Food. Drink. And the cool stuff. Admit it, that’s really what you care about when attending an event. So, let’s start with the food.
In Galas past, we’ve heard there wasn’t enough food. So we’re fixing that. This year, we are stacking up the mini plates high. French Cuisine style.
The Gala has a French theme this year in honor of the Congdon’s chateau-hopping trip across France. Naturally we needed to have amazing bread, incredible cheese and fantastic French wine. Plus, there will be a handful of French dishes. Today, I will be telling you about the dishes.
We are lucky to have our friends at UMD catering flexing their impressive culinary muscles for us with some delectable French dishes. (That I got to taste!!) Also, thanks to our pals at Bellisios for hooking us up with the cheese. Their cheese game is strong.
Okay, so more on the really terrible thing I had to do for work one day, eat food. (Your sarcasm radar should begin to alarm now.) I made my way up to campus to visit the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Executive Chef, Tom Linderholm. Tom and his team ran a mini demo of the dishes they plan to prepare for the 2017 Glensheen Gala. I snapped some photos AND EVEN GOT TO TASTE THEM.
Here is my amateur take, Jane-style, food blog.
First up was, you guessed it… French fries. But not just any French fries. These were Pomme Fries. Good ole Yukon Golds. Sprayed with truffle aioli. Yes, you read that right. Truffle fries. These fries will smell like truffles. Mind blown.
As you would image, they were glorious.
The next dish that I tried was the Croque Madam. Do me a favor and just say that out loud quick. If you are in public, with strangers around you, just whisper it to yourself. I promise people won’t think you are that crazy. How French does that sound? Okay, if you didn’t say it out loud at least pretend to say it in your head.
While all the dishes were fantastic, this dish was one of my favorites. It could be because I am a big fan of eggs and breakfast or the fact that I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. Either way, it was yummy.
Ready for your mind to be blown a little bit? That’s not your ordinary chicken egg you’re seeing there. It’s not even an amazing, pasture-raised Locally Laid egg. It’s a quail egg! It looked like a miniature egg which is not something you see everyday in Duluth, MN. The quail egg sat on top of prosciutto and Swiss cheese, sandwiched between a French baguette.
Okay, so the next dish might actually be my favorite. I can’t decide. It was hard to choose, they were all yummy. This dish is called Duck Confit Cassoulet. A hopping broth party with party-goers like pancetta, white beans, garlic, mire poix (sounds like something fancy and French?) parsley, bay leaf and as the name implies… duck.
A mirepoix is diced vegetable cooked for a long time on a gentle heat without colour or browning, usually with butter or other fat or oil. It is not sautéed or otherwise hard cooked, the intention being to sweeten rather than caramelise.
I used the trusty internet to figure out what mire poix is. Now we know!
This was a hearty dish. This is going to fill you up. So if you’re starving when you get to the Gala, I suggest you grab a drink and make a break for this food station.
Next was another brothy, tasty dish. If the weather is chilly, which is highly likely, it will be mid-May in Duluth, MN…(cross your fingers for good weather!) these two dishes will be a good little warm up.
This is another fun one to say. Bouillabaisse.
Maybe, by now you said that one out loud all on your own ;)
For the fish-loving seafood folks out there, this dish is for you. This bowl’s supporting cast includes, noodles, fennel, fingerling potatoes with mussels and whitefish as the stars of the show.
Last but not least, is a dish that I would totally order at a restaurant. The Nicoise Salad. And hey! Look at that, our friend the quail egg made another cameo. This salad has fingerling potatoes, haricot vert, grape tomato, radishes and a lovely pair of seared tuna.
So now comes to the point in my blog where I have a confession to tell you all. But before I confess to you Medium world, I must explain the reasoning for my behavior. I like coffee. Coffee likes me. We have a thing going. Therefore, sometimes I have one cup too many. Without food in my tummy yet, the caffeine train was rip-roaring through my body. Making holding anything steady a wee-bit difficult. I was trying to be all fancy again like the Croque Madam picture but failed and there the pretty green leaves fell to the floor.
Now it’s time for some fun facts about UMD Dining Services and Catering. Plus, I am going to channel my inner journalist and throw some quotes in.
- On a typical day, 10,000 pounds of food moves through the UMD kitchen
- They are a Zero Waste kitchen. Well almost, the only thing that’s wasted is the plastic bags that the food comes in.
- Any food scraps end up in compost
- Food not served, goes to the food bank
- Leftover peelings go into stocks
- A chunk of the food also goes to the UMD Farm to feed the animals.
When I asked Tom what his favorite part about crafting the menu for the Gala, he said he, “Loves the challenge that it brings.” Pulling off a small plate meal for 300 people outdoors is no easy feat. “[The Gala] challenges our creative talents and allows us to have fun with the details”