Friday, November 21, 2008

The Autumn Feast

It was about six weeks ago when I went to Seattle to visit the wonderful, fabulous Lorraine and her family. It goes without saying that I had a wonderful, fabulous time there with them.

Every year, Lorraine has held an annual Autumn Feast with a select group of friends who, by the way, are all wonderful, fabulous people to be around. She and The Spouse have been doing this for about fifteen years with the same guests every year. Longtime friends like that are really a treasure.

Anyway, I was truly honored and humbled to be included in this group for the auspicious occasion this year. I had read about Lorraine’s annual Autumn feast for the past couple of years on her blog and was always amazed at the menu.

To say that the woman can cook would be the biggest understatement. Ever.

I love to cook as well, but haven’t near the talent that she does. But cooking alongside Lorraine has become one of my most favorite things to do in the whole wide world. So, it goes without saying that I was really looking forward to helping her with The Feast.

We got up early-ish on Saturday morning, thanks to her nice Cuisinart coffee maker that always seems to have incredibly good coffee in it for me while I’m there. (It’s Seattle, after all). There was the shopping to be done for The Feast, so we hit the stores, racing around Seattle’s hilly neighborhoods.

At one grocery store, they were giving out samples of these huge, ripe yellow pears. Honestly, these were the best pears I’d ever tasted so Lorraine decide on the spot to incorporate them in the salad. Besides, pears go very well with the autumnal theme for the menu.

Of course, we went to Seattle’s infamous Pike Place Market for lots of the goodies. Seattleites simply call it “The Market”.

She’s been shopping at The Market for decades and knows many of the vendors by name. That’s so neat. Of course, it’s Seattle, so everyone is always super-friendly anyway.

At a wine shop, the owner (who Lorraine knew) made some suggestions for wine to accompany the meal after hearing the menu. Bottles of wine were procured upon his recommendation. While we were there, I found a sparkling pear cider (hey, neat!) to go with the pears in the salad and bought that too.

Upon getting back to the house, we got to cooking. I was the chef’s assistant and got to work under Lorraine’s command, prepping various items.

Like I said, I like to cook and know my way around a kitchen pretty well. When Lorraine said, “Make come crepe batter,” I can do that. When she said, “Make some pastry for the tart,” I could do that too.

After a while, The Spouse gave me a new moniker - - rather than being her sous-chef, I was her "Kitchen-Bitch" - - a name I was only proud to wear.

I really enjoy cooking away in Lorraine’s well-appointed kitchen. I was a good little Kitchen-Bitch.

But when it comes down to the wire, like 30 minutes before dinner is served and there are still lots of pots bubbling on the stove and things in the oven; that's when Lorraine is truly impressive. She slips into her evening attire, emerges back into the kitchen sipping a glass of sherry and insouciantly pulls it all together.

I, however, tend to cower under a table and require sedation at that point.

The guests arrived and, as per tradition, The Boys always bring an appetizer. This time, it was an incredibly tasty wild mushroom tart and a fine bottle of crisp, fino sherry.

Like I said, I’ve always been impressed with the previous years’ Autumn Feasts and this year was pretty astounding as well.

We began with an amuse-bouche of chanterelle mushrooms sautéed in butter, served between little basil crepes, topped with a basil cream sauce.
Everyone’s bouches were duly amused.

The aforementioned pears made their appearance in the salad that followed. Here, we have salad greens, roasted walnuts, smoked blue cheese and a dressing made from shallots marinated in lingonberry vinegar and thickened with cream.

It was served with the sparkling pear cider.


The entrée was a roast loin of pork served with sautéed red onions and apples. Accompanying it was a wild mushroom custard, butternut squash gnocchi, and a tartlet with caramelized onions and goat cheese. Even the colors of this meal were reflective of the autumnal theme.
For dessert, there were little apple charlottes served with a caramel sauce infused with cream and apple juice. (not pictured).

Afterwards, we had our favorite liqueur, Sortilège, which is a lovely Canadian concoction made from maple syrup liqueur and whisky. Num-num-num.

Sigh. . .

Lovely people, wonderful food and drink, combined with an incredible talent for putting it all together - - that's just one of the many things I love about being with my friend.

I’ll be a Kitchen-Bitch any day.


At 9:29 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

You are the best Kitchen Bitch ever, sweetie. And you are too kind. We did have fun, though, didn't we?

At 6:20 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

What a cu-watt picture! :)

At 4:54 PM , Blogger Citymouse said...

how wonderful... wish I was there

At 9:42 AM , Blogger Speck said...

Ok, you two need your own cooking show on The Food Channel. OMG! What a menu. My teeth were hurting from the richness just reading about it. OMG!


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