It has been a week since ONCE in Valhalla, and pictures and commentary have begun to emerge. It was such a big hit that JJ is going to do it again next year, much to our delight. Two resources for pictures I have found, where most of the pictures hail from:
The evening was wonderful, the food was excellent and the entertainment entertaining. In the Facebook photo album, every picture where you see Odin (the guy with the eye patch) at the head of a table, we are there. You can’t see us, but we were sitting about 4 seats away from the end of the table. We met this wonderful couple, one of which was the master and commander of MEM Tea Imports. Our tea stores have been holding out, but will soon run dry. MEM is a tea company that blends the tea in Somerville, and we have noticed that Allendale Farm carries the brand (when they are open), and I know I have seen it a few other places, though they currently slip my mind. We will soon be sampling!
Anyway, back to Valhalla. We sat down to rye hard tack, Fiddlehead Tomme Cheese, and Stillman’s Farm Liverwurst. On platters around the table were pickled sardines, fermented black radishes and vollkornbrot bread from Clear Flour Bakery. The hard tack was like Laura’s crackers, but thinner and crisper. Someone put a lot of effort into getting them that thin. The tomme was tasty, and the sardines were a novel experience. I’m not sure Laura dug the sardines, but I could totally get addicted to them (anything pickled for that matter). My favorite was the liverwurst on the vollkornbrot with mustard and radishes. I want a whole sandwich of the stuff, it was so good. Yet another preserved meat to add to our repertoire.
Next came a butternut squash soup, from Parker Farm squash. To be honest, this was the least remarkable dish of the evening, and I paid more attention to the Island Creek Oysters with Sour Apple Mignonette from the oyster bar. Tasty, plump and briny. Laura and I are slowly getting into the shellfish groove, and want to try cooking with more bivalves. We have to get adventurous, and find a good source for tasty goodies (suggestions, anyone?). We were also very concerned with tasting and sharing our beer and mead, from Pretty Things Beer and Green River Mead. Both were special blends for the occasion, and both were divine. I hope we will be privilaged enough to have special blends next year, too.
Stillman’s Farm Roasted Leg of Lamb graced the table next, along with a Red and Gold Beet Salad. Both were delicious, especially with the yogurt sauce served alongside. This is our first introduction to Sofia’s Yogurt, which I will gush on at length about later. The lamb was succulent and the beets roasted to perfection. We were still picking at them when the next course came out. Stillman’s Farm Ham Glazed in Maple and Cider and Cheesy Oat Porridge. The ham took a little while getting to us, but the porridge was delicious. We’ve already had a recreation of this dish, and plan on experimenting with savory oatmeal again in the future. The ham was divine, and the best addition to the oat porridge.
Note that at this point, we were starting to get very full, and consulting our menus showed that were only halfway through the evening! The dishes were served in large tureens and on generous platters, and we were generous with our servings. It was so good!
The next dish, the Wheatberry and Baer’s Best Bean Medley was something to aspire to, for our kitchens. Somehow the beans were perfect, not too soft and falling apart and not too firm and toothsome. The wheat berries were delightfully plump, with a bit of a pop when you ate them, all swimming in a delicate broth. Were they all cooked together? Separately, and blended with a delicious broth later? Experiments are at hand! The roasted root vegetables were meltingly good, well roasted until the outside was carmelized and the inside was tender. I love roasted sweet potatoes, and really dug in. I suspect they were Red Fire Farm sweet potatoes, as they were all of the familiar varieties. Whether or not they were is beside the point that they were good.
Next came Provincetown Cod poached in Green River Mead with Juniper and Butter, along with a Gilfeather Turnip Mash. So much delicious butter! The cod was bathing in it, the mash had to be half butter, and I was not complaining.
The last course was probably my favorite. Double J Farm Beef Stew with Pretty Things Beer, with Braised Red Fire Cabbages. Alongside were oatcakes, from Effie’s Oatcakes, which I adore with a passionate heart. The beef stew was that rich, thick meaty goodness I can never achieve, which went perfectly with the sweet oatcakes. I started looting other serving platters of oatcakes to eat with gravy and shredded beef. I want a whole cauldron of that for myself.
Meanwhile, all around us, the gods and goddesses of Valhalla cavorted, chatted, danced and sang. Several of the courses were introduced by the gods, which gave some back story into the pantheon of Norse mythology. Unlike ONCE in Hell, the acting was a wonderful addition, but not a major focus of the evening. It put the situation in some context, and provided fun amusement while ruminating between dishes.
Finally, dessert. Sofia’s Yogurt with Keown Orchard Honey and Cuisine en Locale Beach Plum Sauce. Not at all light, but a rich and creamy ending to a lovely evening. The beach plum sauce came right out of JJ’s own pantry, a loving contribution to the evening. It was delicious, and the best way to end the evening. Wonderful evening and we look forward to next year.
Many many thanks to Flower the Garden Gnome and all of the kitchen gnomes for a wonderful evening. Thanks also to the valkeries and the gods who added to the evening in such a special way.
It was a great evening away from our kitchen. But, our fridge has been restocked from our Red Fire Farm CSA, and we are looking forward to a great week of our own eats.
The yogurt is a new obsession for us. Sofia’s Greek Pantry makes the yogurt from goat and sheep milk, and it is the thickest, richest yogurt ever. If you have tried Fage yogurt before, this blows it far and away out of the water. A great review of the product can be found on the Sherman’s Market blog. So good! Expect to see a lot of this yogurt in our photo parade tomorrow. It might be love…
Signing off to clean house and enjoy some winter sunshine.