It was time to refill the emotional and culinary well and you all know what that means; time to go back Under The Dome in Piedmont, MO. Our visits here and probably from this point forward will be in 2 parts. Part one consists of time spent at River Road Park, which includes time spent with our friends at The Clearwater Lake Store & Cafe.
River Road Park is a beautiful Corp of Engineers campground. We enjoyed walks on the trails, visits from Rick and Barb, cornhole, and Mike spent one day fishing. Other times were spent reading at the picnic table with Stella -the feline-never far (see above). Side Note Here: Piedmont was "celebrating" the 50th anniversary of a UFO siting, that including alien costumes, t-shirts, campsites and a parade. Don't ask me the details, you'll have to check that for yourself...
We also spent time at the cafe - the only spot with internet access. Sarah (the owner) is such a kind and giving person- as is her mom Linda that works in the cafe. There was also Crystal, Kris, the 2 young students who's names escape me at the moment, the kranky, but entertaining cook with the captain's cap, the Adam's Family fan- who by the way is due to get married on the cafe deck this month, as well as Sarah's husband and their dog JoJo. I know I've missed a few, and for that I apologize. This is a group of people that we will always enjoy visiting.
On one of our visits to the cafe, there was a beer/booze tasting with Fancie Nancie. She is a local distributor and also very sweet. Toward the end of the tasting day Sarah came out to check on things and have a couple of tastes herself, when, during a freak wind gust, one the umbrellas flew up and hit poor Sarah, causing bruises, breaks, and a concussion. So throughout the rest of the week, we felt the need to check on her on a fairly regular basis. By the time we left, she was on the mend, E.T. had gone home, and the campfires were still burning.
And now for our visit to Rick and Barb's. You all know what's coming, and if you don't you are in for a treat. For those not in the know, Rick is an amazing chef and we not only get to hang out with family, we also enjoy delicious food. This year also included a surprise that they set up for us. I'll start with the surprise. Shooting day! A friend of theirs came over with a variety of guns and targets and we proceeded to spend the day on target practice. The closer target is 50 yards out and ranging in size from 3 inches down to 1/2 inch- I managed to hit every one of them. The next one 100 yards, and the furthest was 200 yards away! Proud to report that with a 22-long rifle I hit the furthest target 10 for 10, and Barb was 6 for 6! Mike was great on all that he shot including a .45 shot from 40 yards out. It was such a great day!
Before we get to the food portion of our program, I'd like to share something with you. Everyone has their place at the kitchen table, and when we visit The Grand Estate, I find myself sitting in my spot (kinda like Sheldon) more than for dinner. It's the best spot to watch Rick and Barb to their culinary dance.
We often speak about our favorite Chef, who also happens to be one of our favorite people, but I think it's time to shine a little spotlight on Barb - the silent partner. Watching her watch him, you can see the wheels spinning. While he is thinking about the timing of everything, she is thinking about what he is going to need next- be it tongs, a bowl, a platter, or even just keeping everything clean as he goes- she seems to know what he needs before he does. This leads me to believe that although he does a masterful job at cooking, I'm pretty confident that she could do a great job as well. There's no way that she could spend years perfecting these steps, without absorbing the tune- so to speak. With that being said, I'm also confident that she would say "I'll follow his lead".
What follows are the creations of a great duo that we have the pleasure of spending time with and being related to. ---- Neener neener!!
1- Spicy Grilled Red Grouper Collars w/ ginger soy salad.
2- Pork Shanks with Agrodolce Fennel Sauce
3- Risotto Primavera & Venison Backstrap
4- Za'atar Garlic-Sprouts and Chitarra Pasta with Mangrove Snapper
5- Hash and Eggs w/ Mike's leftover ribs
6- Tappas- Chicken wings and hot sauces, roasted bone marrow, pickled
beets, and garlic stuffed olives
7- Belgian Venison Tenderloin Medallions with a Cherry-Plum Gastrique
W/ Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Salsa, Green Beans & Yorkshire Pudding
8- Yorkshire Pudding straight from the oven
9- Goose Quarters with Beer Sauce, Duck Fat Roast Potatoes & Sauerkraut
10- Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie w/ moonshine whipped cream
11- Mike flipping the Collars
12- Hash & Eggs w/ Butternut Squash
13- Wings on the grill
14- Shrimp and Greens
15- Me having a sous-chef moment with Rick
MIssing: Wine and cheese nights with Bison and Summer sausages,
Mississippi Sin Dip, and Smoked salmon
Yeah, it was great, as usual. Besides the food and the fantastic surprise, there was more reading, walks with Stella and much laughter.
When it came time to leave, once again I found myself looking forward to our next visit to this "Grand Estate" to make more memories with these beautiful people. We may have missed alot of time with them in years past, but I definitely believe we are making up for it now. Much love to Piedmont -where friends, family, food and the feline are at their best.
Until next time...Be Well, Be Happy and Safe Travels