Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chef Rock rocks with huge benefit meal to celebrate MARCH of DIMES (9-22-12)

Last week we attended the charity dinner we purchased at last years March of Dimes SIGNATURE CHEFS...another reason for you to join us this year on November 14th--seats still remain!

Chef ROCK (aka Rahman Harper) who we had the pleasure of meeting many years ago when he headed up the kitchen a B. Smith's is now heading the running the show at the DC Central Kitchen. You may remember Chef Rock as the first winner of HELL's KITCHEN, that reality show by some famous British chef.

Well, he is back in the DC area and really cooking up a storm here and there as well as being a truly generous and giving guy by recently taking the helm at the DC Central Kitchen feeding people in need.

We are so happy to know him and have him as a part of the DC foodie community and also are most grateful for his great support of the March of Dimes!

Anyway, we entered the dining room and were feted with many hor's d'oevres from Deviled Eggs with Italian marinated tuna, an antipasto of cheeses including Gorgonzola drizzled with honey and peppered salumi.

The Gougeres melted in our mouths and there was also a plate of perfectly cooked pork loin with two sauces of Fig Preserve as well as a Strawberry/Rhubarb Preserve. I warned folks of what might come as we had already finished some Mumm's Cuvee Napa on the ride over and now we expected many courses to come....

Multiple butters arrived at the table with honey drizzled on one, black Hawaiian sea salt on another, Rosemary and Herbs on a third plus a play on Southern Pepper Jelly here with a Cippolini Onion & Tomato Jam atop the cream cheese. Warm steaming southern biscuits were divine and again we had to really caution restraint! I set my limit at two.

CRAB CHOWDER was a thick rich and slightly spicy delight with Andouille, Applewood Bacon and Crab Ceviche that beckoned those biscuits so we got every last drop. Yalumba 2001 Viognier"The Y Series" from Australia was a perfect foil to the cream, rich and spice which all flowed together in Chef Rock's southern heritage so melodiously.

BRAISED BACON (from Neuskie's in Wisconsin) & SPINACH SALAD did indeed star the acon as Chef Rock had told me in advance. The smoked, scored and seared slices were divine and we all remarked that this bacon could indeed NOT be beat. Apple Croutons and a superb Roasted Pineapple Vinaigrette made from agua de pina reduction, candied ginger, sherry vinaigrette and pineapple puree completed the plate to a perfect melding of the ingredients. I was lucky in my choice of wine pairings choosing a Red Newt Cellars 2010 Dry Riesling Reserve from the Finger Lakes that we had just picked up a month prior. It was truly lucky that the Riesling was dry with pineapple hints to boot and I really had no clue what this dish was going to be like.

SPICED SCALLOPS were sliced discs, blackened and caramelized with maple, citrus and vanilla and came with Sweet Potato Puree, Fried Quail Egg (sunnyside up) and Micro Greens. The sauce was made from a deglazed chardonnay (the wine I brought!) with EVOO. We slowly savored this delightful dish and the excellent MONTAGNY Premier Cru 2010 "La Grande Roche" from Louis Latour that again was a miraculous pairing.

The big rest came with a Lemon Granita with Basil Syrup & Red Hawaiian Salt that was gobbled up by all not only as refreshing but as such a wonderful combination of flavors.

The next course was a take on the traditional FROGMORE STEW (from Frogmore, SC) where Chef Rock gave us a court-bouillon with whole Butter Poached Canadian Lobster Tails/Fresh Texas Gulf Shrimp/Andouille Sausage/Crab and a Shellfish Nage topped off with Char-Grilled Fresh Corn & Fingerling Potato slices. As light as the broth was this was a seafood treat to perfection and quite filling. LEMELSON VINEYARDS 2003 "Thea's Selection" Pinot Noir from Oregon had aged and the forward fruit was gone making this a wonderful wine, despite being red, with the stew.

BRAISED SHORT RIBS scared me on the menu after such a huge start, but the portions were just right and completed with Parsnip Puree, Roasted Baby Carrots, Pearl Onions, Potato and to die for Japanese Beer Battered Onion Rings. A red wine demi-glace reduction was perfect and paired wonderfully with the FRIAS FAMILY VINEYARD 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon from Spring Mountain District in Napa. It had aged to perfection. Not so with he Graham Beck 2006 magnum of Gamekeeper's Reserve Cabernet from South Africa that was a bit too powerful and either needed more aging or just was over the top.

A light fluffy CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT BOMBE was constructed of mousse, praline, hazelnut cookie with a Blood Orange Gelato and Basil paint. Credit here goes to pastry chef Jana Bates who gave us the perfect finish which many of us totally gobbled up.

A 1991 COCKBURNS Vintage PORT was a raisin heaven delight as we wobbled back into the van to take us home!

I am hoping we can buy this delight again this year??