The James Beard Foundation is an organization where people can really get involved with all things foodie. There are events happening all month long, from lectures to cooking classes, conferences to readings, workshops to dinners. It's a really educational organization and allows people, professional or not, to tap in to their inner culinary creativity. The dinners showcase chefs from all over the world and you're able to go on the JBF site to view menus, bios and information on up and coming dining experiences. I had the toughest time narrowing down what to choose but I finally picked the 'Five Diamond Luxury Dinner with Kristin Butterworth' of Lautrec at Nemacolin Resort. My oh my, was I in for a treat.
We met at 7:00pm and the way it works is you walk through the kitchen to get to the outside garden where cocktails and hors d'oeuvres are being served. This was the first thing I saw and I was automatically giddy:
All those beautiful soup bowls...! I wanted to jump right in. That's actually Chef Kristin putting final pepper touches on the dish, too. We kept walking and I spotted another lovely platter:
After an hour or so, we were shown to our table. The James Beard House seats only 74 people and, should your party size be smaller than enough to fill a table, you will be seated communal style. That was more than fine with me as the other guests at our table were the perfect mix of private and social. I enjoyed not feeling pressured to talk to people yet being involved at the same time:
I'm so mad because I forgot to get a photo of the second plate. It was a fabulous papardelle with black truffle, confit farm egg and parmigiano. I loved it's texture with the contrast of perfectly cooked pasta to earthy truffles to creamy farm egg.
The third plate was chilean sea bass with potato butter, lobster sausage and caviar butter:
The fourth plate was Elysian Fields lamb with summer squash, vidalia onion risotto and honey mustard jam:
This was my least favorite dish but only because I am not a fan of lamb. It was certainly prepared in a lovely way but I don't like lamb's distinct gamey flavor. How can you not like vidalia onion risotto or summer squash, though?
The fifth plate was the cheese course and I just loved that they chose epoisses. They served it with local honeycomb, blackberry preserves, brown butter pecans and sea salt:
Finally, it was time for dessert and I couldn't have been happier. It was strawberry-rhubarb consomme with creme fraiche panna cotta and basil tapioca:
The tapioca was so unique and it popped with huge fresh basil flavor. I have no idea how they did it but it was terrific. I wasn't crazy about the consomme. It was a neat idea but far too sweet for me. Who cares though when you have creme fraiche panna cotta to enjoy!
It was truly a remarkable evening and I was so deep in my element. That's what made it even more special because Kristine knows me that well and understands how much a fancy dinner would mean to me. It was a wonderful birthday celebration and I would have waited even months longer to go if I had to. Now, it's a question of when we're going back... :)