Last Thursday, 14 Feasters joined Caetie for her debut Feastly meal, a vegetarian celebration of spring. Guests arrived to bowls of fresh radishes and marinated olives, accompanied by hot-from-the-oven gougeres, small French savory cheese pastries. Caetie adapted a traditional gougeres recipe to include chevre and sauvignon blanc for this batch. While the cook finished up the main course dishes, the group relaxed in the living room enjoying the selection of wines they contributed to the meal.
After the guests squeezed around the cozy table, Caetie brought out the main dishes for the group to enjoy family-style. First was a vegetarian cassoulet, a traditional French bean casserole usually prepared with duck and pork fat that Caetie adapted to be vegetarian, with a tomato and vegetable stock base and plenty of fresh herbs to liven the flavors. Next was a warm wild mushroom, spinach and arugula salad garnished with toasted hazelnuts and parmesan cheese. The cook deglazed the mushrooms with a shallot and sherry vinaigrette that brought them a rich and smoky flavor. The final main course dish was a broccolini and Meyer lemon flatbread topped with fresh ricotta, parmesan, and Cabra La Mancha, a goat’s milk cheese from the nearby Firefly Farms, a local cheese producer from Maryland who retails at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market on Sundays.
Feasters took their time with the meal and enjoyed the easy flowing conversations and wine. Caetie came out part-way through to talk a bit about the food and her choices of ingredients (local and organic as much as possible) and recipes (she doesn’t really follow them, but turns to them for inspiration and ideas). After most of the food was gone and dishes were cleared, Caetie brought out the final course, a ginger citrus curd served in small shot glasses in which she dunked two brown butter shortbread cookies for each guest. After the cook expressed how enamored she was of using brown butter in baked goods, one of the Feasters explained to the group the Maillard Reaction responsible for giving brown butter its rich nutty flavor. Learning and deliciousness for all!
Two fulfilling hours later, Feasters made their way to the exit. A few stuck around to chat about the meal and help with the leftover cookies. We found out toward the end of the meal that there were only a few true vegetarians at the table, but all agreed that they enjoyed vegetarian dining and hoped there would be more of these to come from Feastly cooks. Caetie agreed, and shared with the group that she hopes to host a regular vegetarian meal in the future.