We originally were going to do dinner, but the cards were stacked against us this month. She didn't know when she would be heading back to Austin after that weekend, had a friend's birthday hoorah to attend on Friday, and I had picked up the second half of one of my employee's closing shift on Saturday in order to help them out of a delicate situation involving husbands and a forgotten couples' improv performance.
We decided that lunch on Saturday would work, which meant that I would be scaling down the meal I intended to cook, settling on a small plate affair instead. I had saved a duck breast back in December for just this occasion, so if we would have waited another month or so, it may not have been the best it could have been. I also reserved the stock that I made with the same duck for this meal, with the intention of doing a butternut squash soup similar to the one I made for Shaddley when we ate the other duck breast in early December. Yeah, I've been making a lot butternut squash soup lately... Fuck it, it's good; I like!
I planned ahead and made the soup the day before, which made a difference both in time saved on Saturday, and in the flavor of the soup. Everybody knows soup is better on day two, so score one for Flapjacks. We went out and picked the lettuce for our very simple and nutritious salad, as well as kale for our main. I still had turnips lurking about, so this meal was ready to go. After gussying up the soup it was time for service. I took one picture of the soup before I knocked my camera directly into it, lens first. The Biegs got a good laugh out of it, and the camera survived. I guess that's karma biting me in the ass for harassing my Dad about giving me that tripod for six months. After a little cleaning, it seemed to be okay; the lens cover still doesn't close properly, but it's functional.
After our light salad, it was time for the duck breast. I had marinated the breast over night in sherry and paprika, which gave it a nice, deep flavor that didn't overpower the natural flavors of the duck itself. The breast got pan seared; the crisp skin protecting the supple fat from the evils of the outside world. As it rested, I had time to finish up the turnip puree(which was loaded with Remember When Dairy cream and butter), the kale, and the blood orange gastrique accompaniment. The sweet and sour complexity of the gastrique really went well with the earthy flavors of the duck, providing just the right amount of acid to the dish. The turnip puree may have been the whitest food I've ever seen, but the whole plate really came together nicely, making for a fine lunch with great company.
I tried hard not to use the word unctuous in this post...
I realized as I sat there conversing with the Biegs, that pretty much everything but the components in the gastrique(blood orange, vinegar, wine, and sugar), butternut squash, spices, and the fats and vinegar used in the salad dressing I either grew myself, or was produced locally. The duck came from Countryside Farm Products, the pork sausage from Richardson's Family Farm, the yogurt from White Mountain, and the dairy from Remember When Dairy. This meal was the epitome of how I want to eat: seasonal cuisine with an emphasis on using fresh, locally-sourced goods. Michael Pollan would be so proud. Those of us living in, or around Austin are fortunate to have so many local sources for food, good, clean water(for now), and a well established food co-operative. These things are the backbone of the local food movement, and if we can get our shit together, we very well may be at the vanguard of such a movement right here in Austin.