Downtown Auburn Family Supper

On a warm spring evening residents of Auburn and Opelika gathered in downtown Auburn for the first ever Downtown Family Supper. We had previously attended a similar event in downtown Dothan a few years back, and I was really excited to see the idea brought to the “Loveliest Village on the Plains”. Tichenor Avenue, between College Street and Gay Street in downtown, was blocked off for the evening for this special event. Farm tables and sparkly lights were lined down the center of the street for the most picturesque scene. The dinner was served “family style” which is comprised of large portions passed and shared among the tables. The weather couldn’t have been better, and the night was overall blissful.

Six of downtown Auburn’s chefs came together to create the food offerings.  The dream team was comprised of  (in no particular order) David Bancroft & Caleb Fischer of Acre, Leonardo Maurelli and of Ariccia Trattoria, Scott Simpson of The Depot, Robbie Nicolaisen of The Hound, Miguel Figueroa of Amsterdam Cafe, and Patrick Gallagher of Hamilton’s on Magnolia. They all donated their talents & time for the evening, along with much of their restaurant staff also volunteering their time to help with the serving of the food and wine. All the proceeds from the supper will benefit the non-profit organizations, Downtown Merchants Association and Nourish Alabama. Nourish, AL was created through a partnership between Hornsby Farms and Pediatric Associates of Auburn with a mission of providing food insecure families in Lee County and the surrounding community with healthy nutritious foods and the tools to prepare them. This dinner with out a doubt embodied, in so many ways, the great community we are so fortunate to live in.

Each attendee enjoyed a five course meal, wine, and entertainment by Martha’s Trouble. The wines for the evening were Hahn Pinot Noir and Flint & Steel Sauvignon Blanc. Both wines paired really well with all the dishes served. The Sauvignon Blanc was especially nice with the Togarashi tuna poke prepared by Scott Simpson of The Depot and the bright beet salad prepared by David Bancroft of Acre. The Hahn Pinot Noir was particularly good with the incredible, fall-apart Heritage Farm pork ribs with the watermelon molasses prepared by Chef Robbie Nicolaisen.

Every dish that was served was incredibly delicious and every bite was thoroughly enjoyed. All efforts that went into making this inaugural event special were above and beyond. Although Auburn is changing in many ways, the core of who we are as an Auburn family is strong and unwavering. Proud to be a part of this place we love calling home.

The tablescape for the evening.

Chef David Bancroft adding the secret sauce to his brussel sprout salad.

What an appetizing menu!?!

Amazing collaborative effort! Go team!

Chef Scott Simpon’s Tuna Togarashi Tuna Poke.

Chef Scott Simpson of The Depot on Mitcham Avenue downtown Auburn.

Chef Bancroft’s golden beet salad, sultanas, fried peanuts, and mint.

Chef Bancroft’s shaved brussels sprouts, peach vinaigrette, smoked bacon and blue cheese.

Chef Miguel Figueroa’s chicken chicharrones with a garlic mayo ketchup.

Chef Robbie Nicolaisen’s roasted carrots, pepper jelly, burrata, and pistachio dukkah.

Chef Patrick Gallagher’s signature macaroni and cheese.

Chef Leo Maurelli’s extruded pasta primavera, local veggies, arugula, and pecan pesto.

Chef Figueoa’s pineapple upside down spiced rum cake with piña colada buttercream.

 

Wine selections for the evening, Hahn Pinot Noir and Flint & Steel Sauvignon Blanc.

SpringHouse Sunsets

We had the most perfect evening the other night at SpringHouse on Lake Martin. During the last wine dinner we attended at Café 123 in Opelika, we discussed with some friends about taking advantage of the Wednesday and Thursday night special that SpringHouse offers. You can order an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $40 per person.

I have written about SpringHouse before and probably will do so many more times. It is one of our favorite places to dine. In the summers when we have to chance to spend time on the lake, not only do we enjoy dinners here, but we really love to have brunch there on Saturday or Sunday mornings too. You can even arrive on your boat if you want. The restaurant is not water side, but they have a golf cart service during the summer that will transport you to the restaurant. Riding through the property is beautiful. You get to take in the rolling hills, the stables, the beautiful horses, and the other wildlife that this property offers.

We arrived at 6:30 in the evening so that we would have time for a cocktail and a gorgeous SpringHouse sunset. We ordered our cocktails at the upstairs bar. I always like to try something new off their specialty cocktail menu. Tonight I tried the Tee Time cocktail, which consisted of Bombay dry gin, a yummy mint, cucumber puree, salt and lime. It was bright and refreshing. After getting our cocktails we made our way outside to see the sunset. Off the back of the restaurant are rolling hills that eventually make their way down to the lake. I have witnessed numerous breathtaking sunsets here. It is an incredible way to start your evening. The upper patio was closed this particular evening, so we were welcomed to go out back to the little garden off of the well house.

As soon as you walk out onto the garden, you are immediately greeted with nature’s beauty. The mini garden itself is so picturesque. I have had friends that have gotten married in this little spot and have had their dinners in the well house afterwards. My husband celebrated his bachelor weekend here with a group of his guy friends in the well house. It is a perfect place for celebrations. Not only are you provided with a beautiful back drop, but you also have incredible food and libations. What else do you need?

We timed everything perfect. We were able to finish our cocktails and take some beautiful photos of the sunset. After the sun had dropped out of sight, we made our way back up stairs to begin dinner. The dining room of SpringHouse is large and open. The open kitchen, and stately fireplace are definitely focal points of the restaurant. We were seated in the front of the restaurant near the wall of windows.

The kitchen sent out one of my favorite small bites, the pimento cheese stuff peppadew peppers. I had never had a peppadew before having them the first time at a wine dinner months back at SpringHouse. It was love at first bite. They are briny and sweet, and with the creamy pimento cheese stuffed inside, they are divine. They also sent out the wood oven roasted beef marrow with short rib marmalade, celery salad, and grilled ciabatta. Everyone loved the marrow and short rib marmalade, but I just could not get enough of the celery salad. It was crispy, and had the best flavors. Celery salad is not something you typically see on a menu, and I was delightfully pleased with how delicious it was. We also ordered the deviled eggs and shared as a table. Rob’s deviled eggs are delicious! I do not normally like anyone’s deviled eggs besides my own, but his have this creamy, whip to them that I adore.

For our entrees, I ordered the duck dish and my husband ordered the pork chops. We like to order different dishes and then share. The Jurgielewics Farm Duck was served on top of a spring vidalia onion romesco that was superb, along with roasted beets that had been preserved in an orange vinaigrette. The duck was tasty, tender, and delicious, although I must say I would have thoroughly enjoyed this dish minus the duck. The spring vidalia romesco puree was so tasteful and bright, and the beets were tender and slightly sweet. Marvelous! My husband ordered the Hickory Grilled Bone In Pork Chops served with green rice and a sweet onion gravy. This is a dish we have shared before, and it is delicious. The bone in pork is full of flavor that the wood fired grill enhances with a touch of smoke. This is one of those dishes that reminds you of something your mom would make. We shared a bottle of the 2016 Raeburn Pinot Noir. It had lush notes of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and a touch of spice that all paired wonderfully with my duck and his pork.

I was beyond full at this point, but we still had desserts to order as part of our dinner deal. Can you ever really say no to dessert? I had a little bit of the pinot left and craved something chocolate. I just ordered a scoop of the chocolate ice cream, which was plenty enough for my full stomach. My husband tried the strawberry shortcake, and another guest had the buttermilk panna cotta.

Everything was delicious, as anticipated. We were planning our next visit before we left the table. Definitely give SpringHouse a try if you are truly wanting an all around memorable dining experience.

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Tee Time cocktail

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Sunset off the back of the well house.

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Wood Oven Roasted Beef Marrow w/ short rib marmalade, celery salad, grilled ciabatta

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Jurgielewics Farm Duck spring vidalia onion romesco, roasted beets, preserved orange vinaigrette.

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Hickory Grilled Bone In Pork Chops w/ green rice and sweet onion gravy.

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Pan Seared American Red Snapper w/ charred broccoli, cauliflower, garlic breadcrumbs, pecan vinaigrette.

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Strawberry Shortcake

French Wine Dinner

Last night was a wonderful start to Valentines week at the French Wine Dinner at The Depot (https://www.allaboardauburn.com/) in Auburn, Alabama.

One of my favorite things about this restaurant is that the building has an incredible amount of historic charm. Located in the heart of downtown Auburn, bordering the railroad tracks, the original train depot was built in 1847. The current owners renovated the entire building a few years back, and the results are amazing. I love all the decorative details; from the massively impressive chandelier in the main dining room, to the smaller details like the host stand being made entirely of suitcases stacked on top of one another.

We started our night off in the bar having cocktails. I started with the ‘Parasol’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anything with St. Germain and Veuve and I’m sold!

As the building started to fill up, we grabbed a table with friends in the main dining room. We were served hors d’oeuvres, which consisted of a yummy vegetarian French onion soup, and something new for me, escargot. I really enjoyed the first wine paring, a Jacques Pelvas Brut Rosé. I love most rosés, and this did not disappoint. This wine was also paired with the first course, a salmon tartar, which was also a new food experience for me. The wine pairing was perfection, and the traditional food preparations were a nice balance to start out the dinner.

The second course was a Barramundi Meuniére. Executive Chef Scott Simpson described this as a fish from the Red Sea that was cooked in a simple traditional French method that consists of a simple sauce with lemon, butter, and parsley. I do not eat a lot of seafood. I was delighted to try another new type of fish, and I really enjoyed the Barramundi. The wine pairing for this course was a 2015 Henry Natter, Sancerre. This was my absolute favorite wine of the night. They could have left the bottle at the table! It was a crisp, light and overall delightful wine. It paired wonderfully with the Barramundi.

For the third and fourth course we moved into the red wines. The third course was a veal and mushroom ragout paired with a 2015 Louis Latour, Santeney Cote de Beaune. The fourth course was a Boeuf a la Bourguignonne, which was prime beef and smoked bacon that had been simmered in the red wine. This was served with a brie and truffle Duchesse potatoes. I think our whole table agreed that we all could have eaten our  weight in the potatoes. The sauce on the prime beef had a delicious smokey, tanginess to it, which I thought paired wonderfully with the 2015 Chateau La Case Bellevue St. Emilion.

The final course, and what was the most memorable course to me, was yet another new experience, Floating Egg White Islands on Vanilla Creme or “Oeufs a la Neige”. I was very apprehensive about eggs and the crumbles of blue cheese, but it was pure deliciousness and genius. It did not have any semblance of egg to me, and the blue cheese was fit nicely into the palate of the dish. It was more like a fluffy cloud confection. This was paired with a slightly sweeter Sauternes, a 2013 Chateau Lions De Suduiraut. For me, a Sauternes is not a wine that I would drink on a regular basis, but it’s purpose here as a dessert wine worked marvelously.

The French Wine Dinner was a great way to start Valentine’s week. The combined efforts of the chef, sommelier, and service staff made the evening a delightful experience. I appreciated the chef’s traditional approach on all the dishes, and I was delighted to experience so many new cuisines. We cannot wait for another opportunity to dine at The Depot.