Let the SF vs NYC food battle begin! We've eagerly anticipated the event, Le Grand Fooding 2010 New York vs San Francisco, for a while and it finally happened this weekend. Held to benefit Action Against Hunger, this event featured celebrity chefs from both coasts offering tastes of their cuisine.
After attending last year, we were ready for the long lines. Unlike last year, we bought VIP tickets this year that, in addition to unlimited Veuve Clicquot champagne, got us entry an hour before general admission. Buying the upgrade was definitely worth the price as we were able to try everything (some more than once!) without too much of a wait.
We were amongst the first in line at 5:30pm for the 6pm entry. Talking to others in line, we thought we had everything planned out. We would head straight to the burger and pizza tables, get a couple glasses of champagne, then check out more tables.
The best laid plans often go awry, right? We got in at 6pm, and found many tables (including the pizza and burger tables) unready for service. So instead, we headed to any tables ready with food.
Our first stop, and one of our favorites of the night, was Blue Hill's Dan Barber's Beet and Pork sausage with condiments. It was rustic, creative, slightly sweet, and nicely grilled. The beet sausage went especially well with the grain mustard. And being personally served by Dan Barber himself was the best treat of all.
Another favorite was Melissa Perello's, of Frances in SF, Suckling pig with summer fruit mostarda. The pork was juicy and we loved the sweetness of the seasonal peaches. My husband said he'd be happy eating this moist pork dish all the time if he could. This was another dish we returned to have again and by the end of the night, the line was so long it snaked around like a snail's shell.
Up on a platform, Coi's Daniel Patterson was making a variety of inventive vegetable snacks. Since my hubby missed out on my dinner at Coi, he was eager to try out these bites. Chef Patterson was painstakingly assembling so many snacks, that once a full platter was available for service, everyone clamored for a taste making it difficult to enjoy and savor. It was a beautiful display nonetheless.
Despite other samples available, people were waiting for the Black olive, Fresh cheese from Andante Dairy, Tomato jam, and Cilantro. My husband and I also really enjoyed the Potato chicharrones (tasted just like pork!). Also available was Popcorn with Escabeche powder (a lemony/spicy Peruvian powder) and Vegetable Leathers of beet/Niabell grape and burnt onion/fig with Almond crisps (adult Fruit roll-ups).
More Coi samples! Smoke Roasted Roots including Kohlrabi (with romaine, garum - a salty fish sauce, and parsley crumbs), Carrots (with hay and wild garlic), and Beets (with pistachio and wood sorrel). Vegetable and Seaweed Salad (lime, seaweed powder, mushroom dashi, and seaweed from Monterey, CA). Plum Consomme (wild mint and sassafras, not pictured)
db Bistro Moderne offered its Camem Burger (grilled sirloin, Camembert cheese, caramelized red onion, toasted black pepper bun). My husband loved the burger - especially how rare it was! (It was a little too raw for me)
Though people were lukewarm about Nate Appleman's (Pulino) Beef cooked in beef fat, anchovy crostone, parsley and fried garlic, it was one of the most efficient tables. My husband liked Pulino's toast (beef over crostini) more than I did, finding it tasty, simple, and enjoying the anchovy and basil.
Brian Leth, from Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn, made Octopus with charred lemon, yogurt, and tagglasca olives.
Mourad Lahlou (Aziza, SF) offered Squab with a farro salad. It was an interesting dish with tons of root vegetables and fresh sorrel. The squab was properly cooked and my husband thought it would pair well with wine.
Even at 6:45 pm, the event was getting crowded.
We finally headed to the pizza stand and waited patiently in the longest line of the night. It was strangely ticketed (the only food station that allowed only 1 tasting) and paired with French Cotes du Rhone wines.
Despite the long wait, the staff including Charlie Hallowell, Pizzaiolo's chef, were very friendly and interactive. We did enjoy watching the pizzas being made and cooked in Pizza Moto's portable oven.
Roasted peppers were passed down the line to satiate the hungry crowd. Day turned into night when we finally got our tiny slice of pepper pizza. Though pretty and colorful, it was good but not worth such a wait. Instead of pairing it with French Cotes du Rhone wines, my husband would have liked would have liked a NY vs. SF craft beer sponsor, since both have such good breweries. (Of course, he had just gone to the Get Real NY craft beer/food event earlier that afternoon, so I'm not sure how much more beer he needed to taste!)
The SF vs NY battle even extended into cocktails. We watched Erick Castro from Rickhouse in SF make a Bella Fragolla (raspberry, basil, and vodka). Very fresh and fruity!
My husband enjoyed meeting Jim Meehan from PDT and preferred his Parkside Fizz (less sweet, crisp, and refreshing). I also tried a vodka cocktail with vanilla that was pretty tasty and not syrupy at all.
The area ended up getting even more crowded (we went on Sat and heard that Friday's session was even worst). Again, we were so glad we sprung for the VIP tickets because we left very full and had the time/opportunity to chat with many chefs. Can't wait for next year!
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