And for any of those who followed my (long neglected) Top Chef blog a few years back, you'd know that I had, er, let's say a little crush on the man. (I believe the restraining order has been lifted now, so I'm good.)
In any case, after the husband hacked my Facebook account and sent him a friend request, which he accepted, I was able to
But after a while, I noticed that he was now working out of the Netherland Antilles, specifically St. Maarten. And, with my own move from Columbus, Ohio, to South Florida the odds were getting better that I'd be able to get a taste.
Well, before you can say "Yellow Love Vanilla", we were making plans to head from Jupiter down to Miami Beach (an hour and a half drive, in case you wanna know) for the opportunity.
So, we were on for Andrew's All-Star Pop-Up Jam experience as My Favorite Chef takes over Josh's Deli for a few days in June. Woo hoo!
We arrive at 9 p.m. at the small restaurant (normally, or formally, the Chow Down Grill Restaurant) where we are two of six who will be dining on this, the first night of the endeavor. We sit alongside two great chefs, a married couple, who I gather are legendary in the area. I feel ashamed I was not aware of this. (They are beyond lovely, by the way, and gave me excellent advice on getting over my "I totally can't cook" and "I don't even understand the basics" thing.)
We meet Andrew, who is as charming as ever. The soundtrack is a hysterical mix of heavy metal, gangsta rap and REO Speedwagon. "It's all love songs," he quips as he continues his mise en place.
At this point, I'd like to offer a reminder about myself. I love food. I love fine food. And I am the farthest thing from a cook as one could get. (As mentioned above, I'm working to get over this.) And, as such, I really don't have the vocabulary to explain what I was tasting. In fact, I didn't really plan to blog on this, save for the fact that I knew The Webmistress would vivisect me should I not do so, something I spent a good amount of time considering on the drive down.
So, with all that as prologue, here's what we had.
We opted to go the simpler route of ordering the "tasting menu." I don't know how I would make the right choices and having a bit of everything sounded like a good idea. Pricey, yes, but you only go around once, right?
And it was all excellent. But when we were told the portion sizes would be the same any way we ordered, I really didn't imagine I'd be eating that much food. Great food, yes, but, I feel like one of those boa constrictors who eat an entire deer and are found in the Everglades bloated and the size of an earth-mover.
The first dish of the first course was a Quick Cured Hamachi with a Squid Ink Vinaigrette, Myoga, Soy Caviar, Shiso and Crystallized Ginger. Cheekily served in a Burger King "Whopper™" box, the dish (not pictured) was a delightful opening to the night. And the presence of the soy caviar (not caviar at all, I am told) is inspired.
Now, on to the second (?) course.
This is followed by Roasted Gnudi with House Lardon, Cauliflower, Egg, Hen of the Woods and a Chicken Jus. I love it and the husband is over the moon. The texture of the gnudi (a gnocchi made from ricotta -- Thank you, Wikipedia!) and the runny poached egg was a delight. At this point, though, the fat content and cholesterol levels were starting to do a job on me, a factor of the volume, not the quality of the food.
The second paired beer, another craft beer called Rogue Dead Guy Ale helped. The name, though, did feel for how I'd feel the next day. Because, next we had the third course of the heaviest dishes of the night.
First, Lamb, Lamb, served with Belly, Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Corn Polenta and a Mustard Jus. Again, delicious. The husband was overjoyed. And while the Brussels sprouts were wonderfully crispy and the polenta was perfection, I think the fat content of the belly and the lamb bacon had me reaching saturation levels pretty quickly.
Really, it's all my own fault for not pacing myself.
Still, you can't have a fine meal without ending it on a sweet note (or at least not one such a fatty one), so it was time for my favorite Top Chef Drinking Game™! And, as is the custom, we polished off our beers at Andrew's exclamation of, "I am not a pastry chef." Chug! (Our neighbors seemed amused by our TV drinking game. Strangely, I thought it was something everyone did now, like jam on dubstep tunes and spend time futzing with something called Pinterest.)
Once dinner was over, it was time to party! Andrew brought out the party hats, a Mexican wrestler mask (for him) and assorted facial hair accessories and eye patches. Pictures!
In deference to the other diners who may not be keen on being on this blog, I'll leave the photo to your imagination.
OK, here's a taste.
|Andrew & Josh|
So, after a few pictures and some more chatting with our host, I thanked him for making it all happen and I got to check another thing off that bucket list.
Posted on AllTopChef.com