Saturday, August 11, 2012

Luv to Luv You: Part 1

I was invited by the illustrious Chef Tim Grandinetti to attend Dr. Brownstone's Sweet Summer LuvLuv Festival at Spring House Restaurant, Bar & Kitchen here in Winston-Salem this week. I have to give you a little background before I continue documenting this monumental experience.

Q: Who is Dr. Brownstone?
A: Pit Master Timothy Grandinetti's BBQ alter ego. When he's in front of the grill, down in the fiery pit, stoking the fires of culinary greatness with smoke, wit, and BBQ--the man is on fire. Literally.

Q: What is the Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival?
A: In 2012, it's 5 Days of Deliciousness! The festival began as a way for Chef Tim to stay connected with his chef friends and colleagues he's met throughout the years. This event is his "way of sharing the love, of sharing the ‘magic’ of fire and smoke and delicious food." 

I missed Day 1 of the festival, but it was a throw-down of local chefs making sh*t happen on the grill and putting out top-notch elegant food. Chef Jeff Bacon of Triad Community Kitchen, Chef Shane Moore of Foothills Brewing, Stephanie Tyson of Sweet Potatoes (Well Shut My Mouth) and Pitmaster Mark Little of Bibs Downtown all sauntered over to the 'House to put it down.

What I heard through the grapevine...

First course: Spring House's Sous Chef Joe Lerner put out a smoked turkey, foie gras, & Cognac cherry-studded terrine.

Second Course: Shane Moore of Foothills Brewery presented a Summer's Seafood Extravaganza with couscous & pickled vegetables.

Third Course: Chef Stephanie of Sweet Potatoes composed a plate of Duck, Truffled Sweet Potato Salad, Country Ham, & Greens.

Fourth Course: Chef Jeff Bacon gave a menage a trois of pork-- 18-hour Pork Belly; Korean-inspired Belly & Bacon's Bacon with cinnamon-spiked chicharrones.

Fifth Course: Pitmaster Mark Little brought it home with Shire Gate Farm's cumin & pepper-rubbed ribeye.

Sixth Course: Spring House's Chef de Cuisine Larry McFadden reeled it all in with Roasted Marshmallow Gelato with Housemade Graham Crackers & Ghost Chile Chocolate.

Day 2 was my first night on the scene and what it scene it was!
Seating on the front lawn, under a tent. Pastoral, yet elegant.




BBQ-inspired foie gras torchon with peach & fennel slaw

I don't care for foie. It's not very tasty, fatty, and the liver of any animal is on my DO NOT EAT list. If I'm going to be forced to eat it, I like my foie seared and served with apples. BUT--I gave [a] piece (of foie gras) a chance and I liked this first course. The foie was pleasantly briny, very soft and the crunch of the grit cake garnish [right side of plate] gave appropriate texture where it was needed. I wish the peaches had a little more char, but the fennel slaw was right on time.

 Chicken fried smoked sweetbreads, potato herb waffle, bacon fondue (with house-smoked bacon)
 This... was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Chicken and waffles are another culinary phenomena that came out of nowhere like shrimp and grits and no one knows the exact origins. Well, chicken-fried sweetbreads are a close 2nd in terms of lusciousness and tenderness. Perfectly cooked, plump, tender and juicy--the best glands I've ever had. The potato-herb waffle lent its creative hand to sop up the joy of the bacon fondue that was slicked over the plate. If people weren't looking, I definitely would have licked my plate.

 Braised bison short rib, chanterelles, sweet corn, rainbow chard, corn pudding puree
People who make noise while they are eating food annoy me. I made noise while eating this. This fork-tender short rib fell away from my fork as I tried to eat it. Hidden beneath and behind it was a nest of snappy, fresh rainbow chard that was silken in texture and accented with onions and spice. I wished they were collards, but they played out to be Mr. Green's favorite cousin on Wednesday night. A cornmeal puree, local chanterelle mushrooms and a ragout of sweet corn rounded out the dish. Final thoughts on this dish: I want it once a week. I need bison short ribs in my life on a regular basis.

 Corn panna cotta, chamayo chile chocolate, saffron & corn chip, marigolds 

I know you're tired of reading about what I like and dislike, but all of the foods I dislike (there's only one more and I'm sure it will be served at some point during the week) were given to me at this meal.
I do not like panna cotta. It's always watery, not very flavorful, too stiff from too much gelatin, and no one makes it well. This dessert was no exception. BUT--I will say this: the texture was perfectly creamy and palatable. It had the best texture of any panna cotta I've ever had in my life. The flavor, was none of the above. There was too much salt and not enough sugar. The drizzle of chocolate was embarrassingly stingy and it masked the flavor of the few marigold petals. The corn chip was pretty, but that's it. It didn't have much flavor. The last and final saving grace of the dessert was the glass of port that accompanied this last course. It's so sad that port is offered in such small quantities...

Day 2 of the Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival was nothing but lovely and amazing. I had great dinner companions in people that I'd never met who've become fast friends and the beginning of an experience of a lifetime. I can't wait to share days three through five with you!
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

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