The Community, an active church in Ada, holds an annual auction raising money for its own mission as well as to support other local missions with whom they have partnered. It's always a great event with much friendly (mostly) competition for certain items. And if there's an offering that includes Billy Norden or Todd Veenstra preparing food, bidding is hot, heavy, and relentless.
So when an auction dinner item combined Billy & Todd, we knew it would be a huge draw. A few of us preplanned and formed an alliance of 10, assigned one bidder, and won the dinner. Was that in the best spirit of a fund-raising auction? Probably not, but we did get the dinner :-) So tonight was the night and we walked into a house full of great smells and with a beautifully laid table (the latter by our hosts, the Luehmanns).
The chefs had been working for several hours already and we were there to enjoy the fruits of their talented labor. After drinks were made and wine was poured, we enjoyed our first casual taste of the feast: spring rolls with hoisin sauce, smoked steelhead spread on roasted polenta, gruyere, manchego, roquefort, and pork terrine. Delectable! But we were wary of filling up because we discovered there were five courses to come.
We were soon called to the table and watched our next dish being plated and then served: local asparagus, prosciutto, poached egg, torn garlic croutons drizzled with balsamic. The dish was lovely to see and even better to consume.
I honestly do not remember ever having quail before but tonight it was on our menu, stuffed with sausage (pork breakfast sausage containing sauteed peppers, onions, herbs & spices) and beautifully plated with a wild mushroom ragu. I'd have that again.
Thankfully, we had time in between courses for digestion because there was no way anyone wanted to miss a bit of this meal. Red snapper was being readied as we dined on quail. The snapper was served with couscous and pineapple salsa and it may be my current favorite fish dish. The flavors and textures combined wonderfully.
Part of this auction item was inspired by the cooking show, "Chopped", on the Food Network. Our version was to have each couple bring a mystery ingredient from an assigned category (meat, vegetable, dairy, grain, and seasoning). The chefs were presented with the items before we were seated at the table and had to use their creativity and imagination to come up with a dish that would hopefully be eatable. Here are the mystery items.
What you are looking at is Dutch rusk, mozzarella, goat and rosemary sausage, carrots, and paprika. If I had received these items, I would have sliced up the items, thrown them on the rusk and sprinkled it all with paprika, and called it good. You people brought these ingredients so enjoy! But not Todd & Billy. Here they are pondering what to create.
And here's what they served: fried mozzarella dusted in rusk, paprika and fresh herbs, the sausage, julienned carrots, leeks and roasted red pepper, topped with fresh thyme from one of the chef's garden. The sauce was a dijon and whole grain mustard aioli that made everything better. Alrighty, they may have added a few ingredients of their own but we were glad they did.
It was finally dessert time and once again we were all wowed by the quality of the food we'd been so lucky to have experienced. The homemade baklava was served with homemade salted carmel ice cream and roasted cherry and goat cheese ice cream. And you read that correctly on the goat cheese. I'm not a big dessert person but this I could eat every night (I did take part of the baklava home with me and enjoyed it the next morning for breakfast; the ice cream was all consumed that night).
Over the course of the evening, we enjoyed great conversations, some touching on Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad (Heidelberg & Heisenberg), all the while avoiding spoilers (which is harder than you might think), while ingesting this delicious meal. I can safely say that a good time was had by all.
The Luehmanns not only set a beautiful table and had enough plates for this culinary bounty but also had this to look at when we were finished.
Highest praise goes to the chefs who donated their time, talents, and food costs, and prepared an exquisite meal that was elegantly presented and served. Hats off to Billy & Todd for this gastronomical extravaganza!