10 May 2009

James Beard Foundation Awards 2009

Attending the JBF Awards was a dream come true, and I've been walking around in a trance ever since. Still, I was determined to pay homage to the experience, better late than never.

May 4 saw the peacock's plummage of the food world arrive at Lincoln Center. It was fun, slightly glamorous, and the odor of desperation permeated the awards hall like crushed garlic from a kitchen. JBF President Susan Ungaro hammered home a message to resounding applause:

"We are going to cook, dine and drink our way out of these tough times"

Here, here for more hedonistic pleasures in our lives!

My hosts for the evening were the thoroughly charming Mireille Guiliano of French Women Don't Get Fat, and Dr. Edward Guiliano, President of the New York Institute of Technology. They met in Istanbul, which is why I know their love is the enduring kind. All couples I know whose stories revolve around Istanbul remain happily in love even decades after the fact, celebrating anniversaries in the high double digits with fountains spouting champagne. But fill me with as much good wine as they did and I'll make grand proclamations for your love too...

A predictable hour late after a long awards ceremony, the magic of the food at the VIP dinner had evaporated under too many heat lamps, but there were some notable exceptions.

The cheese course was truly extraordinary for its quality and gutsy simplicity. No crackers, no fruit or other accoutrements to distract from the bliss of complex flavors that can be coaxed from simple dairy. Thank you bacteria!

Kunik from Nettle Meadow Farm,

Laurier from Vermont Butter & Cheese (my favorite, a chalky goat named for its laurel leaf wrapping),

Blanca Bianca from Mozzarella Company, and

Kirkham's Lancashire from Rocca Family Vineyards.

Debbie Gold's (The American Restaurant, Kansas City, MO) cured bone marrow on mustard croutons with parsley and ramps punched up the flavor, as did Lidia Bastianich's (no introduction necessary I presume) herb crumb encrusted veal cheeks with spring begetables and quinoa salad. Looking back, it makes sense that the only dishes whose flavor survived the evening's delays were those with plenty of fat.

Best blow-by-blow account of the evening can be found on New York Magazine's website's Grub Street.

As a Barnard woman and youngun to the food world, I appreciated this year's theme honoring women in the culinary scene, be they chefs, writers, bartenders, artisans, or sommeliers. Let's hear it for women not only surviving but redefining a man's world - requisite jokes about a woman's place being in the kitchen and all.

1 comment:

Robin Shanea said...

So glad you were there! And thanks for blogging so I could feel like I was there too!