I’m going to talk a little about Chef Todd Knoll today. Chef Todd is the Evil Genius of the kitchens at Jordan Winery. This guy is an über food geek. His wife told me about his quest to make his own sea salt. So they hump water from obscure places all over the world and he evaporates it and makes sea salt. Somebody at the table told me he sketched out every menu on a scratch pad. He does. Yep, I got his wife to show me that too.
It’s a gift really. I’m not an über food geek, but I’m getting a lot better. I know I surprised the staff when I asked if the flower in the gougères was a fava bean bloom. I know, it’s cheating, I’m growing fava beans. The blooms are edible. Actually so are the leaves. Chef Todd makes his own olive oil, grows his own herbs, evaporates his own salt. He is Bruce Almighty.
I’m planting my own herbs too Chef so stand down buddy! OK, maybe not, I’ve got a ways to go. A long ways. It must be amazing to have free reign to dream up and create these amazing dishes and menus. There is a guy at Jordan who runs the garden. But it sure helps to have a guy there who’s job it is to bury the asparagus so it doesn’t turn green. He does an amazing job with that garden.
There is an entire row of strawberries down there. And fava beans. And all kinds of different sorts of goodness. And just to be sure that weeds stay in check, there’s Barney and Clyde.
They keep them either penned up or on goat leads so that they don’t wander off and get eaten by a mountain lion or a coyote. They’re very sweet little goats. That’s Clyde, I’m pretty sure, I think, probably.
And Chef Todd has his toys. And lots of them. They are now building a pizza/woodburning/bread oven on the property. We all know I want one of those so this was of particular interest to me. It looks kind of boring right now but Chef explained that the foundation went deep into the ground, close to 6 feet. They asked the local paper if they would like to cover the construction of the oven and they turned their nose up at the opportunity. I think the locals missed the boat. People are entertaining more at home in this recession and making improvements to their home. There are people out there who would love to read this story. I’m curious as to how it all goes together, but we know a bread oven is on the master plan for The Farm. Part of a master plan that involves dropping off of the grid.
And there’s this one other toy. This is where the magic happens.
Isn’t she gorgeous? Now, what did Chef Todd do with all of that amazing goodness he had to play with?
Mero Seabass and Tasmanian Salmon
with Our First Peas and Ramps
Yes he did. They paired it with the 2005, 2007 and 2008 Jordan Chardonnay. More on the wine tomorrow. I’m not sure what kind of bloom he’s put in there, but I’ve had them before. Just gorgeous.
Gilled Sonoma Lamb and this Morning’s Carrots
with Fava, Morels and Black Garlic Jus
Oh yes he did. That was paired with the 1999, 2005 and 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine. I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine. I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine. I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine.
Not only were each of these dishes beautiful on the plate, they were equisite on the palate. We had a discussion at our table about salmon cooked poorly. I guess it was to my advantage that my father didn’t like fish so we never had salmon as kids. I’ve heard more stories about overcooked dry nasty salmon from people’s childhoods. If my salmon is overcooked it’s because I’ve had an ADD moment. For the most part I’m used to it being prepared fairly properly. Rarely perfect. Chef Todd put perfect salmon on the plate. And perfect seabass. In a beautiful pureé of baby peas. It was a gorgeous dish, paired perfectly with their Chardonnay.
I don’t even attempt lamb here, but I love it when it’s done properly. Once again they nailed it. The presentation was in a deep flat bowl. It allowed the jus and the vegetables to marinade in their own goodness. It was an absolutely perfect dish.
Our garden tour was actually after the first two courses. After that we came back up to shaded area for dessert.
Oh yes they did. Yes, that’s gold flakes, I think on a tiramisu, that’s what it sort of played like. A very high end tiramisu. There is the shortbread like cookie drizzled in chocolate, I’m not sure what the one with the foamy sort of stuff on top was, it had kind of a cakelike base with almonds I think. I skipped the fruit bars for no real reason. There is also something that is not in this picture. I believe them to be mini profiteroles with marzipan inside and dusted with powdered sugar. That may not be accurate. I’m not really good on dessert names. Especially all the old French stuff they’re making again. But they may have been something made with an egg white based dough too. They were ridiculous. I could have finished the entire tray, and certainly tried to. I am a huge fan of anything lemon and tend to choose the lemon dessert off of most menus. Those little lemon tarts were amazing. I tried to eat the whole tray of those too. Simply amazing.
When John Jordan talks about a world class experience, and then allows guys like Chef Todd to deliver, that’s where the rubber meets the road. I’ve been blessed in my life to have been at the right place at the right time on numerous occasions. I would consider myself very lucky to be seated at one of Chef Todd’s tables any day any where. The man is a genius.
Dear FCC, we were all comped at Jordan Winery. I was not asked to write about them. If I didn’t enjoy the experience and learn something I wouldn’t have written anything because I think if you can’t say anything nice after you’ve been comped, then don’t. And guess what? I’m going to write about this day at least one more time. So there.