November 6, 2007

Taste of New York 2007

OK everyone! I went somewhere really fun last night!! Yes, I got out of the house and then some. I went to the Taste of New York event at the Puck Building. Ah- foodie heaven. It was crowded, it was noisy, it was really a lot of fun.
Quick overview: Lots of restaurants and vendors (51) get to set up tables, and show off their goods by wining and dining the crowd. What could be better than that? And then, to top it off, I got to take home a really very nice goodie bag.
Some highlights that stand out in my mind:
Butter: Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli - The little lamb popsicles with Green olive tapenade, Romanesco and crispy Rosemary were very, very tasty, the meat had a mild curried tang which of course just loves lamb, and Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli is a doll!
Allen & Delancey: Chef Neil Ferguson, offered Onion Knish with puree soubise. This was very nice- the little knish had a sliver of salt-preserved lemon and a few jewels of salmon caviar on top. Mmmm
Gordon Ramsay at the London: Chef Josh Emett, his offering was Butternut squash veloute with pan roasted sea scallops. Lovely soup, served in little plastic cups- lol! Simple and straightforward, that was the appeal. The broth was creamy, perfectly nappe and the scallops were sweet and tender. I just kept thinking- nice job, nice job!
Restaurant Daniel: Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel presented Light hazelnut cream with Gianduja biscuit and milk chocolate mousse. Oh my, oh my, oh my! I have to admit, I asked Chef Ansel how one would pronounce said biscuit, and I still can't reproduce it like he said with his charming accent, but it was heavenly. The biscuit itself was a crispy concoction of chocolate and hazelnuts and the whole thing was just mousse heaven. I had to remind myself of the finer points of personal restraint and decorum not to do another fly by or two on that table!
WD-50: Chef Wylie Dufresne's popcorn soup, pear, cranberry and anise hyssop deserves a mention just for sheer creativity. I asked Chef Dufresne how one went about making popcorn soup, and he explained how he pureed popped popcorn with water, added some butter and salt and voila. It was nice and smooth so I imagine it had been strained, and it certainly was creative. It was surprisingly maizey and nicely neutral. Similar to me in taste to masa.
Ouest: Chef Tom Valenti presented Gruyere and prosciutto custard with bitter greens. Wow, this was so delightful! The custard was everything a custard should be, soft and buttery, and the prosciutto in very small dice scattered throughout burst on your tongue with their little bits of salt and flavor. The small, fresh greens on the side were a nice foil for the rich custard.
Ciao Bella Gelato: Chef Danilo Zecchin, had 4 choices of gelato: maple gingersnap, chocolate hazelnut, cranberry orange sorbetto and the Lebanese yogurt which is what I tried- I was getting really full at this point! Very nice, very creamy, sweet, but still had a yogurt tang and was nicely palate cleansing.
Rickshaw Dumpling Bar:Chef Anita Lo. OK, this was cool. You know those Chinese sesame seed covered rice balls with the sweet bean paste inside that I love? Well, imagine this with black sesame seeds on the outside, and molten chocolate on the inside! In love yet? Believe it or not, there was almost too much chocolate! I know, I know, this does not sound like me, and I don't have a fever! I actually had to dump a little of the chocolate out to be able to eat this without chocolate disaster- though I think I did see a few people sporting bibs. Admittedly unstylie, but very smart for this dish.
Pegu Club: Chef Audrey Saunders offered two mixed drinks. I tried both actually....hehe. The Jamaican Firefly was nice and gingery, but I was convinced by fellow guests to go back and try the Gin-Gin Mule which was minty and even better actually!
Alto & L'Impero: Chef Michael White presented Sicilian-style Mediterranean sardines. It was an interesting dish because the sardines were large, not the small little things you think of when you think sardine, and fresh-pickle marinated, similar in taste to me to pickled herring but not as strong. I liked it.
Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Homemade V8 juice and buttermilk panna cotta. This was neat because everything presented had come from their farm. There was a thin little cracker across the little cup of V8 and panna cotta that seemed to me to have greens and edamame in a light vinagrette. It was crunchy, tasty and gone in two bites. The juice was herby and earthy and the buttermilk panna cotta had a surprising sweet note. It was light and refreshing all told.
Tocqueville Restaurant: Chef Jo-Ann Makovitzky presented Truffled Grits with Coddled Quail Egg. OK, I have to tell a story. My husband's family is from the Southern and Western parts of the United States and there has been more than one occasion when out to breakfast with hubby and pater-in-law that I have had to cringe and keep my eyes on my plate so as to not accidentally catch glimpse of them "prepare" their grits (typical southern fare, by the way) by smashing their softly cooked eggs with their forks and slopping it all together on their plate. So, when I was presented with essentially this homely grits and eggs smash- albeit with a nice slice of prosciutto and a fancy quail egg, I wasn't sure I could critique it with a non-biased judgement. However, I tried to push aside all past connections with anything resembling this dish and found it homely, but not un-tasty. The prosciutto, however, was by far my favorite part.
City Harvest: Yay! The non-profit partner of Taste of New York. I had a lovely chat with Daniel, the volunteer manager and I'm seriously interested in volunteering for this worthy cause. As someone who loves food- and wants everyone to have enough of it, and hates waste as all food comes at a cost, this charity really speaks to me. I'll keep you updated.

There were of course, offerings that didn't speak to me, a few that I felt were just mediocre foodstuffs wrapped in Chefly know the type. The large, grandiose explanations of ingredients that sort of repeat themselves in different languages, IE: au jus with juice, or genmai cha tea or use terms that don't really fit what they've put together except by a really far stretch of the imagination -but it sure sounds nifty! However, I'm not here to bash anyone, or be a naysayer, nor can I do a blurb on everyone, whether I liked their offering or not.

So, there it is. A little insight into the mind of Chris and a glimpse of Taste of New York 2007. Mwahaha. Enjoy! and you bet your bippy I'm doing this again next year!

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