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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Foie Gras & Truffle Cheese!

I have just been on the receiving end of Truly Great Customer Service- from from whence Dan's Hanukkah present came. (You must remember Hanukkah- it was a couple of months ago...) Back in Nov., with H looming over the horizon, I decided that Chef Dan, a.k.a. "Smokin' Dan", Landgraff's undisputed Master of Smoked Meat & Other Gourmet Things, was a husband Truly Worthy of a gourmet holiday present. This, after all, is the man that one guest said could "kick Bobby Flay's butt" in a Food Network "Throwdown"; the man whose recipes are in the The Great Country Inns of America Cookbook; the man who literally put Landgraff, WV on the map for Fine Dining, the man who cooked Thai Pumpkin-Mango Soup & Herb-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens on "Good Morning West Virginia" television in his Chef's Whites at at 6.a.m. after a 5 hour drive thru an ice storm. This is the man who processed 8 quarts of pesto from a 5-gallon drum of basil leaves, and who can spend 5 hours happily tending his smoker, creating ribs and chops that are almost orgasmic in their delectability.
This is also the man who saved us from a life of me crafting our dinners from tins of soup & bags of pasta. (Note: I believe that everyone has at least One Good Recipe. I have two. I can make a truly excellent 4-Cheese Eggplant Parmigiana that takes me all day to create, & I know how to do Serious Pesto. Yes, I can do a wonderful Chicken Soup with Matza Balls ("floaters", like my Grandma made), Pumpkin Strudel & Flan, and a lot of Sephardic & Mizrahi dishes, but I basically cook from Recipes. This is totally different than what a chef does. Having watched how Dan operates in the kitchen, which is on Another Level entirely (No Recipe Required!), I have learned my limitations, and gladly ceded the chef's toque to him. I have, indeed, been blessed).
This, in short, is a man Truly worthy of an $18 wedge of cheese.
And so I concocted "8 gourmet days" for Hanukkah 2007, including an Ebay garlic roaster, & a gift box from full of all sorts of things he'd enjoy cooking with (and testing out on lucky "foodie" me): truffle salt & butters, Italian & Irish cheeses, Spanish Hams, Andouille Sausage, & French pates. All things you can't get at the Princeton Big Lots (where, by the by, we Do get a lot of great gourmet things, such as imported oils, tapenades, condiments, & fancy European cookies...)
Well, igourmet ran out of some of the things I'd ordered by the time they went to ship my gift, so Dan's present wound up lacking several items, & we were both severely bummed. But BOY, have they made it right! I just got an email that the missing white truffle paste is about to arrive - along w/a gift tin of French foie gras! Everything we got from them was truly excellent, from the Italian truffle cheese (grated & melted over gnocchi, w/sauteed mushrooms!), to the Buffalo Mozzarella (w/sliced, fresh tomatoes, pesto, & capers, drizzled w/Big Lots Best Modena Balsamic Vinegar and the Sicilian Olive Oil I brought back from a TJ Max in Kansas I found during a FEMA deployment), to the Serrano ham & smoked pork loin (toasted sandwiches what-to-die-for!). I know this sounds like a paid ad for igourmet at this point, but when you actually find a company that bends over backwards to Do The Right Thing, you want to leap into the air for joy. These folks actually deserve "viral marketing", so here it is. They ain't cheap (but I always shop thru so at least I get "points" that we use for Wally World gift certificates & Omaha steaks...), but has won our business. When we do have the money for a luscious treat, that's where I'll go to find it. And I gotta tell you: that truffle cheese was Fine...
Back to the kitchen to see what Chef Dan is up to tonight...

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