Spring morel dinner at Castagna

Ah, Castagna. Our preferred fancy date-night place. They had a special morel dinner last night (the last in a three-part series), and we had to partake. Usually our steak-frites-and-pear-martini place (well, Scott usually gets a Manhattan since he’s not a homosexual), it was kind of exciting to see it all dolled up like one of our favorite prix-fixe joints in town (also linked on my sidebar). The evening’s menu read short but sweet:

~Vol au vent with snow morels and English peas
~Coq au vin Jaune with morels
~Rhubarb crème brulée tart

The vols au vents were these little puff pastry cups stuffed with spring peas and morels floating dreamily in a chive crème fraîche. Rich yet ethereal, they made beautiful music together with a sprightly Mikaël Bouges La Pente de Chavigny Suavignon, Touraine 2006.

The coq au vin was an inventive take on the classic with tender thighs: the braising liquid was vin Jaune, a white wine similar to dry fino sherry from eastern France. (Note to Castagna chefs: I’m totally going to make this at home with rabbit and Gewürztraminer.) It was served with chewy little herbed spaetzle, browned toasty, and a platter of roasted asparagus. The grassy Rijckaert Vigne des Voises Chardonnay, Côtes du Jura 2005 pairing was à propos, considering this was the same wine used for the braising (I’m assuming.)

The photos I took of dessert were beyond salvation due to candlelight, dipping sun in an already-cloudy sky. “Why not flash?”, you ask?

This guy, is why not. I do not want to be him*.

*Let’s just say I was not the only food blogger there last night. I may have a mouth like a sailor, but fuck sake, I have a little decorum (seriously, could that lens be more phallic?). Jen, the chick in red (seated in the foreground on the left) is a sister of one of the chefs. Lucky girl. I have to do all the cooking in my family.

But you’re dying to see the tartlette, simply dying! Oh, alright, but the photo is dreadful. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Shrunk and ‘shopped all to fuck.

Very simple, yet delightful. The tartness (no pun intended) of the rhubarb cut through the rich custard with surgeon-like precision, and was gracefully rounded off with the whipped cream.

Again, what is it with Portland’s achingly attractive food service professionals? They all look like they’re models, or at least in a really cool band that you’ve never heard of. Even the dishwasher was el diablo hermoso. (Thanks, guys, for letting me get all up in your kool-aid during dinner.)

Shout-out goes to my buddy Jack who’s been a server at Castagna for what must be close to a decade by now. He’s a gentleman’s gentleman and it was a delight running into him (and his exceedingly beautiful girlfriend) off-duty. Jack, I love you in an apron, but it’s always a plezh seeing you in your civvies.

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