Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Last Supper: Season to Taste Catering’s Private Dinner Party [Cambridge]

By: Finance Foodie

For my last supper (of 2010) in Boston, I knew I had to make it count. Takeout from Bostone Pizza? – no dude(tte), that’s totally not a proper way to end the year for foodie. That’s why when I was invited to attend the media preview for Season to Taste Catering’s new private dinner Table series last Tuesday night, well tickle me jolly, I thought, “what a perfect way to end the year on a yum-tastic note”!

As many of you may know, Season to Taste is a five year old catering company in Cambridge that prides itself in sourcing locally from farmers they know in trust. After experiencing success catering events in the Boston area, chef and owner Robert Harris decided to start The Table, a six-course prix fixed meal at his kitchen table for 10 guests that runs each evening from Tuesday to Saturday.
When I arrived at Chef Robert’s kitchen, I found most of my other dinner companions for the night huddled around the counter drinking wine and imbibing on amuse bouches. Chef Robert, who was behind the counter cooking up a storm, greeted me warmly and urged me to jump right on in and start eating. Well said Chef, don’t mind if I do!

I started with an Island Creek oyster topped with a dollop of cocktail sauce. This was very good and fresh, but fairly standard Island Creek oyster.
Then I had a chickpea profiterole with Vermont goat cheese and mint pesto. This was my least favorite out of the three amuse bouche, as the goat cheese’s strong flavor profile kind of overpowered the mint pesto and the chickpeas.
Finally, I had the cider braised chicken on a homemade waffle chip topped with a balsamic caramel and heart of celery. This was hands down my favorite of the three; I thought this whimsy revamp of the overused and boring chicken on a stick appetizer was uber creative. I also loved how the crunch of the waffle chip played nicely with the slightly sweet and tangy caramel sauce and the savory chicken; a total party for my tastebuds!

First Course
Roasted Butternut Squash Crème Brulèe with a Warm Pork Rillette and Toasted Cranberries
 For those who are unfamiliar, a rillette is similar to a pâté. Now I’m a pretty adventurous eater, but there are certain foods that I just do not like – and lukewarm paste-like meat mixed with fat is one of them. However, I did adore the butternut squash crème brulèe, which I though was a perfect face-lift of the classic crème brulèe, fashionably tailored for the winter season.

Second Course
Crispy-Skin Striped Bass on Maine Jerusalem Artichoke Purèe with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Leeks, and Applewood Smoked Bacon.
This was my favorite course of the night. Why? Well not only did it contain all three of my favorite savory foods – fish, bacon, and mushrooms – the dish was also extremely well put together. The bass was flaky and flavorful, without a trace of what I call the “fishy wilderness stench” that plagues bass’ that have been ill-prepared. The bacon was crisped to a tee – and its succulent juices infused the bass with a nice woody smoke. But my favorite part of the dish was the artichoke purèe and mushrooms. Even though an artichoke purèe looks like mashed potatoes, the flavor profile is much richer and smokier. And mushrooms? Well – in my opinion, these naturally flavorful funguses are the most awesome food on the planet (after Messer Lobsters, natch).

Third Course (Intermezzo)
Lemon Sorbet with Oregano and Black Pepper
 A nice and refreshing palate cleanser.

Fourth Course (Main Course)
Pepper-crusted Sirloin with Pear Chutney and Red Wine Braised Chuck with Horseradish Gremolata served with Mashed Fingerlings and Roasted Winter Vegetables
 One word to describe this dish: Hearty. This meat centric dish is what dreams are made of during the freezing Boston winters. I also want to mention that the wine paired with this dish, the musky and bold Chataue Armandiere Cahors (2008), really completed the fattiness of the meat well.

Fifth Course (Cheese Course)
Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery Coupole with Housemade Preserves and Sesame Crisp
I loved the sesame crisp, but thought the proportion of crisp to cheese was off. I had way too much cheese leftover (and a cheese that sharp and robust is too aggressive to be eaten alone)

Sixth Course (Dessert)
Taza Chocolate Truffle topped with Raspberry Preserve
 A sweet way to end a fulsome evening! The truffles were impeccable: rich, creamy, and sinfully good. Chef Robert told us that these ping pong sized balls of choco were meant to be eaten in one or two bites. Haha funny joke Chef, are you trying to send me into a buttery comatose? ;)

Although I much admire Season to Taste’s usage of high quality local ingredients, their support of local farmers, and their creative menu, I must say their overall table presentation could use a bit of work (the table had chairs on one side and benches on the other, and the wine glasses were refilled with different wines without cleansing during the pairings), especially given the hefty $100+ / dinner guest price tag. With a few tweeks, I predict this new venture has the potential to be quite successful and become the toast of the town! So cheers to a great end to 2010 – may 2011 be even better and more delicious!

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