Monday, October 4, 2010

CUESA Sunday Supper 2010

I got an immense treat this weekend in the form of a seat at CUESA's annual dinner at the Ferry Building!
The first part of the event was the 'cocktail reception,' which was made up of about thirty different appetizer stations, each with its own creation from a participating chef (the chef line-up was pretty spectacular, with dishes from big names like Liza Shaw of A16, Chris Cosentino of Boccalone and Phil West of Range).
A couple of the highlights were:
- Smoked opah belly salad with coriander yogurt, dehydrated pumpernickel (aka a crouton), and compressed cucumber (don't ask me what this means, but it was great) from Mark Richardson of Seasons Restaurant.
- Shrimp tacos with pickled chili peppers from Mark Dommen of One Market. It doesn't seem that innovative, but it was extremely tasty.
- Braised red kale agnolotti with olive oil croutons from Dmitry Elperin of The Village Pub. This was the first dish I tried and, I say this as a kale opponent, it was delish -- the tiny croutons provided a great textural contrast.
I'm trying to stop myself but I have one more...
- Chilled avocado soup with cumin crema and corn-poblano relish by Antelmo Faria of Tacolicious.
They also offered ... COCKTAILS! I tried the "proper pluot" (from Tony Devencenzi of Bourbon and Branch), which had pluot juice, gin, something I can't remember and bitters. It tasted like a wonderfully refreshing glass of Christmas (the flavor of the bitters, I guess?). I also sampled the Daisy Cutter from Greg Lindgren of Rye. It was made with watermelon juice, Charbay tequila, meyer lemon juice and a touch of agave. Quite nice, although very similar (virtually identical) to the watermelon margarita I make myself.

At seven o'clock we trundled upstairs to the beautifully arranged upper deck of the ferry building. Having never been there for an event, nor having ever been on the second floor, I was awed by how beautiful the lighting and expansive set-up was (they had six long banquet tables laid out, about 60 people at each table), and each table had a separate menu composed of dishes by different participating chefs. The theme for this year's dinner was the 'whole-beast feast' and they carved the beasts tableside. We ended up at the chicken table (originally slated to be the duck table). The meal began with braised cauliflower and bulghur with bitter green salsa verde, garum, lemon and almonds from Lauren Kiino of Plum (the just-opened restaurant from Daniel Patterson of Coi-fame that I am looking forward to trying - click here for the lowdown). The starter course was wonderful, not too heavy but a nice fall-inspired mix of ingredients.

For the second course (my favorite!), we were served pork trotter scarpinocc (don't worry, this means ravioli) with lobster mushroom, horseradish (so they said, though I couldn't detect any), and watercress, created by Thomas McNaughton of Flour+Water. The scarpinocc was made with a delicate dumpling-like dough and was paired with Big Cypress Brown Ale. I don't usually like ales but I found this to be a pleasant pairing that made the ale taste almost chocolatey.

The entrée consisted of three parts: braised chicken legs with chicken sausages, shell beans with roasted tomatoes (mmm), and a 'salad' of rocket, gizzard confit and chicken cracklins all piled atop toasts shmeared with chicken liver, made by Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf.

To close, we had an almond milk tapioca with spiced kabocha puree and bronx grapes from Chucky Dugo of The Slanted Door. I am not a tapioca lover (texture) but this was very nice - the tapioca was mild with a nice, light nuttiness and the kabocha puree provided a comforting sweetness. The highlight of the dessert, for me, was the addition of the grapes - they were served on a skewer and were coated in some sort of a brittle. This meant that you bit off a piece of the hard, crisp brittle and then got a big pop of the fresh grape in the center - a very exciting closer indeed!


  1. WOW! i can't believe the taste treats you are experiencing. another whole vocabulary.

  2. Wow, sounds amazing! Who got to go? Just special invitees? You don't like tapioca but you're OK with "chicken cracklins" and "pork trotters"? Do you know what they are? Ha ha! I love how in this bit, "pork trotter scarpinocc (don't worry, this means ravioli)", what you're telling us not to worry about is the word "scarpinocc" but not "trotter"!! Ha HA! Now where'd I put that tofu?

  3. The pork trotter aspect was fab! So moist and tasty! It is the texture of tapioca that sometimes gets to me! Cracklins just taste like fatty flavorful potato chips!
    Anyone got to go, they had tickets on sale for the reception and the dinner which benefitted CUESA (the farmers market association)... you too could come next year (they always have a vegetarian option!).