Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Marriage of Wine and Cheese, T. W. Food, Cambridge

This time I keep thinking about 4 dishes: the most extraordinary ice cream FoodieDaddy has ever had (and he has had many!), a perfect chocolate budino topped with salt and hazelnuts, the best grilled cheese I have ever had and (forgive me, my non-pork eating husband), pigs trotters. The range of these four dishes capture our recent experience eating at T.W. Food in Cambridge. While I have not done a research project on this, I would also go so far as to say that their Tuesday night 4 course prix-fixe, with paired wine for $49.00, may be one of the best deals around. It is certainly the best value we have found for the range of choices and the quality of the food.T.W. Food has long been on my list of restaurants to try. Owners Tim and Bronwyn Wiechmann opened the restaurant in 2007. Since then, they have created the menu on a day to day basis, using the best ingredients at hand. And, frequently that means using foods that are local. Each Tuesday night they offer a special themed meal that pairs four courses with a wine. You can also, though choose from their Sunday through Thursday 3 course prix fixe for $39.00. We were grateful for the Wiechmann's invitation to attend the American night in which each dish focused on one American cheese and wine. Mark Trumble from Russos was there to introduce customers to each cheese, while manager (and sommelier) Jillian helped us to understand the wine.

T.W. Food seats only 28 people and has a miniature kitchen that is in view of diners. I felt a bit like I was watching the clown car at the circus as so much good food came out of that kitchen. Amazingly, Chef Wiechmann and his sous-chef always looked so calm.

Our dinner began with one of my husband’s favorites-an amuse buche of the most tender, flavorful brisket. Mark Trumble then stopped by to give us a taste of the cheeses that would accompany our meal.We then had a taste of charcuterie. My husband declared (with a grin) the veal and pistachio mortadella to be the best salami he has had. I tried, for the first (and maybe last) time, fromage de tete or head cheese. It almost grew on me with its contrasting chewy and smooth bites…but I couldn’t get the image of a smiling pig out of my head. However, I had no problem devouring the pig trotter (feet!) and mushroom tartine. Oh…this was heavenly. The mushrooms were woodsy, creamy and draped on the meaty mixture.

My husband’s first course was a salad of Verrill farm lettuce, with Vela Dry Jack cheese and a curry-pistachio vinaigrette. This was one of those dishes that could have been too oily, too salty, too simple. Instead, it was perfect. It was paired with an oaky Dreyer Sonoma Chardonnay.

I had the beautifully rosy beet green and red kale gratin with Forume D’Ambert Bleu cheese custard. While it was yummy, it was as rich as it sounded. With a bit of embarrassment I took it home to eat the next night. However, I happily drank one of my favorite wines of the evening: a Zinfandel from Z-52 in Lodi, California.

We both loved the hand-cut tagliatelle with local porcini red-cap mushrooms and Twig Farm Tomme. The Tomme, a raw goat milk cheese was delicious and unique. It had the nutty, creamy taste of a brie, but the subtleness of goat’s milk cheese. The mushrooms were juicy and the walnut crème added another texture. It was served with a Murphy’s Law Red, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot from Columbia Valley in Washington.

My husband would have happily had 2 servings of the grilled hanger steak. It was served with Five Spoke Creamery cow’s milk cheese, local zucchini and new potatoes. The chef kindly cut the steak in 2 pieces so that my half could be cooked medium rare, while he could have his medium. Both sections were cooked perfectly. This was paired with a 2007 Wyatt Cabernet Sauvignon.

We were already smitten with this restaurant when they brought over the sandwich. Yes, the innovative, French-trained Chef Weichmann nearly brought us to tears with his grilled cheese. Served on mini brioche, with a few thin slices of apple, the Pennsylvania Noble Amish cheddar oozed gloriously out from the buttery slices. It was ridiculously good. The light Pinot Noir from Fleur de California complimented the dish.

To state the obvious, we were very full, but yet, somehow we made room for two excellent desserts. I ordered the Valrhona chocolate “budino” with sea salt, olive oil and hazelnuts. The salt enhanced the whole dish, while the hazelnuts added a fine crunch. A delicious Syrah port from Barnard Griffin accompanied the dessert.

But, at the end it was the ice cream that made us such fans of T.W. Food. Jillian mentioned that it was good…but seriously, this stuff is extraordinary. It was so dense and so creamy that we were tempted to order quarts…and we are supposed to both start a diet! We tried one scoop of rhubarb that was perfectly tart and sweet and a scoop of pistachio that rivaled (or beat) the best pistachio gelato we had in Rome. If we could have licked the plates, we would have.

If you are free on Tuesday nights, check out the list of upcoming events (with menus). Tonight will be a celebration in honor of Bastille Day, while next Tuesday the focus will be Germany and Austria. But make a reservation-the food is that good.

T. W. Food, 377 Walden St., Cambridge, 617-864-4745

1 comment: