Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Tasteful Pursuit in Palm Beach

I was extremely lucky to be selected by Foodbuzz to attend A Tasteful Pursuit in Palm Beach . This event is a gourmet seven-course meal and auction to benefit Share our Strength. It was held at Café Boulud, which is owned by superstar chef, Daniel Boulud.

Share our strength is a national organization that works hard to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. They weave together a net of community groups, activists, and food programs to catch children at risk of hunger and surround them with nutritious food where they live, learn, and play. There are many ways to help this great cause, Click Here to find out how to lend a hand to help end childhood hunger.


I arrived fashionably late to Café Boulud (darn that Monday night traffic!) and wandered around the silent auction displays. There was an abundance of items. The sommelier of Café Boulud, Jenny Benzie, has great connections in the wine industry and there were many bottles donated to the auction. I had a glass of Charles de Casanove Champagne and went inside to find my table.


The event was set up beautifully. The centerpieces consisted of roses and orchids, and were lit up by candlelight. The tables were covered with wine glasses, because each course was paired with a different wine.


1st Course: Salsify Panna Cotta
Chef: Bradford Thompson, Lever House
When I first saw this on the menu, I was slightly nervous. A savory panna cotta didn’t seem to appealing to me. But I took my first bite and I was in heaven. The flavor was rich and the texture was perfectly creamy. The spice of the crawfish tail complemented it perfectly.


2nd Course: Quail and Foie Gras Ballotine en Croute – paired with Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc
Chef: Olivier Muller, DB Bistro Moderne
I have some issues with eating foie gras (but had never tried it), and was happy when there was only a small amount in the dish. But I took a bite and was impressed. The ballotine was meaty but delicate, with a buttery pastry crust. It went well with the slight tartness of the beets, greens, and shallot vinaigrette, which took an edge off the richness.


3rd Course: Marinated Nantucket Bay Scallops – paired with Alphones Mellot La Moussiere
Chef: Wesley Holton, Daniel Boulud Brasserie
The dish looked like a deconstructed ceviche, with the scallops floating in citrus and creamy avocado in the center. The scallops were literally the best I ever had, and basically melted in my mouth. The citrus and avocado was a perfect combination.


4th Course: Slow Roasted Arctic Char – paired with Vincent Girardin Pouilly-Fuisse
Chef: Zach Bell, Café Boulud Palm Beach
I’m pretty sure this was my favorite dish of the night. I had never tasted arctic char before. It looks similar to salmon but has a more delicate flavor. It was cooked to perfection, moist and flaky. It was complemented beautifully with the curry sabayon and caramelized cauliflower (which is now my new favorite way to eat cauliflower).


5th Course: Spinach and Ricotta Raviolo – paired with Cecchi, Vino Noble di Montepulciano
Chef: Gavin Kaysen, Café Boulud NYC
Raviolo is basically one big ravioli. Besides the title ingredients it also had pork sausage and an egg yolk in the center. I do not like eggs at all (except a few bites of scrambled eggs covered with cheese and ketchup), so I was terrified. But I couldn’t believe how wonderful everything tasted together. The egg yolk really added a creaminess to the ravioli that surprised me.


6th Course: Tasting of Milk Fed Veal – paired with Atalon Cabernet
Chef: Jean Francois Bruel, Daniel
This was the dish that really had everyone at my table looking pretty frightened. It consisted of veal sweetbreads, braised veal cheeks and veal tenderloin. I thought I’d go for the gusto and try the sweetbreads first. I was shocked by how good the consistency was and the mild flavor. The cheeks were also delicious, with excellent flavor (grass/milk fed) and it just fell apart when you cut into it. The tenderloin was good, but was overshadowed by the sweetbreads and cheek.


7th Course: “White Mocha”
Chef: Matthew Petersen, Café Boulud
The dessert was well hidden in a chocolate tuile shell. I cracked it open and tasted the components…orange mousse and chocolate cream. Those were both perfect. But then I bit in to the orange marmalade and it overwhelmed the chocolate flavor. I pushed that aside and finished the rest of the dessert, which also consisted of a very refreshing mandarin sorbet.


This was really a wonderful event. Although it was 7 courses, the portions were perfect and left the event perfectly satisfied. I was so happy to try so many things I had avoided in the past. The chefs really know how to create amazing dishes, and balance textures and flavors. The service throughout the event was impeccable! There are many Tasteful Pursuit dinners scheduled around the country, so attend one if you can. The food is amazing and it’s for a great cause.

30 comments:

Eric Herboso said...

Great post!

But I did want to let you know that the photos page you linked to is from 2008 -- you should also see the 2009 photos from the dinner you attended.

Also, I love your photos; would you consider publicly posting them to flickr?

Thanks for the great blog post, and I hope you continue to attend A Tasteful Pursuit in the future!

-Eric Herboso
Webmaster
Share Our Strength

wmp skin said...

You are so lucky!
warm greeting to your parents.

Suzy said...

Natalie,
Terrific post!
It was so nice to meet you at our A Tasteful Pursuit dinner in Palm Beach. We're so glad you could be there with us, and really appreciate you helping spread the word about Share Our Strength's work to end childhood hunger and our Tasteful Pursuit dinner series. Hope to see you again at another dinner soon!

-Suzy Twohig
Director of Donor Relations
Share Our Strength

Libby said...

This meal looks positively awe-inspiring. Congratulations on being selected to attend such an important event! As the selected blogger for the Cleveland, OH event in August, I am officially eager and excited to attend the dinner at Lola. Can't wait to eat and blog about such a worthy cause...

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