Last night was kind of a struggle post Corridor Mashup. As I laid in bed, rolling around for an hour, I kept thinking,”How in the hell am I supposed to sleep after a meal like that?” I was still reeling from the brilliance of the blending of ingredients, flavors and talent. When I originally saw tickets posted, I hesitated at the ticket price ($95). But in that moment, I quickly realized that a collaboration of Andy, Sepehr, and their teams, would be worth every penny. And dammit, I was right.
Still trying to wrap my brain around what is now topping my list of Culinary Experiences, how do I accurately capture what we ingested so I can share it here? I have a double-sided menu of scribbled notes. I have photos from two phones of artsy angles in good lighting (thanks to my dining date). But to be able to explain how a smoked- Aquavit- celery- Shrub stopped me in my tracks on the first sip, is proving difficult.
The collaboration consisted of six crafted cocktails, and five courses. Starting off the meal, we were greeted with Granny’s Iced Tea by Cobble Hill and an room of energized guests. The triangle of lemon peel garnishing the glass was pointing right down into the glass of simple sweetness, and I was barely able to stop myself from drinking it all in one go.
We were seated at the Harvest Table, luckily with a great view of the presentations by the chefs, owners, and bartenders before each course. I wildly scribbled notes of their descriptions of history, inspiration, ingredients, and techniques while trying to not chug my pairing drink at the same time. Our first course was prepared by Sepehr from Pullman Bar & Diner, with a Japanese influence including local green strawberry umeboshi, and a salmon bone tare, he served a Konbu-cured and charred scallop. The cocktail was a juxtaposition of flavor to the course, serving a not-too-sweet porch drink with a homemade strawberry peppercorn shrub that balanced the vinegar and agave for a smooth finish.
The second course was a Cobble Hill agnolotti that I’m still dreaming about. Topped with pistachio butter, mint and crispy leeks, we were so vocally overwhelmed by this dish, the waitress brought a sidecar of two extra pieces for us to pass and share. My date licked his bowl clean. Yes, licked. What looked like a beautiful mint chip ice cream, was a pile of tender pasta and rich, savory cream with nuggets of dehydrated Beldi olives. “Whoa!” was the first comment by my dining friend, followed up with “this is a dish where 1 + 1= 6”. The olives in this dish, and seaweed in the first, met my criteria for judging seriously delicious food: when a chef presents ingredients I would normally walk down another aisle to avoid (olives), and not only are they palatable but they have eliminated the offensive nuances by pairing them effectively, they show a true mastery of flavors. In hindsight, this dish was my favorite.
The next two courses continued to elevate the meal, and did not disappoint with either the main dish or the cocktail pairing. Third course was Pullman’s slow roasted salmon with a bacon-seaweed emulsion, paired with my favorite drink of the night, the Shrubdown. The fourth course was Cobble’s two-week aged Pekin duck breast with a black, and green, curry paste. This last dinner course was paired with the ESB from Lion Bridge, a traditional English bitter, balanced with the malt, and rounding out all of the flavors in the dish.
By the time dessert was presented by Ben Smart, self-taught pastry chef, I think we were all expecting that there was no way the meal could get better. Upon explanation of how he concocted this beautiful display of pink, berries and cake, I wanted to grab my dessert and run out the door with it, grabbing others on the way. As they ladled out the cocktail that paired with it, someone at our table asked what was in the rosy beverage, and another eater responded “tears of joy”. A perfect finale.
As we walked out of dinner, shaking hands and congratulating them on a successful evening, it was truly intimidating to be in a room with that much talent. Yes, the meal was an amazing display of flavors and techniques. But the best part, was that it was high-caliber dining, on point with the largest cities and most talented chefs in our country, all happening at home. It started with an idea, then a collaboration between teams, and ended with two remarkable dinners that provided guests with memories and experiences that are very hard to rival, no matter where you go from here.
Cobble Hill, welcome cocktail: GRANNY’S ICED TEA. Tito’s vodka, Flor de Cana rum, Broker’s gin, simple syrup, acid phosphate and tobacco bitters
Pullman, first course: KONBU CURED & CHARRED SCALLOP. Salmon bone tare, enoki mushrooms, Tokyo turnips, green strawberry umeboshi, burnt garlic oil, wakame. PARAISO. strawberry peppercorn shrub, Campari, Cointreau, lemon juice, agave nectar, soda water.
Cobble, second course: BELLWETHER FARMS RICOTTA AGNOLOTTI. Pistachio butter, Beldi olive, mint and crispy leeks.
LION BRIDGE BREWING “Kundera”. Kolsch, 4.6%, light, slight hop bitterness, European malt, earthy German hops.
Pullman, third course: SLOW ROASTED SALMON. raw & cooked asparagus, breakfast radish, Cinicinatti radish, bacon-seaweed emulsion, toasted seeds.
SHRUBDOWN. smoked Aquavit, asparagus brine, celery shrub, lime juice, celery bitters.
Cobble, fourth course: AGED PEKIN DUCK BREAST. black curry, panisse, lovage.
LION BRIDGE BREWING “ESB”. 6.0%, English Special Bitter.
Pullman, dessert: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE. fresh berries, amaretto ice cream.
Cobble, dessert cocktail: PUNCH-DRUNK. Cachaca, strawberry, rose wine, Benedictine, simple syrup, and soda water.