I was invited to attend Jim Weaver’s first Chef’s Surprise dinner at Tre Piani last Friday and enjoyed a lovely evening with a congenial group (seated at one, long, table), and of course a great meal. These dinners are Jim’s chance to cook a little more creatively and spontaneously, although he’s already thinking about his next dinner on April 18, which will likely include a mozzarella making demo and a menu highlighting early spring vegetables.
At the dinner I attended Friday night, the menu was sort of Irish-Italian fusion (a nod to Jim’s heritage), complete with corned beef shank with potato and cabbage “lasagna.” But that was preceded by so many other good things; the menu and photos are below. I have to say, that while I’m not usually a fan of Irish Soda Bread (too dry), Jim’s version was excellent, and the cheese and drizzle of olive oil were a fantastic accompaniment. And that soup, oh my, we all inhaled that; the deep green hazelnut pesto was straight from heaven. We were also quite taken with the clutch of watercress with the salmon, starved for the first signs of spring greens. Call them now (609-452-1515) to reserve your spot at the next dinner.
At the dinner, I met columnist Rachel Weston, who writes the lively “In Season” column for the Star-Ledger, with lots of links to good recipes. She’s a great writer, so I encourage you to read her columns!
Very Early Spring Irish-Italian Fusion Dinner
Brown Butter and Rosemary Soda Bread with Fulper Farms Straciatelle
Potato Leek Soup with Hazelnut Pesto
Seared Sea Scallop with Arugula, Irish Cheddar Gnocchi and Roasted Garlic Jam
Olive Oil Poached Atlantic Salmon, Roasted Tomato and Dill Sauce, Risotto, Watercress w/toasted almonds, Batter Fried Shallots
Corned Beef Shank with Potato-Cabbage Lasagna and Caraway Jus
Irish Whiskey Affogato
Faith, plaudits to you for writing and inserting these lovely images of our feast! What a glorious night of fellowhip, conviviality, gastronomy, and sheer pleasurable connection with Jim Weaver. Founder of Slow Food Central Jersey, he began the movement to make New Jersey foods available to New Jersey cooks/chef, without being trucked to and from Pennsylvania for some reason. Mr. Locavore — his newish book is a joy — Adventures of a Locavore — and that night was stellar. I agree — I am still in awe over that soup. Thank you for making this possible!
You’re a wonder!