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A New American Lunch = All-Taste-Sensation

A New American Lunch = All-Taste-Sensation
4 years, 11 months ago Comments Off on A New American Lunch = All-Taste-Sensation

Stephanie IzardYours Truly had the amazing and most decadent dining opportunity to attend Food & Wine magazine’s “A New American Lunch” as part of its All-Star Weekend on Saturday at Aria’s award-winning Sage restaurant. “Top Chef” cheftestant Stephanie Izard and Sage Executive Chef Shawn McClain joined forces to put together a fabulous lunch, and Food & Wine contributor and wine expert Anthony Giglio provided the exquisite wine, cocktail, and beer pairings.

Let me start by saying after two courses of Chef Izard’s food, it’s quite obvious why she won “Top Chef” and has a popular restaurant in Chicago called Girl with the Goat. Her Hiramasa Crudo with Crisp Pork Belly was a work of art. Crudo by nature is a minimal dish but the pork belly offered a splash of flavor excess. The accompanying cocktail of Grey Goose Le Citron Bitter Lemon offered a subtle citrus flavor but had a snap that paired well with the Meyer lemon accenting the Crudo in this second course.

Chef Izard’s third course of Seared Diver Scallops with Winter Squash and Shiitake Mushrooms was enhanced with Smoked Goat XO that Izard explained as “a Chinese condiment we make at the restaurant.” Bathing in the smoky flavor of the goat XO, the flavor of the scallop, squash and mushrooms was stepped up by its rich broth-like consistency.

Chef McClain served up Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Taylor Gold Pears, Macadamia Nuts and a Bacon Mustard Vinaigrette during course one. The bacon dressing, of course, really set off the dish and could turn even the most fervent Brussels Sprouts hater into a lover of the much maligned veggie. The wine accompaniment of Chateau Musar Blanc 2001 offered a very nice pairing.

For the fourth course, Chef McClain prepared Herb-Crusted Lamb Saddle with Braised Lamb Tongue and Warm Butter Beans in Banyuls Vinaigrette. Although the lamb tongue was a bit salty, the lamb saddle was prepared in such a way that it didn’t even taste like lamb. The butter beans were a nice complement to the meat as was the Toro/Bodegas Numanthia wine from Spain.

The luncheon’s cheese course of Sheep’s Milk Garrotxa was stepped up a couple of notches with a dash of Smoked Apple Sauce and Leffe Blonde Belgium beer. As for the dessert course, it was a disappointing Kabocha Squash Cake with Saffron-Infused Pears and Burnt Honey Ice Cream. The squash was bland and the ice cream was too burnt to be enjoyable. The Germain-Robin Absinthe pairing was definitely inventive.

 

ALL-STAR TASTING

And because we couldn’t get enough of Food & Wine’s All-Star Weekend, we attended the magazine’s All-Star Tasting poolside at Aria later that night. Renowned chefs Julian Serrano, Masa Takayama, Michael Mina, Shawn McClain, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Philippe Maury and Pierre Gagnaire were just some of the talent manning the booths. In addition, Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” alums Hosea Rosenberg, Sam Talbot, Stephanie Izard, Yigit Pura and Angelo Sosa were also presenting delicious fare.
Tastings included Glazed Pork Belly from Shawn McClain, Michael Mina offered his signature Shrimp and Grits Skewers, “Top Chef’s” Sam Talbot provided Fish Tacos with avocado and lime. Sirio Ristorante was plating Alaskan King Crab & Leek Salad, and Jean Georges Steakhouse served Truffle Cheese Fritters.

Truly’s top three, in no particular order, included the Goat and Peanut Thai-style Stew being dished up by “Top Chef” season four winner Stephanie Izard; BARMASA’s Braised Short Rib Tacos; and Angelo Sosa’s Geleed Snapper topped with Mayonaise Chile pebbles made using liquid nitrogen.

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