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Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Wright Night

If you're a chef, receiving the James Beard award is pretty much as good as it gets.  I may think I'm a foodie, but I am nothing compared to Mr. Beard.  His love of food led to the James Beard Foundation and the James Beard Awards, aka the pinnacle of the chef/restaurant pyramid.  I was lucky enough to snag an invite to one of the James Beard House dinners on Monday night with some co-workers.  The menu was as follows:

  • Hors d’Oeuvres:
    • Pork Belly with Apple Cider Jus: The only one I didn't try.  Sad face.
    • Tuna Sashimi with Cucumbers, Scallions, and Ponzu
    • Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seed Mousse: The pumpkin made this much better than the other squash soups I see on every single menu this time of year.
    • Short Ribs with Carrots and Citrus: Good, but difficult to eat standing up, clutching a glass of wine.
    • Paired with: Hermann Wiemer Dry Riesling 2008 or Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2007
  • Dinner (each course paired with wine):
    • Lightly Smoked King Salmon with Warm Apples and Vanilla: I thought this was a good first course, although the portion was a little large.  Mine was a perfect medium rare and it worked with the apples, though I never would have thought to put them together.
      • Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet 2006
    • Maine Lobster with Matsutake Mushrooms and Arugula: Solid dish.
      • Far Niente Chardonnay 2008
    • Gently Cooked Veal Loin with Golden Potatoes and White Truffles: A tad overcooked and the truffles didn't really shine.  This was probably my least favorite course - I could have done without it.
      • Etude Carneros Pinot Noir 2007
    • 28-Day Dry-Aged Beef Sirloin with Port, Marrow, and Shallot Marmalade: The sauce wasn't very thick but still packed tons of rich flavor.
      • No Limit Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Syrah 2008
  • Dessert
    • Winter Citrus Fruit with Spiced Red Wine Gelée, Yuzu, and Greek Yogurt Sorbet: the fruit and gelee were tasty and refreshing, but the yuzu was a tad bland for me
    • Dark Chocolate–Chestnut Mousse with Roasted Pear Sorbet
    • Paired with: Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria 2007
I ate everything.  Our meal was compliments of Chef Rodolfo Contreras of The Wright in the Guggenheim museum.  I have not been to the restaurant, but I have to imagine this was better because it was a more personal experience.  When the chef walked around to each table at the end of the meal, I was like a giddy school girl.  Before I could stop myself, I was asking if I could take a picture with him.  He happily obliged.  In case the meal wasn't enough, as we walked out, the chef handed us each our own loaf of cherry bread (like banana bread or pound cake studded with fresh, juicy cherries).  It has made a wonderful breakfast all week long and acts as a reminder of my great meal.  [I was unable to rotate some of the pics.  My apologies.]

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