Little did I know that I had walked into a BBQ hosted by and food provided by the Executive Chef and bar manager at Portland and Rochester. I was intrigued by the mention of infused items right off the bat. I had already grabbed a vodka and lemonade cocktail, true to BBQ form, in a blue plastic cup and was about to have my mind blown by what followed.
First up, Paul (exec chef and former ownder of Chef Paul's truffles on the Cape) served us barely a shot of a Valrhona and vodka creation of his. Four years of patience, five pounds of rich and sultry chocolate and lots of warmed vodka created this killer "drink." It was so strong but sexy, smooth and phenomenal. Imagine what a bite of dark chocolate tastes like. Now imagine sipping a shot of high-quality vodka. Now melt those who together and let it sit for years. What comes out is pure passion.
Next up was a 2.5 year old jar of dried kiwis, soaked in 50 year old Mezcal. This lone piece of fruit was "knock you on your ass" good and oh so boozy. Each bite was like sipping a shot of Mezcal. Faces were momentarily screwed up from the strength of the alcohol, small "whoooh's" were let out and we all enjoyed this potent fruit piece in small bites. No one fed any to the dogs...
To break up the booze-fest, we brought it down a notch and tasted some epic 35 year old, $85 per bottle balsamic vinegar. It was sweet and syrupy and complex. I wanted to lap it up drop by drop, painfully slowly. Apparently, the longer you let balsamic vinegar sit, the thicker it gets. It is absolutely worth the wait. But maybe I need a better job to afford such luxuries...or maybe I will just randomly luck out and get to taste them at BBQs hosted by friends of friends.
After awhile of chatting, dinner was started and the best part was yet to come. Get ready for this:
Yukon Jack vadilia onion vinaigrette infused brats with garlic and Himalayan pink salt
Asparagus infused with love (and perhaps slightly boiled or roasted as they were slightly soft but perfect)
Smoky beet mousse with white truffle oil
House-made apricot and kiwi jam
Black walnut and bacon caramel sauce
One word: WOAH. I could have eaten seven sausages. It was kind of a throwback to my time in Wisconsin, brats. I had had beer brats back then, but these were liqueur and garlic infused and grilled to perfection. Holes were even poked in the meat to let the goodness seep in. The asparagus, as well as the brats, were great carriers for the three "sauces." The beet mousse was made from roasted outsides of the beets (go figure) and the jam and caramel sauces were sweet but not too sweet. The bacon added an unforgettable savory tone too.
Time passed and the sun went down so it was about time to start a fire. Then came dessert. Fire or dessert, dessert or fire...both keep me warm and happy! The base was rich but a not-too-heavy white chocolate and raspberry mousse, served with Cape Code blueberries infused with Grey Goose vodka and chocolate crumbles. The blueberries were started on 9/1/2013 and were shaken every day to distribute the "drop dead awesome(ness)." The jam jar of mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm yumminess was topped off with house-made chocolate brioche bread crumbled with sea salt. Think crushed Oreos but 10,000 times better. AND to top it all off, there just so happened to be a truffle made with 74% bittersweet chocolate, infused with Macallen scotch and cranberry. It was slightly pink/magenta and visually appealing as well as damn tasty.
This entire food experience was spread out over two hours. It rivaled the Allagash experience (blog post from May 16) in it's epic-ness. In between "courses," my girlfriends Clare, Chris, her friend Matt and I chatted with the group, drank more vodka/lemonades and shivered in the chilly May evening. The only thing that made the evening complete was taking a sprig of lilac (one of my favorites) to my home to make my apartment fragrant and beautiful. It will be a great memory of this evening! I will also need to visit Portland and Rochester in the next couple weeks for a sort of follow-up meal. Chef Paul's infusions were unbelievable and unstoppable. Visit P&R for some really incredible creations that I'm sure will mirror what I devoured this evening!