We had a scrumptious feast a week ago Friday. It’s taken me this long to gather my information. Thanks to Kacee for having the dinner at her house and for helping me remember wine details. I’m sharing this with you for two reasons:
- The meal was entirely gluten free and for me, dairy free; and
- It was prepared with lots of fantastic fruits and vegetables, many of which were grown locally. Locavores rejoice!!
Last March, at the Birth Choice of Oklahoma auction, five couples pooled their resources and purchased a dinner to be prepared by Father Shane Tharp, the pastor of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, located in Prague, Oklahoma. Believe it or not, Prague is pronounced with a long “a.” I don’t know why. It’s just an Oklahoma quirk. I was really looking forward to this meal because we’ve known Fr. Shane for a long time. He attended the same RCIA class I did and later went to seminary. He also happens to be a wine afficianado and chef, so I knew the food would be really good. Bill and I felt lucky to be sharing this time with our friends.
Now, I don’t drink alcohol. Too much bad juju in my family, but I can appreciate the delicacy of wines and how they accompany a meal. Where Kacee and I could recall, I’ve listed the wine with each course.
Sr. Barbara Joseph, a Carmelite nun, usually assists Fr. Shane, but she was sick with a nasty flu that night. We girls chipped in and helped, so I was able to see how the dishes were prepared.
As to the theme. Fr. Shane said, “It is a celebration of the coming together of family and features inspired twists on traditional winter foods from families around the world.”
The appetizer course was a sampling of cheeses, including a port wine cheese and a Blueberry white Stilton. These were served with dried Turkish figs and dates and crackers. The crackers were not gluten free, but it was easy to eat around them as they were on another plate. We also had hummus and a roasted eggplant spread. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try either of these because folks had already dipped their crackers into them, causing gluten contamination. I had plenty to eat anyway.
On a side note, I asked Fr. Shane where he got the figs and dates, and he said Mediterranean Imports & Deli in Oklahoma City. I made a trip there last week and have been snacking on dried fruit ever since. In fact, I’m snacking on them now. I might plant a fig tree. I’ve heard they do well here, if you can keep the fruit from the birds. Stay tuned.
The first course was a butternut squash soup. It was inspired by the regional cuisine of India. I pureed the butternut squash after it was simmered with onion, curry, garlic and chicken broth. For those who could have dairy, a spoonful of yogurt was swirled into each bowl at the end. Even sans dairy, it was wonderful. The wine was Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc 2002.
The second course was a beet and fennel salad with Stilton blue cheese crumbles, pecans grown in Fr. Shane’s backyard, and a lovely homemade, mayonnaise-consistency balsamic vinaigrette. I didn’t miss the blue cheese at all. Just so you know, blue cheese should not be consumed by those with Celiac Disease even if they don’t have a dairy issue. The mold is often grown on wheat bread and can therefore make us sick. The beets and fennel were roasted enhancing their inherent sweetness. The salad was a British inspiration, and Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay was paired with it.
Moving on to the main course, we had Seared Pork Tenderloin with Cocoa Spice Rub. I know, cocoa with meat? It was really good. Fr. Shane topped it with blueberry conserve. It was served with adobo chili and garlic mashed sweet potatoes and an apple baked with bacon and cinnamon sticks. Truly, everything complimented each other. The main course was served with Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale 2002.
Because this was a celebration, Veuve Clicquot Champagne Brut was served with dessert. The dessert? Anjou and Bosc pears were poached in the chianti with some cinnamon. The poaching liquid turned one pear a bright burgundy pink. Mascarpone cheese was melted over the pears. HH said it tasted like a mix between cream cheese and marshmallow fluff. Hmm . . . . Hazelnut coffee was also served with dessert. Now don’t you wish you could have been there?
Afterward, Fr. Shane said that if we bought the dinner at this year’s auction, he would make us a Mediterranean feast. Perhaps, we will.