WILD EXPECTATIONS AT WILD ROOTS
Friday night we returned to owners Josh and Jayne’s little gem: Wild Roots. We had been saddened to hear of the previous chef’s departure. There is now a new commander in white jacket at the helm of the Royalton oven dials, launching a fresh repertoire of refinement for the palate.
Robert Mahoney strikes me as an intuitive food poet, one who has prefered cutting boards, skillets and grills, herbs and an elusive piece of something fresh in hand, as opposed to the pages of a book, to further the perfection of his craft. In fact he says himself that food has always fascinated him and that he grew up hooked on food channels and engaged in endless covert experiments of his own. A glance at his bio reveals he eventually moved to New York City, and so began a Michelin-starred journey. At Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, quietly observing everything behind the scenes, he made his way avidly through all the stations. Mahoney continued gathering experience at more area restaurants until Piora, a Korean Michelin-prized establishment, hired him as sous-chef.
Locally sourced ingredients and the quality of the product when balanced perfectly are THE chef’s quest. With this knowledge, Mahoney later moved to Buffalo, N.Y. to take over as Executive Chef at Aro Bar de Tapas, a popular upscale Spanish eatery. As a matter of fact there are tantalizing photographs of his creations at Aro, if you were inclined to more epicurean searches.
Now that Mahoney has landed within Vermont’s bounty, my heart beats faster imagining a Spanish touch with churros as a delicate dessert future... And this leads me directly to one of the desserts here: a sort of bread pudding meal composed of rye soaked in a light, citrus, hoppy ale then sweetened and infused with local honey then topped with a creamy dollop of home-made yoghurt- the whole adorned with preserved black currants in a circular pattern. But there was also the Goat’s Milk Pudding with strawberry granita, crispy rhubarb, spent coffee caramel and whipped maple ice cream. Now I wonder why we did not order both.
As we sat on the busy patio, we observed other patrons nodding appreciatively and as the waitress stepped away, intrigued looks of satisfaction lingered.
The plate of home-made sliced bresaola arrived curved like giant chips but so tender and perfectly spiced with a sort of peppery crust. The meat looked dry but the taste was gentle and moist. Click here for the current menu. There are still many vegetarian options.
My main course deserves its own paragraph: Kiss The Cow Liver Pie. It simply called to me despite husband’s fraught liver expression. This is the sort of fascinating creation that would convert an innards sceptic! Contrary to its name, there was no crust but an amalgamation of fresh two-day old thinly sliced liver from Kiss The Cow Farm veal with oysters, ramp greens and oats in a sauce worthy of a top country inn either in Catalonia or the Dordogne. The fresh mint leaves added a touch of middle eastern poise. I find that very good restaurants make these shellfish and pork/veal combinations in such unique ways. Mangalitsa Woodstock had a delightful pork-stuffed squid main course for a while. Even Jaime Oliver has a delicious mussel and chorizo pasta recipe in one of his first books.
Kiss The Cow Liver Pie
There are some new wines added to the list including a French Malbec from the Cahors region in the southwest. I am no wine specialist but I know that some of those Argentine Malbecs are intensely inky and perfumed. The Château La Grave has elegant soft, earthy notes. For something refreshing and white, there is a Greek offering from Antonopoulos Vineyards in the Peloponnese-a far cry from Greek wine as we knew it in the 1980s.
View from the patio
This time we were fortunate to sit outside on the Wild Roots patio out back. The garden chairs below were bathed in gentle evening sunshine. The White River diamond glitter was just discernible through the hundreds of trees and the local railway, like a great iron snake, rolled away north-alas no train ever came.
Wild Roots is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm. Click here for the site and to make reservations! The menu changes frequently to highlight nature’s bounty.
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