With snow stacked up ankle high and a few degrees above zero outside, the grill was brushed pale orange like soft firelight inside. It just felt so good right away. We heard about the talented lady who has been cooking up a storm and winning hearts.
Chef Lesley Fay
(Who wouldn't want a dinner from this woman??)
Have you read any of John Nichols, "New Mexico Trilogy"? "Milagro Beanfield War"? "Nirvana Blues"? Fiendishly funny, his sardonic, often bitter, and always ardent love stories describe so well the human strata of Taos, a town he calls "Chamisaville". Those readers will have an idea of the company of diners we joined that night. Still the holidays, dignified representatives of the early Spanish who arrived around 1540 thinking they had found the fabled golden city of Cibola, sat together in families, some with mannerly young children, all clothed in Wallmart's finest. Next, a table with three sipping red wine that you sensed was knowledgeably selected. The same goes for their clothing and hair that had just that esoteric vibe only artists seem to effect. They were joined later by a Native that we recognized from the Pueblo Drum shop. Stunningly handsome, dark with black black eyes, he could never arrive unnoticed. Then, dotted around, we found tables of tourists and skiers who could be from anywhere on the planet bringing their colors of the world of Benetton cool. Finally we think we saw a bunch from Fort Worth with three men and two women who kept passing a Chiwawa with a fur hooded pink leather jacket around under the table?
Without reservations, we sat at the bar and had a great overhead eye view of all the plates that rolled out. We selected some wine by an old friend, St. Jean (pronounced American style just like the woman), the often winning Fume Blanc and settled in to order with the help of our hospitable tender.
Grilled Salmon with pistachio parsley pesto, mashed sweet potatoes,
coriander lime butter and green chili corn salsa was a winner.
with recipe just for you from the Chef!
Gnocchi in a Wild Mushroom, Fig & Smoked Bacon Demi
topped with Grilled Duck Breast & Gorgonzola Crumbles
By Chef Lesley Fay
The gnocchi was a traditional potato gnocchi
Per serving is 6 ounces gnocchi uncooked
Cook gnocchi to al dente & set aside. DO NOT RINSE
Have 1/3 cup gorgonzola crumbled at room temperature.
Muscovy Duck breast, 6 ounce, 2 each
Season duck breast with salt, pepper & a pinch of nutmeg
2 Tablespoons bacon fat (if you do not want to use duck fat, substitute a vegetable oil)
Score the duck breast fat into 1/2 inch diamonds.
Have ready a cast iron skillet large enough to cook the 2 breasts.
Turn on high and add fat or oil.
I chose bacon fat for cooking duck breast but your oil of choice will work
When fat is very hot, nearly smoking, put duck breast fat side down in skillet. If you like your duck over medium, put another smaller skillet
on top to weigh down the duck breasts, if medium rare and under, it does not need weight. Do NOT put a lid on skillet. You want the duck breast crispy not steamed.
When the fat side is golden brown and crispy (about 5 minutes), turn the duck breast over and finish on flesh side about 4 minutes. 125 is rare and 130 medium rare but it is best by touch. If you are not sure of touch, use a thermometor. Remember that meat continues to cook and it should rest 5 minutes so pull the meat from pan when it is rarer than desired. Set aside to rest.
Sauce: Fig, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Shallots, Port, Duck Demi & Fresh Thyme
Mission figs dried & sliced 1/4 cup
Shallots, peeled & minced 2 each
Applewood smoked bacon diced, 8 pieces
Butter 2 tablespoons (if needed)
Assorted wild mushrooms sliced, approx 1 cup fresh
Duck or chicken Demi Glaze 1 cup or 2 cups of broth reduced to 1/2 cup
Port wine, 1/4 cup
fresh thyme leaves, finely minced, 1/2 teaspoon.
Have all ingredients prepped and ready to go. Take a large saute pan, add chopped bacon and cook until cooked but not crispy. Add shallots and saute until clear and soft.
Remove bacon and shallots from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Make sure bacon fat is hot and if necessary add more bacon fat or butter.
Once pan is very hot, add mushrooms,do not stir until they start turning a golden brown and then turn gently. Mushrooms should have plenty of room to cook in a way
that is nearly fried. Once they look dark golden brown, add port and deglaze pan. Add back into pan, shallot bacon mixture and then demi and thyme.
Bring to a boil and let boil for 1 minute.
Taste sauce to test for salt or pepper and add if necessary. Set aside
Putting dish together
Bring sauce to a boil. Add gnocchi and continue to cook just until gnocchi is hot.
Have 4 hot bowls ready. Portion gnocchi and sauce into 4 bowls.
Slice duck on the bias and put 1/2 duck breast on top of each gnocchi.
Top dish with crumbled gorgonzola.
Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.
And the smooth & silky spirited finale!
Margarita Key Lime Pie, Chef Fay's signature dessert, with
Tequila lime sauce, whipped cream & pistachios
In its first year, Graham's Grille collected the coveted Best of Taos Award,
and the honor has been repeated for three consecutive years.
Read all about these creative culinary stars, Lesley & Peter Fay
Graham's Grill Website Here...
Satisfied and dreamy we stepped out into the frigid snow laden roadway. Looking up at a ton of silver twinkles in a darkest navy Taos sky, we thought about the rarity of this tiny outpost of dazzling beauty.
The next day we did rest up for the Taos Inn's New Year's Eve
festivities that never fail to "bring it".
"Foodie Cruz to Taos...Pt 3" coming soon!