Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

March 30, 2010

My wife and brother-in-law raided the SF Farmer’s Market for me this past Saturday, and I went down to the city Sunday morning with a bottle of Saunter Petite Sirah (a gift from Josh and Heather Clark, made by Thomas Brown) and a bottle of Romililly RRV Pinot Noir from Aaron and Jesse Inman over at August Briggs. The edible loot: two racks of lamb, a bag of miner’s lettuce, two bunches of green garlic, a fistful each of brown morels, hedgehogs, and chanterelles, fiddlehead ferns, and baby artichokes.

A good friend brought over 2001, 2002, and 2004 Nuits St. Georges–I can’t remember the producer. The 04 got my vote; others liked the 02 better. I seasoned and seared the racks of lamb, then removed the browned deckle meat and fat and threw it in with the simmering farro I found in the pantry–then seared the lamb again and roasted it in a slow oven. Baby artichokes were turned and poached in olive oil with chili flakes, thyme and rosemary from the garden, and garlic cloves. The fiddlehead ferns I cleaned and blanched and added to the chokes at the last minute.

The lamb was gorgeous, and I give credit to the arrow, not the Indian, on this one–juicy, no donut effect, MR in the middle and not dry near the edges. I have long held that rack of lamb is overrated and overpriced but my tune may change. I sliced the green garlic very thin, then seared it with the morels, and sauteed the hedgehogs and the chanterelles separately. All the mushrooms and the green garlic went into the farro, which I cooked till nearly dry, removed from the heat, and stirred in criminal amounts of butter and parmigiano-reggiano for a well-received mushroom farroto. Farro is so burly that it can take a TON of fat.

I sliced the racks into double chops–having removed bones three and six before cooking–and spooned the artichokes and fiddleheads, with some of the olive oil used for cooking, over the meat. The miner’s lettuce got a dose of hot bacon fat, fresh lemon, and salt from my brother-in-law, and it was a perfect counterpoint to the red meat and rich farroto. The red Burgundy and the Romililly sufficed for the rounds of ciccioli, finnochioni and terrine de volaille (all from the Fatted Calf) that preceded dinner; the Saunter petite sirah was opened halfway through and carried us into dessert with its enticing blackberry-jam nose. The wine was HUGE on the fruit but restrained on the oak: a rare point of finesse from such a powerful grape, and one which seemed to assert the quality of the fruit rather than the ego of the winemaker.

I enjoyed the food, but as is often the case, I had tasted it so many times during the preparation that I wasn’t ravenous at the table.  The talk turned financial, small children were given baths and put to bed, and The Glenrothes was enjoyed al fresco.  Of no small importance (to me) was my family’s adherence to the conventional wisdom that if you do the cooking, somebody else does the dishes.

2 Responses to “home cookin’”

  1. Eden Ashley Umble says:

    Brandon, what a deliciously lively, addictive blog. I’m going to devour all your previous posts. Brilliant chef, great writer too. You have more than your share of gifts.

    And I totally agree: cooking = relief from dish duty. It’s only fair!

  2. Aaron Inman says:

    Glad you enjoyed. You’re creating some great dishes over there, keep it up!

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