunch and dinner a couple of times so far, but I just went in last week to try the new taco creations. One of my friends, an excellent chef, worked with the Chiwawa team to develop some new tacos, and the ones I had showed his flair for pairing ingredients for awesome creations.

Chiwawa 1

Chiwawa and I don’t share the same china pattern; rather, I got these for the road and brought them back to Chez Eat Local. Some tacos just call for busting out the Florentine. What you see on the plate is a catfish taco, a pork belly taco, and an order of papas fritas aka fries.

Chiwawa Catfish Taco

Sometimes you go to a spot and order a dish and it is good enough to make you question whether you should ever order anything other than that. That’s the basic deal with this catfish taco. Not sure that there will be many dinners where I want more than two tacos, so it might take me a while to try the rest of them. As of right now, the catfish taco is on my must-order list.

Chiwawa Pork Belly

Here’s a nice look at a pork belly taco. When did you expect to say those three words together? Really. It is put together with refried beans, pickled white cabbage, and arbol chili vinegar. After this taco and the pickled lettuce at the Holding Pen, I’m going all-in on pickled greens as the secret ingredient in just about anything.

So, if you are like me at all, and you remember a time in which you could never figure out why that cool pizza building was never in action, now is your chance to go say thanks to the people that fixed it up into “sumthin real nice, Clark.” Thank them by buying tacos and watching movies on their Monday Movie Night, or by eating hot dogs. Your choice, but go say thanks and get the catfish while you’re at it. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Chiwawa
2059 Madison Ave,
Memphis, TN ‎38104
(901) 207-1456

Chiwawa on Urbanspoon

You Must Walk to Crawl – My Dishcrawl Experience pt. 1

Here’s one of the cool things about Memphis. I’m always finding awesome things that I didn’t know about. Often, these aren’t brand new, and I’m not on the cutting edge, but these are things that other people are all about. There just happen to be so many cool things going on in town that there is always something new around the corner. I guess that’s why we have all of these cool blogs and things like Choose 901 and I Love Memphis. We need guides in our own city to keep up.

Well, fortunately for me, Kim over at Dischcrawl is a champion of her own awesome thing that is happening in town, and she invited me to come check out their most recent event downtown. If you have ever forgotten the last leg of a pubcrawl, then you can probably imagine that a Dishcrawl is the foodie version of that great activity. Kim sets up an event based on a neighborhood. So, I signed up to go on the Downtown (North of Beale) Dishcrawl with the knowledge that we would go to four different places for a taste of each place. (Note, you get food at four places included in your ticket. Drinks are on you.)

You get an email two days in advance that tells you where to meet, but other than that, the rest of the locations will remain a secret to be revealed the night of the event. So, here’s part one of my experience.

Meet at Automatic Slim’s at 7:00 on Thursday

That’s the message that me and 40-50 others got last week, and so that’s where I headed.

Dishcrawl 01 - Slims

I headed upstairs and took a seat and started chatting with a couple of other Dishcrawl rookies. There were plenty of folks that had been out on one of these events before, and to me repeat business is always a sign of good things to come. First up, we got a tasting plate of three off-menu items, which served as recruitment pitch for me to go back in the future.

First up was a nice fresh bite of ceviche. Not many things make as much sense as ceviche on a night when the heat index was pushing 110. It was nice.

Dishcrawl 02 - Slims Ceviche

Next we tried a little smoked lamb with mint jelly on a crostini. Yum. Whomever decided that lamb and mint were soulmates can be my wingman any day.

Dishcrawl 04 - Slims lamb

Lastly there was a a banana wrapped in bacon with a tangy honey drizzle. Think about that for a second.

Dishcrawl 03 - Slims banana

You read that correctly. But when broken down into taste elements, this was sweet, salty, and tangy with a combination of textures in the bacon and banana. So, you’re asking, “you mean those two staples of my kitchen go together like Zach and Kelly is what you’re saying?”

Zack-and-Kelly-The-Prom-zack-and-kelly-3837657-640-480

Yes. That is what I mean. Now on to phase two.

Much Ado About Aldo’s

We got up and got instructions that we’d take a short walk to our next location. So, down Union went this eating posse, and we headed down Main to Aldo’s for round two.

Dishcrawl 05 - Aldos

 

If you haven’t been Aldo’s is a pretty sweet pizza spot on Main St. With their other spots Bardog and Slider Inn being big time players in the lives of Memphians, it is no surprise that this place is rocking it as well.

First up was a nice little shrimp and grit action.

Dishcrawl 06 - Aldos Shrimp

 

Pretty tasty. Tops to me was this nice goat cheese stuffed pepper. Awesome.

Dishcrawl 07 - Aldos goat cheese stuffed pepper

 

Lastly, we had a pretty delicious olive tapanade to go with that there bread. Also very tasty.

Ok, so part 2 is coming soon. But I want to give a shout out in part one to our awesome host Kim and her sidekick-for-the-evening Paige, who actually ran the first couple of Dishcrawls in Memphis.

Dishcrawl 09 - Kim and Paige

They were awesome hosts and set up a great event. I definitely recommend heading out on one of these. It would be good in a group as a way to see some different places and have a cool social meal. I went solo, and I’d highly recommend that if you 1. like food 2. like talking to strangers. It seems like a great way to meet some new folks and have a good time, two things that go pretty well with a full stomach. See you there!

-Thomas

I want to go to there:

Dishcrawl Memphis – Read about past events and sign up for their emails. Don’t delay after getting an email as the dinners sell out pretty quickly.

Automatic Slims
83 S. 2nd Street,
Memphis TN 38103
901.525.7948

Aldo’s Pizza Pies
100 S Main St #101
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 577-7743

 

 

 

 

I Know DKDC

 

 

Back in action…
dkdc 1

I’ve long been a major proponent of all of Karen Carrier’s restaurants. She mixes a combination of awesome style and design with excellent, unique food at all of her spots, so I was definitely excited to finally get over to her newest spot Bar DKDC. At the new place, she is bringing international street food to Cooper Young. She mixes the great food with an awesome collection of cocktails, so it is a great place for dinner or to chill out over drinks.

dkdc 3
Chill beverages.

dkdc 2

Rums all over the place on the drink menu. Cuban dishes on the food menu.

dkdc 4 shrimp

Shrimp.

dkdc 5 fritters

Corn fritters with a blueberry jam. Awe….some.

dkdc 6 meat pies

 

Meat pies. All about it. These were great.

dkdc 7 fish sandwich

 

Fish club sandwich. One of my all-time favorite sandwiches is next door at the Beauty Shop, another Karen Carrier place. This one is a spicier cousin, and it is delicious. If it is on the menu, give it a shot.

dkdc 8 soup

 

This is their fish stew. Spicy, delicious.

Basically, it was an awesome menu of spicy Cuban food. Bar DKDC is an awesome spot for drinks, great eats, and a good time. Hit it up after work sometime this week and find out for yourself. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Bar DKDC
964 S. Cooper
Memphis, TN 38104
901-272-0830

Alchemy is Magic

I went to Alchemy a bit ago to meet the new chef  Nick Seabergh and try out some of his items. Nick comes up to Memphis from Vicksburg, and he brings some real skill in the kitchen with him. Nice guy, who was definitely excited about cooking up here at Alchemy.

I started out by just filling up my plate with a nice variety of the appetizers that they had out. You can see some flank steak, some house smoked salmon, a little shrimp and grit, a deviled egg, and some potatoes. All good. Real talk.

alchemy plate

One of my favorite plates (for the record, I shared all of this food with some friends at the table), was this roasted asparagus with Benton’s bacon and a fried poached egg. You heard that right, they took one of the greatest items in all of fooddom, the poached egg, and breaded it up and fried it. Genius.

fried poached egg asparagus bacon

Whenever I go to a new place, I always ask around and see what my friends have to say about it. The buddy that I called told me in no uncertain terms that I must get the shrimp and grits. It was really good. Great flavor and awesome tasso ham gravy. Is shrimp and grits the ultimate comfort food? It is at least in the argument.

shrimp and grits

Next up was the great little sliders made with Donnell Farms beef and some pimento cheese. If you’re noticing that Alchemy does a great job of taking simple items and making them better by adding a little twist or an extra ingredient or flavor, you are getting the idea. They do a really good job on the details, which really makes it all standout. Look at those nice custom made buns from Jason Doty at Bluff City. Details.

sliders

Say someone comes up to you on the street and offers you some potatoes. He tells you that you can have them prepared with duck fat or without, which do you choose? Obvi, you take the duck fat. Check out that beautiful hanger steak served with delicious duck fat fingerling potatoes. What’s the extra detail besides the duck fat, you ask? Well, that’d be the nice smoke paprika aioli that goes with it all. Yum.

steak

I saved the best for last. These spicy chili roasted fish tacos were off the chain. I know that isn’t very descriptive in the foodie vernacular, but that’s what I have to say about it. If you want be to break it down any further, I would say they were awesome, and they are the first thing that I will order next time I go to Alchemy. How’s that?

tacos

Bonus Points

I actually did go back to Alchemy after this meal but before writing this. The next trip was for a drink and a chance to say bye to a friend that recently moved to the very far left side of the country. At the bar, I will typically order a N/A beer, because that is easy. Alchemy didn’t have any, so they offered to make me up a mocktail, which I greatly appreciate. Most times I don’t even ask, because the majority of bars don’t put much effort into that (high praise to Nick at Hog and Hominy and Andrew Michael for making it happen out there). They came back with the most awesome cucumber/citrus mocktail.

Bars would be much more fun for the non-drinker if more people would put their cocktail know-how into making non-alcoholic drinks. So, thanks again for that!

Wrap up

Hit it up. After work, Alchemy looks pretty calm and easy to manage. Late at night, the word is that it gets fun and loud, so whatever you are looking for, this place has it on offer. See you there.

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Alchemy
940 South Cooper Street
Memphis, TN.
901.726.4444
Alchemy on Urbanspoon

Viva Italia – Clan Gordon Family Dinner 2012

Every year the young members of the Gordon family, K and her siblings and all the significant others, eagerly await Christmas time. Not only do we get to spend a lot of time together during the holidays, we also have the Clan Gordon dinner to look forward to. K’s dad and stepmom schedule a serious family dinner within a week or so of Christmas, so that we can have a big event for a small group of family. It really is one of the highlights of the year.

If you’d like a primer on why it has been so awesome in the past, take a look at the last couple of Clan Gordons:

2010 – The Clan Gordon English Dinner

2011 – The New Orleans Clan Gordon Dinner

Enough with the past, let’s get on with it.

CG 1 aprons

Preppy Kitchen

Clan Gordon officially started on Christmas morning when everyone got their own custom family aprons with the really awesome Gordon family crest. Since K’s dad really goes to extreme lengths to make this incredible dinner, the kids will try to get over to his house to serve as line chefs during the process. K and I went over early on the afternoon of the dinner to lend a couple of hands.

CG 1 bechemal sauce

We jumped right in by helping with the stuffed mushrooms with the bechamel sauce.

CG 1 bechemal sauce 2

Smooth, slow stirring as it thickens up.

CG 4 Cooking

Team work.

CG 1 Mushrooms

Almost ready. Check out that bechamel now mixed with all the delicious chopped prosciutto.

CG 1 Mushrooms 2

Here they are, ready to go into the oven. We helped out with a few other final details before heading home.

CG 2 cannelloni

Cannelloni waiting to go into the oven. This would turn out amazing, more details when we get to dinner…

CG 3 Quail

The stuffed quail wrapped in speck waiting for cooking. Beautiful.

CG 5 cheesecake

Here’s Ks stepmom’s amazing cheesecake hot right out of the oven. I will explain later, but I’m normally not a huge cheesecake guy, but I guess that is just because I have never had a cheesecake that was this good. It was light, airy and amazing.

CG 6

Table is set and ready for action.

Dinner Time

Later that evening, we all arrived at the Gordon house and got started.

Cocktail, Canapes, and Company

For these family dinners, we go back to dressing up for dinner and starting the evening with a cocktail hour. Every course during dinner would have a dedicated wine pairing, but this was a good chance for people to start with some sparkling wine or cocktails of their choosing.

cg 6 2

 

Always room for for a White Russian, even during the Italian dinner. If you’re wondering, bydand is the Gordon clan motto, meaning steadfast. Party cup roadies elevate any party, just sayin’.

CG Meal Course 1

During cocktail hour, we got the first taste of K’s dad’s masterpiece dinner. He baked some fresh tuscan bread and made two variations of this amazing liver pate. I could have eaten all of it. It was insanely rich and awesome. The only thing holding me back from killing the whole ramikan was my experience at previous Clan Gordon dinners. One must pace oneself, lest he run out of room before the end of the meal.

Belly in our Bellies

The antipasti course at the table was the product of a serious long-term planning. In February of 2012, we all went over to the Gordon house to make homemade bacon, and while doing that K’s dad started some pork belly confit, so after 10 months it was time to bust it out.

cg 7

 

Here’s the belly out of the skillet before getting plated. So good.

CG meal course 2

Here it is served up with polenta and a cherry reduction. This combination of sweet and salty was awesome with the polenta. Also, it was pretty darn awesome to eat something that we had put together so long ago.

Primi – Can I Canneloni

Next up was a serious Italian masterclass. While researching the menu, K’s dad found this recipe, and it was described as only being made on the most special family occasions, so it was perfect for this event. After hearing about how much work it takes to make the cannelloni and then to make the tortellini that goes inside it, I can see why it is such a rare treat.

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Here it is baked up after being covered in more bechamel sauce. Inside is the tortellini and prosciutto. This was unreal.

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Look at that. Tortellini stuffed with spiced chicken in side a prosciutto wrap inside a spinach cannelloni topped with bechamel. Gimme a break.

Secondi – Stuffed Quail Stuffed Me

So, after the pasta course, you naturally have a meat course. This one was incredible. K’s younger brother delivered the speck from a recent trip to New York, and it served as the outer layer around some de-boned quail and provolone cheese. It was topped with a little honey, and it was insane. The quail was so tender. I know it is related to chicken, but it had so much flavor. Really speaks to the benefits of branching out in the poultry family.

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Plated up with them were the decadent stuffed mushrooms that we had worked on earlier in the afternoon. Find a recipe for them online and make them, serve them at a party or at lunch or whenever. Dang Gina.

Just Desserts

 

Every dinner must come to a close at some point, and this one closed with the light, airy ricotta cheesecake that you saw come out of the oven earlier. So many cheesecakes seem too dense and too smooth, and it is like they loose something in the translation.

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This was cheesecake like you would imagine it should be. Served with this potent raspberry vinegar, which was so good that you could probably have sipped on a shots worth, it was a delightful end to such an awesome dinner.

Bydand

So, I mentioned that the clan motto meant steadfast earlier. What I like so much about these dinners is the coming together of a family that holds on to that ideally dearly. They are steadfast and supportive of each other, and it is truly a blessing to be involved with such a good group. That each year that passes ends in an amazing dinner is a bonus, like a celebration that this family is and will continue to be. Cheers to Clan Gordon and here’s to an awesome 2013 for the whole family. And cheers to you and your family in 2013. Hope it is an awesome one. See you out there!

-Thomas