Monday, May 10, 2010

Grand Gourmet - The Flavor of Midtown

I attended the Grand Gourmet - The Flavor of Midtown event at the gorgeous Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station.  This was my first Food & Wine event in NYC and I am grateful to my friend Jon for
allowing me to come as his guest.  As he quickly learned, I walked in with my usual determination when
attending these type of events, I usually have a game plan.  The Goal - To photograph and try every single tasting dish provided by each chef/restaurant, and at the same time, try, key word being 'try', not to get too inebriated or full while doing so.  Believe you me, although the portions are small and bite-sized, it all adds up when you have over 40 or 50 vendors.  And prior to this, I prepped my appetite and stomach by having my oatmeal for breakfast and a nice healthy salad.

So I walk in and go to town on the joint, slowly making my way from stand to stand, doing my thang, taking photos, talking to the chefs and trying everyone's tasty,one  or in some cases, not-so-tasty wares, with a glass of wine or cocktail in one hand and my camera in the other.  I swear, sometimes, I could use an extra set of arms or a really good wing person, because as fun as it all sounds, it is no easy task!  Yeah, yeah...  I hear you..  Woe is me!

So...  Anyway!
After I have tried everything, I go back to my favorites for a 2nd round, and I will talk more with the chef about their food to find out what makes ti so special.  I also make mental notes, to go to their restaurant at some point in the near future to try more of their food.

Here were the evening's winners in my book...

The first thing I tried that evening that wow-ed me was a Cream of Mushroom Soup with Gruyere Canapes by Chef Steven Zobel of Triomphe.
Yet light enough that the earthiness of the Mushroom came through.
The saltiness of the Gruyere Canape made for a nice complement...
This made for a great First Course...

This was my absolute favorite Dish of the night...
 "Nios-coise" Salad with Traditional Accompaniments

Chef Massimo De Francesco of Nios restaurant at The Muse, a Kimpton hotel, turned it out with this one!  I have to say, that I have been very impressed by the Food at the Kimpton Hotel Restaurants.  I am a huge fan of the Square 1682 restaurant at the Palomar in Philly. Simple yet innovative food with fresh ingredients that really comes through in their Dishes... The Food reminds me of California cuisine crossed with spa food and I love it. 

This Dish was essentially a deconstructed Nicoise by which the freshness of the Tuna coupled with the Sauce which basically embodied all of your typical flavors in a Nicoise, ultimately came through in a hugely successful way.  I mean, the minute it hit my mouth, I was floored.  I am salivating looking at the photos and thinking about it.  Big kudos to Chef De Francesco for knocking it out of the park.  I promptly shook his hand and told him, in a nutshell 'You win.' and that I would be coming into his restaurant to try more of his Food.
Must go back..
For more...

As for Desserts...

Passion Fruit 'Fromage Blanc' with White Balsamic Macerated Strawberries and Chocolate Nibs Brittle by Chef Stefan Bahr of Charlie Palmer's Metrazur right in Grand Central Station.

This Dessert was outstanding...
And with me not being a Dessert person, this was right up my alley.
And not overly sweet...
Perfect combination of flavors with the sweetness of the Passion fruit, the creaminess of the 'Fromage Blanc and the textural element and contrast of the Chocolate Brittle.   Perfection.

Honorable Dessert Mention...

Magnolia Bakery Mini-Cupcakes & Banana Pudding

I mean, who can go wrong with mini-cupcakes, really?
And the Banana Pudding was no joke...

All in all, it was a successful foray into the Food & Wine of Midtown Manhattan and while this was just a small taste of what NYC has to offer, I am anxious to delve even deeper and try more...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Quince Revisited...

One of my last Meals in San Francisco, was a Memorable Meal at Quince with my good friend, Nadia and her husband, Murph, who are as passionate about Food as I am, which is hard to find.
I chose Quince because I had been there before and had such a great experience, that I really wanted to try it again. Another reason I chose it is because Quince will soon be moving into the old Myth space on Jackson Street in the Financial District, so I really wanted to try it once more before they move.

Quince is an elegant yet understated space with low lighting and white table linens. And the staff is wonderfully attentive and impressively anticipated our every move.
We really felt like we were special guests.

Jumping right in...
The Dishes are ordered according to which Dishes for each Course were an overall Table Favorite, with the first ones being the best.

The Bread...

The Bread was a surprising Star of the Meal.

Above is their selection of Breads - Bread Sticks with a bit of a Cheesy kick to them, Bread with Star Anise and the wheel-shaped one with Olives and soaked in Olive Oil, which was a Favorite at the Table...

First Course

Squash Blossoms filled with Dungeness Crab, Zucchini, Carrot and Lemon Verbena

Riverdog Farm Asparagus with Uovo Frito, an Egg Yolk that was Breaded and then Deep Fried (brilliant!), Pancetta, Brown Butter and Parmigiano Reggiano

Sformato of Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Bagna Cauda

Please forgive the photo quality on this one...

Second Course

Agnolotti dal Plin
Traditional Piedmontese Veal-filled Pasta

Bigoli della Casa with Rabbit, Spigariello Kale and Red Lentil

Egg Tagliatelle with Veal, Porcini Mushroom and Peas

Third Course

Paine Farm Smoked Squab with a Black Cabbage, Porcini Mushroom Strudel and Sunchoke Crema

Liberty Duck Breast and Sausage with Tokyo Turnip, Bordeaux Spinach, Fennel and Blackberry Mostarda

Sonoma Organic Veal with Zucchini and their Blossoms


Aprium Torta with Golden Beet Leaves, Sorbetto and White Chocolate Crema

Olive Oil Semifreddo with Sbrisolona and Cherry Granita

Murph had the Selection of Cheeses off the Quince Cheese Cart which could give the Gary Danko Cheese Cart a run for its money.

Quince is still as impressive as the last time. I only hope that the new space on Jackson brings the same class and elegance that the Octavia one puts forth. I suppose we shall see upon one of my returns to the Bay...