I was going to write a proper review of my visit to Eigensinn Farm but as soon as I started writing, an objective review just didn't seem right. From the two hour drive to Singhampton to casually chatting with chef Michael Stadtlander and his wife Nobuyo in his electically designed kitchen at the end of the evening, this whole experience felt more like a pilgrimage to reconnect with the land than just a dinner.
The Stadtlanders' philosophy of living harmoniously with nature is reflected in everything from their farm's decor (the dining room is illuminated with only one lamp, countless flickering candles, and a crackling wood fireplace) to sourcing ingredients produced at their farm or locally. Nobuyo even told us that they're considering switching to wind-power electricity as a renewable source of energy at the farm. This environmental awareness is more often associated with the granola-munching set. To realize that under skillful preparation, great cooking and delicious food still reign supreme, this is a truly enlightening experience for me.
Amuse Gueule (6 distinct one-bite tasters served on a horseshoe shaped plate)
- raw oyster from British Columbia: this was so sweet and briny that I abandoned my prejudice against raw oysters and truly enjoyed the taste of the ocean.
- pickerel dumpling served in a sauce of reduced fish stock, wine, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar: our whole table unanimously agreed that the sauce was a thing of beauty. It was simple yet so flavourful.
- crab salad with julienned daikon, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and shallots garnished with Okinawan sea grapes (umibudou): I thought the crab salad paled in comparison to the sea grapes that Nobuyo brought back from her recent trip home to Okinawa. It tasted very similar to tobiko both in taste and texture but the flavour is cleaner.
- head cheese with pickled string beans and beets: A little tart flavour that was a notch above the crab salad. It offered an appropriate transition to move from the briny ocean flavour to the earthy smokiness of the ham.
- house-smoked ham on sourdough crostini
- a shooter of PEI mussel soup: sweet yet it didn't quite measure up to the sauce in the pickerel dumpling.
Jerusalem Artichoke and Lobster Soup with Hot Smoked Black Cod Garnished With Tomalley
- This was my favourite course of the evening. The soup was a dark brown puree of jerusalem artichoke with very concentrated lobster flavour. The pieces of lobster were the most tender ones I've ever tasted. It was so perfectly cooked that just a tad less cooking would qualify it as sashimi. The black cod imparted an aggressive smokiness that cut through the richness of the soup very well.
Foie Gras Terrine Wrapped With Bacon Fat And Soaked In Muscato. Served With Roasted Baby Potato, Butter Sauteed Leeks, Mixed Greens, and Balsamic Reduction
- This was an utmost luxurious foie gras terrine. Intead of finely chopped foie gras, the cross section of this terrine showed large pieces of foie gras tightly stacked on top of one another. Typically this rich ingredient is paired with a sweet element in the form of a fruit compote. However, soaking the terrine in a sweet wine overnight provided an intrinsic sweetness that permeated every bite. The baby roasted potato slices were a delicious crispy accompaniment.
Seared Yellow Perch and Whitefish Served With Wild Baby Leeks Shoots, Potato Puree with Maple Syrup, and Leek Pesto
- I much preferred the texture of the whitefish and found the yellow perch rather mealy. However, the potato puree was absolutely delicious with a strong garlic flavour yet it did not overshadow the sweetness of the leeks.
Summer Fruit Sorbet Of Blackcurrent, Peach, Strawberry, Raspberrry, and Apple
- This sorbet was served in the hollow part of the bottom of a champagne bottle. The plate was scattered with fresh pine needles with a nice refreshing scent. The sorbet had a wonderfully smooth texture. One bite and I was instantly reminded of pain d'epice. The flavour was round with a wintery warmth. Not everyone at our table liked the sorbet, however. We came to the conclusion that blackcurrent was the kind of flavour that you either love or hate.
Roasted Suckling Red Warthog Pig Served With Chives Pasta, Turnips, Beets, and Bok Choy
- Everything about this dish was delicious except for the very tough skin on the pork. The pig was raised right there at the farm and the meat had an unbelievably fresh taste that was highlighted by the sweetness of the beets and turnips. My favourite component of this course was the chives pasta. It was a paper-thin strip that tasted at once delicate and robust. It reminded me of a nicely-done wonton wrapper.
Raw Milk Cheeses From Quebec
- goat cheese was very runny and creaming. It did not taste very strong as far as goat cheese goes but the flavour was still quite pungent. My favourite of the three cheeses in this course.
- Benedictine blue cheese: This crumbly blue cheese went well with the pear slices and I liked the saltiness.
- Le Fou du Roy from Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde in Saint Sophie in the Laurentians. It's a 100% raw cow's milk cheese, semi-firm with a washed rind. This was the favourite with most of the people at our table due to its mild flavour. It was nice but I still prefer Migneron de Charlevoix in that same category.
- The cheese course was served on a round of tree trunk cross-section with fresh pears, warm housemade fruit & nut bread, and dried figs.
Trio Of Creamy Dessert
- Lemon Grand Mariner Foam with Orange Segments: a very tart foam with slivers of lemon zest. Although I'm a big fan of lemon tart (the more lemony the better!), I found this a little too much.
- Honey Lemon Ice-Cream with Raspberry Coulis and Poire William: an ice-cream with very silky smooth texture. It was nicely done but the flavour is not too pronounced.
- Maple Hazelnut Craquant with Single-Malt Whisky Praline Mousse and Red Wine Poached Plum: I wanted to like this but I just couldn't. The alcohol combined with the slight bitterness of the caramelization resulted in a not too pleasant taste. The poached plum was good though.
- We paired our dessert with a 1999 Chateau Guiraud Sauterne.
- I was not too fond of the dessert course because all three components were of the creamy variety hence lacking textural contrast.
- Candied Orange Peel: very soft and fresh tasting. I liked this a lot.
- Dark Chocolate Truffle flavoured with Grand Marnier: at only the size of my pinkie fingernail, this precocious truffle was cute. However, it didn't impart a lot of flavour impact.
- White Chocolate Truffle: neither RS nor I could identify the liqueur used in this truffle.
- Almond Financier topped with Caramelized Almond Slivers: nice and chewy with great caramel flavour. It was just a tad too sweet but went well with my cup of coffee.
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