Durham, N.C. — On Thursday, I was treated to four delectable courses of appetizers, entrees and desserts, each of which was paired with an exquisite wine, at the Fairview Dining Room inside the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club.
Fairview Executive Chef Jason Cunningham and chef de cuisine Murray Healy had invited members of the media, along with the general public, to enjoy a fine dining experience in the four-star, four-diamond restaurant. The occasion? On Monday, the chefs will release their new summer menu, and Thursday's event gave guests a "sneak" preview at what's to come.
The dishes were extremely creative, and even some of the devoted "foodies" at the table didn't know what some of the ingredients were. Take the bourbon glazed beeler farm pork, for example, which was a pork confit served atop baked sea island red peas, heritage bacon lardons, sautéed pole beans and pepsi hock jus (I won't blame you if you're pulling up your Google search engine right now).
In case you're wondering, yes, the hock jus did in fact contain pepsi. It gave the dish a sweet note that paired excellently with the bacon flavors. I think everyone at my table agreed that the summer menu will, in fact, be quite a treat for anyone else who experiences it.
My favorite dish of the evening was a roasted rack of lamb served medium rare with sun dried tomato, artichoke, asparagus and farro medio sauté, charred leeks, fava bean, blistered tomatoes, sweet cherry relish and red wine lamb jus. The sweet cherry relish - pieces of tart, sweet fruit - really made the dish exquisite and moved the lamb to the top of my list.
The scallops, served on a delicious herb polenta, were another treat that had everyone at the table talking, but the real indulgence came at the end of the dinner, when we were given a plate of three mini desserts - peach tart, mascarpone panna cotta and cornmeal pound cake.
A must try item - and quite possibly the best dessert I have ever tasted - is the buttermilk ice cream that was served with the pound cake. I highly recommend it.
You can stop by the Fairview Dining Room starting Monday to try the new summer creations.