Saturday, September 11, 2010

lucky peach!

Need I say more? Last night was Fashion's Night Out - the kickoff to fashion week.  Parties galore all over the city, celebs, performances, promotions, free flowing drinks and treats, not to mention the GIANT fashion show at the Lincoln Center - you name it, it was probably happening somewhere. Of course I took it upon myself to participate - it was a beautiful night so how could I resist? Of course, I don't understand the concept of "planning" for events, so I had to work a little magic.  Fortunately for me, the event that most intrigued me was relatively close by at the newly opened Andaz Hotel on 5th Avenue.  What was the event, pray tell?  Vogue food critic, and one of my favorite food writers, Jeffrey Steingarten and Momofuku's David Chang were hosting an artisanal-whiskey (and various other spirits) tasting, with bites of Dave's most delicious dishes.  Per Jeffrey Steingarten, "“We’re going to have largely local whiskeys, and I hope lots of it. Four bars, so no one has to wait more than a minute for their whiskey — and I expect them to be poured in liberal amounts.” Right on!  I figured Pucci was appropriate for this evening, so I primped up and ROLLED OUT!

It came as such a surprise when my "RSVP" had "disappeared" from the list - woe is me! Your system must have accidentally omitted form the list! Obviously. And, I was in. First off, the hotel is pretty amazing, and I'll have to go back just to check out the space some more on another date.  I rode my way up the elevator to a packed ass party of beautiful people.  And I bee-lined my way over to Jeffrey Steingarten of course! 

"Have you tried the whiskeys yet?"
"Why no, I've just arrived, but I'm headed in that direction!"
"You MUST try this rum, it tastes EXACTLY like butterscotch! Let me show you and have a taste."

i love this man.
Seriously.  His sense of humor is dryer than the desert, he LOVES food, and his writing makes me all the more hungry.  The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must've Been Something I Ate are phenomenal - trials and tribulations of the food world, scavenging and hunting for rare ingredients, being in the jaws of life fishing for giant bluefin tuna - gloriously entertaining! I recommend them to everybody.  Also, how can you resist someone who hates on all the pompous idiots on Iron Chef? Brilliant.

Back to that rum - Yes, I will of course drink rum with you sir! The rum did in fact taste like butterscotch, and the other spirits were quite tasty as well.  Finger Lakes Distilling, Tuthilltown Whiskeys, and Berkshire Mountain Distillers were all around sampling their tasty treats.  The signature drink, The September Issue, made with rye, chilled with liquid nitrogen was a cool gimmick, but the rye was the real player.  Another drink available was made with grapefruit juice, orange essence, and gin - also tasty, and very refreshing.

Masi for the faint of heart, and unable to handle their serious beverages.
going to town on the oranges for the specialty drink
The event space was massive, with food stations and chefs from the Momofuku empire buzzing around- a thousand pork buns (literally) were thrown around, a meat slicer whirred away to plate slices of ham as fast as hands could grab them, and an assembly line of men stacking apple and kimchi on individual forks kept everyone satiated (or hungry for more).

kimchi apple salad, smoked jowl, and maple labne
benton's smoky mountain country ham with red-eye gravy
the aftermath of pork buns and ribs
Beyond all of the deliciousness, David Chang demoed a dish that he's serving at Ko - fortunately, I befriended one of HIS friends, J, and was able to watch right up close, and try the dish fresh out the pot.  He was preparing what he calls "fluffy eggs" - in a whipped cream dispenser, he combined egg whites with methyl cellulose.  This was sprayed into a simmer smoked pork "dashi" broth, topped with chives, a bit more of the dashi, and some shavings of the smoked pork. WHAT! This was UNbelievable.  No butter, no oil, no salt, just straight up ingredients.
testing the egg situation
The egg white really puffed up and came out velvety in texture, thanks to the methyl cellulose. Oh yea, and THANKS Dave for now adding another random object of things to purchase for my kitchen. I just bought agar-agar and spherical molds thanks to Grant Achatz and now I have to go get this malarkey?! I'm okay with that. The smoked pork dashi was unbelievable - I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, everyday - it was so savory, but so light at the same time, and perfectly balanced.

making the SUPER egg fluff
I really need to make some purchases so I can make this at home - at least I can start by making smoked pork dashi! Post demo, I got to chat it up with Dave (we should be best friends really, we have the same birthday after all!), and Christina Tosi (his AMAZING pastry chef - she is brilliant) even showed up after her event at the Ace Hotel - thankfully J introduced me.  She's the brainchild behind crack pie, the compost cookie, cereal milk ice cream, and ALL the works.  We started talking about ridiculous new desserts and treats that she's coming up, and even threw around the idea of a sweet pork bun - I won't give it away though.  But I may just make it first in my own home!  
clearly excited
In honor of Mr. Chang, one of my favorite recipes for Brussel Sprouts/best side dish ever in the world because it's addicting!


Roasted-to-Hell BrusselSriracha and Lime
Seriously. These are unreal.  You will never look at brussel spouts the same again.  Make three times as much as you think you need, because you WILL want to eat every last bite.

2 c brussel sprouts
2-3 slices thick-cut, tasty bacon
All the sriracha you can handle
2 limes

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Prep your brussel sprouts by cutting the woody ends off and splitting each in half, or even quarters if you have some really large ones.  Cut your bacon into 1/4 inch squares or so, and heat up a saute pan.  If you have a pan that's large enough to hold all your brussel sprouts AND can go in the oven, use that - otherwise use any size big enough for the bacon and get a roasting dish ready for the sprouts.  Heat the pan over medium-low and toss in your bacon pieces.  Stir around a bit and let the fat render, cooking the bacon until its crispy.  Once it's to your desired crispiness, remove the pieces with a slotted spoon.  Now, if you're using an oven safe pan, throw in the brussel sprouts (not literally, the bacon grease will burn you!) and toss them around so each sprout is coated with that glistening bacon grease.  If you're using a roasting dish, pour the grease over the sprouts and toss around as above. Put those guys in the oven and leave them alone for a good long while - you really can cook the dickens out of brussel sprouts, just make sure you don't burn them! Also, remember to shake them around every so often while they are in the oven.


Yum!  You can cook even further if you'd like, but I get a little too anxious
When the sprouts are ready, take them out of the oven, and it's time to get serious with the sriracha.  You can use however much/little you please. Get aggressive with it.  When the sriracha hits the hot sprouts, the capsaicin will rise up into your nose, giving you a hint of the spiciness that is about to ensue.  Throw in the bacon pieces from earlier, and toss the sprouts until they are coated in the sriracha. Finally, slice your limes and squeeze the juice all over the sprouts.


king of condiments.
Raging red spiciness.
Go out and buy brussel sprouts right now to make this dish. The sprouts cooked in the bacon are extra savory, and a bit smoky - the cooked bacon gives a great crunch here and there, the sriracha adds a little heat to your mouth, and the lime cuts through that head and brightens up the entire dish.  Sweet, smoky, spicy, acidic, crunchy, golden, DELICIOUS.  I may have to make a batch!

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