It was Homecoming for Alta Club's Lori Walls a couple of weeks ago.
The longtime club sommelier moved to Oregon and Alta Club is without a wine director right now, but she returned for a night, bringing a bunch of Oregon wines with her. It was a small but enthusiastic group that gathered around the table in the "birdcage" and chef Brian Edwards outdid himself creating challenging but successful combinations: fig-and-clove stuffed duck confit (2009 Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir)
Ivory King Salmon with grilled pineapple, mandarin orange panna cotta (its creaminess a perfect textural contrast, like a stiff bearnaise) and coconut arancini (2011 Elk Cove Pinot Gris)
blue cheese and milk chocolate mousse (King Estate Vin Glace.)
The star of the show was the tea-ruibbed lamb loin wreathed in baby vegetables, edible flower petals, berries, snipped fresh herbs and baby morels served with 2009 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The dish was absolutely gorgeous, like a Della Robbia on the plate, and pristinely simple. No tricks, no complicated techniques–it was the chef's culinary vision that made this dish such a knockout.
It occurs to me that you could easily make a version of this dish at home. Lamb tenderloins are tiny, and somewhat expensive, but basically uncomplicated for a home cook.
Lava Lake Lamb's recipe for Tenderloin or Loin of Lamb with Port Reduction
• 2 lamb tenderloins or 1 boneless loin
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2 shallots, minced
• 1 cup port wine Make a paste of the olive oil, garlic and cumin and rub on lamb. Let stand for a few hours. Sear the lamb quickly and set aside in a baking dish. Add shallots to the pan, sauté until soft, then deglaze with the port. Reduce a bit, then pour over lamb. Roast at 350 for 10-20 minutes, depending on whether you are using tenderloins or the larger loins. Take care not to overcook. If using a meat thermometer, remove at 145 degrees for medium rare, 160 for medium.
Saute assorted baby vegetables–tiny carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, pearl onions, asparagus tips, tiny mushrooms, whatever you can find–until crisp-tender. Wash assorted berries and tiny sprigs of thyme, lavender, mint and edible flowers and petals.
Let the lamb rest a minute before slicing. Place in the center of the plate and arrange the berries, herbs and vegetables around the slices. Drizzle with the port reduction.
How pretty is that?