Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter's First Log Lunch - 10/28/2011

Pre-Halloween snow is remarkable, especially when the occurrence is not merely a gentle white mist that disappears instantaneously upon impact with any hard object - the bounty that arrived yesterday came down in thick white clumps, sticky and soft to the touch. The snow's early arrival enabled a unique viewing experience - the trees still possess their vibrant fall foliage, and the white dusting coupled with the bright colors are especially symbolic of the seasonal transition. This week's Log Lunch menu items also conveyed the imminent arrival of winter - the black bean soup, and most notably, the kale and roasted vegetable salad were created with hearty ingredients that I associate with cold weather. Local Mighty Food Farm and Gammelgardens Creamery provided the top-quality produce and dairy for this week's installment.
The picturesque quality of the snow-covered brick wall outside the Log trumped any fears of my assembled plate cooling prematurely in the frigid air. Despite the detour, the black bean soup was still deliciously warm and hence satisfying for both my taste buds and my body - the liquid was pureed, but still contained sizable globs and chunks of earthy bean mass. One common characteristic of all the lunch's components was the pervasive flavor of garlic - I revel in the strong taste of this allium, and find that it is often underutilized in institutional food preparation. Thus, garlic's prevalence in this meal served as a welcome reminder of home-style eats. I adore winter salads, and this one was exquisite - the hearty kale leaves were slightly bitter and thick but also tender and delicately flavorful, providing a preview of what greens winter has to offer. The roasted root vegetables also enhanced the defining wintry quality of the salad - the carrot sticks, cauliflower heads, and onion pieces were slightly mushy and coated with olive oil and herbs, and covered with luscious browned regions from the roasting process. Again, the dressing showcased the magical powers of garlic - comprised of garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little bit of honey, the thick brown liquid united all of the salad's ingredients. The acidity of the balsamic vinegar and the strong bite of garlic "cooked" the kale ever so slightly, taming the bitter edge of the green. The bread, as always, was divinely doughy and prime for dipping purposes - the variant today was pumpkin sage, and the subtle flavors complemented the stronger tastes found in the other dishes. 
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, the cooks began passing around trays ladened with decadent goat cheese brownies. It's difficult to do these dense chocolate squares justice, but I will do my best - they were sinfully luscious, the smooth, moist body protracted in places by melted chocolate chips. A thin goat cheese layer ran horizontally through the center of the unit, which sent me further into an ecstatic state because I have always relished the interaction between chocolate (and any other dessert item, for that matter) and cheese. The gamely flavor of goat cheese was noticeable but not overpowering, and added depth to the divinely rich chocolate base. This dessert can only be classified by its impressive decadence, which provided a sweet, substantial conclusion to winter's first Log Lunch.

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