MILLBROOK, NY-Wow, talk about timing. It’s a good thing our 2nd Annual Duck Shoot and Lunch was last weekend and not this slushy old messy one. And what a beautiful weekend it was. Spending time with friends; stomping around the countryside in all its autumn glory; shooting some ducks (which become food); and eating and drinking entirely too much.
After the Saturday shoot, held at the Tamarack Preserve, Tom and I hosted a lunch on the property, deep in the woods by a pond, on the porch of a little cabin there.
With such a scenic setting, and on a cerulean blue sky day, you don’t need a lot of embellishment. I did spring for dark, olive-y green napkins from Crate & Barrel. At $3.50 apiece it seemed a good little color bang for the buck.
With the addition of Felicity Banford’s seasonal arrangements and my little painted menus and place cards, the table dressed up just fine.
I’d done the menus last year and people seem to like them, so I did them again this year. Sure to become collector’s items, no? … No, of course not. But they are a nice touch, and people like to think you made a fuss for them, but not too much of one – particularly in a rustic, outdoor room.
Sunday lunch was at our stylish hosts’ equally stylish country house. Nina Griscom and Leonel Piriano are the consummate, gracious entertainers, and she’s got more style in her little finger than I have in both arms and legs. (BTW, watch for her One King’s Lane sale coming up in November!)
Star local chef Michel Jean, who with wife Patricia founded the acclaimed Hudson Valley restaurant Stissing House, roasted a baby pig that was absolutely delicious. Not something I will try at home, by the way, but that makes it all the more special.
First course was a kale salad spruced up with pine nuts, dried cranberries, shaved parmesan and a lemony vinaigrette. Kale is such a beautiful deep green color and soooo healthy. It was steamed for just a minute before hand, to bring out the color but keep its satisfying crunch. The sweetness of the berries and nuts were a perfect counterpoint, and the cheese added creaminess. so simple, and divine. The pork was served with its cracklings – the crispy skin and the best part! – along with a cheesy polenta and broccoli rabe.There was also a great green sauce,* made of herbs, mint, pinenuts, garlic, and olive oil, which I could eat by itself with a spoon – and did when no one was looking.
Dessert was a tarte tatin with a slug of creme fraiche. You could easily approximate this menu at home with a pork roast, or roasted pulled pork, and the broccoli rabe and polenta are easy enough. An apple pie – and you don’t need permission to buy a prepared one – with ice cream is always a hit.
*I’ve written to ask Michel for the sauce recipe. Will post as soon as it lands. You, your roast pork, chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, fingers – whatever you put it on – will thank me, and him, forEVER.