Have you ever wondered how an Iron Chef lives? I got the chance to find out recently, when I was invited to travel down to Pennsylvania to have lunch and tour Luna Farm, chef Garces’ 40-acre spread. Here, in no particular order, are my discoveries from that lunch:
1. Having a car and driver is a great way to start off. This was especially true as Luna Farm is well off the beaten path and would be hard to find without the help of a good GPS.
2. Equipment envy is a dangerous thing! Besides the incredible Blue Star ranges being demonstrated that afternoon, out on the deck, Jose Garces has a huge "plancha," his flattop grill, alongside a wood-burning pizza oven and we hadn’t even hit the kitchen yet!
3. While the kitchen itself wasn’t huge (OK, mine’s bigger), the appliances were all professional grade. It was a warm and inviting space, which anyone would be happy to play around in.
4. Like his kitchen, chef Garces was also warm and inviting, happy to take us on a farm tour after lunch and answer all our questions.
5. Oh, and did I mention, he can cook?
6. Time to rethink prosecco? The cava served with the passed appetizers was a gorgeous color, cool and crisp with good fruit. Just the beginning of a series of thoughtful wine pairings.
7. Lamb and bacon? Sure, why not? Chef Garces skewered lamb and some Luna Farms eggplant, wrapped it in bacon, and seared it on the plancha (or griddle for you gringos) then paired it with a basil chimichurri. Terrific way to start our lunch!
8. Pork belly so 2013? There’s a cut of pork that you’re going to want, but you can’t have it. It’s called Ibérico secreto and it’s the pork version of a skirt steak. We had it marinated in thyme, garlic, and olive oil and grilled. Trust me, you want this!
9. Gazpacho leave you cold? In the hands of an Iron Chef (with a Vitamix) it’s a thing of silky smooth luxury. Chef Garces says the secret is really good olive oil and a lot of time in the blender. The surprise lump of crabmeat at the bottom of the cup just made it unbelievably great!