Tuesday, June 7, 2011

DeGustibus with Gabe Thompson

I was lucky enough to score another set of tickets from Larry and Ellen R. This time the featured chef was Gabe Thompson, chef of dell'anima and L'Artusi - both restaurants in NYC. At this session I realized that Salvatore, the host of these events, has to find chefs who are amiable, articulate and brave enough to cook while bantering with a critical New York City crowd (though the crowd today was pretty tame). I suppose that for the sake of their business, chefs have to get good at promoting their restaurant; Chef Gabe had done DeGustibus events before and therefore was at ease and able to volunteer funny vignettes and observations while demo-ing his cooking (and Salvatore would jump in at the right time with questions and would have him explain what he meant by a particular term or have him talk about his favorite source or ingredient or would help extract tips for the home cook).

But no matter how at ease the chef is, I always get the sense that they would still rather be hanging out in their own restaurants than doing these sorts of events. But I guess that's what happens when you become chef - you have to deal with the public. And for Chef Gabe, I think the endeavor was worth it - I definitely think he won a few new fans for his trouble.

We started off with crudo - fluke with bits of chopped pineapple - a tribute to his old days at Le Bernadin and a refreshing way to start the meal.

Then we had this delicious roasted cherry tomato soup with caramelized onion pecorino crostini. The fact that this was made of not just tomatoes, but cherry tomatoes, and not just any cherry tomaotes, but roasted cherry tomatoes, lended a whole new dimension to the dish. It reminded me of the roasted cherry tomatoes that Dave makes in a sheet pan and that we pile onto baguette slices - one of those dishes that we count as a little luxury; it was those cherry tomatoes transmogrified to soup form - a little tangier and sweeter than the average tomato soup. The crostini, being a generous size, was fun to eat.

Although the soup was a close second, my favorite dish of the night was the roasted asparagus with parmesan sformato and preserved lemon. Okay, so the parmesan sformato was basically a parmesan *cloud* made from milk boiled with parmesan and parmesan rinds for the flavor and then combined with eggs. It was this magically light concoction that went insanely well with the asparagus.

We then had ricotta crespelle with lamb ragu, which ties for second with the soup. They make their own ricotta (sounds pretty easy - good quality milk, add lemon juice, gather the solids and let them drain - voila, ricotta!) and it provides the filling to a folded-over crepe, which is then topped with the lamb ragu - extremely delicious. Oh yes - I don't have a picture because I forgot to take one before I gobbled up the dish.

We finished with a porcini-dust-rubbed chicken with roasted mushrooms and scallions. For dessert, we had a nice rustic strawberry tiramisu, demonstrated by the chef's wife.

And finally, the wines - I really enjoyed the wines - both called centine (the sommelier's jingle was, "Centine, rhymes with 'everyday', because it is wine for everyday"). To my chagrin, the white, which I thought was very clean and crisp, is partially fermented in oak barrels. So much for my theory that I don't like oak. Although going back to the drawing board just means I should go to more tastings!


d said...

Yay, more posts! How are you two doing?

Did you try the Pizza Bianca at Grandaisy Bakery or anything at the nearby Soutine?

Mabel said...

We're doing pretty well! No, we haven't tried anything at Grandaisy Bakery yet, but we have had a pear tart from Soutine, which was delicious!