So since Cam was coming to visit from Japan and Dave (Middle School through College friend) drove down from Madison. So last Saturday (4/26/2008) we got together. So we chatted, topics ranging from food to politics to whatever. Jenny and Nathan were there, along with Shannon and I and Clif. Good time all around.
So the previous week, I dropped off lamb from Iowa for Joesph to smoke. and that was the main course of this snaky meal. Popular. Very good...the smoke, I think accentuates the lambyness of it, so if you don't like lamb...it might be a bit much for you. Jenny made a corn and soybean salad...I can't remember what she called it...but that was good too.
So I went all over the metro to find items from around the state of Iowa. So lets start with food. First we had Feta (which was award winning, but I can't remember where in Iowa it was from). We had some Chevre from Northern Prairie Chevre and Reichart's Dairy Air (seriously get a website people). We got two other cheeses called Prairie Breeze from Milton Creamery (I saw their pamphlet at Gateway Market, but no website). And last, but certainly not least, were the red pepper cheese curds from Picket Fence Creamery (This is where we generally get our milk and they have pretty good ice cream too). I was hoping to get some of the swiss and white cheddar from Maytag Dairy Farms, but apparently they don't sell anything but their blue in stores...which I find kind of annoying. I know I've bought some of the cheddar and swiss last year at the farmers market...
To go with the cheese or by itself, we got some of the extraordinary La Quercia Prosciutto Americano...though to save a few bucks we got the crumble...Which goes great on pizza, crackers, with cheese and just by it's divine self. Who couldn't love pork?
We had two kinds of salsa from Juan O'Sullivans. We could've gotten some from Mad Butcher's, while I'm thinking about it...but I had forgotten...the Juan's was more of a thought that I might not have enough salty food (outside of the cheeses)...
For the desert side of things, we brought a box of cheesecake bites from Flarah's and a box of truffles from Chocolate Storybook and to top that off, a bag of gourmet marshmallows from Beaverdale Confections. Now for the marshmallows, we've gotten them before, and we had trouble finishing them (too sweet was Shannon's comment), though I liked them. They were on a stick. And this back were just cubes of marshmallows...and they were a bit gritty, like the sugar hadn't been fully incorporated. I think I said something about it like chewing on sugar. Not to say they're bad...but the experience so far as been fairly varied. The cheesecake and chocolate were both big hits (especially with the ladies).
On the alcohol side, we had a wide selection of wines (reds and whites, though we never got into any of the whites), beers and a couple of bottles of the harder stuff. We had a varied selection pack from Millstream Brewing, which I had some varieties that were pretty good, though it was later in the evening, so by that time, my tastes were getting pretty liquid impaired. We started off on the Snus Hill Winery's Sven Red. Which was the one that fairly well balanced and a bit sweet. Next up, was the Jasper Winery 2005 Chancellor...which was...really good (so good that when Cam came through on Monday, he ended up buying the last two bottles from the Gateway Market, one for the wedding he's going to in Canada and another for taking back to Japan). Then we opened the Madison County Winery's Frontenac, which was a dry red wine....and being that, it wasn't as popular. For the hard stuff, we sampled the Cedar Ridge Vineyards Winery & DistilleryClearHeartâ„¢ Vodka (we had a couple of bottles of their wine, which I've had before, but they didn't get opened). The vodka was...well vodka. It was better then many I've had, but not the top of my list. Though when I brought it home, the bottle was so tall, I'm not sure where to put it... Also from them (late addition), we had their port which is fantastic. And for one of my favorite things to come out of Iowa, we opened up my 2nd bottle of the Templeton Rye. When I was at the liquor store, he said that they sell 3-4 bottles a day of it.
People starting clearing out and going to bed...good party...if I had come up with the idea earlier, I could've perhaps taken some trips to get some of the things I couldn't get in Des Moines. Though I think I may try to do a party like this again, since it was very good. The only drawback here is that all the crackers, chips and etc were from outside the state.
I had a lot of fun searching and finding and then eating all these things.