Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shindig Weekend Part 2: The Chef's Table

Indeed, it is taking me forever and a day to get these posts out but get them out I will, so help me Emeril. Life is spinning out these days; in ways both celebratory and profound and I fully intend to capture all of these moments no matter how long it takes me. The party weekend alone is taking me a bit of time to complete, but milestone that it was, I want to do it justice. That said and without further adieu, on to Part Deux...

My sister Shirley was fresh from seeing the sights of KC and settling into her newly-refurbished room at the Elms. Soon, we would be regrouping in the also newly-designed dining space at the hotel, now called the 88. This would also be the first time a member of my family would meet members of the K-Man's clan, so it was an impotant summit to say the least. This night was also planned to be opening night for the 88, but various construction and other snafus kept that from happening, so we thought we might have dinner elsewhere when the Elm's resident Executive Chef Steven Cameron and his sous chefs Joe Spiegal and Jacob Moeller invited us to have a private dinner to give them an opportunity to flex some culinary muscle. We happily agreed, especially when we heard that while the dishes weren't necessarily going to represent what the future dinner menu would feature, it would show off some of the combined culinary skill of our new kitchen team.

We were seated at the new marble-topped centerpiece table of the dining room, placed in front of the fireplace. In the shadow of the crest emblem over the mantle and the large chandelier; sitting at the table felt very Game of Thrones. Had the fellas brought out platters of wild boar at this point, it would have been quite fitting.

Instead, they rendered us dizzy with the fine foodness that followed. We kicked off with a tasty amuse-bouche course of a small, loaded baked potato that had been deep-fried. Already digging the experience, we soon were on to the next course; an artistically-displayed plate of blanched and tempura-fried asparagus with pickled oyster mushrooms, picked garlic, and asparagus and garlic puree in a sherry reduction. After Jacob presented this delicious wonder, Joe dazzled us with his shrimp pannacotta; a creamy blend of fresh shrimp, cognac, garlic, shallots and cream in a bitter-orange reduction with fresh herbs. The courses kept flowing, leaving oohs and ahhs in their wake; from a delicate salmon and spicy black-eyed peas dish to a sliced, roasted striploin served on a bed of grilled polenta with a smoked hollandaise sauce that tested my resolve to not lick the plate. This mouth-watering dinner finished with a take on strawberry shortcake that utilized lemon-zest biscuits and a Champagne sabayon that had us swooning.

While this is a food-loving crowd, its always difficult to satisfy every palate, especially when they range from Keith's meat-and-potatoes Dad to the younger, more persnickety kids. In the end, Ken loved his meal and heartily thanked everyone, while 9-year-old Tanner high-fived Chef Cameron. Job well-done indeed. Finally, my sister and Keith's family got on like a house on fire and Sierra entertained us with her burgeoning piano skills.

A great beginning to a soon-to-be-awesome weekend...


Kara Von Kelso said...

Greg, you were right — that asparagus dish looks amazing! Well, it all does, but that in particular. Looks like a great meal.

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