New Orleans Wine and Food Experience: Friday Grand TastingTuesday, July 12, 2011
I know many of you were drooling over all the NOLA good eats I posted from the NOWFE Royal Street Stroll. Well that was just a warm-up to the two-day Grand Tasting event! I’m going to skip right to dessert first, because that’s how I roll.
What may very well have been my favorite dish of the entire event was pastry chef Thomas McGovern’s (M Bistro at The Ritz Carlton) unconventional “Peaches & Cream”. Looking more like something from Killer Klowns from Outer Space than a dessert, this eye-catching creation was otherworldly good. The combination of flavors and textures was spot on. On the bottom was a base of roasted peaches, streusel, and a cool white chocolate mousse. Over that was a layer of white chocolate gelée, followed by a poofy crown of cotton candy made out of violet and rose sugar, with a peach schnapps-filled pipette sticking out.
I squeezed the schnapps shooter over the floral-scented cotton candy, and as it dissolved and melded with everything else, different textures unfolded. I loved every second of this dessert; I felt like I was uncovering various dimensions that morphed as I ate it…revealing interesting textures and layers of complimentary flavors. What an entirely unexpected experiential treat.
M Bistro was rocking it on the savory side of their table as well. Their beautifully plated Corn & Crawfish Crepes with Creole tomato jam, goat cheese foam, and ghost pepper caviar were in high demand.
I adored this innovative Watermelon Soup with Sautéed Gulf Shrimp from The Grill Room at The Windsor Court Hotel. This is the first time I’ve seen watermelon in a soup before, and was skeptical at first, but let me attest, this works. Refreshing and different, the sweetness of the watermelon played nicely with the succulent shrimp. The soup was fragranced with lemongrass and cilantro, and finished with a touch of fruity olive oil. So lovely.
From the light and lovely to the divinely rich…Wolfe’s in the Warehouse served up a killer Vanilla Braised Short Rib with Blue Corn Goat Cheese Grits. I’m usually a fan of savory applications of vanilla, and this was no exception. It added a subtle somethin’ somethin’ to the tender short rib, and the blue corn goat cheese grits were a wonderful pairing to accompany it with.
The Pan-Seared Diver Scallop from Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant was excellent — plump and quivering over a bed of truffled corn pudding, adorned with shiitake mushrooms, roasted chicken jus, and parsley purée.
The Mini Mad Capper from Reginelli’s Pizzeria was a welcome vegetal bite – bruschetta topped with a pleasantly acidic mixture of juicy marinated Portobello mushrooms and Roma tomatoes.
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread with Tasso & Crawfish Sauce…saucy, rich, spicy, and sweet, Mr. B’s Bistro knocked these traditional NOLA flavors out of the bayou.
Mr. Gator agrees.
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
May 24-29, 2011
New Orleans, LA