Ok, so these lovely people are probably not talking about sauce at this particular moment, as Liz flies across the room bottle aloft, but it's not an exaggeration that at some point Sunday evening everyone in the Gallery feasting on the Boeuf Bourguignon took note. Even if just monosyllabically. More than once.
Ryan will be the first to say that the many steps of labor isn’t what he wants our guests to think about when they take that first bite of a dish and oooh, ahhh or just go silent. Nothing should impede what you smell and taste in that instant. Knowledgeable sourcing and classic European technique is certainly at the heart of what we're cooking in the Gallery kitchen these days, but this is comfort food that doesn't ask you to think. Just enjoy.
Most of these recipes are centuries old. They come from a time women had good reason to hang around the kitchen all day when it was easy enough while stoking the fire to give a stir or skim the fat off a soup on the way to the potager, the chicken coop, the barn, all the interconnected arteries through which flowed the lifeblood of the farm. I often wonder things like this: at what point did the marinade come into play? What enterprising woman decided it was a shame not to roast those aromatic vegetables? In what restaurant did the man in the white toques decide to steadily increase the number of times he deglazed and cleaned, filtered and reduced his sauce, adding additional stocks to deepen the flavors? What a long road to creating the sauce we call Bourguignon.
Marinating beautifully marbled short ribs in red wine is day one. After that aromatics are added for another day. Then the ribs come out of their bath to be glazed, the aromatics roasted, then all the elements meet again in the pan and off they go into a low oven overnight. After they come out, the sauce is cleaned and put back on the heat for constant skimming and reducing, fresh chicken stock is added, more skimming and reducing until, just before service, Andrew achieves the viscosity, the clarity and most importantly the rich flavors in the sauce that Chef is after.
Sunday's Supper began with a crispy Salad de Laitues, slivers of our Mendocino County Fair award winning apples, crispy bacon, soft blue cheese, and a light but creamy cabernet vinaigrette. It ended with soft golden crêpes Scotty made that morning, which Drew filled with frothy fromage blanc and topped with a bright blueberry coulis.
Great meal, great energy in the room, Isabel's sound tracks and fantastic short films streaking across the Barn wall. My fork touched the shortrib and the meat fell away from the bone, a good sign. There was a savory but bittersweet mouthful in the tiny mound of late summer tomato coulis (summer is really over), but a devil may care crunch in the tempura hericot vert. That was the moment I cast my eye on the sauce, which I'd seen through all its jolie laide, ugly yet beautiful stages. In the candlelight it glimmered, like a necklace of dark purple jewels. On the tongue it had the consistency of honey off a hot spoon, but it was not sweet, it was earthy, rich, vinous. Virtuous to a fault. I like this food and the care and love that goes into the making of it.
Reserve Sunday Supper by calling the restaurant (707 431 0100). If you reserve online make a note it's French Sunday Supper you want to book. We're capping the number at 50 to ensure lots of room to move around, but if you miss out, not to worry, many of the dishes Ryan and Andrew will debut at Sunday Supper will most likely find their way onto the à la carte menus in the gallery. For now Barndiva bar+bistro is open for drinks and bites Wednesday through Sunday, but stay tuned for expanded hours.