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Homecoming Night at Grange

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cured sturgeon and sturgeon tartare

photo by Holly A. Heyser

Last night it was another city, another book dinner for Hunt, Gather, Cook. Only it wasn’t. This wasn’t just any city, it was Sacramento, my home. And the restaurant was Grange, as close to a home as I have in the world of professional cooking. Several weeks ago, I got early word that the reservation book was filling fast. By Monday it was closed: 100 bookings. A full house. No pressure, right?

What’s more was that there was a new chef in the kitchen. Chef Michael Tuohy has moved on to Napa, where he’s the head chef for the Dean & DeLuca there. In his stead stood Tuohy’s sous chef, Brad Cecchi. This would be something of a coming out party for Chef Cecchi, and he could have easily folded.

But he didn’t. His menu was a perfect amalgam of my style of cooking with his own, here a classic Cecchi touch, there a near-perfect mimic of my own food. It was a joy to see.

FIRST

Smoked Cured Sturgeon & Sturgeon Tartare
nasturtium buds / fennel / preserved lemon vinaigrette

NEXT

Crispy Boar Shoulder
foraged green salad / saskatoon berries / pakistani mulberries / mulberry coulis

MAIN

Devil’s Gulch Rabbit Roulade
shasta porcini / horseradish leaf salsa / rabbit jus

AFTER

Wild Berry Pie
wildflower honey & rosemary ice cream

Diners began to filter in right a 5 p.m., and I spent the next four-plus hours greeting people, signing books, laughing with friends new and old, and generally trying my damnedest to make people happy. I especially need to thank the waitstaff at Grange for helping make sure I did not miss a single table of diners: Several times they let me know a table was nearing the end of their dinner, just in time for me to greet them.

It was close to 10 p.m. before I got a chance to actually eat Brad’s food. I’d heard nothing but good things all night, and as it turned out they weren’t just blowing sunshine up my ass. The sturgeon dish was a wonderful combination of textures and flavors, only the barest hints of smoke and bitterness (from the preserved lemon), all balanced by the rich meat of the sturgeon and the herby hit from fennel flowers. A great starter.

The only other dish I got a chance to eat — the others were sold out — was the rabbit, and it too was a great dish. I loved the gentle horseradish hit of the salsa, something I’d never seen before. It was an excellent foil for the rich jus and mild rabbit.

Enough talk. Holly spent most of the night taking photos, and she put together an awesome slideshow. Click to see for yourself how the dinner went.

5 responses to “Homecoming Night at Grange”

  1. Drew

    Sounds like a totally amazing dinner. Will you be having an event in Boston?

    Thanks

    Drew

  2. Susan in the Boonies

    The last time I was in San Francisco, one of my favorite meals was the tuna tartare at a brewhouse, near the Cliff House. Now what was the name? Beach Chalet brewery? Anyway, it was so simply served, but the fish was so fresh and so tasty! Had never had it before, but love it now!!!

  3. Dawn (KitchenTravels)

    Wish I could have been there. Holly’s photos and your descriptions are making my mouth water. Great to see the book tour going so well!

  4. Carolyn Warfield

    Glad to hear that it went so well. Wasn’t in my budget for this month, but I have been loving the book. We’re very happy to have you in Sacramento, Hank!

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