The Insider recaps the Taste of the Nation, then looks forward to a week of wine and a month of burgers.
Recap: Taste of the Nation
My mind was blown around five seconds into Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation champagne reception at Harry's Savoy Ballroom last week.
The five-course, celebrity chef-prepared dinner hadn't started yet. Instead, folks were milling about near Harry's patio, bidding on silent auction items and enjoying champagne and hors d'oeuvres. And then I noticed who was preparing the tasty hors d'oeuvres: Jay Caputo, Dan Butler and Ivan Torres, only three of the states brightest and most celebrated culinary minds. ON HORS D'OEURVES.
Then the dinner started, and things got really awesome.
I had my cell phone camera (Also: apologies for the crappy cell phone photos), a fact that seemed to amuse some other dinner guests, including Betsy LeRoy, co-owner of Pizza By Elizabeths.
First dish out came courtesy of chef Walter Staib, a Grammy winner and illustrious owner of City Tavern in Philadelphia. His tender salmon filet, done in the style of escoveitch, was topped with a vinegary slaw of carrots, onions, peppers and more. It was a great way to start a dinner--light, refreshing, flavorful and delicious. It was served with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.
Evan Deluty, considered one of Boston's best chefs, and owner of Stella restaurant, prepared one of the more buzzed-about dishes of the evening: seared sea scallops with black truffle vinaigrette and crispy onions. The textural work at play between creamy potato puree, crispy onion threads and melt-in-your-mouth scallops was something to behold. The vinaigrette, however, blew everybody away. I wanted to brush my teeth with it. It was served with J.M. Boillot Montagny Premier Cru.
Chef Hari Cameron, a man who truly knows pork, as evidenced by his outstanding work at Rehoboth Beach's Nage, was on hand to prepare heritage suckling pork confit, with Kennett Square mushrooms, sauteed cippolini onion, dried cherries, mustard seed and organic mache. A treat to the eyes, chef Hari's pork dish was a treat to the local spirit and the tastebuds, too. This was served with Bouchaine Vineyards Pinot Noir.
Chef Marc Orfaly of Boston's Parisian paradise Pigalle got all clever with a "deconstructed" cassoulet. The classic French slow-cooked casserole was re-imagined here with pork sausages, duck breast, and sort of a lamb and white bean fritter. Served with Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon.
And what dinner is complete without dessert? Robert Bennett of Classic Cake in N.J. contributed this luscious and light sweet: Lemon Delight, lemon mousse encased in tender ladyfingers with a fresh raspberry center.
Now: When you peeled your calendar page last weekend, you not only moved from April to May, but April to ... Burger Month at Iron Hill Brewery.
That's right--the heralded brewpub has unveiled its annual Burger Month Menu, featuring a different burger every day in May to celebrate National Burger Month at all Iron Hill locations.
Burger madness is already underway (sorry, May 1st and 2nd), so here's a look at the remaining burgers/days:
May 3 – Black and Blue Burger blackened burger with gorgonzola, caramelized onions, tomato and bacon
May 4 – Carolina Burger with bacon, coleslaw, red onion, American cheese and yellow mustard
May 5 – South of the Border Burger with sautéed onions and poblano peppers, bacon, guacamole, Monterey jack and spicy chipotle ketchup
May 6 – Brewmaster’s Burger with beer-braised onions, bacon, Swiss, cheddar and roasted garlic aioli
May 7 – Hickory Burger with house-smoked pulled pork, sharp cheddar and barbeque sauce
May 8 – Mom’s Burger with exotic mushrooms, brie and vine-ripened tomato
May 9 – Grilled Cheese Burger with fried onions, mushrooms, tomato, Swiss and cheddar on rye
May 10 – New Mexico Burger with roasted green chile relish, Monterey jack, salsa verde, lettuce and tomato
May 11 – Saltimbocca Burger with prosciutto, provolone, sautéed spinach and caramelized onions
May 12 – Yogi Bear Picnic Burger with onion rings, bacon, BBQ sauce, potato salad and American cheese
May 13 – South Philly Burger with garlicky broccoli rabe, roasted long hots, provolone and Asiago
May 14 – Pizza Burger with pepperoni, mozzarella, Asiago and tomato sauce
May 15 – Reuben Burger with shaved corned beef, sauerkraut, 1000 Island dressing and Swiss on rye
May 16 – Hell Fire Burger with fried green chilies, onions, pepper jack cheese and chipotle ketchup
May 17 – Jammin’ Marley Burger with pineapple chutney, bacon, sharp cheddar and Jamaican BBQ sauce
May 18 – Green Bay Burger with cheddar, Swiss, provolone and Boursin, lettuce, tomato and red onion
May 19 – Ode to Jerry Garcia Burger with mushrooms, Monterey jack, caramelized onions and roasted garlic aioli
May 20 – French Onion Burger with Gruyere, caramelized onions, bacon and French onion dip
May 21 – Bistro Burger with Boursin and herb-roasted exotic mushrooms
May 22 – Big Haas Burger with Haas avocado, Monterey jack, red onion and roasted garlic mayonnaise
May 23 – Paris Burger with brie, sautéed apples, rosemary onions, bacon and spinach
May 24 – London Pub Burger, a double-decker burger with caramelized onions, mushrooms, sharp cheddar and house brown gravy on the side
May 25 – California Burger with Haas avocado, cucumber, pea shoots and wasabi aioli
May 26 – Whiz Kid Burger with sauteed peppers and onions and Cheez Whiz
May 27 – Caprese Burger with fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomato, balsamic glaze and basil pesto
May 28 – Catamount Burger with Vermont white sharp cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon and maple glaze
May 29 – Chicago Burger with sweet pickle relish, onion, pickled hot peppers, tomato, celery salt and mustard
May 30 – Red, White and Blue burger with vine-ripened tomato, sliced onion, gorgonzola and bacon
May 31 – Jalapeno Popper Burger with deep fried jalapeno slices, cream cheese and bacon
Hit up Iron HiIl at the Wilmington Riverfront at 472-2739, and Newark's Main Street at 266-9000 for more info.
Wednesday, May 4: The good folks at Premier Wine & Spirits consider themselves the most the “interactive” wine shop around, and it's hard to argue with them, considering events like the upcoming Honig Vineyards tasting at the Limestone location Wednesday.
The complimentary tasting is open to the first 35 people sign up, so head to email@example.com or call 996-9463 to reserve your spot.
Thursday, May 5: I’d salute this flag every day: Red, White & Brew, the annual benefit event for Habitat for Humanity NCC, kicks off Thursday night a the Rockwood Park and Mansion Carriage House. An evening of delicious food from Greenery Caterers awaits guests, as does a great selection of wines and beers.
Drink selections will be served by Branmar Wine & Spirits, and will include award-winning wines from around the world, including Spain, New Zealand, Argentina and California. Beers will include a selection of micro-brewed ales by Dogfish Head.
The event will also feature live music and an extensive silent auction where last minute shoppers will find gifts for Mother's Day and Graduation events, in addition to a wide range of entertainment, travel and person items for men and women.
Tickets to the event (which begins at 5 p.m.) cost $55 and can be purchased online here, or by calling 652-0365 x113, and I'm told tickets will be available at the door.