I'd planned to give Pramas the chance to write in more detail, but he has work to do and I'm not quite recovered from my latest bout with the plague and am still lazing about so I got to it first.
Friday I laid around in bed all day, sipping soup and tea and conserving my strength for the Herbfarm. I then dosed myself up with Dayquil and a couple of Aleve and we set out for the restaurant at about 4:45pm, anticipating traffic.
We arrived pretty promptly at just moments after 6:00pm and meandered around near the Willows Lodge for a few minutes until we were sure the wine cellar was open. When we stepped into the Herbfarm we were offered and enjoyed an iced herbal beverage made with fresh tea leaves, lemon balm and lemon verbena. We walked the grounds, got a history of the restaurant, toured the herb garden and sampled various herbs, flowers and leaves. (Daylilies
and nasturtium leaves
are really yummy!) We also toured their wine cellar ("most extensive collection of Oregon and Washington wines in the world") and the Chef's library.
At 7:00 everyone was seated for dinner. They gave us the best seat in the house, with a clear view into the open kitchen where we were able to watch them preparing our food all night. There was a little framed certificate on the table congratulating Chris on his 38th birthday. Diners simply show up and sit down and the Herbfarm staff serves you what's on the menu, no need to make choices about anything. I knew I'd done well by the expression on Chris's face when he took the first bite (and several other times throughout the evening). It's easily among the three best meals we've ever had together. After the first appetizer course they pulled a curtain across the kitchen and paused to introduce head chef Jerry Traunfeld
(rumored to be leaving to start his own restaurant in the city sometime next year
), owner Ron Zimmerman
and sommelier Tysan Pierce who each spoke about the day's offerings and the Herbfarm philosophy. Then everyone on the staff was introduced and a bit of their resume or history was disclosed ("Xuan Che, who has a scholarship to go to China to study Szechuan cuisine..." or "Tysan Pierce who graduated Vassar at 19..."). Live guitar music was provided throughout the night by a man who studied at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid. That kind of thing. Quite the pedigrees on the Herbfarm staff.
The menu was called "June's Silver Spoon" and was nine courses. We sat down for dinner at 7:00pm and were the first to leave (because my drugs had worn off and I needed to get home) at 11:30pm. Here's the menu:
Appetizer ("From the Edge of the Sea"): Pacific spot prawn with remoulade (they fried the heads too, we were so happy, we love fried shrimp heads!), Puget Sound geoduck with sea bean and fennel pollen, Westcott Bay
mussel with pickled lovage, paired with a 2001 Argyle Oregon Brut
Soufflé: Morel & Crab Soufflé with green garlic-lemon thyme sauce and a tempura fried morel mushroom, paired with a 2006 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris
Pasta: Carrot Ravioli with English peas, King Bolete mushrooms (aka porcini) and sage blossoms paired with a 2005 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, Indian Wells
. Chris loved this Riesling and it turns out it's very affordable to boot.
Fish: Gently Roasted Copper River Sockeye Salmon with sprouts, leaves and petals paired with a 2005 Soter Vineyards North Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
Meat: Anderson Ranch
Oregon Lamb (free range, pasture-fed, prepared three ways): braised shank with emmer
(aka farro) and baby turnips, herb-crusted loin with fava beans and golden beets, and olive-oil-poached tenderloin on spring onion relish (which is the tenderest, most succulent piece of lamb I've ever eaten!). Paired with a 2001 Andrew Will Sangiovese, Ciel du Cheval
Cheese course: Quillisascut
Goat Cheese cake with lavender cherries
Palate cleanser: Fragrant Rose Ice (served in a martini glass with a rose gelee on the bottom, a ball of the rose ice and a candied rose petal)
Dessert: (A Salute to Strawberries): Strawberry-Rose Geranium ice cream cone, strawberry-chamomile parfait, strawberry-anise hyssop
Coffee and Tea course (I chose their "Herbfarm Sniffle Tea" which claimed to relieve cold symptoms, as I was starting to feel a bit sick again by this time: a combination of peppermint, sage, rosemary, chamomile, catnip, hops, comfrey, and goldenseal. Our waiter said that was his favorite of all their teas when I ordered.)
Second Dessert: (A Selection of Small Treats) This nearly did me in. I almost couldn't finish this course. They were tiny little desserts but we were just SO full. We had a lavender almond cake, raspberry gel, lemon balm caramel, angelica
white chocolate truffle, and a spiced dark chocolate truffle, paired with a vintage 1912 Barbeito Bual Madeira.
We were so FULL! I wasn't even hungry when I got up in the morning and went out to meet John and Jenny and retrieve Kate. We met them for brunch at Peso but we were still in a food coma from the night before! Chris was extremely happy with his present and I'd do it again in an instant, given the chance. Chris has already warned his dad that his mom will want to go on their next visit to the region.
Labels: food, Herbfarm, restaurants, seattle