is a guy thing, but even I was interested in this morning’s visit to the Lane Museum (see yesterday’s entry). But now it’s time for us to venture into my milieu—food.
When looking for a lunch spot on the west side of Nashville, one of the names that kept reoccurring was Darfons Restaurant and Lounge. “Family owned and operated, Darfons…has provided high quality service and handcrafted cuisine in a warm, pleasant atmosphere since 1989. We offer traditional American fare with chef-inspired daily specials featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients. A contemporary and lively restaurant located just minutes from the Nashville International Airport, we cater to business travelers, large groups, and our local community.
If I could use only one word to describe the restaurant’s interior it would be stylish. From the giant piece of art that you see in the entryway,
Chuck started his lunch with a cup of the soup special—Loaded Baked Potato.
Just as he was ready to order the grilled prime rib sandwich, he noticed that one of the day’s specials was a Bleu Cheese Crusted Prime Rib with mashed potatoes and green beans. And the special was only two dollars more than the sandwich.
The prime rib sat on a large serving of good mashed potatoes and was accompanied by lightly sautéed fresh green beans. Now those who are familiar with our blog know that I am not overly fond of mashed potatoes. So why did I keep sneaking my fork across the table to snatch yet another forkful—more forkfuls than necessary to write this blog? It was due to the demi glace-based sauce the coated the prime rib and ran down the potatoes and onto the plate.
“In his classic book Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain says this about demi-glace: ‘Freeze this stuff in an ice-cube tray, pop out a cube or two as needed, and your are in business—you can rule the world.’ With praise like that from culinary institute graduate and resident bad boy of the culinary world, demi-glace must be some powerful stuff…” (chefs.edu). If anything can make me like mashed potatoes, it is indeed “some powerful stuff.”
My entrée was really an appetizer—The Pantry.
Duck prosciutto is one of those new “shiny objects” in the food world and the internet abounds with directions on curing your own at home. Given the temperature and humidity requirements to do this safely, I will leave this to the experts lest I send both of us to the hospital.
But one brave soul, Blake Royer at thepauperdchef.com, describes the result of his attempt. “At first, all I could taste was the fat—which was of a very silky texture (duck fat is some of the best fat there is). After the fat had melted, the meat was left to chew. It is very full-flavored, and the gaminess of the duck comes through quite strongly, not a wholly pleasant thing. There is an overall sense that the flavor is ‘porky’--even though there's no pig in sight. It seems the flavors involved with salting and curing are strongly associated with pork (we have borrowed a pig term, ‘prosciutto,’ just to name this cured duck breast)….
“But was it good, that taste? Alone, the flavor of my duck prosciutto is almost too gamy for me—it would need the right strong cheese to balance it out (or would that be a mild cheese to absorb the intensity?), or maybe wrapped around melon like ordinary prosciutto, or with a salad with the right strong vinegar to brighten things….”
I agree with Blake that, alone, the flavor was almost too much. But when I took a slice of the warm bread and spread on some fig jam and then a slice of the duck well, the result was magic. The sweet jam balanced the gamy flavor of the duck.
The tomatoes and bocconcini (small mozzarella balls) had been marinated in olive oil with just a hint of garlic. The sheep’s milk cheese was served a bit colder than optimal which rather muted its flavor.
Marcona almonds were new to me and are Spanish in origin. “These almonds are more rounded and plump than the California varieties we're used to. They also seem to have a softer and somewhat ‘wet’ texture, similar to macadamia nuts. The marcona almonds we've tried have a sweeter, more delicate taste closer to the flavor we associate with almond extract” (thekitchn.com).
Also new to me were the caperberries. Not being a fan of those small capers that you find bottled in most groceries, I approached them with caution.
“Some confusion exists regarding capers and caperberries. The two are not interchangeable though they both derive from the same plant, Capparis Spinosa, which grows throughout the Mediterranean and is now being grown in places like California. To clarify, the round, lemony, small capers are not the berries. These tiny pea-like bursts of flavor are actually immature buds of the caper bush.
“In addition to the tiny buds, caperberries are also harvested, and some may prefer their taste to the stronger caper buds. The berries on the caper plant are oblong, semi-green fruits, about the size of or slightly larger than a table grape. Though they still have some lemon taste, they are much milder than caper buds” (wisegeek.com). I decidedly preferred these to the smaller capers.
This was a delightful lunch and, had both Chuck’s soup and my cheese been warmer, Darfon’s might have earned 5.0 Addies. Still, our rating of 4.5 Addies ain’t bad.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.