If Tuesday night was a practice run for Carla Pellegrino's date at the James Beard House next week, we wish we were residents of New York so we could relive it all over again.
Come June 11, Carla will make her way to he James Beard House where she will host her sixth dinner at the JBF. In case you're unfamiliar, the James Beard Foundation hosts events year round with the purpose of educating and raising awareness of America's cuisine and favorite pasttime. We were invited to get a taste of Carla's preview dinner at Touche. Pictures of what she'll be cooking up next week after the jump.
James Beard dinners normally highlight renowned chefs from all over the world, who sometimes cook in pairs. The chefs may choose to cook the food that is true to their culinary repertoire or cook around a specific theme or ingredient. In the case of Pellegrino, she's representing the cuisine of Touche, which opened in February above E11even.
When attending a James Beard dinner, guests are given a tour of the kitchen where many top toques have made history, meet the night's chef, and observe the team as they prepare their dinner. Due to E11even's open kitchen, we had the pleasure of watching Pellegrino and her team at work.
For our first course, we were served a vibrant gazpacho with a salad in it. Or maybe it was salad with gazpacho. Either way, it was the most interesting take on a gazpacho or salad (depending on how you want to look at it) we've ever encountered. The watercress and heirloom carrot added a beautiful touch and crunch.
All photos by Carla Torres
Scallops are probably one of the toughest shellfish to cook. There's a fine line between an overcooked scallop and a raw one. Pellegrino gets it just right with these pan-seared scallops that are daintily charred on their exterior. Blood orange caviar made it even better.
I'd never had strigoli pasta before, or red mullet, but the combination goes together perfectly. Red mullet is a species of goatfish that usually come from the Mediterranean, eastern North Atlantic Ocean, and Black Sea. Paired with baby zucchini and zucchini blossom sauce, it was quite the bright pasta dish.
This dish fused two into one. A "surf & turf" if you will, one side has a pan-seared fillet of codfish atop broccoli rabe mashed potatoes. On the turf side, foie gras has also been pan-seared and served with an apple trio -- apple compote, apple demi-glaze and apple sorbet.
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Orange curd Chantilly with fresh raspberry and fizzy lime closed out Pellegrino's preview meal. At the James Beard House, dinners normally wrap up with a Q&A with the chef. While we didn't get to pick Pellegrino's brain Tuesday, she'll be back at Touche by June 12.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha