Thursday, March 08, 2007


March 7

I noticed that this evening’s dance card was empty when a publicist e-mailed and asked when I might like to check out the food being cooked by Ben Pollinger and Jansen Chan, the fairly new chef and really new pastry chef at Oceana.
Pollinger (pictured above), who spent a number of years working for Floyd Cardoz at Tabla, has been at Oceana since October.
Chan, who was pastry sous chef at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, has been there for just a few weeks.
Now, unless a publicist specifies that I should bring a guest when they invite me to dinner, I come solo. Showing up with uninvited guests is simply tacky.
So I came to Oceana alone, and they asked if a lady or a gentleman would be joining me and I showed them the book that I would be reading to keep me company (I’m catching up on my science fiction classics and reading Snow Crash; it’s historically interesting, but otherwise not so good).
Pollinger’s exposure to Indian flavors comes through, for sure. Here’s what he and Chan served me, and what the sommelier paired with it:

Marinated ruby red shrimp with young coconut broth
Scallop ceviche with pomegranates, seaweed and hearts of palm
Bruno Paillard Brut Champagne

South Florida stone crab claw with spinach, pumpkin purée and curry leaf aïoli (and also some pumpkin seeds)
2005 Menetou-Salon Sauvignon Blanc (Loire)

Grilled baby octopus with cranberry beans, olives and basil sauce.
2005 Ronco del Gelso Tocai Friuliano

Gulf shrimp risotto with roasted acorn squash, pumpkin seed oil, and a little seafood foam on top
Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc

North Carolina steamed grouper with young coconut, Chinese broccoli raab, lotus root and black bean sauce, topped with chiles, ginger, cilantro, chives.
2005 Allan Scott Pinot Noir (Marlborough, New Zealand)

Almond crusted red snapper with roasted beets, beet greens, beet puree and almond compote
2004 Amber Knolls Cabernet Sauvignon (Lake County, Calif.)

Taro wrapped daurade with baby bok choy, Chinese long beans and cilantro-coconut milk sauce
2004 Cambolargo Bairada (a Tempranillo-Shiraz-Merlot blend from Bairrada, Portugal)

Mixed tropical fruit with crème fraîche sorbet and coconut tuile
Coppo Moscato D'Asti (Piedmont)

Warm vanilla grapefruit cake with poached grapefruit segments, earl grey ice cream and grapefruit tuile.
Telmo Rodriguez Muscatel (Spain)

Brownie with toasted cinnamon whipped cream, espresso granité, chocolate sauce, espresso crumble and a little edible gold
Michel Chapoutier Black Grenache (Rhône)

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