Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"The Forklifter" Visits The "Taste of Tribeca" Preview Party

Many thanks to The Forklifter for letting us reprint this!

The Forklifter was tempted to become “The Plate-licker” recently. Last Wednesday, a serendipitous invite came my way to the first-ever “Taste of Tribeca Private Preview”. Seven of Tribeca’s top chefs were profiling their offerings for the upcoming Taste of Tribeca. Did anyone seriously think I might turn it down?

Mark Forgione lent his very cool restaurant for the event. Tribeca Wine Merchants supplied their new “Tribeca Meeting Point” wine to go along with the tastings . The godfather of Tribeca restaurants, Tracy Nieporant held court from a seat at the bar as some lucky food writers dug into a parade of tastings.

First off was Amanda Freitag’s “Marinated Artichokes with Lemon-Ramp Ricotta”. This is exactly the kind of thing I’d order at the Harrison and it didn’t disappoint. The ricotta was ethereal and lemony and balanced the earthy artichokes perfectly. It was the type of food you mop up with your bread.

Ricky Estrellado of Nobu (they’re back!) offered up “Chicken Karaage with Green Mango and Jicama Slaw”. These were deep-fired chicken wings with the perfect amount of heat. I was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only person gnawing away trying to get every last morsel of crunchy crust and tender meat. The slaw was the ideal balance--fresh and palate cleansing,

With a name like Chewy Cereceres, you’ve got to believe that the Macao Trading Company’s chef can cook. The beautiful “Crab and Shrimp Jade Dumpling with Cilantro Scallion Puree” were quite delicate, but spiked with fresh ginger. I’ve heard that there are people who (supposedly) hate cilantro, but this puree might make some converts.

Timmy Zherka of Acappella really surprised me with his “Homemade Porcini Agnolotti with Port Wine Sauce”. Thick slabs of juicy porcinis topped off the tender pasta. The filling was clearly loaded with mushrooms and not “fillers”. I had to make do with my fork to get up the last of the sauce.

Blaue Gans’ Kurt Gutenbrunner always manages to defy expectations. If you think you have Austrian cuisine figured out, Kurt will always change things up. His “Nurnberg Bratwurst-Mini-Bratwurst with Sauerkraut, Potatoes, Fresh Horseradish and Watercress” was probably the most elegant and beautifully constructed plate of food—and that was by no means an easy feat with that crowd. The savory, tender sausages were supported by every element of the dish, right down to the homemade mustard.

A couple of years ago, Marc Forgione made a splash at the Taste of Tribeca before his restaurant had even opened its doors. The man clearly has a way with lamb and he highlighted it by serving “Braised Lamb Neck, Carrot Ravioli, Hoppert Cress Peas Shoots”. Did I taste a bit of cardamom, maybe some cumin? I kept thinking about the flavor all night. The meat was meltingly tender. The slight sweetness of the carrot ravioli and pea-shoots set it off nicely.

Let it not be said that I don’t have willpower. When Rachel Thebault of Tribeca Treats set down her dessert plates, I only tried one thing. Was it because I was amongst strangers and the press? I don’t know but it wasn’t easy. Cupcakes, cookies and brownies…from Tribeca Treats…go ahead, you try to do it. I chose wisely: a decadent chocolate-vanilla cupcake. Perfect for the chronically indecisive (who me?).

So that’s how I nearly became “The Plate-licker. Just 14 days until TASTE of TRIBECA—I’ve already got my tickets. Now, pardon me while I adjust my elastic waistband.

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