The theme for Casey Schanen and Tom Saunderson’s class at Gretchen’s last week was ostensibly Seafood with Wine Pairings. If you ask me, the real theme was Butter.
This was some of our mise en place – see that pile of butter pats on the plate? We used most of that over the course of the evening.
We put together an appetizer plate for the guests so they’d have something to nibble on right away. There were fresh radishes and turnips, Nell Thorn bread and rosemary crackers, all being dunked into an amazing dip of butter whipped with green olives. Yes, it looks like guacamole – but it ain’t. Caution is advised, as this stuff is addictive.
The first course was a seared scallop on a bed of sauteed endive and turnip greens, glazed with a mixture of butter and chestnut honey and topped with parmesan curls. Chestnut honey has an assertive flavor, and it worked surprisingly well here.
Next up was a piece of seared and baked halibut, served with fluffy spinach gnocchi topped with asparagus and leeks. Wait, was there no butter on this? There probably was. [Update: There was not butter. But there was cream. – ed.]
Then came salmon. Each piece was topped with a chunk of butter and baked, so the butter sank down into the fish.
The pieces were served with a saute of thinly sliced radishes and turnips and fresh peas, along with delicate ravioli stuffed with fresh peas and feta. A lemon beurre blanc went over the top. I was full when this plate was served, but it was far too wonderful to pass up.
All this great buttery stuff was paired with wine brought by Tom, all produced in coastal areas. They were excellent, and went so well with the food that I almost forgot to notice the wine.
I particularly loved the albariño, which was fabulous with the rich halibut. All the wines did a fine job of cutting through the butter and leaving the mouth clean for another bite.
After all that, there was dessert. I was completely unable to cope with it after inhaling those ravioli, but it was very nice: buttermilk panna cotta with berry sauce. I’m fairly certain there was no actual butter in this.
It was a good class. As always, with those two.