Last week, we returned to Chelsea Market to attend one of the last James Beard Foundation pop up restaurants. We had such a great time at the Laurent Gras dinner that we were extremely excited about returning for the David Kinch dinner. Chef Kinch's Los Gatos, CA restaurant Manresa has been on our "must visit" list for some time. Our expectations were dangerously high, and yet our experience easily exceeded them. We learned about (and ate) new foods and we got to meet one of the few chefs to win on Iron Chef America.
|This was the first time I wanted the bread basket (an All-Clad pot) more than the bread!|
Part of our first course was a Vegetable Beignet with crispy Kohlrabi Leaves served with a Sauvignon Blanc (Boulder Bank Marlborough, New Zealand 2008). I'vv never eaten Kohlrabi leaves (kohlrabi are those light green German turnips) - they seem like a part of the vegetable that would get discarded. But these roasted leaves were so crunchy, they reminded us of the kale chips we make at home. The beignet was stuffed with Mizuna (a Japanese mustard plant) and was so warm and comforting,
The other half of our first course was the beautiful Green Garden Gazpacho and Almond Milk Ice with Pickled Green Strawberries. The edible flowers added a nice punch of color against the cool green gazpacho. But it was the white-colored green strawberries with reddish seeds that stole the show. They were surprisingly sweet, yet different than a red strawberry flavor.
Our second course was the Romaine and Abalone Salad, Grilled Cucumber, Avocado with "Norinade" served with Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay Sonoma, California 2008. This meaty abalone has to be one of the biggest ones we've had the pleasure of eating. My husband devoured this "salad". We also learned that you can grill cucumbers - though I'm sure you have to ensure they remain plump and moist like these ones and don't shrivel nor dry out.
Our main course was a family-style Suckling Porcelet with Whey Polenta, Rhubarb, Hazelnut, and Spring Onions served with Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, California 2007. Where to begin? The porcelet (older than a piglet, younger than a pig) had crispy skin and succulent meat. The polenta was creamy while the jus was rich with rhubarb flavor.
Our dessert course were these huge, warm Popovers with Hibiscus-Berry Butter. I've only had hibiscus tea before, so this fruity hibiscus-berry butter was a nice, new-to-me, spread.
Despite the number of well-known foodies attending the dinner (with the help of a chef sitting at our table, we spotted Jeffrey Steingarten (Iron Chef America judge), chefs from Roberta's and the Modern, and of course food blogger/Kinch's girlfriend Pim Techamuanvivit, we were most excited about meeting Chef David Kinch himself. He was gracious and modest as he walked around offering each diner sweet caramels. Happily he stopped to take a photo with me and then sign our menu - a nice momento of a lovely dinner.