Dish of the Week
young rabbit with wild morels, fiddleheads, cherries, ramps, baby turnips and blood sorrel
What a palaver ~ forget about the difficulty sourcing quality rabbit these days ~ the rush is on for those delicacies that only make a brief appearance in late April, early May. All week this incredible bounty arrived in fits and starts. The indefatigable Charmoon brought in two big bags of wild morels on Wednesday, the same day ramps and fiddleheads appeared. Three kinds of tiny pink and white turnips arrived from our friends at MIX, who also dropped flats of beautiful blood sorrel, so named for the vein of vibrant red that runs down the center (and not incidentally, a curiously wonderful iron bite to the finish). I harvested the Bing cherries at our farm in Mendocino County on Saturday morning, by Saturday evening they were on plates in the dining room.
There's a precarious balancing act with ephemeral ingredients like these ~ the trick is to present them as simply as possible so they play with and not against each other. The rabbit loin was wrapped in ramp tops, then cooked sous vide with the kidney in fragrant aromatics. (Pan sear or grill the kidney and you risk losing that moist pop of meat juice when you cut into it.) The morels were glazed in butter and chives. The ramps and cherries were lightly pickled. The turnips were steamed, then brushed with butter. This is one of Chef's favorite times of the year: blink and you'll miss it. Manage to score a table for lunch or dinner in the next few weeks and you won't!
The "Real" Key Ingredients
Admittedly most of the talk in our blog week after week is about sourcing food, but make no mistake: the most important ingredient here at Barndiva is of the human kind. The front of house is the kitchen's direct conduit to you; but while they provide the most powerful way to communicate the narrative around each dish, great service is a high wire act where one mis-step can reverberate throughout the meal. Some diners like a lot of talk about the food, others want only the salient facts. Knowing the difference is almost as important as knowing the food.
Sincerity is not something you can teach alongside the daily special, but it's the first thing a customer registers no matter how 'educated' their palate. What I love most about the dedicated, smart, food and wine obsessed young men and women that work here is the passion they manage to bring to the barn with every service. We are so lucky to have each and every one of them.
Matt, Kaireesa, Cathryn, Stacie, Mark, Brendan, George
The snap above was taken just before we opened for lunch last Thursday. Servers, hosts, back waiters, bartenders and Brendan, our SOM, often trade day and evening shifts, but the guiding force behind our increasingly popular lunch service is the beautiful lady third from the left, Cathryn Hulsman, our AM manager.
All text and photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski