Sunday, August 10, 2008

Daily highlight #75: "I wish they had doggie bags" - Kudzu Dinner and Restaurant Repast

See the hand taking notes in the bottom right corner? That hand belongs to AJC's Elizabeth Lee, who was writing down her impressions of the most recent Kudzu dinner featuring chefs Truex and Obunai of Repast. This weekend, her article published and put my name in the AJC for the first time. No, I didn't say anything profound. In fact, Elizabeth must have caught me saying my quote to friend J midway through the delicious lamb bolognese over hand cut pappardelle. Regardless, it was all true I was so good, "I wish they had doggie bags."

Before we got to the food, Brady of Taste Network already poured plenty of Van Duzer Rose. Nicely acidity and fruity, the rose got our mouths watering for what's to come.

First up was chef Obunai's watermelon & octopus salad with wakame. While most commonly seen in chunks, this octopus was thinly sliced and delicately seasoned. Cooked to just tender, the octopus took on a texture not far off from the cool and briny wakame. This very interesting plate exhibited the great Japanese influenced combinations of chef Obunai.

After the refreshing came the decadent in the form of chef Truex's grilled river view farm pork belly with truffle creamed corn. If you read this blog often you know that pork belly and creamy things are right up my alley. Here they are combined to create a very rich dish. It might have actually been a bit too rich if for the ring of tart smoked tomato sauce, in which I dipped the belly in between bites to cut through the pleasurable fattiness. From these two dishes, it's easy to see the difference between the husband and wife's culinary points of view. It is precisely this difference that shapes the very interesting menu at their restaurant Repast.
Then came the dish of the night, gum creek farm's lamb bolognese over hand cut pappardelle. Sitting across from the lovely family who babied the lamb for eight months and can talk at length about why their lamb is less gamy, one comes to appreciate the importance of ingredients to the ultimate flavor. Here the lamb is treated with a careful hand to achieve a lightness that isn't often found in lamb dishes. The lamb flavor is so mild, I could have believe it to be pork. The soft dollops of ricotta and earthy mushrooms put the exclamation mark on an already excellent plate. It was so good, "I wish they had doggie bags."

Finally, we ended the night with a beech cream farm apple tatin. The Gruyere ice cream unfortunately did not survived the outdoor heat and turned into a glaze. But hey, how many times do you get to eat such wonderful food in an urban oasis this pretty among people who grew the raw ingredients. If I have to live with a few scoops of melted ice cream to get this, I'll do it with pleasure. :)

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