This past Saturday night, the wife and I were invited to the ‘burbs for a local Iron Chef throw down between my friend Lou and his boss Darcy. It was pretty much the best thing ever.
For more than an hour and a half, the food war raged in the well-stocked kitchen of Darcy’s immense farmhouse. There were dogs, there was wine, there was even a soundtrack countdown, alerting both participants and audience to how much time was remaining. And the humble pine nut (the night’s special ingredient) was everywhere.
When the dust settled, each chef had three dishes.
Darcy presented a salad of greens, prosciutto, cooked red onion, shaved Parmesan, pine nuts and dressing. All of the flavors really went well together, making for a nice, light introduction to the meal.
Lou made a signature pizza with pesto sauce and goat cheese, accompanied by pear slices, Gruyere and blue cheese, and honey. Despite my not liking goat cheese, the pizza was solid. And, of course, you can never go wrong with fruit and cheese.
Darcy made a pasta dish combining farfalle, sausage pieces, mozzarella, and pine nuts. I’m sure there were other ingredients , but whatever was there worked. It was a warm, hearty dish.
Lou presented grilled lambchops, over couscous made with apricot, mint, pine nuts and other flavors. I don’t know how he did it (considering pieces were flying this way and that), but the lamb was cooked perfectly and the couscous was refreshing and complementary.
Darcy sauted figs in a port and spice concoction, and drizzled them with melted Nutella. She accompanied this with cold marscapone custard covered with pine nuts and fresh whipped cream. I’m not usually a port or fig fan, but everybody raved about this combination.
Lou, using a machine provided by yours truly, prepared a honey/pine nut ice cream, garnished with mint. Although it was a bit melty, the ice cream was still a sweet ending.
Too close to call. I was pleasantly surprised that every single dish was successful, and I couldn’t find a soul to disagree. It almost makes me nervous that, some day, my cuisine may not reign as supreme.