Under the cover of a pavilion in Jupiter’s beautiful Carlin Park we joined the cast of Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of “Coriolanus” for a preshow tasting.
Shakespeare was obviously a good eater since so many of his plays are full of food and drink references. Coreen and LeBeau did a fantastic job of wading through all the possibilities to create a fun and light menu for a warm, breezy, Florida summer, afternoon picnic.
Forsooth, let us move to the banquet and quench our curious minds and stomachs with all that delicious menu!
Coreen’s Aunt Buttons made a classic picnic dish, devilled eggs and Coreen added a splash of siracha for a special spicy kick. This was a stand alone appetizer that several enjoyed an icy beer with.
Jim Brogan said, “Hail to thee cooking woman! I must needs know the preparation of these vittles. I am bedeviled by the deliciousness of thee eggs.” (translation: These are the best eggs I have ever had. Can I get the recipe?)
The second course was inspired by a quote from Twelfth Night: “I warrant there’s vinegar and pepper in’t.”
That could mean anything right? Coreen took it to a really crazy and interesting place with a citrus peel tart. She mairnated orange peels in vinegar, pepper, sugar and maybe a splash of juice then spooned the mixture into those cute little phylo tart shells. I tried one and thought, “Hmmm, I am not sure about this. I get the pepper, not much vinegar and they’re bitter.” Coreen said, “Wait until you get the wine and then try it again.” LeBeau poured us each a lovely moscato from Seven Daughters Winery. It is made in an Moscato d’asti style with a light fizz which gives a crispness to the moscato grapes. I took another tart and then a drink of the wine and “Oh Romeo, Oh Romeo!” It was magic, like the light on Juliet’s cheek. The bitter little tart became candy in my mouth. Sweet, succulent and full of orange. I must have eaten a half dozen of them with the wine. When the next course was announced I mourned, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
The third course got it’s inpiration from Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry IV. I liked the straightforwardness of R & J": “They call for dates and quinces in the pastry.” Coreen made a brie stuffed with dates and carmelized onions and served it alongside a crusty baguette. I loved the mix of sweet and savory, creamy brie and crunchy bread. LeBeau poured a pinot blanc from the Alsace Region of France. I love this quote from wine-searcher.com, “Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco in Italy, Weissburgunder in Germany) is a white grape used in the production of still and sparkling wines around the world. The variety is a mutation of Pinot Gris which is a mutation of Pinot Noir – in other words it is part an ancient, genetically unstable, family of Pinot grapes.” These bottles came from Trimbach Vineyards. I found this strange bastard of the Pinot Noir grape to be lightly fragrant with peaches, the flavor was refreshing, with a touch of oak. Paired with the brie everything smoothed out got creamy and luscious. Oh so delicious! Merrily we noshed and quenchethed our thirsts.
While we waited on the star of the day, the fourth course, Lebeau talked about how technology has changed they way we preserve wine. Before refrigeration the large vineyards built caves or cellars to keep the fermenting juice and aging wine at a consistently cool temperature, around 50-60 degrees. This was considered room temperature and it shouldn’t be confused with the temperature of a Florida home in August without air-conditioning. Properly refrigerated wines can last a very long time. He gave the example of a 200 year old shipwreck discovered off the coast of Finland in 2010. It was VERY cold water. The divers found over 160 bottles of champagne. Some of the bottles of Veuve Clicquot and Juglar were still in tact. The Cultural Authorities and a small group of journalists were allowed to taste 2 of the intact bottles. They were perfect! In the words of the Bard, “Things done well and with a care, exempt themselves from fear.”
And then came the bird. The Shakespearean inspiration came from Henry IV, “ A' shall answer it. Some pigeons, Davy, a couple of short-legged hens, a joint of mutton, and any pretty little tiny kickshaws, tell William cook.” The cornish game hen was roasted earlier in a honeyed cardamom glaze and served at room temperature alongside a bed of citrus rice. It was paired with a jammy Garnacha from Volteo Winery in Spain. The tart cherry and pepper notes in this medium bodied wine enhanced the cardamom flavor in the chicken which was still juicy and tender. A renaissance Colonel Sanders would have said, “Hark, mine digits are licked clean by a greedy tongue.”
Finally, as with all Gulp Pairings, Coreen is no fool and saves the sweetest of dishes for the last. Inspired by Twelfth Night, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Dessert was a a cool, creamy chocolate berry fool. A fruit fool is a dessert that goes back to Shakespeare’s time. It is made by folding in mashed fruit, typically stewed, into a custard. Coreen updated this recipe by folding the berries into a luscious chcocolate whipped cream and topped with a Nilla Wafers crumble. LeBeau added the perfect accent with a little pour of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur. With a sigh of pleasure I exclaimed, “Now is the summer of my stomach’s content! Those were some fine victuals!”
As the day came to an end some strolled the beach, others prepared for their parts in Coriolanus and some headed home with happy full bellies. As I waved goodbye for another month Shakespeare came to mind one more time, “Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.” See you in August!