Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Special Foodventure #57: Farmers Market Dinner at Auntie Ems (Eagle Rock)

Thanks to heads-up from Pat @ Eating LA, I found out that Auntie Ems is hosting their occasional Farmers Market dinner last night (and tonight). At $32/person for a five-course meal made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, an option to BYOB. Well, save me a seat.

And thank goodness I called in my rezzie, the place was a full house, with crowds spilling out onto Eagle Rock Blvd., upon my arrival with my dining companion. After the staff nearly finished bussing all the 6:30 seating tables, we and the rest of the 8:30 crowd got seated.

(yet another) bad photo disclaimer: the dining area lights were turned off shortly after our first course, leaving me with only a cell phone's backlight & a candle to work with -- apologies (I tried the flash with a napkin trick but found that potentially too annoying for neighboring tables).

Anyhow, the staff wasting no time dishing out their delicious fare (made easy given that it's pretty much a prix-fixe with only choice in the main course) -- starting with:

Pureed carrot soup with orange - Very smooth but also with a little bit of texture -- like porridge-style polenta or creamy grits -- and the aromatic scent and ever-so-slightly bitter flavor of the orange added just the right amount of zip to this familiar, comforting soup. My companion and I both lapped this up to almost the very last drop!

Mixed greens and arugula salad with asparagus, edible flower in a lemon-garlic dressing - light, refreshing and balanced - the fresh greens and buttery and tender asparagus were a good platform for the more peppery arugula and the subtle enhancement of the dressing, leaving me very surprised that the pungent-sounding name turned out to be not overpowering at all. I had a few petals of the flower, but they didn't impart much of a taste asides from the delicious sauces it soaked up.

For main course I had the wild mushroom lasagna with bechamel sauce which was mostly well done -- the earthy, meaty and woodsy fungi melded beautifully with the al dente pasta, molten mozzarella and the flavorful ricotta cheeses. However, I am sure I could've done without the bechamel sauce, despite the nice crispy burnt top that it provided, since it made the dish a little too rich and definitely too salty for me. Regardless, I pretty much finished this up (as well as more than a goblet's worth of water).

My DC opted for the Moroccan lamb stew with carrots and baby turnips over cous cous (not pictured) that she found delicious, particularly pleased the lamb wasn't too gamey or mushy. Still on my vegetarian kick, I only tasted a little of the cous cous but found it wonderfully cooked with a pleasant touch of fruitiness (maybe there were raisins in the dish too?).

Next came a delightful cheese plate with blueberries, almonds and baguette slices - From left to right, a 10-year-old aged cow's milk cheddar (Hook's), a sheep's milk cheese from the same company that makes Humboldt Fog, and a seasonal creamier cow's milk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. Everything was delicious, but my DC and I agreed that the Hook's aged cheddar was the best (especially when eaten with an almond). The ripe blueberries were juicy and ripe.

While nibbling on the delicious cheeses - I think I spotted and heard Mo Rocca ~ but can't be 100% certain due to the dark room lighting and me without my glasses. From what I was nosing around overhearing, he was talking about social media with his 3 dining compadres.

Concluding the meal, almond cake with strawberry-lavendar sauce and whipped cream, a substantial, not-too-heavy dessert that had a wonderful mix of sweet perfumes from the nut, the blossom and the fruit ~ an innovative spin on the traditional strawberry shortcake. Like most of the other courses, we practically finished this despite how full we were.

In all, a very delightful and pretty affordable meal that's definitely worth checking out -- I already can't wait for the next one to roll around the corner. And this time, I'll bring a friend who drinks so we can shlep a bottle from the nearby Colorado Wine Company (I think we were the only wineless table there!)

And of course, returning to Auntie Ems in general for their famous breakfast/lunch/pastries (including, of course, their famous Red Velvet Cake).

Auntie Ems Kitchen
4616 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Eagle Rock


pleasurepalate said...

It looks like you had a great experience at this dinner. It looks like I'll have to bump this up higher in my to do list, especially since Auntie Em's is not that far from where I live. :)

Caroline on Crack said...

How funny! I was there that same exact night and time too! Writing my post for it now. Where were you sitting?


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