On the Agenda

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Welcome Feast

The class that I referred to in my last post began tonight, even though classes have not officially started and today is Sunday. The class is about food--almost literally everything about food--and the same professor has been teaching this course for 10 years. He wanted to have an anniversary dinner, but even so I thought it would just be him and the 15 of us students ordering off the menu at 411 West, which is a great restaurant on Franklin Street.

Instead it was about 35 people of all ages and walks of life, and we had a fantastic five-course meal with some wonderful conversation. I'm even more excited about the class now, and I'm hoping I can use this space to chronicle some of it throughout the semester. As it is already late tonight, I will just give the menu with a little bit of description:

I was the first student to arrive, but people began coming in fairly steadily soon after I got there. Not only were there current students, but there were past students, TAs, faculty members and local farmers, all of whom are or were involved in the course in some way. We all stood around and chatted for a while before we made our way over to the food. The first course, eaten while still mingling, was a selection of cheeses from Chapel Hill Creamery, all deliciously flavorful and served with fruit spreads. With that course was served nice flutes of Veuve Clicquot Brut Rose NV, a champagne that I have gathered runs at $50+ a bottle. I always thought that I didn't like champagne before, but this was quite amazing, especially with the various flavors of the cheese.

After this Jim, our professor, got our attention and said a few words about the history of EATS 101, as the class is called. During that talk I learned a little more about the format of the class, about how 411 often buys as much local food as possible, and some things about the farmer's market I love so much. As we sat at our assigned tables, we were served a chilled cantaloupe soup (I think it had mint in it) and a viognier/marsanne white wine from Treana Mer Soleil in California. After that there was a salad of local mixed greens. There were supposed to be sungold tomatoes on the salad, but we're not sure what happened to that.

I was sitting next to Jim's wife and an office administrator and across from two growers who sell at the market. We had some great conversation about meals and farms and food and life in general, which was refreshing. For our main course we had pan-seared Scottish organic salmon, served with gazpacho, local potatoes, okra and mushrooms, and lemon aioli. With this the servers poured a 2005 Castle Rock Pinot Noir Reserve, which was good. (Keep in mind I didn't polish off all these glasses -- I did have to drive home.)

And then for dessert (or "desert" as Elly's students often wrote) there was a peach sorbet (not so local) with a cookie, and Bugay Cerdon Sparkling Rose NV, which was sweet and perfect for the peach flavor. I think what was so remarkable about this dinner was the planning, not to mention the flavors and the bringing together of so many different people. I had much in common with the people I was sitting with, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing them again for a class or for dinner every Tuesday. Most things about this class are still a mystery to me, but I'm eager for the next installment.

1 musings:

Katie Schwing said...

OK, I'm amazingly jealous I didn't hear about this class while I was at Carolina. I'll enjoy reading your account of it, though. :)