Right around this time of the year, every year, I look forward to that one special occasion (before the actual Thanksgiving and X-Mas roll around) to launch my holiday-mood-sequence. It helps me forget all my holiday stress of cooking, baking and gift shopping and forces me to just take a moment to revel in what this season is truly all about. A couple of years ago it was a wonderful holiday performance at Westport Playhouse, some years it may be a special bake sale or a holiday concert in which kids in our family are participating. This year’s choice was clear to me as soon as I saw a tweet about a Holiday Reception from The Schoolhouse at Cannondale. Activate launch sequence!
The Schoolhouse at Cannondale is a true gem of Fairfield County. Chef and owner, Tim LaBlant, continues to reinvent himself with cutting edge ideas and flavor profiles from the culinary world. The constantly changing menu, derived primarily from the seasons and local produce, makes sure that there is never a feeling of same ol’ same ol’ at this restaurant.
The Holiday Reception at The Schoolhouse was truly unique. It was presented by the sous chef, Nick Verdisco, and the pastry chef, Jessie Fila. Together they created a delectable menu of finger foods fit for any holiday table.
Nick prepared Parsnip Apple Puree Soup, Twice Baked Fingerling Potato with Bacon and Chives, Meatball and Spaghetti with Alfredo Sauce, and three different kinds of crostinis. Of all the dishes, my favorite was the meatball and spaghetti. I loved its presentation and flavor. Chef Nick served smoked salmon on crostini with creme fraiche and capers. He told us that he boiled the capers 3 times and drained the water each time to get rid of its salty, briny flavor. How painstakingly brilliant!
Pastry chef Jessie, known for her pies, created mini tartlets for us. One was a wonderfully tangy and lightly sweet apple flavored tart. The other was decadent pecan and dark chocolate tart. Unlike most pecan flavored tarts and pies out there, this one was not overloaded with icky-gooey sweetness. In fact the pecans really came through in their flavor and integrity while the dark chocolate topping was its most divine pairing. I shall be dreaming of the pie crusts that were so light and flaky. Simple thing like that really manages to tell the world what pastry chef Jessie is all about.
We were greeted with a glass of Prosecco and a delightful little holiday handbook. This handbook has everything from recipes of the evening, to holiday table setting ideas to tips for making wreaths and so much more. I am sure to use this handbook as my guide for years to come. It was such an unexpected surprise and shows just how much thought goes into everything that the team of Schoolhouse puts forth.
Launch sequence successfully executed. Happy Holidays everyone!