Juniper-Spiced Venison with Brown Goat Cheese Sauce

_MG_4924It's always hard to come back after a vacation, isn't it? After several shortened weeks from being in Minnesota and then from the holiday, I jumped right back into work on Monday and didn't really slow down until yesterday afternoon. It was a lovely week though, with an outdoor performance by the NY Philharmonic, a screening of Ferris Bueller's Day Off in my favorite park that included a spontaneous dance party, dinners with friends and, of course, some delicious food. Not a bad way to spend a week in New York, even if it feels like it's 100 degrees. _MG_4907 _MG_4910

Venison is not really what you think of as a summer dish; it always seems more suited to a cozy fireside meal than a summer dinner al fresco. However, when I was home, my dad had some excellent venison that was begging for a special occasion, and we decided that our whole family being together was the perfect excuse to try it. The venison was perfect, especially when we used this lovely recipe from the cookbook New Scandanavian Cooking. If you can't get venison, flank steak would be a lovely substitute. _MG_4911







A couple of notes: gjetost, or brown goat cheese may be hard to find. If you can't find it, a smoked gouda or other pungent cheese would also be good. Additionally, we didn't have any lingonberry preserves on hand, so we quickly cooked some cranberries down with a little sugar, which was just as delicious.



The Bachelor Farmer

As many of you already know, Minneapolis is getting to be kind of a big deal. It seems that all of a sudden, lutefisk and mashed potatoes are being replaced by innovative new restaurants serving "Nordic-American" food (I'm told this is the newest trend). Of course, those of us that are from there know that this is not a new phenomenon, but rather one that has been in the making for quite some time -- but it's nice to know that the rest of the country is discovering the greatness of Minnesota as well. (See here and here). Of course, I don't get to visit home as often as I(/my parents) would like, and since I have been hearing about all of these new restaurants, it has been even harder. When I was home in May for my sister's graduation, my mom tried to get us a reservation at the newest of these -- The Bachelor Farmer -- to no avail. So she decided to make a reservation 3 months in advance, for August. After waiting practically all summer, we finally made it there last weekend. And believe me -- it was worth the wait.

Since we all wanted to try multiple things, we decided to order a number of items and split them. My dad, being a full-blooded Norwegian, had to start off the meal with a glass of aquavit (it's worth noting that they have multiple kinds). Not to my taste, but the herbal notes were certainly refreshing. We then commenced with beets roasted in duck fat with house-made cow's milk cheese and the duck liver pâté. Both were delicious -- but the pâté had even my mostly-vegetarian sister eating multiple pieces.

I then decided on an heirloom tomato salad with aioli and the steak tartare (I can never resist), while the rest of my family chose a variety of entrées, including duck, halibut, and poached eggs with spinach. The tomato salad was one of my favorite items -- the tomatoes were almost like candy, and they were perfectly complimented by crunchy croutons and the garlicky aioli.

We then finished the evening with a few desserts -- including a smoked vanilla ice cream that was pretty unbelievable. My favorite, however, was a peach upside-down cake that perfectly captured the flavors of summer. After dinner, we walked partway across a bridge over the Mississippi -- a perfect Minneapolis night.