Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spring morel dinner at Castagna

Ah, Castagna. Our preferred fancy date-night place. They had a special morel dinner last night (the last in a three-part series), and we had to partake. Usually our steak-frites-and-pear-martini place (well, Scott usually gets a Manhattan since he's not a homosexual), it was kind of exciting to see it all dolled up like one of our favorite prix-fixe joints in town (also linked on my sidebar). The evening's menu read short but sweet:

~Vol au vent with snow morels and English peas
~Coq au vin Jaune with morels
~Rhubarb crème brulée tart

The vols au vents were these little puff pastry cups stuffed with spring peas and morels floating dreamily in a chive crème fraîche. Rich yet ethereal, they made beautiful music together with a sprightly Mikaël Bouges La Pente de Chavigny Suavignon, Touraine 2006.

The coq au vin was an inventive take on the classic with tender thighs: the braising liquid was vin Jaune, a white wine similar to dry fino sherry from eastern France. (Note to Castagna chefs: I'm totally going to make this at home with rabbit and Gewürztraminer.) It was served with chewy little herbed spaetzle, browned toasty, and a platter of roasted asparagus. The grassy Rijckaert Vigne des Voises Chardonnay, Côtes du Jura 2005 pairing was à propos, considering this was the same wine used for the braising (I'm assuming.)

The photos I took of dessert were beyond salvation due to candlelight, dipping sun in an already-cloudy sky. "Why not flash?", you ask?

This guy, is why not. I do not want to be him*.

*Let's just say I was not the only food blogger there last night. I may have a mouth like a sailor, but fuck sake, I have a little decorum (seriously, could that lens be more phallic?). Jen, the chick in red (seated in the foreground on the left) is a sister of one of the chefs. Lucky girl. I have to do all the cooking in my family.

But you're dying to see the tartlette, simply dying! Oh, alright, but the photo is dreadful. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Shrunk and 'shopped all to fuck.
Very simple, yet delightful. The tartness (no pun intended) of the rhubarb cut through the rich custard with surgeon-like precision, and was gracefully rounded off with the whipped cream.

Again, what is it with Portland's achingly attractive food service professionals? They all look like they're models, or at least in a really cool band that you've never heard of. Even the dishwasher was el diablo hermoso. (Thanks, guys, for letting me get all up in your kool-aid during dinner.)

Shout-out goes to my buddy Jack who's been a server at Castagna for what must be close to a decade by now. He's a gentleman's gentleman and it was a delight running into him (and his exceedingly beautiful girlfriend) off-duty. Jack, I love you in an apron, but it's always a plezh seeing you in your civvies.

Castagna on Urbanspoon


Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Wow that looks amazing. I'm excited about trying out some of the places you recommended when I'm there in a few weeks.

glamah16 said...

I love your restaurant reviews/recaps. Portland looks like a place I would like.Funky, cool, artsy, etc. I feel a man can have a fruity sweet martini and not be gay. CS loves them (OK in the privacy of our own home). Your girl is in a bit of a scandel. Rachel Ray.

Heather said...

Marc - You're going to have so much fun! Don't forget to hit Clear Creek Distillery!

Coco - Your CS is an exception, of course, because he is a Paterlander. He can drink all the fruity drinks he wants! (>_<) And I knew RR was a turrist!

Bellini Valli said...

I love these type of theme dinners. We went to one for a garlic festival, even the dessert was made with roasted garlic and amazing. Nice to have an "in" to get into the kitchen and smooze:D

Brittany said...

Hottie cooks for sure. I'm wondering if an 8 by 10 glossy is required to be stapled to the resume to be considered for employment.

I have heard good things about this place- must check out next time I'm down south.

Emiline said...

Good review. I love all of the pictures!

Yes, the cooks and everyone look hot.
I've got to visit Portland. Soon.

Ha ha- I just read your comment about RR.

Foodycat said...

Wow. Hubba hubba (to food and staff!) What a fantastic seasonal dinner. And the rabbit and gewurz variation would be brilliant - can't wait until you make it.

maybelles parents said...

Go you are lucky, this seems amazing. A very close friend moved to portland, so i emailed him your blog.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Great-looking and sounding meal. Why was the dessert not made with morels, though, huh?

As for the d*ck with the long lens... *rolls eyes*

peter said...

I don't know what your problem is. I bring a whole camera crew with me to every meal. How else am I going to get famous?

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

you must be a hoot to dine with! I love meals that are themed around local and seasonal ingredients but sadly they don't happen here. Seems everyone here has just gotten on the sushi wagon and are very slow getting off???!!! You are lucky to be in an area that has up a coming ford trends.

Syd said...

You totally should have photobombed that prick with the massive lens.

The dirty table cloth made me LOL.

Peter G said...

Your reviews are hilarious (am still laughing at zoom lens guy!...ugh!..even I would never stoop to those extremes!). Still very informative though. Oh btw...bring on the martinis I say...they're a good palate cleanser.

Heather said...

Valli - Ooh, a garlic dinner sounds wonderful.

Brittany - Heh, this isn't quite Hollywood, but nearly as bad.

Emiline - Well shoot, I wish you would come visit!

Foodycat - Cute staff make dining that much more enjoyable, yeah?

Maybelle's Parents - Thank you! If he has any questions about less-fancy (but still wonderful) dining, tell him to email me!

Sketti - The funny thing was, all the catty fags with whom we were seated (whom I LOVED!) kept pointing out that he was almost exclusively photographing the dude at the table, and not the ladies who blog. :D

Jube - You mean you aren't already?

Judy - Ain't nothing wrong with sushi, especially if you live in a place as hot as Florida! I bet your seafood is phenomenal. (^-^)

Syd - That woulda been hilare, but very difficult. I woulda hadda climb into someone's lap (and tragically, all the hotties were in the kitchen). :\

Petah - Of course you would never be that tacky! I can't believe that he was. (And of course you are manly enough to drink a fruity martini!)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks like such a cool place. We have NOTHING like this in FL. There is one place near us, but we can't afford it, at least not yet...
My dad went to a shroom dinner in PA - where they are also known for shrooms - and even the dessert was fungi.
I keep telling Roberto that the NW is the mecca of food and we so need to get out there. Posts like this , just prove my point so easily!

giz said...

The vols au vent are particularly spectacular. Ok - your mission - if you chose to accept it is to blog about this complete with recipe....start music from Mission Impossible here.... as Gild smiles and says ... no problem Giz...I'll have it for you pdq....awww...thanx bud..

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This would be my fantasy of heaven. It all looked amazing.

I'm glad you're not that guy.

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

Are you serious? A food blogger messing up everyone's dinner. I am slightly embarrassed that I snap a pic of everything I eat, but damn. FYI: I love Gewürztraminer. I make everyone get it when we go out. Can't wait to see that rabbit.

Heather said...

Jenn - Eating out is a once-in-awhile luxury for us. I would almost always rather spend my dollars on good produce. :)

Giz - I would really love to try to make those vols au vents. I can't find morel, though! :( I'll have to make a different filling.

Jen - My husband is glad I'm not that guy too. :D

Nikki - I've had a few cloyingly sweet ones, but I'm glad Gewürztraminers are enjoying a surge in popularity.

Brittany said...

I love you restaurant photographs, I feel like I am there, and your reviews make me wish I was!

Leigh said...

in yest another mulder-worthy example of synchronicity, I am currently going through a major creme brulee phase, after making an orange one with pretty good results seeing as though i'm a total moron with custards. Rhubarb sounds great and i totally know what you mean - smooth custard and tart fruit. winner. Hell, it's what 80% of great English Puddings (TM) are made of!! nice covert pics, too. I'd have switched to trusty camera-phone!

kittie said...

Great review - if I wasn't 4956 miles away it would definitely have got me interested ;)

I'm still too shy (!) to take many restaurant shots - though I have sneaked a few in (generally whilst slightly under the influence!)

greymatters said...

Oh, fuck me running, what a gorgeous meal. Great food; great people.

As a manhattan lover, there is a faux-butchy lesbian factor there ... just sayin.

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