Monday, June 17, 2013

Strawberry Harvest Review, Harvest, Harvard Square, Cambridge

I remember when I was little, and I'd be out doing that dreaded chore of mowing the lawn, and there, from my perch, Id spy a little hint of read peeping out from under a bed of leaves.  I'd immediately stop my mower and crouch down to unearth the bright berries.  Strawberries, even now, are jewels found, whether in the market, or in the fields.  Their sweet tart flavor, especially when warmed by the summer sun screams out to be enjoyed in every possible way.

Last week I was invited in to Harvest restaurant, located in Harvard Square, to sample their latest in their line of Harvest Reviews- concentrated on Strawberries.  Each course highlighted strawberries in a unique way, pairing them with savory and then sweet, and broadening their horizons out of their typical use.

We began our evening with one of the more intriguing preparations.  A grilled Kurobuta Pork Sausage was paired with a black pepper strawberry gastrique and pickled green strawberries.  For clarification, Korubuta Pork is a type of heritage pork, raised specifically for intense flavor and rich fat.  Think Wagyu beef...Here the pork sausage was exactly what one would want from sausage, full of sweet and spicy flavor, hints of apple and nuts, and succulently fatty.  The perfection here came from the pickled strawberries.  There is something about cutting something so rich with the wonderful acidity of anything pickled. 
The green strawberries were incredible.  Having not fully ripened they had their own natural tartness, and then their flavor was brought out and manipulated really nicely in the pickling process.  Together, especially combined with the sweet and spicy gastrique it was a perfect bite after perfect bite.

Up next was a Lavender Compressed Strawberry Salad.  Bright whole lavender infused strawberries were set atop lime flavored yogurt, and then sprinkled with lavender olive oil powder and topped with fresh pea greens.  Every component of this dish played off each other.  The strawberries were naturally delicious on their own, but then when combined with the slight crunch of the pea greens, and their own sweetness, and then offset with tart yogurt, it was wonderful delight on the tongue.  Even more than the flavors of this dish, I loved its healthful side as well.  Every ingredient was fresh and natural, not over sauced and created a perfect base of vitamins and protein.  As an appetizer, or a larger dish, this was exactly what I want to feast on in a restaurant.

Our entree course arrived soon after which perched a beautiful piece of seared Scottish Salmon, atop a Yukon Gold, Leek and Smoked Bacon hash and then drizzled with a strawberry, rhubarb and ginger jam.  The salmon was beautiful.  It hadn't been doctored in any way allowing its perfection to shine through as it was meant to be.  Perfectly cooked, a wonderful medium rare, it was flavorful and delicious.  Paired with the hash, which had incredible thick chunks of bacon and then beautifully melted bits of leek all against a back drop of creamy potatoes- it was a hearty accompaniment.  I confess that the jam did get a bit lost amid the other components here, but that served no damage to the dish.

Finally we were served our dessert.  As a perfect accompaniment to summer,
we were presented with fresh strawberry sorbet, a crumble of strawberry meringue, oat cracker and then little dollops of lovage cream.  This light dessert blew me away.  The sorbet was lovely, of course, bright, flavorful, not overly sweet- it was delicious.  But the star here was what Executive Pastry Chef Brian Mercury called his gamble.  It was the lovage cream.  Lovage, if you aren't familiar, is an herb that tastes like a very highly concentrated celery leaf.  Normally found in savory dishes (its a staple in my mom's stuffing), it was a glorious surprise here lending its unique flavor to the sweetness of the strawberry and then rounded out with the cream.  It was a perfect summer dessert, light enough to allow for swimsuits, cool enough to refresh after a hot day and decadent enough to count as dessert.  

Each time I have dined at Harvest I have been beyond impressed.  Their food is always outstanding, but what charms me even more is their passion.  Each member of the staff from Executive Chef Mary Dumont, to every server and host, shows their love of food and their craft in every action.  If you have the opportunity to pass their open kitchen you can expect not to hear frustration or stress, but instead every time I've been greeted with a smile and a friendly hello.  It's not that they aren't busy- it's that they love what they do.  And it every dish.


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

It was such a lovely dinner! Great seeing you!

Michelle Collins said...

I loved everything about this meal. So fun to see you and catch up, too!

Ellen Parlee said...

This is the perfect time of year for strawberry recipes in New England. These unique dishes all look delicious! What makes a strawberry recipe even better is when it is made with fresh, local fruit.

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