Thanks so much to James and the Brockhaus crew for a great night at The Second Coming. Each course of food was expertly prepared and served along with discussion of the techniques and ingredients used in preparation. Each wine course provided an in-depth background into why it was paired with that course and how the wine received its characteristics. Wonderful food, wonderful wine and stimulating conversation always make a memorable evening! (Note from a guest of The Brockhaus’s The Second Coming)
Chris (my sous chef) and I arrived at the townhouse a week ago Saturday a little after 10 in the morning. We loaded our equipment and provisions into the elevator and sent the car up to the second floor, where a bright and spacious kitchen – containing more than enough prep space – was waiting for us. Thusly, The Second Coming began.
We started on a butternut squash bisque and dessert; I made the bacon semifreddo while Chris took care of the squash and the chocolate cakes. We took the final course down to the refrigerator in the garage and came back upstairs to go over the plan. Our guests would arrive at 7 (or thereabouts), so we had a fair amount of time to finalize our plating and presentation plan.
I took the pork belly out of the brine, satisfied with the meat’s texture. After drying it and scoring its skin side I rubbed ample salt and black pepper all over its surfaces and put it in the oven for a slow and low journey to the table. Chris was picking through the lump crab, looking for any shell. The panko was in a pan, toasting, and would later enrobe the crab spheres, which we would fry lightly.
Next up was the rib eye. I cut three steaks from the piece and put them on a sheet pan; they would go into the freezer for 30 minutes or so before I seared them with a torch and put them in a 160F oven until they reached 137F (interior temperature).
Most of the prep done, Chris started on the oysters; I had decided on a repeat of the dish I came across in “Comfort Me With Apples” and that I served at The Wedding on Nantucket. Chris shucked the oysters and I put together the curry powder and flour and made the cucumber-sesame oil sauce. We refrigerated the oysters, cleaned the shells, and began cleaning our stations, ready for the second (or was it the third?) stage of The Second Coming.
What remained: asparagus risotto, the mushrooms and parsnip purée that we planned to serve with the pork belly, and the Swiss chard that would accompany the rib eye. (I always like to add a surprise course, so this time it was diver scallops, which we seared and served with a beurre blanc. They went to table after the crab and before the pork belly.)
Angela and Anna had arrived, the dishwasher shortly thereafter. Alex and Nicholas, who were my sommeliers for The Second Coming, were on the way. (I worked with Dionysus Imports on the wine pairings for the meal.) Anna began organizing the tableware, and Angela was in the kitchen tidying the prep area. The team was assembled.
As at The First Supper, the guest list was diverse. We had the hosts, Ray and Judy, who had been at The First Supper and are special friends of The Brockhaus (Judy is a great cook and her kitchen is outfitted with everything one needs, including two truffle shavers); the president of a software company and his wife; a pair of flight attendants for a private jet company; a leasing agent who was accustomed to the Parisian dining scene; a husband and wife who were wine enthusiasts; and a Tulane MBA student whom Angela had invited. They did arrive close to 7, all of them, and we heard their voices floating up the stairs from the wine room on the first floor, where the somms had opened and were pouring some sparkling.
I began the dinner proper at 8 p.m., and the plating was a wonder: efficient, smooth, timely. The guests talked and ate, enjoyed and learned about the wines, and did not get up from the long table until midnight. The rib eye, I was told by two guests, was the best they had ever had. I was happy.
Here is The Second Coming menu:
THE SECOND COMING
JANUARY 24, 2015
CURRIED OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL / CUCUMBER SAUCE / ROE
BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE / CHORIZO
CRAB SPHERE / ASPARAGUS RISOTTO
DIVER SCALLOPS / BEURRE BLANC
PORK BELLY / WILD TEXAS MUSHROOM / PARSNIP PURÉE
RIB EYE / SWISS CHARD
CHOCOLATE CAKE / BACON SEMIFREDDO
Special thanks to Dionysus Imports and Russ and Judy Labrasca
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.”