Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bits & Morsels dines at the James Beard House

At the James Beard House for Chef Stephen Attoe's winter game dinner for the James Beard Foundation.
Last Saturday night Chef Stephen Attoe, of Swifty’s, cooked a winter game dinner for The James Beard Foundation.

The dinner took place at the James Beard House, which is located at 167 West 12th Street. James Beard is known as the father of American gastronomy, and the foundation uses Beard's former 1844 brick townhouse for culinary events throughout the year.

Besides the food, part of the fun is meeting new people at your dinner table. It’s a nice mix of people ranging from members who go to almost every dining event, to people who want to sample that specific chef’s cooking.

Robert Caravaggi and Stephen Attoe of Swifty's.
It is considered an honor for a chef to be cooking at the James Beard House. This was my first time at the House and it was a standout experience.

To reach the cocktail area you get the distinct pleasure of walking by the open kitchen. I could spend all night watching Chef Attoe. He makes everything look so easy and his cooking manner is silky smooth.

The food was a big hit, but the trout quenelles were especially good. They had a wonderfully light texture with substantial flavor and the watercress sauce politely complemented the whole dish.

The hors d’oeuvres included miniature pike burgers and caramelized onions on a brioche, smoked partridge and goat cheese stuffed cheese puffs, and roasted wild duck on risotto cakes.
Cocktails before dinner at the James Beard House.
Steve Cuozzo and Anna Teresa Callen. Roger Webster and Michele Gerber Klein.
Patricia and Stephen Attoe with Steve and Jane Cuozzo.
The dinner menu (with wine):

Poached Trout Quenelles with Braised Leeks and Watercress Sauce
Santenay Commes-Dessus, Prosper Maufoux ,2005

Pan-Seared Quail with Preserved Lemon, Olives, Pine Nuts, and Grilled Polenta
Volnay Premier Cru Les Angles, Prosper Maufoux, 2005

Venison and Sage Cobbler with Roasted Winter Vegetables
Chassagne-Montrachet Clos Saint Jean, Prosper Maufoux 2005

Steamed Ginger Pudding with Crème Anglaise
Warre Porto, Sir William, Ten Year Tawny

For future events: James Beard House & Swifty’s
Guests gather around the kitchen. The table setting.
Mini pike burgers. Roasted wild duck on risotto caked.
Smoked pheasant and goat cheese stuffed cheese puffs. Pan seared quail, green lentils, olives, preserved lemon and grilled polenta.
Venison and sage cobbler. Poached quenelles of trout in a watercress sauce.
Swifty's menu at the James Beard House. Steamed ginger pudding with creme anglaise and oatmeal lace cookies.
Le Pain Quotidien (I call it LPQ) just came out with new specials that include a Tuscan white bean and bread salad, a six-vegetable quiche with tofu (that is gluten free), tiramisu, and a tartine made with LPQ's addictive brunette spread and jam. I love stopping in for a quick bite because all of its locations include long and spacious communal tables.

LPQ at 1270 First Avenue, between 68th and 69th Street.
The menu includes a selection of tartines, salads, and breakfast items like muffins, pastries and granola. Le Pain uses an abundance of organic and sustainable products. As such, it’s very easy to eat healthy without ever feeling deprived. When I meet friends there for brunch on the weekends, I almost always get a skim cappuccino, the smoked salmon tartine, and a coconut macaroon.

LPQ has numerous locations all over the world and many in New York. My favorite branch is at 1270 First Avenue between 68th and 69th Street. No matter how crowded, it always feels under control. It is managed very well and the service is seamless. It’s located near a few of New York's best hospitals and many doctors eat there ... so don't be alarmed by the collection of white coats. Instead, sit by the communal table near the window and watch the world go by. [Le Pain Quotidien]
Inside le pain quotidien. A mug of cappuccino.
Six vegetable quiche. Egg salad tartine.
Smoked salmon tartine. Apricot tart.
Organic PQ B&J Tartine. Linzer cookies.
coconut macaroons.
Chocolate Bar at Henri Bendel is giving out free brownies for the entire month of February. Just say the word, "bailout," and from Monday – Thursday from 3-8 pm, you can get yourself a free brownie. [Midtown Lunch]

If you like mussels you should be very happy. They are making a comeback because they are inexpensive and sustainable. It used to be that people didn’t think they were particularly safe to eat, but that has changed. [NY Mag]

Good news for diners! Restaurant week is being extended until February 27th at 150 restaurants. During restaurant week lunches are $24.07 and dinners are $35.00. This is an true indication of how much restaurants are hurting in this economy. [NewYorkology]

The town of Lucca in Italy has banned new restaurants that specialize in ethnic food, such as Thai and Lebanese cuisine. Many people are calling this gastronomic racism. Lucca just wants to protect its products and the Italian image it projects. I am all for protecting the local culture and its cuisine, but this is taking it way too far. [Yahoo]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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