2011 James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist chef Casey Lane, of The Tasting Kitchen in Venice, California wows critics with his ingredient-driven cuisine. A reservation at the Venice Beach bistro is almost impossible to score, so reserve your spot for Lane's bold, handcrafted cooking at this special dinner presented at the James Beard House by GQ and Patrón, featuring a selection of Patrón signature cocktails.The event had a reception featuring passed hors d’oeuvre and wine and cocktail pairings, followed by a seated meal which included 5 courses and wine pairings for each course. Preparing myself for the evening, I took a look at the menu, and a lot of the items were, I would say, exotic, and I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. Arriving at the James Beard House, I put all the fears aside, and came with an open mind, ready to taste whatever was set before me, even if there was bull's blood.
Below is the Menu Casey Lane set for the evening:
One Hog Pork Rillettes with Mustard, Maldon Salt, and Cracked Pepper
Cornish Hen Confit Escabèche with Green Olive Purée and Chervil
Marinated Bull’s Blood Beets with Shell Beans and Salsa Rustica
Domaine de Montcy Cour-Cheverny Plénitude NV
Signature Patrón Cocktails:
- The Beehive
- The Spring Witch
Mackerel Crudo with Persimmon Tomato, Saffron, Coriander, and Osetra Caviar
Christian Venier Hauts de Madon Blanc 2009
Fried Tomales Bay Oyster with Spicy Gribiche, Candied Lemon, and Chervil Salad
Bodegas Carballo Listan Blanco 2008
Handmade Strozzapreti with Periwinkle Snails, English Peas, Mint, Bread Crumbs, and Pork Brodo
Philippe Bornard Savagnin Les Marnes 2005
Pork Coppa Confit with Shell Beans, Green Tomato Mostarda, Red Frill Mustard Greens, and Pickled Cipollini
COS Nero d’Avola Scyri 2001
Apricot Sorbetto with Hazelnut Praline and Brown Butter Budino
Cornmeal Crêpe with Strawberries, Mascarpone, and Fried Rosemary
Bruder Dr. Becker Ruländer Beerenauslese 2006
My favorite of the passed hors d'oeuves was, believe it or, the bull's blood beets, although both the pork rillettes and cornish hen confit were delicious. No, there is no bull's blood used in the recipe; it's actually the name of the beet which is known for its leaves which are normally served in salads, while the actual beet is best harvest while young. The beets were tender, refreshing and flavorful. I actually had 2 servings of it. Not bad for a person who dislikes eating beets.
|Bull's blood beets|
I was impressed with every dish served at the sit-down dinner, with the mackerel being my least favorite simply because I am not a fan of raw mackerel. All other dishes were outstanding. I was surprised at how delicious the Fried Tomales Bay Oyster was. You'd be surprised to find out there was oyster in it since the chef masked the flavor so well with the delicious batter.
The Periwinkle Snails were excellent. My first time having snails as I often cringe at the thought of eating snails. What was I thinking? I'm officially a fan. Slightly earthy taste, I'd make an audacious comparison to a mushroom for those who have not eaten snails.
Alas, the final entree was the Pork Coppa Confit. Talk about save the best for last. The pork was a favorite amongst the other diners. If that doesn't convince you, someone tweeted "Pork coppa confit brings crowd to knees."
And finally, the desert - the gorgeous cornmeal crêpe with strawberries, mascarpone, and fried rosemary. It was a delicious marriage of flavors that had me begging for seconds. Shouldn't I have been full from eating so many courses? Fried rosemary was a great touch to the dessert, giving a contrast in flavors, yet complimenting it. The wine pairing, however, was not good, at least for me. The berry wine Ruländer Beerenauslese was a bit powerful for the desert, but who am I to judge. There were only 460 bottles produced for this vintage. I should be gracious.
|Cornmeal Crêpe with Strawberries, Mascarpone, and Fried Rosemary|
James Beard House
167 West 12th St.
NY, NY 10011
The James Beard Foundation's mission is "to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America's diverse culinary heritage and future." Learn more about the James Beard Foundation at www.jamesbeard.org.