Dish of the Week
Mix Garden Organic Carrot Soup with Chervil Crème Fraîche and Wild Asparagus Tempura
While this extraordinary carrot soup celebrates a single flavor profile ~ sweet organic carrots ~ Chef did not want a one dimensional vegetable “dessert,” hence the additions of a quenelle of puckery crème fraîche and batons of salty, crunchy, wild asparagus tempura.
To make the soup we first sweated chopped Mix Garden carrots with shaved fennel and spring onion in a little virgin OO with just a hint of turmeric and 5 spice. A crisp white wine (we used Sauvignon Blanc) was then added to the glistening vegetables along with organic carrot juice ~ the addition of the freshly pressed juice serving to intensify the flavor. Once the vegetables were soft, there were two steps to achieving a velvety final texture: the first was to spin (or purée) the mixture; the second, to pass it through a chinoise (or fine mesh screen).
A quenelle of crème fraîche flecked with chopped chervil, garnished with a sprig of carrot top and a chive flower finished the soup, but for Chef did not complete the dish. He wanted a stand-alone accompaniment, something that would play against the sweetness of the carrots.
When wild asparagus arrived unexpectedly at the kitchen door, he saw the perfect pairing ~ the chlorophyll would add a wonderful woodland element, and with the addition of batter, a nice crunch. The secret of a good batter, whether or not you use rice flour for “tempura," is soda water. We use the gun, but Badoit is a good choice as it will bring a subtle taste of minerality. All in, this week's dish sang with the colors of early summer.
From the Garden:
Few things make Chef Ryan smile like the arrival of the guy in black standing next to him in this picture. His name is Alex Lapham, and he's Mick Kopetsky’s main man, along with Bryan Hohnstein, at Mix Garden, the burgeoning wholesale vegetable business Mick started some years ago at Bieke and Bryan Burwell’s beautiful estate in West Dry Creek. From the beginning Mix has supplied Barndiva with superlative produce, and we’ve watched with growing admiration as Mick expanded to include more fertile, unused fields across the county. That Mick’s organic produce is priced so as to be affordable to restaurants like ours ~ who want the basis for their success to go hand in hand with support of the food shed ~ makes us natural partners. He’s a perfectionist, but no dilettante (which we love about him) with a clear-eyed pragmatic approach to farming. This year he even expanded into selling vegetable starts ~ we now have 30 different heirloom tomato varieties growing at our farm in Philo, all from his incredible first year list. The arrival of Alex to our door each week is one of the many joys of working ~ and dining ~ at Barndiva.
FYI: Mick is also the proprietor of the former Healdsburg Landscape Material ~ now Mix Garden Material ~ a great place to start if you are considering a vegetable garden! Check it out.
For more on local produce you may want to read Ann Carranza in last week's The Patch.
In the Gallery
Ishmael Sanchez is back, and not a moment too soon! While we sorely missed him the past year as he wound up his life in Anderson Valley for a move down south, we are thrilled to announce we once again have a collection of his incredible wire animal sculptures in the gallery, in addition to being able to offer his work on commission.
Just in: a crow worthy of Poe, a chicken, a rooster, and two of his Picasso-like “simple” horses. Ishmael also delivered a magnificent full-sized horse that presided over a lovely ‘New York’ wedding this weekend in the Studio Garden. Ask to see it when you come in, and while you are enjoying the garden, don’t miss Jordy Morgan’s new stone filled wire wall.
All text Jil Hales. All photos, Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).