Thursday, October 29, 2015

Star Chefs ICC- Congress Cocktail

On night two of Star Chef's the conference space turned into a fabulous cocktail party with bartenders from all over shaking up wonderful new drinks.  This year the ever popular Negroni was the theme with cocktail guru's like Jim Meehan pouring an East India Negroni made with Island Rum right beside his PDT predecessor Jeff Bell.

Each bartender had a different spin on the drink.  Nacho Jimenez of the Daily created the delicious Solera Negroni made entirely without gin.

James Beck from the Patterson House in Nashville, TN created a frothy pink Dee-Dely-Dee made with coconut and cocoa nib infused Ford Gin, vanilla infused Cocchi Americano, Campari, whole egg and dusted with fresh cinnamon.

It was great to see some NYC newcomers on scene like Katie Stipe from one of Brooklyn's best new bars Grand Army creating an incredible espresso bean infused Campari cocktail.

But it was Williamsburg's Extra Fancy that stole my heart with the Chennai Express; an experiment using the Nespresso Pure Origin India coffee combined with gin, passion fruit, cardamom and lime leaf by Robert Krueger.

Another highlight were the refreshing Sake Snow Cones created by Trevlor Hutchins of Tempo Dulu in Portland, ME.

I absolutely loved the flavor combination of yuzu, smoked pineapple and Laphroaig.

And of course watching John daSilva of Spoke in Somerville, MA cook up his Smoked Diver Scallops with potato, creme fraiche, trout roe, mustard and dill.

But honestly the best part of the night was watching Nicolas Blouin and crew celebrate his big win in the Valrhona Pastry competition with flutes of champagne and a big check for $5,000.

Congrats to everyone who competed!

89 Holland Street
Somerville, MA

163 Danforth Street
Portland, ME 04102

320 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

336 State Street
New York, NY 11217

210 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012

1711 Division Street,
Nashville, TN 37203

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Star Chefs ICC- Hey Asia and RANGE

Day two of Star Chef's Congress the EAT@ICC moved from the all American hot dog to the flavors of Asia for the lunch showcase.

Angus An of Maenam in Vancouver, BC rolled out a gorgeous Thai Smoked Salmon Salad...

...while Mike Gulotta from MoPHo in New Orleans, LA went rich and hearty with a Backbone Stew with fermented beans, pork blood and lime leaf aioli.

And who can resist a piping hot nugget of Tori Karrage from Ed Ross & Gabe Rosen of Biwa in Portland, OR.  There was a hint of ginger and a twist of lime; this was seriously awesome Japanese fried chicken. 

Each day Steelite International hosted a pop up restaurant inside the Congress where guests could reserve seats for a three course lunch.  I was lucky enough to dine when Chef Mattie McGhee New Jersey native and current chef of RANGE with Bryan Voltaggio was at the helm.  Chef McGhee actually won the title of Rising Star Chef from Washington, DC at last years Congress. 

He began with a hearty Butternut Squash soup with pepitas, spiced coca and popcorn. There were so many great textures and flavors playing off each other in this bowl, each bite created an whole new experience.

An incredibly tender Octopus with sprouted grains and pistachio followed...

...while Beef Cheeks & Tongue with root vegetables and Yukon potatoes closed out the meal. 

It was a great lunch and the team just looked like they were having a blast cooking together behind the bar which is really what Star Chefs is all about.  

5335 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20015

1938 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC 

514 City Park Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119

3462 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20010

215 SE 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214

7919 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33138

Monday, October 26, 2015

Star Chefs ICC- Hot Diggity Dog

The annual International Chefs Congress took over the Brooklyn Expo Center again this year and Day One was all about the wiener at Hot Diggity Dog day.  Five different restaurants from all over the country showcased their spin on this American staple.

Matt Gennuso from Wurst Kitchen in Providence had two different styles; the Classic Frank with house kraut & Dijon mustard and the Smoked Hot Link with a sweet bacon jam.

Bill Kim from the Belly Shack in Chicago created the Belly Dog; an all beef hot dog with egg noodles and pickled green papaya.

Phillip Gilmour from nearby Hi Hello in Brooklyn concocted a crazy Icelandic Hot Dog made with Meat Hook Lamb, remoulade, sweet brown mustard, ketchup, chopped onions and fried shallots on a Martins potato bun.

I absolutely loved Michael Hudman & Andrew Ticer's Beef and Cheddar Frank on a salty warm pretzel roll from Porcellino's out in Memphis, TN.

But it was the Spicy Okra Dog with choron sauce and scallions from Benjamin Thompson at The Rock Barn out in Arrington, VA that completely stole the show.

This was AMAZING...spicy and was like eating an incredible jalapeno popper inside a delicious hot dog.  It sounds weird but worked in every way.

After lunch the Main Stage took on some incredible guests like José Andrés of Minibar in Washington, DC with Richard Blais as the event MC.  It was just a taste of the future of food and drink and a great kickoff to the three day culinary conference.

The Rock Barn
2387 Oak Ridge Road
Arrington, VA 22922

Wurst Kitchen
960 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906

Hi Hello
247 Starr Street
Brooklyn NY 11237

711 West Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

Belly Shack
1912 North Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wines of Macedonia at the 21 Club

My knowledge of Macedonian wine before this week was extremely limited.  I remember having a glass during an event last year that was surprisingly solid but after this showcase  I can truly say this is an exciting new region.

Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer guided us through lunch with twelve wines from four different wineries paired with four courses from the 21 Club.

To begin an Antipasto with Marinated Feta, Smoked Sujuk, Roasted Pepper & Olives with three whites including one of my favorites of the afternoon Zilavaka; a dry, nutty white with hints of peach and honey that would be perfect for just about any occasion. 

The next white wines were two very different Chardonnays one aged in stainless steel and the other fermented in French oak barriques; both exquisite with the Crab Cake apple, celery and fennel macedoine.

Then it was onto the the Vranec (pronounced "Vra" "netz") which translates to a strong, dark powerful horse.  These reds were every bit as big and bold as those Italians I love so much...each aged in a different barrel Macedonia, American and Slavonian.

I honestly enjoyed all three but the silky chocolate, plum flavors of the Kamnik Winery's Grand Reserve 2012 was perfect with the Spicy Lamb Bolognese with fettuccine rigate, lamb sausage, picholine olive, roasted tomato and manchego.

The tasting finished with three Vranec blends; one being the Dalvina Winery Synthesis Cuvee Barrique 2009 that was so deliciously affordable I recommend buying a case if possible.  These were paired with a Grass Fed Flat Iron Steak with black truffle sauce.

These wines are just starting to appear on wine lists and liquor stores around the city. Here's a few I mentioned worth taking a look at :

  • Stobi Winery Zilavka 2014
  • Dalvina Winery Synthesis Cuvee Barrique 2009
  • Kamnik Winery Terrior Vranec Grand Reserva 2012
  • Popov Winery Grand Cuvee 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dorothée Selz at the French Cheese Board

There only a few weeks left to check out a fantastic exhibit by one of the original members of the Eat Art Movement at the French Cheese Board in Midtown.

Dorothée Selz has been creating exhibits throughout her home country of France since the 1970's but this is just the 2nd time she has brought her stunning array of culinary creations to NYC.

Just look at these cool edible creations from the gummy bear and Swiss cheese rounds to the whimsical slices of rainbow bread.  The entire space is like some wonderful Willy Wonka land of cheese and yeast.

There's also a whole timeline of her past work with some amazing pictures of the extravagant edible art shes constructed throughout the world.  It's a short, fun exhibit; perfect for a stroll during lunch or a pre-dinner show.  The exhibit runs from 11:00 AM- 7:00 PM weekdays through November 15th; so catch it while you can.

The French Cheese Board
26 West 39th Street between 5th & 6th
New York, NY 10018

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Return to Sripraphai

Now that I've been to Sripraphai five or six times I've got the perfect lunch order. To begin Papaya Salad with dry shrimp, crushed peanuts and tangy cherry tomatoes...

...a super spicy Tom Yum Shrimp Soup with sliced mushroom...

... and one of the best Pad Thai's in the city filled with fried egg, peanuts, tofu and chicken.  

Not one thing greasy about this dish; just pure deliciousness.

Sripraphai Restaurant
64-13 39th Avenue
Woodside, NY 11377

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Birthday Weekend- Sour'd in September & the Nomad

The birthday weekend continued on Saturday with a trip to Captain Lawrence for their sour beer festival.  I hadn't been to the new brewery since it moved and the space was amazing. So much room!  And what a well run festival; no lines, good food and tons of great breweries all pouring delicious sour beers.

We stayed there all afternoon then hopped back on MetroNorth to the Nomad Bar for a casual dinner.  We got a table on the 2nd floor overlooking the dining room below which was fantastic for people watching.

We began with the Bay Scallops marinated with yuzu and pistachio...two of my all time favorite flavors together in one delicious bite.

Then it was onto their incredible Dry Aged Beef Burger with cheddar cheese, onion and a special house sauce. 

This thing is one huge sloppy mess of a meal that I wouldn't pass up any day.

And of course what's a birthday burger without a side of thin, crispy french fries dusted with sea salt and fresh rosemary.

Mr. T got their famous Chicken Pot Pie and it was honestly a bit life chnaging. I hate Chicken Pot Pie but this version was so rich and velvety...OMG I would eat that again in a heartbeat.  The innards were aesthetically unpleasing so no picture but trust me it was amazing.  We had already drank more than enough beers at Captain Lawrence so we moved onto cocktails of course...

...and to finish their delectable Cookies and Cream balls.  An absolutely perfect birthday weekend!

1170 Broadway & 28th Street
New York, NY 1001

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Musket Room

To kick off my birthday weekend Mr. T and I began with dinner at the Musket Room.  This New Zealand restaurant down in SOHO gives off a cozy rustic vibe. It feels like an old farmhouse with the delicious smell of wood from the oven warming the front entrance as you enter.  We began with a few of their specialty cocktails; the Elizabeth Street Mara with cucumber, basil and black lime for Mr. T and a frothy Lady Rutherford for me with cachaca, brazil nut and toasted coconut orgeat.  

The Musket Room offers three menus; a six course tasting, a ten course chefs tasting and an a la carte.  We decided to do the $75 six course with two additional add-on's not listed on either of the tasting menus.

To begin an amuse bouche from the chef including a trio of veggies asparagus, daikon and celery...

... and a basket of warm cheddar brioche rolls served with a rich creamy bone marrow butter.

The Duxbury Oyster with nasturtium vinaigrette was our first add-on of the night and easily my favorite course.  These oysters were exquisite- bright and briny with a nice herbal sweetness.  

1st Course- Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with olive oil and herbs

2nd Course- Corn Custard with raw corn, truffle and herbs

Our second add-on course Foie Gras Torchon with nectarine, beet and brioche

3rd Course- Quail with blackberries, bread sauce and roasted onions

4th Course- Berkshire Pork with cauliflower, kale and orange

5th Course- Passion Fruit

6th Course- Chocolate, salted caramel and mandarin

The meal was wonderful; the crispy skin on the Berkshire Pork and delicious blackberry sauce on the quail were the biggest highlights in addition to the amazing oysters.  It was just a nice relaxing way to start the birthday weekend.

The Musket Room
265 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012