Chef Nicholas Walker of Cobb Galleria Centre invited me to celebrate Spring with him in his kitchen. He presented a multiple-course lunch that depicted a transition of winter into spring using. Some dishes leaned towards the coziness of winter, other towards a gentle lightness of spring.
The first course was a perfect balance of welcoming spring—poached baby artichokes with shaved fennel, grapefruit and basil, drizzled with homemade lemon vinaigrette. Athiness of the baby artichoke was nicely balanced with the tartness of the grapefruit and lemon vinaigrette and the basil added a wonderfully refreshing flavor. A glass of Domaine St. Michele sparkling wine made a suitable companion.
Second course was a “seafood sampler” in its classiest form: scallop seared in coco butter with peashoots and mint a top a puree of salsify (a root vegetable that reminds me a bit of parsnips and carrots); Carolina Royal Red shrimp stuffed with cilantro and lime, accompanied with pickled red onions and puree of salsify; and lump crab poached in vanilla and butter dancing on a bed of mango and green tomato salsa. The delicately cooked lump crab meat had lots of rich yet subtle flavors that paired nicely with Louis Jadot Macon Villages White Burgundy.
Next up was a surprisingly refreshing cheese course sourced from Sweet Grass Dairy located in Thomasville, GA. You probably won’t serve up cheese turned into foam topped with smoked almonds, citrus oil, candied beets, and micro arugula with a glass of Francis Coppola Sofia Rosé in your home kitchen.
Keeping with his focus of local ingredients, every month Chef Walker visits a variety of farmers markets throughout the area and picks out the ingredients that inspire him to create seasonal menus. He scours Georgia farms and Atlanta-based international markets to find specialty ingredients. It’s great to see a chef so dedicated to supporting the Georgia food industry.
Fourth course was homemade pappardelle pasta with Chef Walker’s unique creation: lamb bacon. Though a bit too salty for me, the lamb bacon imparted a gamey flavor along with the smokiness of bacon (smoked on site), which paired nicely with the egg based pappardelle. The dish was topped with pork cheek, a quail egg, and Parmesan and served with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. It reminded me of the fading colder nights and the end of winter.
Chef Walker’s pastry chef, Chef Nicholas Long, created the last course, which was a take on a French classic—the millefeuille, a pastry made up of three alternating layers of flaky puff pastry and two layers of pastry cream. Chef Long’s creation had lavender cream and fresh raspberries between the layers of puff pastry along with a spun sugar shell on top and a crystallized pansy from their backyard garden. The presentation was absolutely beautiful and it tasted as delicious as it looked, especially next to a glass of Valckenberg Beerenauselese port. The cream was light and complemented the buttery puff pastry and tart raspberries. While studying in Paris I had my fair share of millefeuille—I was a bit addicted—and Chef Long’s version was as tasty as the millefeuilles in the French patisseries!
~ By guest blogger and Go Eat Give intern, Kate Keator.