This vegetarian pairing is an interplay of smoke, earth and bitterness brought into balance by both the subtlety acidic Mediterranean-inspired vinaigrette and the bright fruit notes of the highly structured 2013 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. The Australian truffle is our luxury supplement of summer; richly perfumed and now more widely available, they are an excellent value. Our fromage blanc of choice is from Cowgirl Creamery; organic, perfectly textured and produced in Petaluma California, it is worthy of the search. While the cold smoking step is not crucial, I highly recommend the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro. The smoking gun allows for a very measured and gentle application of smoke to virtually any ingredient without heat.



Preheat oven to 425°.

For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients but the oils in a non-reactive bowl and whisk until the sea salt has dissolved. Slowly incorporate the oils while whisking to emulsify and reserve.

For the roasted carrots, heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating, toss the carrots with olive oil and all of the aromatics in a bowl. Add the butter to the cast iron pan. Once melted, add carrots and toss for one minute. Cover with a lid and roast in the oven until easily pierced with a paring knife (approximately 20 minutes). Leave the oven on and remove carrots from the pan. When cool enough, cut the carrots into half-inch links on the bias, toss with the vinaigrette and reserve.

For the cipollini onions, wipe out the same cast iron pan and re-heat over medium-high heat. Add the oil and allow it to come to a shimmer (hot, but below the smoking point). Add the butter, thyme, tarragon, peppercorns and cipollini root side down. Bring the onions to a smoke (approximately 2 minutes). Carefully turn the onions over and place the pan in the hot oven. Roast for 8 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and allow the onions to cool. Peel the onions, toss with vinaigrette and reserve.

For the eggplant, prepare a hot grill and an ice bath. Pierce each eggplant a dozen times with a paring knife and place them directly on the grill. Roast the eggplant, turning until the eggplant is soft throughout (approximately 8-10 minutes). Plunge the eggplant into the ice bath to arrest cooking. Peel from the stem end down, slice into rounds and dress with the vinaigrette. Reserve.

For the farro piccolo, bring farro and water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce to a bare simmer and cook for 15 minutes, adding the salt, thyme and bay leaf half way through cooking. Drain and combine with the vinaigrette while warm. Reserve.

Spoon the fromage blanc into a small bowl or pie plate, leaving room for smoke to circulate. Dust the cheese with fennel pollen, a few turns of black pepper and olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Using PolyScience’s Smoking Gun Pro, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and smoke with a neutral wood chip (apple or cherry, for example) for 3 minutes. Reserve.

In a non-reactive bowl, combine the carrots, onions, eggplant, farro and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves. Season with salt, pepper and the remaining vinaigrette to taste. Cover and reserve for a minimum of 1 hour.

When ready to serve, spoon the farro salad into six small bowls, topped with the smoked fromage blanc. Garnish with shaved truffle, Maldon salt, the remaining thyme leaves and a slice of grilled fig.