Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Culinary Innovations Fall Feast 2011

It’s hard for me to not want to share the magically unique “Supper Club” experiences that I have been fortunate to be a part of over the course of this year. Andrew Stiver’s Culinary Innovations continue to impress and raise the bar, delivering a dining experience everyone should have the luxury to enjoy. Once again, Stiver and the very talented Scott Ota created an extraordinary evening that I have no choice but to rave about.

It takes a village. Stiver has wisely aligned himself with a Master Sommelier in training, Scott Ota. Scott has received his level two pin from the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently scheduled to represent the Driskill Hotel (where he is wine captain/sommelier) at this year’s TexSom Conference-Texas’ best Sommelier Competition. He was responsible for pairing all of the wines/ beverages that were to accompany the 4 four course decadence our group shared.

At the beginning of each course, Stiver, describes the cuisine and Ota discusses the wine selection, including why each wine pairs perfectly with the food that has been prepared, the vintage, type of grapes used, weather that year, all the way down to how many stripes were on the bee that pollinated flowers that lived in the garden that grew the grapes in that particular region --HA! Simply put, Scott’s knowledge of his craft would impress the best and the brightest.

Kim and Jordan Caufield graciously opened their beautiful home to host this special evening that many had anticipated for weeks. Prior to the main event, guests were treated to a cocktail hour complete with seasonal microbrews and local spirits. As always, the table was beautifully set: white linens, formal dining utensils, wine and water stems, and tea light candles for ambiance. Appropriately, being a “Fall Feast” themed affair, scented pine cones, dried gourds and other fall d├ęcor set the mood for the feast that was to follow. The evening’s menu sat rolled with a red ribbon at each place setting as if it contained special instructions to send your palette to wonderful worlds undiscovered. In actuality, it did.

Course one was Baked Grits with Oyster and Wild Boar Belly paired with a 2007 Chateau Picque Caillou, Pessac-Leognan. You had me at grits. But then you had me again at oyster. At this point the boar belly is nothing more than icing on the cake. Be mindful that this icing delicately melts in your mouth the only way a flawlessly prepared piece of boar belly knows how. The oysters paired perfectly with the wine. The grits danced happily with the boar. The guests at the table, hardly food critics, but avid lovers of all things amazing, smiled and moaned with contentment between the constant flows of fork-to-mouth until all plates at the table looked as if they were waiting for the food to be dispersed. Even the skittish eaters among us cleaned their plates! All was right with the world and this was just the first course.

For the second act we were presented with quail two ways, butternut squash puree, brussels sprouts and roasted fig. Our wine selection was a 2007 Remo Farina/ Ripasso . Presentation was picture worthy as seen in high end culinary publications. The first bite I chose to indulge was the fig. The words from my mouth that immediately followed were something to the effect of “Andrew, that fig just changed my life!” The earthiness of the fig and brussels frolicked beautifully with the wine. The quail was prepared to perfection as the butternut squash puree brought all flavors together and provided the necessary link for this course to be as delectable as the last. Course two could have been the pinnacle of the experience, but we were only half way through as all ecstatic guests patiently conversed in anticipation of what was to follow. Forty-five minutes into the experience and I am once again reminded of the journey that meals prepared from heart are capable of sending you on. This is why I love food.

Round Three: Axis Venison Wellington with celeriac puree, wild mushroom with a red wine demi-glaze paired beautifully with a 2009 Qupe/ Syrah (aka: Shiraz). To some at the table this course might have gone down as the finest entree to have found its way into their lives. The generous portions of venison had been seasoned to perfection and skillfully wrapped in Swiss chard and puff pastry then cut into medallions. The medallions set on top of a celeriac (in the celery family; root vegetable) puree that had been drizzled in a very bold and powerful red wine demi-glaze. To me, everything about this course was right. Being an avid meat eater this treat was undeniably the highlight of the meal. Skipping joyfully through a meadow of celeriac root with a demi-glaze morning mist, a deer met a baker whose sole purpose in life was to create beautiful melodies for all who crossed his path. Coddled by the Shiraz, every succulent bite lined up perfectly as if the final piece of our savory puzzle had been laid.

It was time for sweets to bring this collaboration full circle!

DESSERT!! Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel served with a Black Chocolate Stout from the Brooklyn Brewery. As I undeservingly sit here contemplating that best way to describe this seasonal sweet that had found its way into my existence, I find myself at a loss for words. I then realize that sometimes simplicity tends to be overlooked in these moments. Again, Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel!! Do I really need to go much further? Errorless execution, simple presentation as some dining whispered explicative’s of ecstasy. Delicious! I might have found myself in the kitchen after the meal eating the edges from the pan that once housed the bread pudding exerts, maybe ;-P

To me, food is something much more than a process we must go through out of necessity. Food is
a creative passion where the possibilities are endless. There is no right or wrong when it comes to preparing a dish. Much like music, if it flows well, and creates happiness, then it is to be cherished. Any evening that consists of a handful of some of my closest friends and new faces sharing in barrage of enhanced senses and new experiences is pure bliss in my books. This meal was $60 per person and an evening that all who attended are eager to replicate as soon as possible. Align yourself with adventurous, creative minds, eccentric personalities and those committed to excellence and there will never be a dull moment in your life.

If you are ever looking for a perfect way to share in a special occasion, or just want to celebrate life with loved ones, reach out, pick up the phone and contact Andrew Stiver with Culinary Innovations to better understand how you don’t even have to leave the house to experience a memorable gastronomic adventure.


To contact Andrew @ Culinary Innovations call 817.774.8468 or visit http://www.culinaryinnova.com/