The meal was sponsored by Green Mountain Coffee, in large part to showcase 3 things: Fair Trade certification (it is Fair Trade month), Green Mountain Fair Trade coffees, and to preview the Eat, Drink & Be Fair event that will be taking place next week.
On Wednesday, October 21st, 4 chefs, including Will Gilson, will be creating dishes using Fair Trade ingredients. (Interested? While it is invitation only, there may still be some tickets available until Friday at the Eat, Drink and Be Fair website.
In a later post I will share my education about coffee and Fair Trade itself, but for now, I will write an ode to a memorable meal.
We started with an "Heirloom Pumpkin Soup" shooters (pictured at the top of this post). So often, pumpkin soup is a syrupy, uniform affair. But not here. Topped with pepitas and pumpkin oil, the Chef used a perfect balance of spices including ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. This is one of the recipes that I would love to get my hands on. It was that good.
Next, he treated us to what may be one of my new favorite starters: locally foraged Hen of the Woods mushrooms, topped with a slow cooked egg, truffles and an absolutely heavenly nugget of fried duck neck rillettes.Trust me, it was infinitely better than it sounds. The rillettes were crispy, rich and so good.
The main dish consisted of slow cooked chicken, homemade chicken sausage, kale, fried sage and a coffee (Fair Trade, of course!)-sunchoke puree.
Again, it was simple but delicious. The chicken was so moist, while the skin was crisp and flavorful.
Finally, a dessert that made me want to lick my plate: maple caramel with a tea-poached Seckel pear that was served with honey and vanilla bean Chantilly cream.
Again, the honey, vanilla and tea were all Fair Trade items. And here, I will point out that as much as I try to be a socially conscious consumer, I had never been as deliberate about my purchase of vanilla or honey as I am about coffee.
The atmosphere of Garden at the Cellar was just right on a chilly fall night. The copper tables, the warm setting and lively energy made me want to settle in. Instead I will just have to return.
Garden at the Cellar, 991 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-230-5880
Eat, Drink and Be Fair, Wednesday, October 21st