TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Wow! Just when you thought it was safe to put on your ugly sweats and kick back to enjoy the “slow” season in Truckee-Tahoe, all your full-time friends — the ones who live here and you don’t see until April when business quiets down — start hosting parties.
I went to three large gatherings last week and two of them were held at the new Parlor at Moody’s in Truckee, so I thought the recipe-powers-that-be must be trying to tell me something. I mean, I knew it was a special place. They had me at “Hello.” Naturally that “hello” was delivered by a waiter holding a tray of appetizers. Hello and incredible food will do it every time. Actually, good-bye and incredible food will do it every time.
At the first gathering, my friends had booked the Parlor for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and it was a sit-down affair for 50 of their closest. I only knew the guests of honor and their daughter, but somehow it turned out to be a very intimate affair — only with impeccable service and no dishes to do.
The one thing that could have made it better would have been if I had had the nerve to ask for a doggie bag. The appetizer selections like ahi poke and tenderloin of beef tartar and mini house-made corn dogs for the kids (and adults) just kept coming, one better than the next. Naturally I managed to save room for my Hanger Steak dinner and apple crisp dessert but, really, it is time for me to buy a bigger pair of sweats.
My second gathering at the Parlor was a company function for around 70. I do not even work for that company, but went anyway, because I knew what the food was all about and it was ON! This time, straight appetizers, the likes of which I had not had since Paris. The reason? Moody’s French-trained chef, Will Burns.
I fell in love with this pasta dish and Chef Will was kind enough to share the recipe. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be rabbit. I do not have a problem with rabbit (note the name, I am French) but it is just hard to find locally. Village Market in Incline (775-831-6243) is your best bet because you can order it 24 hours in advance and they will defrost and de-bone it for you. If you are not a rabbit fan, just substitute chicken.
Will’s Rabbit Sugo
1 whole rabbit or chicken, de-boned, cut into pieces
Mire poix, which is one onion, three stalks celery and two carrots, cut 1 /2 inch thick
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup sherry wine
salt and pepper
2 cups cooked pappardelle pasta (Will makes his own pasta, but that is another column entirely.)
1 cup shaved Parmesan (Will tops his at Moody’s with a nettle puree, but you really have to be a French-trained chef to pull that off).
Rinse and dry your chicken or rabbit pieces and pat them dry. Dust with salt and pepper and brown them in olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. Set the meat aside. Add mire poix to the pot and sauté until soft. Deglaze with some sherry wine. Add the meat and any accumulated juices back to the pot and cover with chicken broth.
Cover and bake at 350degrees for about two hours, until fork tender. Cook the pappardelle pasta. Tear the meat from the bones and toss it with the cooked pappardelle. Top with shaved Parmesan.