Gorge in the Gorge » Blog

The Gorge Grown fundraiser, Puerco-Vino-Queso, was held Monday evening at the 10 Speed Coffee Roastery. Everyone was in such good spirits, and the food was fantastic. Anna, the 10 Speed baker, prepared all the food including pork skewers from Mountain Shadow pigs, dolmas made with swiss chard, and freshly baked crackers to pair with the cheeses which were provided by the Cascade Creamery in Trout Lake, Washington. Three local wineries, Memaloose, Analemma, and Viento were all there pouring tastings. To top it all of Matt, Anna’s husband and Double Mountain brewer, was playing great music throughout the evening, and Giselle Kennedy debuted a wonderful micro-film about supporting Gorge Grown and local farmers.

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On Saturday I went with my girlfriends, Kate and Danelle, for a wine tasting at Marchesi Vineyards. The sun was out, and although the wind was a bit chilly, it was the perfect spring day. It was Wine Passport weekend so they were pretty busy but the servers and owners were so welcoming and on top of everything. We ended up taking home two bottles of the Uvaggio Bianco, a crisp, fresh white blend (pictured below).

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The patio at Marchesi is a little oasis. It’s so lovely to sit outside and take in the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful little vineyard. Owner, Sandy, told us that they are just about finished with their outdoor pizza oven and will sporadically be making perfect little pizzas throughout their tasting season! As if the wonderful bread, salami, and cheese weren’t enough! Looks like I’ll be spending even more time at Marchesi this spring and summer.

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A few weeks ago I had the Duck Leg Confit from Henni’s Kitchen and Bar in White Salmon and that it was one of the best dishes I’d had in the Gorge. I was blown away by how balanced this amazing dish was. I immediately contacted Christian about coming in to do a post dedicated to his creation. We scheduled a time for me to come to the restaurant and he would show me how he makes the Duck Leg Confit.

Before my morning with Christian, my understanding of how Duck Confit was prepared was pretty basic: duck, slow cooked in it’s own fat. I had never actually seen it done. Christian is a true culinary artist. He began his work as a chef in South Africa at Decameron making pizzas. He’s worked at Fratelli and opened Pause in Portland. He’s worked with John Gorham (of Toro Bravo) among other great chefs. Here in the Gorge he has worked at Abruzzo and at Nora’s Table. Listening to him talk about all the places he’s worked, the books he’s read, and the technique he’s “stolen with his eyes”, I realized how truly fortunate we are to have such a talented, creative, innovative chef here in the Gorge. He uses his unique skills to bring us everyday dishes from around the world.

Christian believes that the three most important things to creating good food are: salt, technique, and ingredients. He believes that you cannot cook anything without salt and, if you have techinique you can make anything taste good. Of course having great ingredients helps. He sources everything he can locally, and gets some special things from Portland. Back to the Duck Confit. Here’s a look at how Christian preps and prepares this great dish…

duck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINThe duck legs are seasoned with salt, black pepper, curing salt, chili flakes, and crushed fennel. They are given a quick rinse before they are covered in duck fat.

duck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINThis is what Christian calls “Magic Duck”, in fact that’s how you’ll find it labeled in the walk-in. Have you ever made a really great chicken, or turkey broth and had it turn into gelatin? That’s what you’re looking at here: perfect duck broth. A tiny spoonful of this has so much flavor.We headed over to the stove so Christian could make a plate of the Duck Leg Confit. He sautéed butternut squash (and he threw in some potatoes too) in duck fat unti lthey started to caramelize and brown, then he added green beens and a little bit of the “Magic Duck.”

duck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINduck confit henniPINThe veggies are topped with a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction which cuts through the richness of the fat and makes the dish perfectly balanced. With a tiny sprinkle of fennel pollen, the Duck Leg Confit was finished.And, let me tell you, it was perfect.

duck confit henniPINHenni’s Duck Leg Confit is the perfect balance of flavors and textures. It’s truly my favorite dish of the moment.

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Last weekend, just after the storms ended, we drove up to Phelps Creek Vineyards for a little wine tasting. They were releasing their ’09 Pinot and the ’10 Chardonnay. Kyle and I both really liked them both…

phelps creek wine tasting hood riverPINphelps creek wine tasting hood riverPINphelps creek wine tasting hood riverPINThe Estate Reserve Chardonnay was sweet and bright. There is a nice acid to it so it wasn’t overly sweet or syrupy. It is lightly oaked so it was earthy but not buttery.  I normally don’t like chardonnays at all and we ended up buying a bottle of this one. I can’t wait until the weather is warm enough to crack this bottle open. I think it would go great with some zesty fish tacos. The Columbia Gorge Pinot was everything you expect from a good Pinot Noir, but it had a suprisingly deep strawberry flavor. I loved the bright, fresh berry flavors that came through in this wine. I love Pinot Noirs and this one was delicious.

Visit the Phelps Creek tasting room this weekend for their Annual Brimstone and Brownies Party! They have a photo booth set up so you can take a photo with your loved one and their whole line-up of Mt. Defiance wines. As if that weren’t enough they also have red velvet whoopie pies with dessert wine creme, chipotle ganache and more!

Cheers!

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