In my profession, I have the luxury of seeing into the lives of others. I get to sip the champagne, shine the silver, and line the tables with the finest linens and china. Although it isn’t every little boys dream, it has always been mine. I recently had the pleasure of spending the day on a client’s farm, picking, preparing, and serving some of the most beautiful vegetables I have ever had the pleasure to work with. There is something about walking through rows lined with bright-rainbow chard, picture perfect onions, and tiffany blue berries that makes my heart flutter.
This affair took place on the farmstead estate of my clients. A grand property with rolling hills along the Connecticut countryside. We strolled through the garden together pulling onions, garlic, and beets by their roots from the ground. We snipped chard, romaine, merlot greens, parsley, tarragon, and nasturtiums. With a cart filled, we rolled into the pristine white kitchen and made a mess. Cleaning greens and filling the porcelain farm sinks with mud.
An hour later all the vegetables were prepped, and my delightful client left me to my own devices in the kitchen. For a Chef… I don’t know if it gets any better than this. Cutting onions that I handpicked only moments later. Peeling a russian breed of garlic; cloves the size of golfballs! Embracing the farm to table style, I crafted a menu around fresh-seasonal vegetables.
Over the next 5 hours I rushed around and prepared a fantastic feast. Here’s what I served:
Citrus marinated shrimp with herbed creme fraiche
Avocado chicken salad on corn tortilla rounds
Fresh peas, merlot greens, roasted beets, feta, pancetta crisp, lemon dill dressing
New York Strip, au jus, roast fingerlings, zucchini gratin, smothered chard
Banana Tarte Tatin
Caramelized banana, pastry, vanilla gelato, cashew
Banana Tarte Tatin
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 bunch bananas
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup dark rum
1 stick butter
1/8 t vanilla extract
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1: In a small saucepan, add sugars and water. Bring to a boil, and cook until dark amber color stirring constantly.
2: Add butter in small pats, whisking in to combine.
3: Add rum, cinnamon, and vanilla.
4. Peel all bananas, slice in half longways. In a large rectangle baking dish, lay bananas down.
5: Pour caramel over the bananas evenly.
6: Place sheets of puff pastry over the top and press down tightly.
7: Bake in a 375º oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
8: Let cool for 20 minutes, invert the pan so the bananas are on top.
10: Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
This dessert is so simple, and absolutely delicious.
All in all it was a beautiful experience and definitely a life lesson for me. Living in New York City has taught me to sometimes choose a more convenient option, but there are far more quality options out there.. just takes a little more time to achieve. In the end, it is worth it.