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29th Dinner Club Meeting: The Herbfarm Cookbook

Last night my dinner club group met for our 29th dinner!  We are well into our 5th year now and I am happy to say still going strong – in fact maybe stronger than ever! 
K was the host last night and for our theme she decided that we should all pick something from a cookbook she has but has not used too often.  The cookbook is The Herbfarm Cookbook, the first cookbook written by Jerry Traunfeld, the chef for The Herbfarm located in Woodinville.  It is a high-end restaurant where the focus is all on fresh, mostly local and the interesting flavors and uses of herbs. They have a huge garden (and have even added cottages – I guess so you can just fall into bed after consuming for several hours…) Dinners run $160 – $200 per person before tax and tip. They are normally 9 courses and that cost includes the wine pairings. Each night has a set menu, with variations only for vegetarians.
Note:  In between the theme selection for our dinner and the actual dinner, Jerry Traunfeld announced his immanent departure from The Herbfarm.  He has been with the restaurant since 1990 and is synonymous with the place.  In fact I’m certain that many people were surprised to find that he wasn’t the owner.  Good news for Seattle is that he plans to open his own place.  And, I’m guessing, that the reputation and menus he established at The Herbfarm will be continued with his replacement.  Still, will it really be the same? 
R started us off with herbal champagne cocktails.  Made with Prosecco they were refreshingly light and sparkly.  Along with our cocktail she served a soup for the starter course.  I can’t wait to make this soup on a warm summer’s day.  It was a cold soup made primarily with cucumber.  A bit of green pepper added a little heat and Italian parsley, cilantro and mint were the herbs that added a tangy freshness. 
We took a short break while K seared the pork tenderloin on all sides and then placed it in the oven to finish.  Once in the oven we gathered around the table to enjoy an Herbfarm salad. M had this course and was amazed to find that the recipe for a fairly simple salad was 6 pages long! The recipe is mostly an instructional  chapter on how to select only the best greens, how to harvest them, which varieties will provide variety and interest and then the recipe for the dressing. There is an amazing amount of background information!  
Our main dish was an herb-crusted pork tenderloin, cooked until medium-rare and then topped with a red-pepper and hazelnut sauce.  It was amazing!  M2 had selected a decadent accompanying dish – a cheesy, herb polenta.  Soft, warm and stringy with cheese it was a great contrast for the tenderloin. 
After all of that we lingered for some time at the table giving ourselves a bit of time to make room for dessert.  I had dessert and decided to make a recipe that I’d wanted to try for quite some time – lavendar shortbread.  Since one of our members is not crazy about lavendar I decided to make a second batch using one of Jerry’s recommended substituions, Lemon Thyme.  I loved this shortbread recipe!  It’s easy and the resulting cookie is a bit crispy but still tender.  
The cookbook suggested several ideas to serve along with the cookies.  I toyed with making some sort of herbal ice-cream but just knew that we would all be pretty full by the time we got around to dessert.  So I deciced to stick with a simpler recommendation, fresh fruit. 
The raspberries were looking particularly good that day so I simply washed them, sprinkled them with a tiny bit of sugar, topped them with lightly sweetened whip cream and added a sprig of fresh mint for color and flavor for those who chose to eat it! 
Another succesful dinner and another night of friends and laughter!  If you’ve been thinking about starting a cooking club now is the time to do it!  I highly recommend it!  You can read about how we got ours up and running and see past themes and menus by viewing the Cooking Club posts.   
You can also see more photos here  
  1. 12-Jun-2007 8:54 pm

    I heard last week that Jerry T was moving on to new ventures.  I\’ve only been to the HF once and it was a great experience.  Not sure if we\’d go back though.  I think it\’s a great idea to try a evening from the cookbook. 
    How about the M\’s winning ways on the road?

  2. Culinary permalink
    13-Jun-2007 5:19 am

    Hey BH!
    And another great game last night!  :-)
    It\’ll be interesting to see where Jerry ends up and what his new place is like. 
    ~ B

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