Eat

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Food + Wine: McCrady's Dine Around

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Insane. Retarded. Delicious. Those are just some of the words used by people sitting at my table to describe the food that was set down before us last night. Sean Brock, Wylie Dufresne, and Johnny Iuzzini teamed up for a bizarrely delicious dinner. It started with sweetbreads, ended with raspberry beet parfait, and featured some fresh meat in between.

After the sweetbread hors d'oeuvres, Wylie sent out a plate of scallop with tendon fried up like delicate pork rinds. Not my favorite, but Jeff Allen loved it. Next came lobster legs. Sam Mason and his loverly girlfriend Callan were sitting at our table. He owns Tailor in NYC (Sean's favorite restaurant) and worked with Wylie at wd~50 for some years. He explained the process to us — something about a hyperbaric chamber being used to pop open the little teeny tiny legs of the lobster, exposing the little bitty bites of deliciously tender meat. Whatever it takes to get to it I guess. The end result is a very tasty pile of lobster tossed in lily bulb puree and topped with banana kimchee. Wylie described it as a pasta dish, with lobster meat standing in for noodles. Great idea and wonderfully delicious.

Next, Sean Brock sent out a square little marshmallow of fried chicken liver. Seriously. When I read the description, I told Jeff I didn't like chicken livers and, of course, he scoffed at me — with good reason. These would be like no chicken liver I had ever eaten before. The liver was all moussey and fluffy and oozed out on the plate, mixing with a dollop of something that tastes like maple-bourbon syrup. Brock said it was his version of chicken and waffles. Give me more! My favorite dish of the night. Sam tried to score some more chicken livers from the kitchen, but they were all gone. Boo.

For the next course, Sean told us we'd be eating his pets. Fortunately his pets are delicious little piggies. Some slices of ham on top of a round of mortadello. Some burnt onions (his description, not mine) and turnips too. At our table, Dan Wenz found this to be the most wonderful thing he's probably ever eaten. When Sam went to find more chicken livers, he actually discovered another plate of this, which he brought back for Dan, who pretended like he wanted to share it with everyone at the table when what he really wanted to do was scarf it up in one big bite.

The next two courses were courtesy of Johnny Iuzzini, the executive pastry chef at Jean-Georges in NYC. Warm sesame cake made with olive oil, calamanzi noodles, candied kumquats, citrus meringue, and margarita semifreddo make for a not-very-sweet but really satisfying end to the meal. But wait! It's not over. The next course was a tart/sweet raspberry beet parfait with spiced streusel and bitter chocolate gel. His desserts are really quite nice because they don't go for the cloyingly sweet — it's more of a challenge. I hope pastry chef Kelly Wilson at Cypress gets to interact with Johnny today. I think she'd be inspired.

So, that's the meal I experienced last night. If you were following along on twitter, you would have read about this in a much more disjointed, stream-of-consciousness kind of way. I'm really digging twitter. It's like writing haikus on the fly about what you're experiencing. Here are some pictures from the dinner, which ended with a jelly jar of moonshine being passed around.

Next post: (censored) scenes from the afterparty.

Sam Mason of Tailor and his girl Callan
  • Sam Mason of Tailor and his girl Callan

That little block holds a burst of chicken liver inside. Oh my.
  • That little block holds a burst of chicken liver inside. Oh my.

Ashley and Dan Wenz. He loves pig.
  • Ashley and Dan Wenz. He loves pig.

Johnny Iuzzini. The Elvis of desserts.
  • Johnny Iuzzini. The Elvis of desserts.

Scallop and tendon
  • Scallop and tendon

Lobster legs as pasta? Most definitely.
  • Lobster legs as pasta? Most definitely.

Sam Mason and Wylie Dufresne
  • Sam Mason and Wylie Dufresne

Signing menus. I wonder if this happens a lot to these guys?
  • Signing menus. I wonder if this happens a lot to these guys?

Johnny's sesame cake creation
  • Johnny's sesame cake creation

Our parting gift: a box of chocolates.
  • Our parting gift: a box of chocolates.

Redneck grappa
  • Redneck grappa

Johnny and his Pops, toasting a great night.
  • Johnny and his Pops, toasting a great night.

Our gracious host, Sean Brock, and his lovely wife Tanya
  • Our gracious host, Sean Brock, and his lovely wife Tanya

See Joan Perry's photos of the food here.

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