Wednesday, February 22, 2012

R.D. X Food Review by: Adrienne Ryherd

R.D. X

Tantalizing smells. Delicious tastes. Beautiful sights. Lovely sounds.  
Eat Renegade X (R.D. X) was a success, as Chef Monica Cobb showcased her culinary talents to create a sumptuous fare that was set against a backdrop of antiques from around the world and was highlighted by a local bluegrass trio. Eat Renegade and Burns Antik Haus teamed up to produce a night that delighted the senses. With goblets and glasses in hand, ER guests milled around, imbibing and perusing through the hand picked antiques. By the time cocktail hour was over, conversations were rife, new friends had been made, and appetites were primed.

First Course: Pho Venison & Winter Greens
The broth was full flavored and robust, the dish stayed true to the taste of its origins, and the unique addition of venison was fresh without tasting gamey. Set on the table was a dish of bean sprouts, cilantro, thai basil and sriracha, encouraging a communal exchange. Each guest could assemble their own flavor profile by adding his or her own combination of condiments. The dish was a perfect way to start the five-course dinner, not too heavy in body but still hearty in flavor; the arrangement of the dark soup colors and the bright greens, whites and reds from herbs and sauce made for a picturesque (and tasty) first course.

Second Course: Banh Mi Crostinis 3 Ways, Boar, Duck, Quail, House-made Laurel Molasses, Pickled Dikon, Carrot & Soy Reduction
A nod to the famous Vietnamese sandwich, the banh mi crostinis were smaller portions with bigger flavors. Instead of the customary thick and crusty French bread making up a large portion of the sandwich, the meat and pickled vegetables were the stars of this show. Changing up the game even a bit more, instead of pork, ERers partook in quail, duck and boar, each meat varying in texture and richness and lined up on the plate in order of lightest to darkest flavor, easing the palate into it. From the texture of the smooth meat to the crunch of the vegetables, from acidic hits of vinegar in the pickled dikon to the sweetness of the molasses to the sweet/salty carrot soy reduction, every flavor pocket on the tongue was sated.

Third Course: Smoked Speckled Trout, Cucumber, Jalapeno-Chevre Rolls, Sesame-Ginger Jicama
After two courses of dark meats, the smoked trout (delicious in its own right) was a refreshing change in direction. Crisp, clean tastes of the trout were paired with the strong flavor of the chevre cheese and the spicy crunch of jalapeno peppers, making for a bright and distinctive take on an Asian roll. The beautiful whites of the trout and cheese, the dark green of peppers, all wrapped in the light green cucumber and drizzled with the dark sauce made for an eye catching and mouth watering course.

Fourth Course: Crispy Lemon-Grass Pheasant, Coconut-Curried Peppers, Bok Choy
“Outrageously good” is the first phrase that came to mind to describe the crispy lemon-grass pheasant. Us southern folks started salivating as soon as the smells of perfectly cooked pheasant hit our noses. Comparable to fried chicken, this pheasant was not greasy and not too heavy, offering just enough crispiness of the skin to complement the juiciness of the meat. Set atop a coconut –curried sauce, which elicited grunts of appreciation from everyone (including myself) at my table- the dish was a definite crowd pleaser. The sauce was a perfect complement to the pheasant, adding even more depth of flavor and giving it a sort of “down home feel,” even though it was a gourmet dish. Knowing this was a five-course meal, and I still had one course to go, I still would have gladly taken a second helping.

Fifth Course: Hibiscus, Meyer-Lemon, Rosemary Flowers, Wild Violet & Sweet Olive Gin Tonic; Lemon-Ginger Cupcakes with Honey-Cream Cheese Frosting
If I may be dramatic (and I really want to be, because this desert made everyone at my table start comparing it to other of life’s great pleasures…) much less sweet than a usual cupcake, tasted fresh and homemade, didn’t taste like it was full of additives and chemicals to keep its shelf life; this gem of a desert tasted like it was plucked straight from a tree – what if cupcakes grew on trees, wouldn’t that be something?- sweetness was somewhere in between a muffin and a cupcake, just the right level of sweetness, not sure how else to describe it except that it was perfectly paired with a sweet (but not overtly sweet) tonic.

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