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Food For Thought

Good books, good friends, and comfort food. The perfect winter evening.

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Goose-feather snow falls dreamily, drifting against frosted windows. Throw another log on the fire, and invite your book club friends to a cozy discussion of something other than politics.

A little literary gossip has become a favorite pastime in the Wood River Valley—but without the deep comfort of good food, book club gatherings could seem a bit dry. While we love reading—and talking about what we’re reading—we seem to love food as much, or maybe even more. Combined, these passions create the recipe for a perfect winter evening.

Mediocrity is not in our nature here. Whatever we do, we do with great gusto; so the usual potluck fare just doesn’t cut it. But it can be daunting to try to create a wonderful, portable culinary contribution to a larger meal, especially if preparation time is limited at the end of a busy day, and the offering must look as good as it tastes when placed on a friend’s serving table.

We have the option, of course, of running by a restaurant and picking something up, but it is our good fortune to live in an area where the palate-tickling talents of chefs are matched by uncommon generosity. Local experts offered to tell us how to whip up divine noshes that are certain to elicit hearty oohs and ahhs. Here they share their ideas on concocting moveable—and immensely satisfying—book club feasts.

In the cozy, unassuming house in Ketchum where Highway 75 drops into Warm Springs Road, Globus greets the nose with enticing aromas: ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and a hint of chili. Few things comfort us like glorious noodles, and Globus is known for theirs, but there is more to the process of eating than simply tasting the food, according to Executive Chef Andreas Heaphy.

“I eat what makes me feel good, what gives me energy. Mine is a sort of holistically healthy approach to food: nourishing for my body, wonderful to taste, and soothing for my soul.

“Working with food relaxes me,” Heaphy explains. “It grounds me in a way nothing else does.” And while he was well trained through Portland, Oregon’s Western Culinary Institute, and had that training deepened through an impressive stint at Manhattan’s famed Bouley restaurant, Heaphy truly appreciates his work at Globus.

For this chef, the enjoyment of food is strongly centered in memories: “One of my favorite food experiences was a dish called ‘festival fish’ that I had in Palau, Micronesia. It was really fantastic, served on bamboo platters and involving almost everyone in the family who owned the little restaurant there. The experience was so great that my wife and I try to re-create it with friends at our house at least once a year.”

Understanding the undeniably sentimental draw of food-based experiences, Heaphy enjoys offering a “little escape” at Globus. “If someone has just come back from, say, Singapore, and is craving something they had there, I’ll try to re-create it for them. I love the challenge.”

The idea of creativity in comfort food brought Heaphy to ponder an Asian twist on a potluck dish. He delights in the vision of arriving at a winter book club meeting carrying steaming-hot clay pots filled with savory lamb and vegetables, infused with the rich flavors of garlic, hoisin, sherry, and shitakes. Taking sustenance from these rustic clay pots would warm any winter evening, and knock the edge off any lingering stresses of the day.

Chinese Five-Spice Lamb in Clay Pots

Serves four.

28 oz. boneless leg of lamb
4 T. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground Szechwan peppercorns
1/2 c. peanut oil
1 1/2 T. minced garlic
1 1/2 T. minced ginger
2 c. leeks, white parts only
2 c. shitake mushrooms, julienne
2 ea. dried Japone chili, crushed
1 T. Chinese black bean paste
1 c. carrots, cut in 1” dice
1 1/2 c. celery, cut in 1” dice
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice blend
1 T. mushroom soy sauce
3 c. beef stock
1 c. sherry
3/4 c. hoisin sauce
1/2 c. oyster sauce
4 oz. oyster sauce

Preheat oven to 300 F. Trim and cut lamb into 1-1/2” cubes. Dust cubes with mixture of flour and ground peppercorns. Heat a large stockpot on the stovetop, and add peanut oil. When the oil is very hot and shimmering, add the lamb. Sear on all sides until nicely browned. Then add the garlic, ginger, leeks, mushrooms, crushed chili, bean paste, carrots, celery, and five-spice blend. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until very fragrant (about 5 minutes). Add soy sauce, beef stock, sherry, hoisin and oyster sauce, bringing mixture to a boil. Transfer the stew mixture into four separate Chinese clay pots, cover, and place on middle oven rack. Cook until lamb is very tender, about 90 minutes. Serve with jasmine rice and steamed baby bok choy, if desired. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. >>>

 

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