But don’t get me wrong. I don’t retaliate per se, not most times. I remove myself from the situation never to return again. I take my business, my friendship, my feelings, my loyalty–everything I was pouring into the relationship to better, more deserving, greener pastures. And I share my experience whenever it is appropriate.
It has been almost three years since my last dinner in a restaurant I loved, Potager. We knew all of the staff and they knew us. It was familiar, close, cozy. We had gone there for years, nearly once a week, sometimes popping in for dessert or a glass of wine, other times for a three hour dinner, sometimes with friends or family, other times just the two of us.
That evening we were with another couple. Long story short- the nitty gritty of it really isn’t that interesting – we weren’t happy with one of the appetizers, lamb ribs (too grisly), and one of the main courses, a halibut stew (let’s say it was our mistake to order fish in Colorado, but that didn’t make us any happier). What followed was a (rather aloof and perhaps arrogant) argument over whether the fish was fresh or the ribs grisly. We paid, left, never to go back.
The reality is that I didn’t want to leave like that. I didn’t want to not come back. I wanted them to make it better and they couldn’t- it is simply not in their nature and culture to fix it, to admit that perhaps the customer who comes back every week and never complains may be right…even if you really think they are wrong. It doesn’t make them a bad restaurant. It simply makes them a restaurant incompatible with me, with my idea of being in the pleasing business, and with my sense of rewarding customer loyalty. That’s all.
We had lots in common- visits to the Boulder Farmers Market and an appreciation for simple, fresh, seasonal dishes. I love what they do- supporting local farms and producers, aiming for sustainability, treating their staff right, lasting in the harsh business that is food. I don’t suggest to anyone not to go there. At times, when it seems like a fit, I certainly recommend it for its simple food and loose, laid back environment. The food is at times spectacular, not exactly consistent, with solid bets – the chicken and braised greens- always on the menu with seasonal iterations and the devastatingly delicious chocolate pudding (so good the thought of it makes me want to cry!). So, when asked, I say, go and check it out. But if you want to know when was I there last, I have to be honest- three years ago. And likely not going back soon.
That, however, does not stop me from making the luscious, rich, and tenderly flavored goat cheese ice cream, a recipe found in the Colorado Organic Cookbook.
Tarragon-Infused Goat Cheese Ice Cream, a Potager recipe- adapted
Ingredients: 1 quart heavy cream, 5-6 large tarragon sprigs, 2/3 cup Haystack Mountain goat cheese, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar.
I know what you’re thinking- tarragon??? That was, at least, my thought. I have never been a huge fan. It tastes right in some dishes, but it isn’t exactly something I seek out and putting it in ice-cream?…like the goat cheese was not weird enough. But I took a leap and it was totally worth it.
Place the cream into a non-reactive pan and warm up to a very gentle simmer on low heat. Don’t boil- it makes the ice cream grainy. Turn the heat off and add the tarragon sprigs and goat cheese. Gently stir to allow the goat cheese to melt at least slightly. Cover and let the flavors to infuse for 30 minutes.
Whisk the sugar into the egg yolks in a separate bowl until they turn slightly thicker and more pale yellow than they started out. Reheat the heavy cream mixture gently and turn heat off before it reaches a simmer again.
Caution- you are making a custard. This, as I said before, is delicate business. On the bright side, the cheese does help providing some natural thickness and body to the mixture.
Slowly and gently temper the egg yolks ladling one half of the cream mixture in, whisking constantly. Slowly and still constantly whisking pour the egg/cream mixture into the rest of the cream mixture and turn the heat on low. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon until the cream is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon leaving a nice clean trace if you run your finger through it.
Remove the tarragon and chill until completely cool over a bath of ice. Pour into the frozen bowl of your ice cream maker and turn it on for about 20-25 minutes. Or do whatever your ice cream maker instructions tell you to.
Put it in the freezer for maybe another hour. It is best still somewhat soft over this strawberry rhubarb crumble or just dazzle it with a few fresh raspberries.