The other night, Gothamist had the most decadent dream: in one night, we ate at Hearth, WD-50, Asiate, Public, Cru, Sumile and Per Se. We sipped wines from all over the world, and nibbled on delectable desserts from Spice Market. When we woke up the next morning, we realized that it wasn't a dream after all -- it was the StarChefs.com annual Rising Stars Revue, and Gothamist was there.
This relatively small and intimate tasting event at the Flatiron Gallery allowed us to get up close and schmooze with some of the top chefs in the city. Each tasting station was flanked by a wine station, and Frederick Dexheimer, the 28 year old sommelier behind BLT Steak & BLT Fish, selected wines to accompany each dish.
Hearth has been high on Gothamist's list ever since we went there for a birthday dinner, and chef Marco Canora wowed us yet again with his fava and pecorino salad with smoked lamb tenderloin, highlighting spring ingredients. Although our resident wine geek would be horrified by our progression, we moved from the Marques de Casa Concha 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon that was paired with the lamb right to the Markus Molitor 2002 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spaetlese Reisling paired with Jonathan Benno's Hudson Valley foie gras en terrine with apple gelée. It goes without saying that we were dazzled by Jonathan's work at Per Se when we visited, and we were also impressed with his colleague, pastry chef Sébastien Rouxel, who shared in the StarChefs honors.
We moved on to several seafood dishes, stopping first to taste the delicate crab with asparagus from Dante Bouccuzzi of Aureole, one of three past honorees who were participating in this year's Revue. Next, the lobster -- straight from Maine, with turnips (our new favorite vegetable), salsify, and mango butter, thanks to Shea Gallante from Cru. Finally, to round out the seafood trio, a light and creamy scallop tartare, with fennel cream and crushed rice crackers, from Noriyuki Sugie of Asiate.
We paused at this point to socialize a bit, as the room was filled with familiar faces -- our Duckathlon teammates, the chef who taught our pig-roasting class, when we spotted another familiar face: "bar chef" Jason Kosmas of Employees Only. Jason caught our attention an an earlier tasting event with his ginger smash, but tonight, he presented us with the Pêche Bourbon, a concoction of Maker's Mark, lush white peach puree, Crème de Pêche, and lemon juice. A perfect palate cleanser.
We then hit some of the heavier dishes. Patricia Yeo, a past honoree, now at Sapa, prepared a coriander-crusted seared tuna served with a divinely tender ginger-orange braised oxtail. Next, the miracle of fried mayonnaise with pickled beef tongue, served by Wylie Dufresne of WD-50. Now, we'll admit, we generally don't like mayonnaise all that much, but having tasted this once before at a sherry tasting, we're now a bit more open-minded about mayo. Creamy and light, with a slightly crispy crust, we realized that a good trip to the fryer does wonders for just about anything, whether you think you like it or not. Speaking of which we weren't sure if we liked kangaroo, as we had never tasted it before, but after a visit to Brad Farmerie of Public, we quickly reached a verdict -- his grilled kangaroo was tender and flavorful without being at all gamey, and it was a perfect match for the accompanying spicy coriander falafel, not to mention the 2003 Guilty Shiraz from Shinas Estate with which it was paired.
Our last course before hitting the dessert corner was a glistening poached hamachi with pickled melon and nori salt from Josh DeChellis of Sumile. As we approached the table, three young gourmands had entrenched themselves there, and were on their fourth or fifth helpings. Kids don't lie -- the hamachi was scrumptious, and we would have helped ourselves to more had we not been saving a bit of room for dessert.
We visited Pichet Ong of Spice Market & 66 to taste his Ovaltine kulfi with spiced caramel popcorn crust -- a tasty grownup version of a chocolate-covered ice cream pop, then finished the evening with Sam Mason of WD-50's sweet and delicate caramelized apple with miso ice cream. Sadly, we were stuffed to the gills at this point, so we missed out on Per Se's Sébastien Rouxel's Yuzu Bavarois et Son Gâteau (a small genoise cake with citrus curd, cilantro ice, and mango pâte de fruit), although we managed to snag one of the truffles sitting next to it, and we forfeitted past honoree Jason Licker's gorgeous jewel-toned strawberry consomme with berry bruschetta. But we didn't despair -- when we left that evening we took home the program, which contained the recipes and wine pairings featured throughout the evening. If we're ever feeling particularly ambitious, we could theoretically attempt to recreate the event at home. Well -- maybe one dish at a time.
Full photo gallery at Sweet Blog o' Mine