Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Visiting BarBersQ (aka The Kobe Cow Experential Project)

First off, I have never in my life been so over-indulged that two days later, I still can barely look at food. Secondly, I need to document the fact that Wil and I on Sunday late afternoon, for the very first time in our collective gastronomically indulgent lives, turned down prosciutto. Thirdly, I want to thank the man that made all this madness possible... our fav chef, our Ole Miss... Chef Stephen Barber. Without him, Maggie, Wil, and I would have never klnown what it feels like to be a kobe cow/duck for foie. We gorged and drank like we were being prepped for slaughter.
For those of you who do not know, Stephen has recently opened his restaurant, BarBersQ, in Napa. The concept is American BBQ, heritage cuisine elevated with artisnal, local ingredients with some modern flourishes. Stephen set us up with a tasting menu of sorts made up of dishes from the regular menu.

Course 1: BBQ'ed Oyster and Fried Key West Shrimp.
We liked the saucing on the oysters and never had BBQ'ed oysters that are smaller and more concentrated in flavour as these. I personally find the big, fleshy oysters one usually encounters for BBQ sort of gross and mealy. We LOVED the shrimp. Fried to perfection and sweet as August Jersey corn. The panko crust was crispy. The tartar sauce had just enough kick to contrast nicely with the sweetness of the shrimp. Fresh, good quality shrimp can be such a revelation!

Course 2: Mini sandwich sampler
Stephen has meal size sandwiches on the menu but in order for us to try them all, we got the baby version sampler platter - pulled pork, short rib, and lamb (from left to right on the photo). The saucing and the tenderness on the pulled pork could not be beat. I was liking the horseradish sauce on the short rib sandwich, and Maggie raved about the freshness and spicing of the lamb. I only tried the Carolina style vinegar sauce (which I liked). Wil, Maggie -comments on other sauces???

Course 3: Beef Brisket with Onion Rings

While I generally prefer pork over beef for BBQ, we were silent from eating for this rendition of beef brisket. The red onion rings were crispy and light. The meat so tender one really didn't need teeth for the dish.

Course 4: Biscuit with country ham and pepper jelly

We have gone over this before... I hate bread; but biscuits are another story. Full of flavour and brightened by scallions, I could eat these all day if I had the four stomachs of a real cow. Country ham - the real deal. Tastes like prosciutto (which is a honorific label if there ever was one) with the pepper jelly that had the perfect wisp of heat. This was also the last dish we finished every morsel of. Going forward, we couldn't polish off the plates as we knew we needed to pace ourselves.

Course 5: Babyback ribs

These were meltingly tender, spiced from a dry rub with a thin coat of saucing for finish. The smoke rings and color on these were beautiful - almost like the rich hues of sepia, burnt umber, and dusty pink of sediment layers found in red rocks. We each had two or so pieces and really wanted to eat more. But this was when Stepehen informed us that he had fired a whole chicken that was coming next. We had to hold off. I was hitting the marathon eating wall.

Course 6: Mac'n'cheese
I'm a pretty tough critic of mac'n'cheese (just ask anyone who's had my version). This was good in that the pasta still had some bite to it. Pretty browning on the top. And the peas and country ham bits really added dimension and smokiness. Despite the high caliber of this rendition, Wil and I could only manage a bite each. Maggie, the true champ that she is, soldiered on.

Course 7: Cornbread with honey butter

I had a smidge. Was similar to the ones I had from Stepehen before. But one can really taste the sweetness of the corn. They have their own corn meal milled from fresh. No wonder...

Course 8: Vinegar Chicken
We all agreed the most succulent chicken any of us ever had. There was still crispiness to the skin despite the saucing. And the vinegard sauce just made us want to lick the platter. Alas, I could only manage to eat one piece. I think Maggie and Wil both did two pieces. Wil was devouring the left-over of these later around midnight.
Move over Zuni... there's a new chicken god in town!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Course 9: Key lime pie
Refreshing and tart with an airy whipped cream/creme fraiche. I also like the graininess of the crust. But again, I'm not a good judge of dessert.

We were all stuffed. Wil and I joked about purging. Maggie, our eating champ, had prepped for this by having a decent sized breakfast as ready her stomach capacity. We're a bunch of sick, food obsessed maniacs. I am not even going to go into our dinner of appetizers and drinks at Press and a whole charceuterie and cheese board/tray from Dean and Deluca except to say that this was not the end of the force feeding/drinking.

Thanks again to Stephen, the evil genius farmer/owner of Kobe Cows Wil, Maggie, and Victoria (pictured below looking so innocent with his lovely girl, Tiffany).


Janet said...

omg, victoria - this makes me hungry! I've got to go to Stephen's new restaurant... Which dish was your favorite? ie. if you had to pick just one for dinner, which would it be?

Miss V said...

My favs were the baby back ribs and the biscuit with country ham.