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:
SPRING MOREL DINNER
~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?
*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.
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.