Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dinner at the Beard House, again

October 24

Elizabeth Blau knows how to throw a party. Of course, she should: She’s largely credited with turning Las Vegas into a restaurant city. And she managed to do it without becoming full of herself.
She called me personally (and others at NRN, including my colleague Paul Frumkin) to invite me to the Beard House to sample the food of The Setai and The Heritage House. Apparently she also called Florence Fabricant from the New York Times (and Nation's Restaurant News), Adam Rapoport from GQ, Jim Poris from Food Arts, and Salma Abdelnour (isn't that a great name? Salma Abdelnour) from Food & Wine. Paul couldn't make it, but everyone else was there — quite an august body. The last time I saw Florence at the Beard House was when Morgan Freeman was there to promote his own restaurant, Madidi. And I've never seen Adam Rapoport there.
Salma and Adam sat together, which makes sense, since they know each other from their Time Out New York days.
Elizabeth Blau said Andrew Knowlton from Bon Appétit RSVPed in the affirmative too, but his chair was empty. I hope he’s okay.
I sat between Salma and one of the Beard Foundation's staff members, Sal Rizzo.
Sal and I have crossed paths for years, but we'd never really had a good conversation before, so it was great to get to know him. He's fun.
Salma and I talked about the potential pros and cons of foie gras and I went on a brief tirade about the inferiority of my local greenmarket — the one at Grand Army Plaza — where I'm convinced that the farmers have figured out that the neighborhood has so drunk the Kool-Aid of sustainable food in general and the Food Co-Op in particular that they can throw any garbage they want to at us and we'll buy it.
Shysters there sell apples all year long.
My greenmarket does have great grape merchants, but that season, alas, is over.

What I ate and drank:

Salt pressed Tasmanian ocean trout with kalamansi and daikon sprouts
Claudia Springs Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley 2005

Warm salad of California’s autumn vegetables served with pumpkin jus and truffle shavings
Fisher vineyards Mountain Estate Chardonnay, Spring Mountain, Sonoma 2004

Pan-seared Pacific day boat scallop, foie gras and Petaluma Farm braised oxtail
Pierre Morey Corton Grand Cru Hospice de Beaune, Burgundy 2001

Roasted duck breast flavored with five spice, maitake gow gee (a type of ravioli), caramelized honey and ginger reduction
Rudd Estate Red, Oakville, Napa

Seasonal Californian artisan cheese tasting, Hectors honey (in comb), Anderson Valley figs, miniature sugar pear chips and oatmeal biscuits
Schramsberg J. Schram, California 1989

Floral Jasmine Chocolate Inspiration
Royal Tokaji Trué Essencia, Hungary 1989 (it was supposed to be served on crystal spoons, but they didn’t arrive)

Assorted mignardises
Domaine de la Romanée Conti fine de Bourgogne (Brandy), Burgundy 1979

Setai executive chef Shaun Hergatt
Heritage House executive chef Nancy Kinchela

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