Wood Fired and nothing else! The Kitchen Potager was so thrilled to partner with the new Russet team for Saturday’s sold out dinner club, prepared exclusively on the open fire and wood stove at Marsh Gibbon Stable in Solebury. Russet is the new restaurant opening in Rittenhouse Square in mid February. Andrew Wood was previously at Fork along with Front of House Manager, Jeff Arnold. Andrew and Kristin Wood will pair their refined rustic style with her baking specialties to create a new destination to impact the Philadelphia restaurant scene.
True to his namesake, Andrew Wood’s culinary techniques are inspired by recipes dating back several centuries; using refined traditional methods. When I saw Andrew in the morning, covered head to toe in wool, blanketed by an apron and tending to his fire in the Oliver’s walled garden, I was transferred back in time. I wanted to hear him exclaim from the town square “GIVE ME FIRE and I will give you A DELICIOUS 4 COURSE MEAL!” As I would learn over the course of the day, that would never happen. Andrew and his wife, Kristin are the most soft spoken talented chefs I have met, with complimentary culinary skills that rise above words to describe their fare.
Andrew arrived Saturday morning to create his “kitchen” (aka fire) that he would get to know intimately over the course of 10 hours. Barely making a dent in the wall of hand chopped wood in Marsh Gibbon’s old stable, Andrew created a large fire in the garden bed. Pushing soil aside, terracotta tiles were placed to retain the heat from the fire and the hot ash set aside for its roasting temperature. Fire, tiles and ash all created the oven that would be used to prepare the ash roasted beets, capon consomme and slow roasted short ribs. As the air temperature hovered around 21 degrees, you could almost hear the horses clip clomping up the gravel driveway to the scene. Inside Marsh Gibbon’s old stable, the wood stove was blowing heat into the dining area as well as creating the stove top for hand rolled tortolni, polenta, and mulled cider.
On this cold winter day, guests arrived promptly, excited to visit with the chef and meet other dining adventurers. With cava, Ship Inn ESB or hot mulled cider in hand, they mingled by the warmth of the outdoor fire or indoor stove. While chatting, they tasted Andrew’s authentic award winning salumi and Marsh Gibbons neighbor’s (Manoff Market Gardens) sweet and tart apples dipped in honey from the property. Seeing familiar faces and making new acquaintances was part of the fun.
As dusk began to fall, guests were glad to be seated and hear more from Chef Andrew. Hearing about preparations directly from the chef who focus on quality sustainable ingredients is the purpose for these dinners. For Andrew, this is his nature and the only way he would consider preparing meals – the same criteria of ingredients will be used at the new restaurant where he will source from his closest friends and farmers in Lancaster County. Guests enjoyed knowing that the beets were roasted in the ash – nothing added. Kristin’s flatbread stole the show of the first course as it was featured with beets, radicchio and melting taleggio cheese. Andrew explained the process for the capon stock which imparted great flavor onto the mortadella torteloni’s (that were hand rolled 3 hrs prior to being added to this broth of goodness). Traditional drops of Tourais wine were poured into the consomme that added the “Russet touch” as we were warmed by the flavorful broth. Andrew’s favorite Le creuset pots from his home collection were transferred from fire to wood stove. Dishes warmed next to the stove. Polenta and short ribs melting off the bone and covered with grated parmesan offered a stunning main course. Kristin Wood’s specialty is dessert. I had watched carefully throughout the day as the wine poached pears comfortably steeped on the stove. Every few hours the sauce was checked and finally it could be enjoyed. With the spices and flavors married together so well, we could see what might have brought this couple together – a genuine affection for their different yet equally impressive culinary treats!
Jeff Arnold, the Front of House Manager, never ceased to make me smile. When I offered an electric tea kettle to “help” his coffee brewing process, Jeff would have nothing of it “that would be such a shame to have this incredible meal entirely from fire and then use electric heat for the coffee!”. He would not have it. You have no idea how much I appreciated their interest in offering an authentic rustic experience – it made all the difference for the enjoyment of the meal.
Andrew and Kristin’s traditional techniques provided anything but a simplistic meal due to culinary experience at Radius in Boston, TRU and Trio in Chicago, Terra, Dean & Deluca, and Quince in California and most recently at Fork in Philadelphia. As a rustic preview to their new restaurant, Russet, opening in Rittenhouse Square next month the dinner was deemed successful based on the pre-reservations being made in between courses! If you would like to join others in the Russet experience, please contact Jeff Arnold for reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-208-3601.
The Kitchen Potager Chef’s Dinner series was created three years ago to bring “dining adventurers” together who appreciate the talent of chefs, selection of quality ingredients and unique venue. Marsh Gibbon was a truly magical setting for this dinner. We are thankful to the Oliver family and specifically, Kelsey for helping to create a magical setting for this experience. They are genuine stewards of this 1704 Penn Land Grant property. We were glad to meet all their girls – led by Jimmy the most social Buff Orpington and furry friends Marsh and Gibs who are always available for a friendly chat.
Please join us at the table and save the date for our upcoming dinner on February 19th to see what adventures in food have to offer! Please email me at email@example.com for more details on any of the chefs, venues and dinners. If you would like to host your own private event at a prized venue in Bucks County, like Marsh Gibbon, please do not hesitate to call us, we would be glad to make the arrangements.