Tuesday, April 28, 2009

last night: michael anthony

Michael Anthony's cooking demonstration last night was nothing short of a fantastic treat. What an incredibly charming, passionate, and well-spoken man. My mom and I sat there smiling as we sipped and nibbled on some freaking incredible food while Anthony recounted his years in Tokyo and France, Blue Hill Stone Barns, Daniel, and Gramercy Tavern. I mean, his track record is insanely admirable and his personality just goes leaps and bounds beyond that. He went on to emphasize that the most satisfying part of his job is the contact he has with his guests. There's nothing more important than seeing and meeting who you're cooking for. Getting involved in their experience. Because one of the last things I was left with was when he explained that to be in this business, you have to have a tremendous amount of heart.

What a stark contrast to the sentiments of a certain Mr. David Chang.

But that's a different story.

While we started with a champagne toast and an amuse bouche of a homemade oyster cracker with ricotta and shaved asparagus (which literally collapsed into thin air once you closed your mouth) he stressed the importance of at home cook's "staying away from cookbooks" as a way to liberate yourself. Let the seasonal ingredients lead you as they do for him at Gramercy Tavern.
I liked him already.

Next came the first course which was a sunchoke and lonza salad. Lonza was something I had surprisingly never heard of, but it's directly translated as the loin from a pig which is salted, spiced, and hung to cure. Comparable to a spicier, saltier, and richer proscuitto. The salad was incredibly fresh and had the packed room (full house mind you) "mmm"-ing.

A grilled ramp and crab omelette was served next with a glass of ice cold Chardonnay. This dish was literally insane. The peekytoe crab meat produced the best crab (consistency and taste wise) that I've ever come across. There was a smokey buerre blanc that was folded into the salad and the grilled ramps just drove that flavor home. This is when the "Jesus" remarks started coming out around the room. People were slowly starting to freak out about how amazing this food was.
Anthony next prepared a pan roasted halibut with marinated red cabbage and yogurt hazelnut sauce. The marinated red cabbage was the absolute star of the plate: sweet, crunchy, a little bit spicy from what tasted like a kick of cinnamon. It sent my mom and I straight to our Swedish roots. This plate, like the two prior, was literally licked clean.
A duo of lamb shoulder and rack with fork crushed fingerling potatoes came next and we all know I'm a lamb girl so this went over pretty well. And lastly, which was most definitely the biggest shock of the night, was how BLOWN AWAY I was over dessert: rhubarb shortcake. For starters, I'm not big on dessert. Then let's follow that up with my indifference towards rhubarb. But when served with a homemade biscuit and lavender pastry cream, I was wiggling in my chair with excitement.
In fact, I think I missed his closing words.

I did, however, catch the founder of De Gustibus's closing statement which was, "Michael, I simply think you're a beautiful teacher and a great chef, don't you all?"

The crowd erupted in applause (as we had after each plate we were so lucky to taste). Truer words could not have been spoken at that moment.

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