Closing out a weekend of indulgence at SF Chefs 2010 was a Grand Tasting of innovative creations that gave us a new perspective on familiar ingredients.
There were the usual suspects: Tomatoes, Corn, Dungeness crab, Vanilla and Salmon, but paired with novel flavors in unusual forms and consistencies. Like the Scallop Ceviche with Foie Gras and Pineapple (above) from Waterbar’s Parke Ulrich that was a mouthful of creamy, thick foie, sweet ocean notes and tangy citrus all at once.
And the Tomato Water Consommé with a sphere of Pickled Peach and Basil Oil from Dominique Crenn (Luce). The color of a crisp Chardonnay, a sip of this tomato concentrate evoked anything but white grapes, and was a welcome change from the countless gazpachos on offer.
Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara at Sons & Daughters, a fairly new addition to the city’s restaurant scene, had fun with flavors, combining fresh Blueberries with Vanilla powder, Coffee grounds and crispy Quinoa in a tasting portion.
Xavier Salomon at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay made a Smoked Salmon tartare with Sweet Corn ice-cream and a strip of Mache lettuce. Josh Thomsen at the Meritage at the Claremont offered a Potato and Goat Cheese Terrine that was lightly caramelized to conceal a crumbly soft goat’s cheese.
Among all that was modern and inventive were also traditional recipes like Tonnado sauce – an aioli with tuna – which Thomas McNaughton (Flour+Water) served with Cherry Tomatoes, Bresaola and Parmesan.
Mark Gordon at Terzo, introduced us toÂ Zhoug, a spicy Middle Eastern paste featured with Heirloom Tomatoes and Hummus.
Brett Emerson (Contigo) did not disappoint with his Montadito with Sweet Corn, Chanterelles and Manchego cheese while Kevin Weber at The Cliff House gave us lots to talk about with his Butterscotch pot de crÃ¨me in dainty eggshells topped with Chantilly cream and candied orange peel.
Like Saturday’s Grand Tasting, the bites were refreshingly light and intensely flavored, but the variety of styles, culinary techniques and preparations on display were truly amazing to behold and taste. It was a fitting end to a weekend celebrating Northern California’s culinary creativity and the chefs didn’t disappoint. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event – will we see you there?
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