For the 2014 Gourmet Walk’s wintertime holiday dinner, we gathered at a restaurant just off Market Street that is popular with our Chocolate Tour fans. There is no group of people more passionate and devoted to introducing and enjoying good food then this bunch. Sharing our tour tales over a myriad of dishes and crafty spirits perfectly finished off the holiday season. To cheers to another great year, we all ordered different cocktails including the toasted sage gimlet and the Dr. J’s Applejack with Applejack brandy & whisky, lilet blonde & rouge and orange bitters.
We commenced the meal with the bone marrow appetizer, which rested upright on an elongated porcelain plate. Spoons invited us to dig into the eye of the cross-sectioned bone. Richer than butter – comprised of approximately 96% fat – the gelatinous insides became exposed as we scooped them out, slathered them onto the toasted bread, and finished it off with some salt. Considered a delicacy to many, bone marrow is known to have health benefits such as contributing to building immunity and cellular repair, which is a comforting fact for those deterred by the somewhat obscenely high fat contact. The pronounced bone was paired with the neighboring short ribs and sour cherry ragout.
The toned down brussels sprout salad had a nice lightness to it. The shaved brussels sprouts rested beneath Mt. Lassen smoked trout, apples, fennel, crème fraîche, and fresh horseradish. Tossed in a nonchalant manner, wavy pumpernickel crisps bordered the wispy greens.
Next, we shared the baked Brie en Croute. The baked brie lacked an anticipated ooziness. Nonetheless, the sweet poached pear, candied chestnuts, and wildflower honey paired well with the soft, creamy cheese.
For the main course, we ordered a variety of entrées. Bluestem is known for their meat dishes, but they had some great vegetarian options. One such example is the sweet potato gnocchi with hazelnut brown butter, mitake mushrooms, baby kale, parmesan, and saba. Another option was the open-faced maple glazed acorn squash stuffed with apples, sweet potatoes, sunchokes, fennel, crescenza cheese, pomegranate, and pecans.
The pescatarians had two different dishes to choose from. First: A whole roasted branzino with roasted fall root vegetables, sultana pepita relish, charred lemon, and crispy kale. Second: Cedar plank Skuna Bay salmon with butterball potato, spinach hash, pancetta, celery root purée, and herb butter. Though both are tasty, if you can confront the face of the animal you are eating, I would recommend the later.
The meat eaters relished in the overpowering in size, yet seemingly simple burger which came with thick-cut fries. The Brasserie Burger uses beef from Sun Fed Ranch and is topped off with pickled apples and onions, cambazola, candied bacon, red mustard greens. All of this is sandwiched between fennel seed milk buns.
Though we felt well satiated, we finished our meal on a sweet note by sharing two desserts. First: The apple crisp: A cast iron cooked apple crisp with pine nuts & cranberries, vanilla bean crème chantilly, and brûléed apples. Second: Chocolate 2.0: Liquor soaked red velvet, bittersweet chocolate namelaka, cream cheese frosting, and chocolate ice cream. True to the name, this velvety cake dissolved in the mouth and left us with a creamy, chocolatey finish.