Monday, January 28, 2008

The Hidden Kitchen

The Hidden Kitchen
P.O. Hidden Kitchen Way
Sacramento, CA

What do three Yelpers, the Board President of Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, a Mr. Fiddyment ( and his wife and a couple who order their eggs from a secret vendor because they are just that good have in common?

We had dinner at the Hidden Kitchen a couple of weekends ago and I dare say a good time was had by all. More on that later.

Since this was a BYOB, I had to choose a lighter white wine to go with the menu items, I decided to buy a bottle of 2006 Frei Brothers Reserve Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. This was a total shot in the dark because I love big and bold red wines this bottle was quite the opposite, but I got lucky because it was pretty good. It can be described as, "This sauvignon is infused with sweet lime flavors, both of the zest and the pulp. It's clean and mouthwatering, with plenty of lift to match grilled mahi-mahi or other game fish." Link

As you can see from the picture below the theme of the night was Meyer Lemon. The Meyer lemon is native to China and thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange or sweet orange. This skin is a little thinner than regular lemon as well as a little sweeter with about the same amount of acidity.

The theme for the night

Tartare Duet House Cured Salmon with Honey Dijon Drizzle Ahi Tuna Tartare
This was the starter. Dennis (our chef and one of the hosts) cures his own salmon and made wasabi tobiko. Both the salmon and tuna were fresh and had good flavor, not overpowered by the other ingredients in the tartare. The tobiko provided just a touch of salt as well as just a tiny bit of heat from the wasabi. I have never seen that combination before; it is one that works well together and I would like to see it used more in restaurants.

Duck Confit and Baby Arugula in Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
The duck confit was done right, it was not too heavy. The arugula provides nice background of pepperiness and the orange segments provided the acid to cut some of the fat of the duck confit making the entire dish balanced.

Soupe de Moules au Safran – Billi Bi Soup
This is what I love about simple cooking; get some mussels, some white wine, a little saffron, butter, a little cream and this is what you get; a soup with layers of flavor. It is hard to describe, but I will give it a try. As soon as you taste a spoonful, you get a little bit of cream and butter, with a hint of aromatics, then the mussels, then back to the cream with some mussels. You get different combinations of flavor at any one time.

Pan Seared Bluenose Bass Roasted Lemon/Rosemary reduction Cauliflower Puree, Artichoke Hearts, Morel mushrooms.
The bass was cooked nicely and seasoned appropriately. The roasted lemon and rosemary reduction complemented the fish and did not overpower the bass. The cauliflower puree was light and the texture was very similar to mashed potatoes. The morel mushrooms provided a contrast to everything else on the plate as well as a bit of “meatiness”.

Meyer Lemon Souffle with Strawberry Jus
This was a nice way to end the meal. The soufflé was light and airy, but you could taste the Meyer lemon and well as get a bit of acid in the background. The strawberry was a nice addition to the soufflé, adding some color and sweetness.
Cantuccini: Classic Tuscan Biscotti
These classic Tuscan biscotti are very popular all over Italy.

What made the experience great was that there were people who shared the same passion and interest for good food and wine. What made it even better, some of the conversation turned to health care, the profession I am in, and I got to here about several patient experiences and I was even able to answer a few questions. In turn, I learned more about the Sacramento food co-op, how people make wine through their wine clubs, some history about Fiddyment farms and these eggs that are from a secret vendor.

Mary and Dennis were gracious hosts and it was nice to have them sit down and chat with at the end of the meal.

All in all, good food, great company and highly recommended.