Monday, October 21, 2013

Gorging at Global Gardens

I didn't bother taking any photos of the food from the very fine 3rd Saturday prix fixe dinner at Global Gardens in Los Alamos because it was too good to stop and admire with a lens between me and the food. This wasn't a surprise, of course, since Theo Stephan has been devising brilliant ways to get more olive oil into our menus for years now. And it doesn't hurt she makes so many good ones herself, teaching us how olive varietals matter as much as grape varietals do, bringing us the freshest product. Sure, you can learn much of this from her cookbook Olive Oil And Vinegar For Life: Introducing the Healthy Caliterranean Lifestyle (and what a fine author photo on page 4!), but to have her make it for you in her charming new spot on Bell Street in Los Alamos is even better--all the taste, no work for you, and you get her personal warmth to make it feel as if you've just stopped to visit a very talented-in-the-kitchen friend.

The meal kicked off with a roasted pumpkin-pasilla soup. Roasting both the squash and pepper first deepened the flavors, perfect for a fall meal when the fog eventually drifted in like John Carpenter was directing special effects. This (the soup, but the fog, too, actually) was very thick, with just the right amount of build-and-build heat, and proved we need to do more with pumpkins than carve them into jack o'lanterns.

The main course for us meat eaters was Dey Dey's beef shortribs Caliterranean style with a pumpkin/pomegranate glaze. We're talking ribs that have been slow-braised so they're falling off the bone, with even fat striations you can't help but enjoy. (Admit it, that's one of the best parts about eating ribs.)  The pumpkin's sweetness was cut a bit by the pomegranate's tart, and then a healthy peppercorn zing pulled the flavors into another dimension. Sides of charred Brussels sprouts cooked with sauteed shallots and lemon rind and "homeland spuds" (that is, large cut fries) were perfect accompaniment.

Vegetarians far from suffered--indeed, much of what Global Gardens prepares is veggie-oriented. (Of course, since good olive oil, pretty much any farmers' market veggie, and a hot oven guarantees goodness.) They had Saigon savory tempeh stir fry, organic peanuts, peppers, and squash. Carnivorous I could have had that and almost, I repeat, almost, not missed the shortribs.

Dessert was a crazy large portion of--can you guess what flavor?--that's right, pumpkin ice cream with ginger cookies. An ice cream made with olive oil like this one has a very interesting texture, almost more creamy than one with even more cream in it. But, it's better for you. Not that you'll care one way or another, given your taste buds will be doing their happy dance as long as they like all the baking flavors you want in a fall kitchen.

Along with all this, there's plenty of Casa Dumetz wine from next door to enjoy (viognier with soup, syrah with ribs). You owe it to yourself to check Global Gardens out, Thursday - Sunday. Los Alamos becomes more and more of a food destination.

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