(This post is part of a series that begins here.)
When putting together our second course, a salad of mixed field greens, Chef Hall commented that it’s really easy to do a good salad. I was compelled to mention that, as anyone who has had a salad of still soggy greens can attest, it’s just as easy to really mess up a potentially good salad. Too early and too much dressing are also pet peeves of mine. (For now, I’ll leave the debate over intentionally soaked salads to chefs Mark Abernathy and John Leonardis.)
This particular salad suffered neither of those maladies. An appealing mix of flavors and textures, it was as appropriately dressed as a women in her signature LBD. Mesclun was topped with thicker than expected slices of carrot, a choice which I questioned but ultimately enjoyed. Fresh blueberries from the heritage garden went over the top along with black walnuts candied with butter and sugar. The slight bitterness of the greens mix was echoed in the walnuts and both flavors were complimented by the sweetness of the carrots, berries, and nut coating. The dressing was a raspberry vinaigrette compounded from raspberries, champagne vinegar, dry mustard, and black pepper. It was drizzled over the top and, true to the chef’s word, dripped down just enough with the first few bites to flavor the entire salad. This style of dressing with the vinaigrette over the top rather than tossing could save many a salad.
This salad was something special. The carrots were assertive, not the grated afterthought common in so many salads. The berries added a taste of the season. The black walnuts gave it a sense of place, not so slap-you-in-the-face Southern as the Fried Green Tomatoes, but a nice nod to terroir.