Thursday, September 6, 2007

Life in the West Village and the James Beard House

After spending our first night in NYC in a slightly-sketchy Times Square apartment, we have now made our home in a West Village apartment sublet. It is small, obviously owned by a bachelor, but comfortable. Jim says he is enjoying being in a “man’s space” having been lacking in “bro-energy” this entire tour, since he’s surrounded by ladies all the time. It’s a hard life. A couple of the girls will probably enjoy spending some nights with our friend and website designer Daniela in her Brooklyn apartment due to overwhelming man-energy in the apartment…

Tonight Katy and Jim were invited to dine at the James Beard House by Mitchell Davis, VP of the Beard Foundation, who had come to our private event GQ dinner earlier in August, interested in Outstanding in the Field. He is interested in planning a 2009 Renaissance dinner in Florence with Outstanding in the Field. Jim had a number of art openings to attend, so he passed his ticket on to a gracious Leah, who escorted Katy a few blocks from the West Village apartment to the James Beard house on 12th St.

It just so happened that on this evening Michael Tusk of Quince, SF was the guest chef for the dinner and Katy was happy to see this familiar face as the two passed through the open kitchen: Michael was the guest chef at a Point Reyes dinner on Marin Sun Farms in 2005. Once through the house, Katy and Leah joined Mitchell and the rest of the guests in the back garden for bubbles and appetizers before Mitchell offered us a tour of the house. The d├ęcor hinted at the eccentric nature of James Beard, which included an outdoor shower on the upstairs deck, mirrored bedroom and bathroom ceilings and walls of shelving full of books.

We found our seats at table 6 with Mitchell and met our table company, two older gentlemen named Roger and Walter, foundation members and veteran James Beard dinner attendees.
They were charming company throughout the dinner and as we shared stories of Outstanding in the Field dinners, they divulged insight of delicious little nooks in the city including Kossar’s at Essex and Delancy (the best bialys in the city), the nearby Guss’ for pickles and finally, the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen.

As we first sat at the table, we were excited to see Dirty Girl Tomatoes on the menu, a local Santa Cruz favorite. Farmer Joe Schirmer, host of two past OitF farm dinners, uses an especially savory method of growing his Early Girl tomatoes – dry farming involves watering the plant up until the point where it flowers and that not at all. The product is a small, sweet fruit about the size of a plum that is highly concentrated flavor. The first course, a Dirty Girl Farm tomato variazione included raw slices with bottarga di muffine, a chilled soup and a warm sfomato of smoked ricotta. Katy’s favorite course was the agnolotti dal plin filled with Paine Farm squab. The small, incredibly tasty, well-balanced pasta was paired with a 2001 Ghemme from Piedmont. Katy described the Ghemme, an Italian version of the French Gamay grape, as “a little sprinkle of dirt in your glass, pale in color, light in taste and reminiscent of a good old fashioned Nebiolo, minus the pomp and circumstance.”

Overall, we enjoyed a fabulous evening both in company and food and wine. We would like to thank Mitchell for seeking us out and welcoming us into the grand tradition of the Beard House and we look forward to the possibility of collaborating and taking our two organizations to celebrate internationally in 2009.

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