Saturday, April 4, 2020
Loving The Lark To Go
Yes, we've been gunshy about the whole takeout thing thanks to the out part of it. We're taking physical distancing very seriously, and did one huge shopping trip on March 26 and we're hoping to eat off that for as many weeks as possible (plus our bi-weekly Givens CSA box, so we keep getting some fresh farm stuff too--so so good).
But that email from The Lark about their family dinners kept nagging at me as it sounded so delicious. And a deal--since we wanted to opt for the veggie meal, it was merely $50. How could we say no? Especially since we now had the lovely, we hope life-saving masks a great friend of ours sewed for us? (She made mine paisley--it's as nice as some of my choice ties.)
You order online, so are all pre-paid and have a time to pull into the spots right outside the Lucky Penny pick-up window (you can get their pizzas too). Since we showed up a bit early, I told them I'd go back and wait in the car--note, it's not any easier to make people understand the name Yatchisin when they hear it through a mask--and at 5:30, when the meal was supposed to be ready, it was. A server in gloves comes out with bag and it's in my gloved hands in no time.
At home, unpacked it looks like this, fancier than takeout has any right to look, so be sure you have installed the drool guard on your computer....
One of the great joys of eating vegetarian is you don't have to think in bullying ideas like mains. It's all main, and all good. So, sure, officially this is caramelized oyster mushrooms and brown butter polenta with aged balsamic glaze & Grana Padano, but it could easily (as you will see) be headlined by either of the two so-called sides. And I don't mean that to denigrate the lovely dish--it's more that the Lark is wisely making this a full meal experience, and not a star and a couple of fillers.
The polenta actually travels well (we got home and eating in probably 25 minutes, I'd guess), hearty and salty and smooth and deep, and the perfect cushion for those mushrooms, cooked to an almost-bacony texture without any hint of pig on the plate. The balsamic is both tart and a hint sweet and totally integrated into shroominess. The Lark is also so perfect at adding just the right touch of other ingredients, so you get a bit of spinach as green is spring (and delicious) and just enough shavings of the cheese to spark a desire to hunt for more but not overdo.
In our house, some nights the sambal spiced cauliflower--also with a toss of spinach, Marcona almonds, sheep’s feta, preserved lemon--might actually be dinner all on its own. The zingy sambal manages to get hot, hotter and never hottest, just peaking at where you taste it good and it doesn't start to burn your taste buds. Again, the cheese is a condiment, not a slather--there are no easy, cheap effects here. (Or in, this case, easy, sheep effects.) (Sorry.)
And then that salad, simplicity and perfection all at once, Little Gems with spicy pecans, shaved watermelon radish (the Elite model of radish), sourdough croutons, and ridiculously healthy tarragon leaves. Everything is what you'd want, but it's the smoked blue cheese vinaigrette that's what you didn't know you needed--the best blue cheese dressing I've had in years. Please bottle and sell it, Lark!
Doing this at home means we got to break out another cellar bottle not at restaurant mark-up, and that 2010 Williams Selyem unoaked chard rocked--a lean, mean laser beam of delight, lemon rind and green apple. Archie was clearly envious. And he's not much of a vegetarian or a drinker.
Oh, and when they say it feeds 2-4 people, that's not just marketing mumbo jumbo. In our house, when we make recipes, if it says "Serves 6" we know that means that the two of us will have it over 2 meals. That's an odd recipe math. But here, they really mean it. We get to have all this again, tomorrow. OK, we did eat all the salad, but we've got some romaine from that wonderful mask maker friend of ours, and we still have the second container of the blue cheese dressing, so we're good there, too.
And I forgot, you also get a bag of garam masala popcorn with curry leaf. Our movie night tonight got even better. Maybe we need to go watch some more of the old Julia Child shows on PBS on Amazon again.
But if you want takeout, get yourself to The Lark and fast!