Showing posts with label seafood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seafood. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gala Parfait: Feast of the Seven Fishes

You know what they say, Italians do it better.
Christmas is no exception. I had heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a coursed Christmas Eve tradition to count down the hours to Christ's midnight birth, but never have I experienced it. Until this year.
On the Table Set's holiday episode this year we decided to shake up tradition and go intimate dinner party instead of all-out Xmas bonanza like last year. Add my co-host Greg's recent collaborators Alaska Seafood graciously sharing some of their top-of-the-line sustainable seafood and our Buone Feste was heartily underway.

AND the table is set (no pun intended). In fact, Greg is such a pro I believe it was set a full day in advance.

As per usual, we had too many cooks in the kitchen — That's because some of our most talented friends were in attendance. Seven courses for seven wonderful cooks. And for extra credit, seven beverage pairings. No lazy bloggers 'round here!

To serve as guests arrived, I thought Philadelphia Fish House punch seemed a fitting choice.

Course #1: The Cuisinerd and her main squeeze are no amateurs when it comes to sea bugs, and they knocked us flat with their Grilled Alaskan Oysters and Mignonette Trio: Spicy Chipotle, Cilantro Lime, and Classic Cocktail Sauce. (Seriously, these sauces should be sold in jars.)

Their offbeat pairing choice of Cantine Elvio Tintero Grangia frizzante (90% Favorita and 10% Moscato) created a wonderfully dry and fizzy bridge to the next course.

Course #2: I volunteered for the amuse bouche. Starting with salmon roe, I got inspired by dishes from LA's Son of a Gun restaurant and in the sexy NOMA cookbook. For added depth I first cured the roe in a beer brine. I used Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's sweet and spicy Route Des Épices rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.

The finished amuse comprised of a Rye Crisp with Maple Cream, Beer-cured Salmon Roe, Green Chile Sugar and Fennel Top.

Course #3: Jackie the Beeroness (also behind Domestic Fits) wowed us all with her comforting Seared Alaskan Scallops wtih Smoked Sweet Corn Puree and Stout Balsamic Reduction. A sparkling wine cocktail with fresh basil and elderflower liqueur was an elegant brace.

Course #4: Chef, artist, and former Table Set guest Brian wove a tapestry of a "soup course" with his Seared Halibut over Forbidden Rice with Miso Pork Broth. For a cleansing respite, fresh lavender-infused spa water was paired.

Course #5: It wouldn't be a Table Set supper without something showy from Andy. His "Surf 'n' Turf" entree was no exception. Here, oceany Uni Capellini with Scallop, Bonito and Nori Crumble met earthy Rye Toast with Pine Nut Porcini Butter for a unique twist on the concept.
It was paired with Kabaj Rebula, a full-bodied Slavic white wine (100% Ribolla) capable of standing up to the intense flavors of the dish.

Course #6: Salad after entree? Why not?! Salad with crab? Hit me! Joy the Baker made magic with her crisp and refreshing Alaska Crab, Apple and Pomegranate Salad — a new Insalata di Mare classic. Get her recipe here.

Six courses in, I can hardly recall what we were drinking anymore... but my blurry photo shows that it was bubbly, and that we were having fun!

Course #7: And boy, the fun wasn't over yet. Greg built a mountain of it with his festive Caffè e Frittelle Dolci (Coffee & Donuts) — Glorious rosemary glazed donuts studded with gummy Swedish Fish, a highbrow/lowbrow win. I think I had seven.

In all, a beautiful night of subtlety, skill, festivity, and togetherness. Thank you to Alaska Seafood and all of our lovely guests!

Video and additional photography courtesy of Ted Houser

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Voyager Bien: Back to the Big Easy

"Yo, yeah dude let's go out and DRINK" the voice behind me boomed, into a cell phone I realized straightening up in my airplane seat. We had landed in New Orleans. I could feel the in-flight-sized bottle of bourbon bubble in my veins with excitement. I don't travel nearly enough in my opinion, and though I just explored NOLA for the first time but 9 months ago I was already back, for an early birthday weekend of Southern decadence in my favorite city for it.
Luckily our hotel front desk was open 'round the clock. We didn't get to Le Richelieu Hotel on Chartres in the French Quarter from the airport until close to 2:00am, and the oldest clerk I've ever seen crept to the box to fetch our key. The hotel was charmingly classic, with a spacious room (which was obviously 'updated' sometime in the '70s) and the convenience of a courtyard swimming pool - welcomed given this weather...
If you've been to the south in August, you might understand why it is NOT exactly tourist season. Leaving the hotel for a stroll around town Friday morning was like stepping into a sunny, maximum-heat steam room fully clothed. But a pretty fabulous one at that.
Every morning in NOLA for me has begun with a chicory coffee from CC's Community Coffee House, a New Orleans-born Louisiana's favorite.
The warehouse-lined outskirts of the Central Business District, once skid row, nowadays is where the hot NOLA chefs au courant house their heavy hitting institutions (several of which I visit, so stay tuned!).
With a cloying -and deadly stiff- daiquiri in hand to battle the heat we explored the antique shops peppered along Decatur to the far end of the Quarter bordering the Marigny.
The Marigny is one of my favorite parts of the city. I've heard it aptly likened to Echo Park, a vibrant and soulful neighborhood still a little rough around the edges.
It's also the home to the justly famed Praline Connection, which beckoned me out of my hangover last Halloween as ghostly revelers headed up the parade outside. Though not for dinner this time, we did pop in for a rum praline...
As if New Orleans hasn't struggled enough rebuilding its tourism post-Katrina, the BP gulf oil spill has thrown another wrench into the machine. But rumors be dispelled, NEW ORLEANS SEAFOOD IS SAFE TO EAT. And delicious as ever. "We had a period where our supply dropped considerably and prices skyrocketed," a server at Royal House Oyster Bar explained, while many fisherman were spending their days on paid cleanup rather than harvesting. For now, 70% of Louisiana's coastal waters remain safely open for fishermen, the most dangerous challenge being perception. And an unclear future. "We also just got these in this week," our server said presenting a 22oz bottle of Abita S.O.S. beer, a "Charitable Pilsner" that will generate 75¢ for every bottle sold to assist with the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry and individuals fighting to survive the disastrous oil spill. (Donate here).
Even with sweat pouring off my forehead, I couldn't contain my happiness trudging around the streets of NOLA. And OH the meals I would fit into the next 3 days! Lord knows it would contain as much local seafood as I could manage.