Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Food (almost) Friday: Glen Ellen Star

Glen Ellen Star, 13648 Arnold Drive Glen Ellen, CA 95442



For a moment, let's just pretend that this post isn't terribly tardy. Can't do it? Okay, well that's why you're getting a stack of Food Friday early... let's just call this one Tasty Tuesday? Alright, now that I'm done being a cheese-ball over here, get your napkins situated and your forks ready to dig in because this post is sure to make your tummies rumble.
Last month (yikes, I know, you guys) I had the absolute pleasure of dining with some lovely ladies at Glen Ellen Star in Glen Ellen of Sonoma Valley. For those of you who are just hearing the name Glen Ellen Star for the first time, the quick and dirty summary is that it's a cozy, neighborhood-friendly, rustic restaurant, known for its locally-sourced, fresh menu items. Executive Chef and Proprietor, Ari Weiswasser, who hails from Yountville's The French Laundry, was recently named Food & Wine's "People's Best New Chef: California," so as you can imagine, it was a special treat to taste his food. And what makes Chef Ari's food that good? Perhaps its his wood-fired oven techniques, or maybe it's that he takes the time to source his produce from the Benziger garden located just minutes away from his restaurant. Whatever the reason, after one bite of food, it's easy to taste the passion Chef Ari and his staff put into each dish.

pancakeSTACKER Blog x Glen Ellen Star

So, let's talk about what we ate, shall we? Before the starters even came out, we were treated to a few small bites. Now, if you've been following me for a while, you know that I love oysters. I typically don't like my oysters fried, because I'm just so used to eating them raw, but after trying Chef Ari's rendition, I've grown to like them that much more. What made the Point Reyes Fried Oysters stand out was the kimchi addition - a lovely little kick that blended into the fried oyster taste. Along with fried oysters, we also had Shishito Poppers and Chicharones.

pancakeSTACKER Blog x Glen Ellen Star

After the snacks, we dove right into the starters - Spring Pea Soup with Ricotta Gnudi and Kale Salad with spiced walnuts, fresh green strawberries and a spicy peanut dressing. While we're talking about things I'm usually not too fond of, let's just add kale to the list, okay? I'm serious as serious can be when I say that eating Glen Ellen's Kale salad had me changing my tune. I know a lot of people are on the "Kale Yeah!" train, but before this dinner, I was not one of them. Glen Ellen's kale was undeniably refreshing and the spicy peanut dressing made every forkful one to savor.

pancakeSTACKER Blog x Glen Ellen Star
pancakeSTACKER Blog x Glen Ellen Star
pancakeSTACKER Blog x Glen Ellen Star

As if the snacks and starters weren't enough, we then moved to the main course -- Sea Urchin Tostadas, Whole Roasted King Salmon and Roasted Lamb. Yes, all three of those bad boys. I kind of felt like it was my birthday because there's nothing I love more than lamb and salmon. My mom taught me how to bake salmon when I was 8 years old, and since then it's been my favorite thing to make (and eat) time and time again. Pretty sure that lamb chops were the second dish I mastered at the age of 9 (I can't make this stuff up, you guys), hence why it is my favorite meat dish to make. (Side note, I am terrible at steaks, so never ask me to make you one, and although chicken is pretty easy peasy to make, sadly, I'd say that I'm subpar at my chicken dishes at this point in my life.) Before I digress any further, let's get back to Chef Ari's main dishes and why it felt like I was taking part in my own personal birthday celebration... Aside from the fact that I could eat salmon and lamb pretty much all the time, the dishes were just plain delicious. Can you even imagine what my face looked like when an 8-lb. salmon came out of the wood-fire oven and onto our table? Like a kid in a candy shop. The salmon was served with fingerling potatoes and crispy spring onions, while the lamb was served with olives, artichokes and tomato ragu. But let us not forget about that sea urchin tostada! First, sea urchin is such a seasonal delicacy that I rarely get to enjoy it. It was definitely a treat (and a fun twist) to eat it on a tostada accompanied by avocado and jalapeƱo.

pancakeSTACKER Blog x Glen Ellen Star

pancakeSTACKER Blog x Glen Ellen Star

Now, you must think that by this point there is no way I could have eaten anymore, right? If you answered, "yes," you are a new reader because this Stacker is never stuffed. So, when warm Strawberry Cobbler and various mini cartons of ice cream made their way onto the table, my spoon was more than ready. After feasting on the fresh strawbs from the kale salad, I knew we were ending dinner on a sweet note. I can't even accurately describe the euphoria that my tastebuds felt when the first bite of warm cobbler hit my tongue - but I'm sure at this point you can imagine.
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