Skip to content

Give Thanks for the New Allison Inn and Spa — Especially for the Restaurant’s Butternut Squash Soup

December 8, 2009
by

Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Hazelnuts, Fennel Pollen and Fried Sage

Our usual holiday group scattered this year leaving us to fend for ourselves on Thanksgiving. No problem! We began dreaming about our options of letting someone else pamper us with dinner at favorite restaurants that we visit on special occasions. That’s when we thought of Jory Restaurant, a new one for us. Fortunately we called in time to score a 7 PM table at the newly opened restaurant in the equally new Allison Inn and Spa in Newberg, Oregon. It was a wise choice. Our expectations were met with traditional Thanksgiving fare carried out with the creative touches of Executive Chef, Nathan Lockwood and served with relaxed, friendly attention.

Perched majestically on a hill just above Newberg, the much anticipated Allison Inn and Spa reigns supreme as a premier resting place for anyone looking to spend a relaxed Oregon sojourn exploring all that the Willamette Valley has to offer, especially the famous vineyards of Yamhill and Polk counties.

The resort is named for Allison Lake which once held the Willamette Valley under about 400 feet of water. Jory is the name of the rich soil deposited and left from this period of Oregon’s geological history. This same soil allows the resort to grow it’s own produce on a 1-acre plot as well as its own herb garden.

“The owners expect to earn an LEED Gold designation from the U.S. Green Building Council for the project.” It is a master project of green engineering and building without sacrifice to beauty or luxury.

Dinner was a generous four course offering of soup, a choice of two salads, a choice of  two entrees including the obligatory turkey and ending with a tasting of three pies. What wasn’t eaten at dinner was beautifully packaged to be toted home in a smart gift bag — a nice attention to detail.

For me the star of this meal was the Butternut Squash Soup.  Upon request, Chef Lockwood graciously provided us with his recipe which you will find at the end of this post.

At first taste, the utter simplicity and velvety smoothness of the soup soothes and satisfies. Then you crunch into the fennel pollen, toasted hazelnuts and the divine fried sage. Sage and butternut squash are famous companions and fast frying the sage allows it to step out from a major layer of flavor to an attention-getting accent. Heaven in a bowl. I only hoped that I could balance the remaining soup and garnishes spoon by spoon to the end. It did exactly what any first course should do — leave you satisfied but wanting more.

Garden chicory salad with shaved apple and Crater Lake blue cheese

The salad course consisted of: 1) A garden chicory salad tossed with shaved apple, and Crater Lake blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette or 2) A bacon-wrapped diver scallop over kabocha squash purée with garden greens and pinot noir reduction.

As I am the only confirmed lover of odiferous cheeses at our table, and blue cheeses qualify, I chose the former fully confident that I could snare a taste of the other salad.

My salad was large enough to serve as a lunch entrée and was generously studded with the prized Crater Lake blue cheese. Vic and his mom, Pranee, enjoyed theirs fully and gallantly left me a taste. Bacon and scallops go together like love and marriage and this couple was well paired and dressed with a fruity pinot noir reduction under the greens and squash purée.

Bacon-wrapped Diver Scallop over Kabocha Squash Puree

Our two entrée offerings were Roast turkey with smashed Yukon gold potatoes, walnut stuffing, root vegetables, sautéed Brussels sprouts leaves, triple-citrus cranberry sauce and giblet gravy or Roasted halibut over potato purée with tangerine charred radicchio, tamarind and orange. Choosing our entrees wasn’t difficult — it was Thanksgiving and although I adore halibut and enjoy it often, I had never contemplated a “Thanksgiving halibut.” Kudos to the chef, though, who gave an excellent Pacific Northwest option for those who wished to take the road less traveled.

As you can see in the photo, the entrée plate has all the makings of a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal. The cranberry sauce was served on the side.

Turkey with smashed Yukon gold potatoes, walnut stuffing, root vegetables, sautéed Brussels sprout leaves, and giblet gravy

One interesting surprise here was the sautéed Brussels sprouts leaves. Once again, I’m the lone champion of Brussels sprouts at the table. However, Vic and Pranee didn’t remember reading this on the menu and ate them anyway asking what they were. I smiled and said, “Brussels sprouts!”

The whole entrée was well balanced with the traditional fall flavors you expect at this holiday. As you can tell by the whole fried sage leaves garnishing the turkey, Chef Lockwood loves sage as much as I do. An interesting and welcome surprise was the roulade of the thigh meat filled with an earthy stuffing of wild mushrooms.

Clockwise from bottom left: Apple-huckleberry pie with vanilla bean gelato, pumpkin and biscotti crust, pecan pie with bourbon caramel

Chef Lockwood, like many people, believes that Thanksgiving is about the pies as well. Knowing that we were going to finish off this wonderful repast with a tasting of three pies was reason enough to eat conservatively and save room for dessert.

The clear winner at this table was the apple-huckleberry pie with the huckleberries adding an interesting tartness. The vanilla bean gelato took it to the sublime. I grew up loving all things pecan and the only thing I could find wrong with this pie was its small size. I love pecan sweets combined with bourbon and this one left me smiling.

The wine list is seriously extensive with not only the obligatory representation of Oregon wines but carefully selected domestics and an impressive collection from Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand as well as Lebanon. Also offered is a large selection of wines by the glass and two tasting sizes. The cellar also offers a selection of half-bottles. As you might expect from an environmentally conscious institution, the 35 page list is footnoted as to the wines that are produced by biodynamic, organic or sustainable methods. Vic enjoyed his meal with a glass of Soter Vineyards 2005 Brut Rosé, I chose the Archery Summit 2007 Premier Cuvée Pinot Noir, and Pranee, who likes only sweet wines, sipped on Adelsheim, Pinot Noir “de Glacé” 2006.

Our meals without the wine and gratuity were $49 each, a most reasonable fare for 4 courses including a generous dessert sampler.

Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Hazelnuts, Fennel Pollen and Fried Sage
From Executive Chef Nathan Lockwood at Jory Restaurant in the Allison Inn and Spa

  1. 3 large butternut squash, peeled, cored, with seeds and pith reserved
  2. 2 quarts (2 lt.) water
  3. 1/2 cup (120 ml.) heavy cream
  4. 3 large shallots, peeled and sliced
  5. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) butter
  6. 1/2 cinnamon stick
  7. 2 large star anise
  8. 9 allspice berries
  9. 1 clove
  10. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) black peppercorns
  11. Garnishes: Fennel pollen; toasted crushed hazelnuts; fried sage leaf crumbles or even Amaretti cookie crumbles
  • Combine the spices, water and reserved seeds and pith from the squash cavity and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  • While the stock is simmering , combine the shallots and butter in a two gallon pot and cook over high heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  • Dice the peeled and cleaned squash and add to the pot of shallots. Stir to combine.
  • Strain the finished stock over the shallots and squash and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender.
  • Season with kosher salt and purée with the cream. (Note from Charles: If puréeing in a food processor or blender, remember to process hot liquids in batches.)
  • Adjust consistency with water/or cream to taste.
  • Garnish with crushed toasted hazelnuts, fennel pollen and fried sage leaf crumbles.

Bon appétit

— Charles

Following are some photos of the Inn along with images of one of the guest rooms graciously shown to us by Tara Laughlin. Click on a photo to enlarge.

Advertisements
8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2009 2:23 am

    I give The Jory a 5 Star rating also and what a treat it is to walk thru that stunning building. It is just magnificent including the highly trained staff and of course all of our favorites, Miss Tara, who greets you at the entry. Doesn’t she light up the place w/her smile and beauty. I would add that we had the Glacier Lettuce Salad when we ate at the Jory….rather expensive but a treat worth every cent. Very unusual texture. The barmaid was knowledgeable and charming….the entire Allison Inn is charming. Thanks for the recipe, Charles. This is a hidden treasure of Oregon.

  2. Marlene permalink
    December 9, 2009 7:05 am

    Charles, you really should be a food critic for the paper or some magazine.

  3. Suzanne permalink
    December 9, 2009 10:42 am

    Hey Charles-
    Appreciate the note about pureeing in batches. I once got butternut squash soup on the ceiling in my youth…..

    On the squash– how much are you talking about in pounds? One large b-nut is about 3 pounds….the small ones are 1 pound. Just trying to get my head around how much this would make and how to adjust for the appetites chez moi.

    • Charles permalink*
      December 9, 2009 10:58 am

      Suzanne – Good question. I simply wrote the recipe as it was emailed from Chef Lockwood. I’ll seek clarification. My first impression at first taste was “Is there any dairy?” It was rich but simple. There really isn’t very much cream and butter at all, but it was still very rich. Since there’s 2 quarts of stock you make, that alone would require a substantial amount of squash.

  4. December 9, 2009 5:29 pm

    Divine account of a fine meal. That scallop sent me over the edge. I’ll be making a reservation. Thanks Charles.

    • Charles permalink*
      December 9, 2009 7:56 pm

      Thank you Rosi, looking forward to exploring your families brewery and posting here.

  5. December 11, 2009 10:06 am

    Thanks for the review Charles. I still haven’t made it here yet, but your review has reminded me I should do that pronto. Thanks for getting the recipie and sharing it. Once again you photos are fabulous.

  6. December 18, 2009 1:13 pm

    I am completely blown away! I admit there has been some great stuff written about us, but this is by far the best written, most exciting, and enjoyable blog post on us to date. It is a treat to see we are exciting the community and people are enjoying us! THANK YOU!

    I am simply dropping in to say that everyone enjoyed this read… and appreciated it.. deeply. It has been passed around and brought smiles to all. I can say my job is quite enjoyable when I get to read such beaming reports… and in this case like any proper food journalist might!

    If you or anyone ever has any questions about us, that is why I am here. I am happy to help explore ideas and options of what to do in the valley, listen to any comments or thoughts, and generally just make sure you are happy!

    So let me know. You can reach me at michael@theallison.com. Thank you again for the time and energy crafting this review! It truly is a treat!

    Sincerely,
    Michael | Online Concierge
    The Allison Inn & Spa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: