All in a day’s eating. Tuesday, to be specific.
The Good: Dried blueberries
My friend Shannon? The one who was the magical source of a certain quantity of sour cherries earlier in the summer? Well, she’s also my source for low-spray local blueberries. She can get lots of them, and will sell them at a great price. As an experiment, she gave me five pounds of berries and asked me to dehydrate them. Since I’m typically not happy unless I make a job a bit more complicated (or so claims my spouse), I decided to try drying them two different ways.
First, I simply washed them and stuck them in the dehydrator. A dozen or so hours later, these are what I had:
Not what I was going for. A dull, crispy-dry blueberry. Not necessarily crunchy, but also not moist and chewy. A strange popping sound when you bit into them, like they were filled with air. Blueberry balloons.
So, for the next batch, I quickly simmered the blueberries first in a very light sugar syrup. For a pound of blueberries, I put them in a pan with water barely to cover, and a half cup sugar. They simmered very gently for about five minutes — it’s important they don’t cook to the point of falling apart. I drained them, let them dry a bit spread out on a towel, and dehydrated just like the first batch. This was the ticket:
Slightly glossy, full-flavored, moistly-dry morsels. Sometimes, making things a bit more complicated pays off (ahem… spouse? are you reading?).
The Bad: Liver Mousse, via Mastering the Art of French Cooking
I have tried. I really want to like liver patés. For one, it just seems like something I’m supposed to like — especially after reading about all the offal-cooking in Fisher’s With Bold Knife and Fork. I even like foie gras (the few times I’ve had it). So I whipped up a batch of Julia Child’s liver mousse — hoping that the flavor would match the decadence of the name. But, alas, I can’t. I can’t do it. My two younger children love it, but I’m not there. My palate has not yet matured.
The Mediocre: Dinner at Restaurant Tallent
If I wanted to like liver, I wanted even more to have many good things to write about my dinner this week at Restaurant Tallent, in Bloomington. Moderately recommended, with overlap with the Indy food community to boot, we’ve been wanting to try it out for a while. My friend Cherith was spending a few weeks in July at Indiana University, and I figured it was a good time to make the trip down, meet up with her for dinner, and give it a go.
Between the two of us, we ordered 3 dishes from the “snack” courses, 3 dishes from the “starter” courses, and two desserts (our ordering decisions were based partially on the suggestions of this local restaurant reviewer, who happened to review Tallent this past weekend and was not bullish on the entrées).
I won’t go into the details of each dish — but I will generalize, and simply say that nothing seemed quite right. There were good ideas along the way (a clearly seasonal menu with rare additions such as chanterelles and white truffles), but in translation to the plate the proportions or seasoning went awry. Most disappointing was a snack course of deviled eggs that seemed no different from the ones you might pick up at your Aunt Becky’s July picnic; the tastiest dish (and best-presented, arriving served on vintage glassware) was a watermelon and tomato salad that was still a bit tomato-heavy and wanting for a few more cubes of feta. We were served mussels mounded with well-cooked frites but almost no broth for dipping (and several inedible, nearly-closed mussel shells), over-salted ravioli, and two ample desserts (a blueberry tart and a banana pudding) that were both in need of a mind-changing twist of sorts. While the tart sported a scoop of sweet corn ice cream, it couldn’t balance the heavy sweetness of what was, in my opinion, an overload of streusel — a winter’s load, rather than a summer berry portion.
All-in-all? A really hard sell for a $50 tab (just me, with a $7 glass of wine, before tip). Not sure I will risk the investment again (I really do want to be a cheerleader — I’m just too damned stingy with my eat-out budget).
But to leave us back on The Good: if you’re in Indy and are female, join Girls Pint Out next Wednesday for a tour of SunKing Brewery. It’s for a great cause: fundraising for the folks at teecycle.org who’ve lost most everything in the Milwaukee floods.