From left, Eddie Mannis, Chef Matt Gallaher and Caroline Farris. When you see these three, you are in for a good time! Read on!
I am as guilty as anyone of not redeeming auction items for which I have paid dearly at many a charity event. So, determined to remedy that situation, I recently visited my “prize drawer” where I keep the certificates for these items. Many were expired.
But I swallowed my pride and called nearly every donor who had provided them to the charity and guess what — each one said he or she would honor the gift even though they had long passed their expiration date. (There was one exception. I just couldn’t make myself call one donor whose gift had expired in 2010!)
Boy am I glad I did that — if only to redeem this stunningly delicious and interesting dinner experience. The certificate did not say at what charity I purchased this. But here’s the important thing. It was a dinner cooked by Chef Matt Gallaher and served at the elegant Kingston Pike home of my friend Eddie Mannis. I am not sure what I paid for this. But I am sure I got my money’s worth!
What a gorgeous table Eddie sets!
Eddie knows how to make folks feel welcome!
When we arrived, Chef Gallaher already was at work in Eddie’s well-appointed kitchen.
Guests Jacque Hawks, left, and Betsy Child pre-dinner.
Jon Roach, left, and Cliff Hawks.
Mintha Roach actually played a few bars on the piano! She is a woman of many talents!
We had not even finished our glass of champagne when we were summoned to the table.
The first course was my favorite. I could have eaten this and nothing else the entire evening! It’s jumbo lump crab with sauce gribiche, caviar, crispy potatoes and chives. OMG.
So, what is sauce gribiche, other than the best damn thing you ever tasted? It is a French mayonnaise-style cold sauce made by emulsifying hard-boiled egg yolks and mustard with a neutral oil like canola. Brilliant with the crab and caviar.
This wonderful morsel was paired with Prosecco. In this case a 2015 Glera Frizzante from Treviso, Italy.
Matt Gallaher is the chef owner of two of Knoxville’s best restaurants: Knox Mason on Gay Street, which focuses on “new” Southern food, and Emilia on Market Square, an Italian eatery.
He has worked at Blackberry Farm and in Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s residence. And, when he was with a catering company called Dega, for four years he provided victuals for touring bands, including Tim McGraw, Neil Young and the Eagles. He’s cooked in 14 countries!
Next up was everyone else’s favorite course: foie gras pate with chestnuts, small greens, Vadouvan curry and Asian pear mascerated in Sauternes.
And it was paired with a Sauternes, which Chef Gallaher described as a “classic” match. Sauternes is a very sweet wine often served with desserts. But, in this case, its sweetness cut through the richness of the foie gras.
Here’s what Caroline did all night! She opened a lot of wine!
Caroline is one of the managers at Emilia. She’s also a talented jewelry maker. And, lucky for us, she knows a lot about wine!
This dish was outside my comfort zone, but I had vowed at the beginning to try everything. Ahi tuna sashimi with wasabi panna cotta, tempura fried nori, Ohara Hisakichi Shouten soy sauce and seaweed salt.
Chef Gallaher said we should regard soy sauce much like wine — there are many different kinds with a wide range of flavors. He raved about this one. I liked everything about this dish — except the raw tuna.
A crisp 2015 Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer from Elgin Valley, South Africa, was an excellent foil for the salty, complex tuna dish.
Slow cooked salmon with grilled chicories, parmesan pan gratto, oil cured olives and anchovy dressing. Yum.
This rich fish was strong enough to stand up to a red wine like this 2010 Scala Briseo Calabria Rosso from Italy.
Caroline kept filling our water glasses as well as our wine glasses. “Stay hydrated!” Eddie urged.
It was impossible to even contemplate eating this course because I was so full. I did taste it and it was very flavorful. Cast iron seared lamb loin chop with chickpea polenta, beets, salsa verde and Marcona almonds with pimenton. Pimenton is a kind of paprika.
This course took a bold 2014 Hazana Vinas Viejas Rioja from Spain to stand up to it.
Finally, what my husband had been waiting for! Dark chocolate torta with chocolate-hazelnut crunch, cocoa whipped cream and Luxardo cherries. (Warning: Once you eat these Luxardo cherries, you will never go back to regular maraschinos. They are available at Downtown Wine & Spirits.)
You see the plate the dessert was served on? It’s from Maryville’s McQueen Pottery, which was named a runner-up in Garden & Gun magazine’s Made in the South Awards in the Dec.-Jan issue.
Pairing for dessert (as if we needed it!): Tenuta Pederzana Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, Italy. Perfect.
Cliff Hawks after dinner.
Paul Barber, left, and Alan Carmichael catching their breath after that fabulous repast.
Eddie and his friend, Josh Rogers, who was on hand to help out.
The gang. Back row, left to right: Mintha and Jon Roach, Betsy Child, me, Cliff Hawks, Eddie Mannis and Matt Gallaher. Front row, left to right: Paul Barber, Alan Carmichael and Jacque Hawks. (Photo by Caroline Farris)
So, here’s the lesson. Go find your unredeemed auction items and call the donors. Look what you might end up with!