Best use of pork belly (and there was a lot of pork belly) was this satsuma glazed square with cilantro and marinated beets on the side from Susan Zemanick, chef of Gautreau's in New Orleans:
Best single bite of food at the affair was foie gras bon bons from Beast, in Portland Oregon. The chilled morsels were topped with a quince/champagne gelée and cracked black pepper, and placed upon shortbread. It was suggested to me by a friend to toss the shortbread and just let the bon bon melt away. Which I did. Yowsa!
Most creative taste might have been this tofu/kimchee stew from Bill Kim, chef/owner of Urbanbelly in Chicago:
Absolutely the most original and weirdest dish of the night goes to Seattle's Spring Hill restaurant for its Puget sound king clam with cauliflower puree, grapefruit, meyer lemon and ogo dashi. I swear to God it worked, but why? I'll never figure this one out:
Other culinary highlights included:
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- Tripa alla Toscana from The Little Nell in Aspen.
- BBQ oxtail tamales with warm smoked hake salad and grapefruit salsa from Samar by Stephan Pyles in Dallas Texas.
- Scallop and braised short ribs with black truffle sauce from Pascal Oudin's Pascal's On Ponce.
- The best damn hamachi sashimi I've ever had (and spiciest!) from Tim Cushman's o ya restaurant in Boston. I snatched their last piece, which served as my final bite of the night.