Tag Archives: seasonal

Fantastic Journey..man

Journeyman! So cute.

This is the story of two little ladies who embarked on a quest, and ended up finding far more adventure and magic than they had even imagined!

Or maybe it’s just the story of two friends trying to make dinner plans, and finally getting around to it. But they were truly AMAZING dinner plans, as you will soon see. Fantastic, even.

It all started nearly a year ago, when I read about a new restaurant that had opened up in Union Square. I don’t remember where I read about it, truth be told, but I was enchanted by the description – super local, super seasonal set dinner menus of 3, 5 or 7 courses, with a few molecular gastronomy-style flourishes. Not the sort of place you could enjoy some good old-fashioned down-home cooking, but rather a stage on which to enjoy the whole experience of food. I wrote to beloved dining companion Nandi, and we made plans to head to this restaurant, this Journeyman, as soon as a suitable celebratory occasion presented itself. And present themselves they did!

She won a football pool, and got the job of her dreams! I got betrothed, and finished a prestigious leadership workshop! We both ran countless races, including a second marathon, and STILL WE DID NOT GO. Finally we decided to just make the reservations, already, and celebrate the whole lot of it, occasions be damned! Would Journeyman be able to live up to a year of build up?

We arrived spot on time for our 7:00 reservation, to discover we were the first patrons of the evening. The space is modern yet cozy, with plants filling the front window and a lovely bar in the middle at which we were encouraged sit if we liked and watch the chefs. Of course we chose these seats – I prefer to sit at a bar rather than the middle of the room whenever possible – and we were off.

We chose the 5 course, omnivore meal, after determining that none of the fish were shellfish, since they are Nandi’s deadly enemies. Our server, a dapper young man, assured us they were not, and brought us an amuse bouche to start our journey.

Tomato Confit and Garlic Toast!
This was a whipped confit of tomato with garlic toast. The tomato was a veritable umami bomb – however it had been confited had rendered it into the most savory foam imaginable. The toast was deeply garlicky, crisp, and browned. During this course a young couple joined us at the bar, and we listened to them ask questions of the staff, my favorite being when the young man asked how the “Underage Teenager” Mezcal got its name. “A false cognate,” the serious young beverage manager assured him.

Bread and Butter

Even the bread and butter was lovely! Nandi dubbed the aesthetic “precious, but in a good way.”

Because I couldn’t help myself, we added an ala cart charcuterie plate to our meal. I know, I know, we already had five courses, but they had lardo! They cure it in-house, and I’m a wee bit obsessed with the stuff in general.
Lardo aka Heaven on a Plate
And now, very likely, so is Nandi. She declared it “the best morsel of food I have ever put in my mouth,” and indeed it was nutty, salty, and decadent – so thinly sliced as to melt on the tongue, and paired with delightful little pickled vegetables and seriously tasty mustard that contrasted perfectly.

It came simultaneously with our salads, which faintly embarrassed our server, I think, but bothered me not one whit.
Salad - Decomposed?
As you can see, the salad is deconstructed (or composed, but thankfully not decomposed), wee little veggies portioned off to play nicely with different sauces, looking gorgeous on the plate. The best tidbit was the Brussels sprout, cooked as it was in clarified butter.

Following the salad was the mushroom course, an assortment of wild,locally foraged mushrooms served on a ramp puree (they freeze them in the Spring for just such an occasion!) and alongside a potato “galette” and mushroom foam.

Potato and Mushroom

This was quite the parade of fall flavors, even the normally vernal ramps. The potato was a buttery little wonder, and each mushroom had a distinct flavor and texture, ranging from nearly identical to the meaty chew of an oyster to delicate and shockingly sweet (that little round fella in the center). The mushroom foam was ethereal on the tongue and tasted surprisingly of lavender.

Tune in later this week for the exciting conclusion of our meal – will our intrepid young food adventurers make it to dessert? Will their quest for milk punch ever be fulfilled? Find out here!

Local, Seasonal, Vegetarian

There’s a great farmer’s market in Dewey Square on Tuesdays and Thursdays all summer and throughout the fall.  Since Dewey Square is right outside the South Station T stop where I pick up the subway, this makes it supremely easy and convenient to quickly grab some fresh and local produce on the way home, and unless I have somewhere to be after work, I usually try to take advantage.
While this is always fantastic, today I really struck gold:
Maitake Mushrooms

These lovelies are maitake mushrooms, also known as hen of the woods. While they’re popular in Japan for their medicinal properties, these fungi are also really, really delicious. The name hen of the woods is apt because the mushroom has this wonderful meaty flavor and chew. Finding them was super exciting because they’re one of my favorite mushrooms and I don’t see them around that often. They’re rather expensive, but I find a little goes a long way with mushrooms, so I bought enough for a solitary dinner since the man was working late and hurried home with my prize.

I’d already been thinking about making barley tonight, as a change from rice…but what else to serve with the barley and mushrooms? I didn’t want to make a risotto – I wanted the mushrooms to shine on their own. And then I remembered that we had some beets in the fridge! Barley, beets, and maitake – the perfect fall meal!

Cooking the barley was easy enough – into the rice cooker it went, with 2 cups of water. For the beets, I decided to slightly modify the Beet Crisps recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and slice them a bit thicker – they were not so much crisps as individually roasted beet slices. Into a 400 degree oven they went, coated oil and, once they were flipped, dusted with salt, pepper, and curry powder.
Beets!

Finally, it was time to cook the mushrooms. I decided on simply sauteing them following the general outline of a recipe found online. My big change here, besides quantity (the mushrooms weren’t $29 a pound, but they weren’t so far off that I was going to buy that much of them!) was that I lacked the fresh herbs. I didn’t plant thyme in the garden this year, and my rosemary is somewhat…lacking. So I winged it with dried and hoped Marco would forgive me.

Sauteeing Mushrooms

Maitake smells absolutely outstanding when sauteed. Don’t start dinner when you’re too hungry or you’ll be sorry.

When the mushrooms were drained of their excess oil, I put it all together on the plate. The beets saved the meal from being too drab.

Fall Dinner

The earthiness of the mushrooms played nicely with the sweetness of the beets and their slight curry mustiness. The barley came out beautifully – fully cooked and tender but still chewy. A lovely fall meal – local, seasonal, and totally meat-free!