Rumours Wine Bar. Did I have enough stomach space for all of this? Only time will tell.
Frank Bonanno of Bonanno Concepts in Denver. The mozzarella was light and soft and just broke apart at the touch of a fork. The spice of the arugula balanced out the salt of the house-cured meats. I really enjoyed the coppa. It was sliced thinly without losing its dimensions and was very easy to cut up. On top of all of this was a very lightly puffed cracker that was hollow on the inside. I could see myself eating a box of those myself. This dish was paired with a La Marca Prosecco, which made me happy because I always love bubbles.
Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe in St. Louis really surprised me. This was a vegetarian dish that was unexpectedly complex and impressive- a farro ragout with sprouted grains, harissa, sheep's milk cheese and currants. There were fried/crisped kernels of rice on top that really added another dimension to this dish and prevented it from being a soggy mush, as some vegetarian dishes tend to be. The harissa added a nice heat that slowly built up while I ate, and by the end of the dish I could really feel it. My only personal note was that there could have been bit more of the currants scattered throughout. I'm a big fan of currants and I felt that the punch of sweet was so important to the dish that next time, perhaps Chef Nashan can use less restraint when sprinkling on the berries. This course was served with a Domaine de la Tournelle Savagnin. This was a really nice, well-rounded wine and probably my favorite white of the night.
Michael Ginor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras from New York. The dish was presented beautifully and looked more like a dessert than a proper third course. But we are adults, and we can eat dessert for dinner if we want to, because foie gras is so rich that it's basically sweet! On the plate was a torchon of foie gras, rhubarb, almonds and a little cake that appeared to contain both rhubarb and foie gras. I really loved that sweet layer cake, which caused one table mate to note that it was a bit like a peanut butter and jelly. The foie itself was top notch, and the sweet rhubarb slice was a nice addition. The almond paste streak on the plate was kind of bland to me. I was hoping it would taste more like marzipan and less like unsweetened almond milk. This course was served with a Sauternes Chateau l'Ermitage, a thick and very sweet white wine. It was basically thinned out honey in a glass and I didn't drink much of it.
Gerard Craft of Pastaria in St. Louis. This ravioli was phenomenal. The fresh mint sprinkled on top really opened up the nutty flavor of the pistachios and the richness of the butter. The raviolis were very wide, and the pasta was so light that I was happy the edges were a bit oversized. The pistachio inside added a subtle crunch that fit in very nicely with the petal-like noodles. I think this was the only dish of the night of which I wanted seconds! It was served with Sequoia Grove, which was a decent white wine that didn't overshadow the delicate pistachio.
guanciale by Charles Phillips of the 1808 Grille at the Hutton Hotel. I found the presentation of this dish sort of sloppy; the fish was cut messy and bits were flaking off all over the place. While it may not be the prettiest dish, it was sure tasty and smelled amazing. The fish itself was smoked and reminded me of what my Uncle Saully would bring over to put on bagels when I was a kid (trust me, this is a major positive). The smoke was heavy, but the cobia was a tad on the fishy side, something I don't really remember from my previous cobia experiences. And a simple shout out to hominy: I love you- you are underrated. This was paired with a Latour Marsannay from Burgundy. I am not a stickler for white wine with fish, and I'm really happy that they chose to serve a red with this woodsy dish.
The final meat course was from Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog and Hominy in Memphis (who clearly think like me when it comes to hominy). They presented pork on a bed of veal sugo, tonno del chianti, peas and ricotta gnudi. This dish was very filling and seemed better fitted to an early fall menu than spring in Nashville. Season confusion aside, this was a very delightful dish. The tomato sauce was delicate and the pork was fork-tender. I loved the ricotta gnudi the best- and was disappointed there were only two on my plate! I guess I'll have to make my own. This was a classic dish to end the savory portion with. It was paired with a Mannella Brunello, which was more robust and to my liking.
For dessert we were presented an upside down key lime pie from James Dillon of Summer Kitchen in Rosemary Beach, Florida. This dessert was so pretty I didn't want to take my fork to it, but who am I kidding? I tore right into that thing like I didn't already eat six courses. I loved that the pie was topped with a lace cookie, one of my childhood favorites. The pie tasted like fresh limes and the dish was subtly enhanced by the micro greens sprinkled on top. This was paired with Gruet Blanc de Noirs, which was so bubbly that the carbonation went right through my nose.
This event was lovely, from the food to the service. We were even serenaded by a local singer-songwriter named Jillian Edwards during our meat courses. I enjoyed every bit of food that I ate and was exposed to a wide variety of wines to help refine my palate. Attending this event was pure decadence, and really proves that there are amazingly talented chefs changing American dining. I can only hope they repeat this event next year: it is not to be missed.
*A special thank you to Lacey Greene Keally for organizing this event and allowing me to come and blog about it. Also, thanks to the ladies and gentleman of table 7 for making the night so fun. I attended this event gratis, but all opinions are 100% my own.*