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Getting a Life: Tupper Lake

Once I finished my book, I got a bit of my life back. So I decided to do a few things. Specifically: cook (non-Portuguese) meals, travel, and socialize. Three things that being chained to my desk like some medieval monk working on an illustrated manuscript has prevented me from doing.

To kick things off, I spent a weekend with my friend and proprietor of Well Dressed Food, David Tomberlin, in Tupper Lake, New York. Now, you have to understand, I’m geographically challenged (although I have a great sense of direction). I had no idea where Tupper Lake was, let alone all the rituals and localisms that go with lake living. For example, a lot of people don’t lives in houses, they live in camps. To me, a heck of a lot of them looked like houses, but they are, apparently, considered camps. And when I pointed out one particularly lovely camp, David said, “Nope. That’s a house.” So go figure.

Anyway, the weekend was truly hedonistic. All we–which included The One, David, his partner, Rusty, and extended family–did was eat, drink, and tool around on the lake. Having an unlimited supply of Well Dressed Food products on hand, David made sure that we were fed well and constantly. Two things I never mind. Breakfast for example was his oatmeal pancakes, which we all devoured so fast, I missed getting a second helping because I was edged out by Rusty’s dad. And with his being an ex-military man, I wasn’t about to wrestle him for that last pancake.

After that, things are a blur of calories, sauces, and wine. I remember a fantastic roasted-fingerling-potato hors d’oeuvre with a lemon aioli dipping sauce, which was a prelude to a decadent lobster pot pie. The dessert was chocolate sorbet. The night to beat all nights, though, was when we seared slabs of Husdon Valley foie gras and drizzled them with a rosemary-Riesling jam reduction. Then there was a black-peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin, cooked rare for half of us, and beyond the point of dead for, shall I say, the more mature half of the group? On the side was horseradish mashed potatoes and roasted tomatoes and asparagus. Dessert? Chocolate “moose” fondue, which by that time of the evening we all were so giddy from champagne and wine, most of us were losing the chunks of fruit and pound cake in the pot.

I left heavier and happier. Thank you, David. Your house, er, camp, is fantastic.

Roasted Fingerlings with Lemon-Garlic Aioli
Serves 6 to 8 as an hors d’oeuvre

convert Ingredients
For the aioli

1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the potatoes
4 garlic cloves, peeled, green germ removed
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon zest, to taste
Chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish

2 pounds fingerling potatoes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Make the aioli
1. In a small saucepan combine the 1 1/2 cup of oil and garlic cloves. Heat the mixture over medium heat just until garlic starts to sizzle, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool to room temperature.

2. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the egg yolks, garlic cloves (taken from the oil), vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and zest. Buzz until the mixture is smooth. While processor is running, pour the cooled olive oil very slowly through feed tube. (It is important that you don’t pour too quickly, the aioli could separate.) Process until the aioli has the consistency of mayonnaise. This can be made up to 6 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve. If you do refrigerate, bring to room temperature before serving. Garnish with the parsley.

Roast the potatoes
1. Heat oven to 500°F (250°C).

2. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then in quarters if large. Scatter them on a baking sheet, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, and season with the salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes until golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and cool.

3. To serve, scoop the potatoes into a serving dish and serve with the aioli.