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Degustation is a culinary term meaning a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods and focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company.”

To keep the degustation experience alive, I want to share the abbreviated chronicles of this thirty-third celebration of me (and my mom – thanks!). This feast hit all the key points: high culinary art, good company (the best actually – dear hubby) and pan-sensory dishes. The location: Rover’s in Seattle by Chef in the Hat. If it wasn’t for the impending closing of this classic (and moving onwards and upwards), I am doubtful we would have selected it given the copious culinary depots about town. While there is no way I can remember all the adjectives tossed about for the dishes, I am going to attempt to describe them and, for some, provide a recipe that sounds and tastes (in my mind) like what we dined upon and maybe a side dish or two of random facts. You can bet that I will attempt to recreate some of these over the coming months.

Amuse bouche – Mouth Awakening to goat cheese, apple foam and other delightfuls.

Fava Bean Soup, Kusshi Oyster (what a hidden treasure!), White Sturgeon Caviar, Artichoke Mousse

Quite a few recipes out there. Just Google. But I present to you, localfoods.about.com’s version, mainly because author warns of small portions and uses cream and the word, whirl… (imagine whirled peas)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. fava beans
  • Salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish of your choice
  1. Remove the fava beans from their pods. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add enough salt to make the water taste salty, and cook beans until inner-bean is tender to the bite, about 3 minutes.
  2. Run the beans through a food mill or shell them again. Cook the resulting mashed or shelled beans in a medium saucepan, covered, with 1/2 cup of the chicken broth over medium-high heat until the beans are very soft – mushy even.
  3. Whirl the beans in a blender until super-duper smooth (let them whirl at least a full minute or two, scraping down the sides of the blender with a silicone spatula as necessary; this will seem like a long time, but the extra processing will make a smoother puree). Add up to another 1/2 cup broth, if needed to keep the blender blending.
  4. Heat the puree over lowest possible heat, add salt to taste, and stir in the cream. Serve in tiny portions garnished with minced chives.

Makes 6 small servings

Foie Gras turchon-style on browned butter cake with rhubarb something or other.

Thank you Serious Eats for the recipe and post! I’d share below but it is many steps, all worth it. Key points: happy corn fed ducks (yes, I realize some people hate this – know where you food comes from), salt, time and a little elbow grease. Turchon refers in part to being tightly wrapped in cheesecloth then quickly poached, more dense and way buttery than usual foie gras.

Smoked Steelhead –Cheore Mousse, Nori Tuile, Citrus Vinaigrette (cute little leaf = miner’s lettuce, made a few appearances)

Sea bass (did you know it’s also called sablefish) with arugula puree and homemade ruffle potato chip J on fennel

Scallops, asparagus tips, arugula puree (our waiter’s all time favorite)

Arugula puree might give your go to sauce in house a run for its money. So much potential and quite refreshing. Make like pesto (pine nuts garlic cheese etc) or just straight up – add to pasta, potatoes, bread, you name it. Thank you Madame Martha Stewart for this straight forward recipe.

  • 2 3/ 4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 bunch arugula (about 3 1/ 2 ounces), stems removed
  • 1/ 3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/ 8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  • Prepare an ice-water bath.
  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, and add 2 1/ 2 teaspoons salt and the prepped arugula. As soon as the water returns to a boil, remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the arugula to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Working in batches, remove the arugula from the ice bath and place on paper towels to drain, squeezing out as much excess water as possible.
  • Transfer the arugula to a blender. Add the oil, remaining 1 / 4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper; puree until smooth and thickened with a small amount of unincorporated oil on the surface. Before using, stir gently to combine and be sure to taste to make sure it meets your flavor needs.

Roast Oregon Quail, Flageolet Bean, Braised Artichokes, White wine sauce (although it looks different in the photo than described on menu).

What is a flageolet bean? They are a variety of beans from France (Flag o lay, with a beret!). They are smallish, pale green, and kidney shaped. Quail is often a treat but tricky to make. I do really enjoy the quail at this great Vietnamese restaurant in South Seattle – Rainer BBQ (Bourdain ate there!) PhamFatale has a great recipe that sounds like my favorite Vietnamese interpretation, basically because it calls out the ultimate dipper – lime, salt and peppa. Try it! I prefer to eat it out as frying at home can be a drag without a fryer.

Foie gras (number two!) with soft boiled quail egg in a soup of its self finished with citrus gastrique


You can pick up a dozen quail eggs for less than $3 at almost any Asian grocery store – what a treat and bite size to boot. Just be sure, unless you want them “boney”, they AREN’T “balut”. You can bet these are now living in my fridge with chicken eggs and some duck eggs (all inspired by this meal).

Lamb sweetbreads with caramelized turnips, browned butter, fresh thyme and rosemary flowers (served up in a cleaned out bone on rock salt)


  • 1 pound lamb sweetbreads BUT this is enough for 10-12 people as appetizers, so less might be more for some…
  • Salt, pepper, paprika
  • butter and olive oil
  1. Clean the sweetbreads if needed (aka pancreas) by removing the membrane lining and cutting off visible excess fat tissue. Wash and dry thoroughly.
  2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
  3. Sauté in a combination of ½ butter and ½ olive oil over medium heat until golden (about 4 minutes per side depending on size.) Don’t overdo it.

Wagyu beef from Snake River Farms in Idaho, with morel mushrooms and peppercorn sauce served alongside quinoa


Halibut, Peavine, Nicoise Olive Ragout, Lemon Butter, Forbidden Rice


A ragout [raˈgo͞o] is simply a main dish stew of sorts. Ragu vs. Ragout is Italian sauce vs. French Stew, even though pronounced the same.

Here is a tasty recipe – you could sub the starch in and out (rice, potatoes etc) around the time the carrots are added in.

Ingredients:

2 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon butter
2 carrots, chopped in chunks
1/4 cup shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ – 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Fresh ground pepper and salt
1/4 cup flour
1 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup olives, (feel free to mix colors), pits removed
½ – 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (depending on how much you like

Directions:

1. Cook bacon. Remove to a separate plate.
2. Without cleaning pan, add butter. Melt.
3. Add carrots, shallots, garlic, thyme

4. Saute for approximately 10 minutes. If you don’t want your carrots to soft, do for less time..
5. Add flour by sprinkling over sauté mixture. Keep cooking and stirring for 2 minutes
6. Add wine and chicken stock, in parts, maybe thirds, stirring to deglaze the tasty bits on the bottom of the pan.
7. The goal is to bring to boil for five minutes or until the sauce thickens/reduces, stirring often

8. Add olives and mustard. Simmer another 10 minutes until sauce is thickened.
9. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. (hint: salt and pepper) and add crumbled bacon.
Note: ragouts often benefit from being made a day ahead but would hold out the bacon until serving.

You could cook the meat/protein in the same pan after step on, to brown and add it back in to finish cooking at step 8.

Inspired by food.com and frenchwomendontgetfat.com

Muscovy Duck, Herbed Polenta (the best ever IMHO), Asparagus with Duck egg, sprinkled with paprika and served with Rhubarb Compote


Rhubarb appeared in several dishes over the course of the evening, given that it is in season. Really nice pairing and opens up rhubarb for so much more than jam and crisps! Bon Appetite has a nice spread of savory pairings and recipes. Go check it out! http://www.bonappetit.com/ideas/rhubarb-recipes/search

Dessert! (Remember it is spelled with two s’s, as you always want more than desert)


I’d love to hear of your dining adventures…… Cheers!


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