Scoop of the Day… NY Mag Taste

Last night I had the privilege of being invited to the 2011 NY Mag Taste: A World of Flavors. Saying that this was a good event would be an understatement. This year, several of New York’s most renowned chefs and restaurants were hand-picked to showcase their craft with creative and decadent small plates that best represented their cuisine. The event was hosted by NY Mag editor Gillian Duffy in the Skylight SoHo event loft, which was filled to the max with a beautiful display of tables arranged by globlal influence, a fully stocked bar that stretched down the center of the room, and a Cadillac sedan…sponsorship. Each restaurant had its own table that was adorned in a way that spoke of its unique personality, and that was manned by THE Executive Chef. This alone put me on Cloud 9. I took full advantage of the situation and made a point to shake hands with celebrity chefs Michael Psilakis of Kefi, Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster, Nancy Olson of Gramercy Tavern, and Georges Mendes of Aldea, just to name a few. You’d think I was meeting Brad Pitt or Justin Beiber, I was so excited. This… was foodie heaven.

Speaking of taking advantage of a situation, as soon as I entered the loft the devouring began. Now, usually I am very meticulous about how I eat.  Omitting my sweet tooth, I pick and choose what I allow myself to eat in a given meal, and I pay close attention to what is going into my mouth. I eat smart. In this particular situation, however, my rule book was left in a cab. Without a thought or hesitation, my jacket came off and the tasting commenced. I don’t think I have ever mapped out a plan of action so quickly or so precisely in my life. It’s as if I had spent the day memorizing the event lay out ( Scoop’s Honor, I did no such thing). Sooner than you could say, “Jamie slow down,” I was onto the next plate. Bite after bite, table after table, you’d think I’d never had a meal in my life. There had to be at least 40 restaurants serving at the event and, I kid you not, I tried at least 95% of them. The most shocking part of all, was that I accomplished this in less than an hour. You can say it, “Jamie, how you could lose control like that? What were you thinking? How glutenous could you be?” And my answer is simply this, ” It was AMAZING. I was happy to lose control! I was being hand served by some of the top chefs in the restaurant capital of the world, dishes that were hand-picked and crafted BY them! Are you kidding me?! I have not one regret for my actions and given the opportunity to do it again, I’d pick up a pair of extra-large pants and get my eat on!” I do have to admit that as soon as I was done stuffing my face I high tailed it back to my apartment. That was a danger zone and lingering would only increase my odds of self-destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

While I can’t say that I remember all of the bites I had pre food coma, I do recall a few that stood out from the pack. The best bites that I would consider of the “appetizer” genre were the Red Kuri Pumpkin Veloute with Salt Cod Chantilly from Corton, the Oyster from Kefi, the Herb Falafel with Harissa Yogurt  from Boulud Sud, and the Black Sea Bass an Avocado Tarts from Red Farm. The best bites over all were the Smoked Texas Tenderloin with Skillet Cornbread from Hill Country BBQ Market, the Taco from Toloache, and the Risotto from SHO Shaun Hergatt. And last but not least, the best two desserts HANDS DOWN were the Pumpkin and Gingerbread Spiced Truffles from Gramercy Tavern and the Chocolate Creme from Porter House NY. Each of the dishes mentioned above were just so creative in composition and theme, and they all delivered so much more than you would initially expect.

Surprisingly, some chefs that you would have expected to steal the show, while still tasty, under-delivered. Alas, the only disappointment I can think of was that there was no ice cream, but, I would say that now wouldn’t I 🙂

The NY Mag Taste: A World of Flavors did what it intended to do and sent me on the fastest, most exhilarating culinary adventure around the globe, all within a New York minute.

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Scoop of the Day… Craft

Craft, by definition, is “an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or skilled artistry.” Craft, by reputation, is a renowned NYC restaurant commended for being understated and minimalistic while consistently delivering a luxurious and meticulously orchestrated dining experience. Tom Colicchio’s Craft, while recognized among foodies and mortals alike, is a restaurant that I have, regretfully, avoided up until this weekend.  I have a tendency to rebel against trends before surrendering, and this is one such instance in which I can admit to have been missing out. For years I tortured my frozen toes and layered my socks so as not to be aligned with Cult UGG, on that same note I stuck to flip flops in the summer. I have yet to actually purchase my own iPod (inheriting or gifting does not count) and it took me a solid three months before I surrendered to Facebook once made available on the GW campus.  Amongst all of my protests, I have to say that, when it comes to trending restaurants such as this, it’s worth your while to raise the white flag.

Although it has the stigma of being a chain, when you go to the flagship Craft in NYC, the entire experience is seamless from first sip to last bite. The ambiance flows fluidly with the food and beverage, which is then bridged by a gracious and efficient staff. The message throughout your stay is that of subtle elegance and refinement. For instance, the décor, upon first glance, says industrial and unfinished. After standing at the bar for at most thirty seconds, however, it soon reveals itself to be delicate and polished. It is as if the choice of medium and minimalism serves as a tromp l’oeil for strategic elegance. This theme of “craftiness,” if you will, persists throughout the meal. While the New American dishes on the menu are organized by genre and seem relatively straightforward, the execution is absolutely perfect and the blend of flavors and textures is undeniably calculated.

While the magic of the food and ambiance unfold, your party is seated at an ample wood table that serves almost as a stage. The food is served family style so that everyone can share the experience, the meal leaves your taste buds tantalized, and you’ll spend the rest of the night wondering, “Did that really just happen?”

Scoop of the Day…

Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when young Forrest and Jenny were hiding from her abusive father in the corn fields? They got down on their knees and Jenny began praying, “Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far. Far far away from here.” Well, for some reason, I immediately thought of this scene when I walked by this guy the other day:

Action Art in Madison Square Park

Maybe it was because I had just gotten off work, but I saw something in myself as I admired the huge, buoyant bouquet of balloons suspended in his hands on a single string. It was almost a metaphor for what I was feeling at the time… maybe if I just cut the string from that one heavy, monotonous thing holding me back, I would finally be able to fly free and do what I want. Crazy, I know, but there is something so desperate yet peaceful about what he was doing.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure WHAT he was doing. As I approached him during my stroll home from work through Madison Square Park, I stopped (yes, I’m a New Yorker and yes, I actually stopped) ,and tried to put myself in his shoes. It was a little difficult doing this, as he was lying down and I was standing up a good 20 ft behind him, but I managed… And then I saw it; if I was this guy at this moment… I would probably be diverting people’s’ attention so as to diminish the boundless line at Shake Shack and make a run for it before anyone knew what hit them. They’d still be staring up at the balloons as they drifted off into the clear blue sky, and I would be greedily ordering a juicy double cheese burger with fries and an Arnold Palmer to go…Success.

Sometimes we think so much about the little nagging things, that we forget about the sweet, delicious reality we have right in front of us. What a smart guy 😉