Buffalo and Western New York restaurant and food news
Nov 15, 2011
Welcome to Truffalo: 2011 Annual Truffle Dinner
On Sunday night sixty-five lucky guests experienced what might have been one of Buffalo's most decadent and inspiring culinary accomplishments of all time. Dubbed "Luxury and Excess," it is an understatement to say that the annual truffle dinner—now in its second year and hosted by Chef Mike Andrzejewski of Sea Bar and Chef Steven Gedra of Bistro Europa—was a showstopper. Anyone who has ever questioned the innate talent and hard earned skill of Buffalo's culinary scene would be put to shame by this dinner. The world class cuisine served at Truffalo 2011 set a new bar for what guests should and can expect from our area's formal dining experiences.
The kitchen was flush with chefs and cooks alike, each eager to participate in the event. Below you will find images from each course. Prix fixe affairs really allow chefs and their kitchens to stretch their creative muscles. As foodies and fans it is our pleasure and dare i say obligation to support them in these ventures as often as we can. Next time you come across the opportunity to eat the imagination of your favorite chef, at a table peppered with people you have never met before, do it. You won't regret it. It will likely be one of the most enjoyable adventures you will ever have.
Annual Truffle Tasting Dinner
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Presented by Sea Bar & Bistro Europa
Absinthe cocktail with marshmallow
This was an excellent start to the meal. The absinthe marshmallow was intoxicatingly delicious—who knew marshmallows could be dead sexy?
Carpaccio of Kobe beef, truffle crisps
The scent of this dish was nearly overpowering—an intense and strong statement to make early in a meal. The white truffle-scented crisp at the photo's forefront was fun, the Parmesan frico imparted complexity, and the butter poached egg yolk was divine.
Nantucket Bay scallops, truffle rutabaga puree, and heirloom hominy
Succulent and delicate scallops provided an extraordinary playground for the truffle, and the addition of the toothy, slightly chewy hominy was a good one. Parsley oil and the rutabaga puree provided herbaciousness and a pleasant earthy quality.
Truffle bread pudding, langoustine cream
The croissant-based bread pudding was tremendously satisfying, being rich in flavor as well as moist and tender. This dish was pushed to its limits with the addition of langoustine and a flavorful cream sauce. The purple borage flowers made it one of the evening’s prettiest dishes, but I would have been just as pleased with the pudding all on its own.
Truffled Bomba rice en pappillote, mushroom fennel salad
The scent that rose from the rice once the cooking vessel was cut and opened was half the fun of this course, the salad filling in as the other half. It alone was crave-worthy—I know I’ll be trying to create it in my own kitchen before fennel is out of season. The licorice-scented fennel imparted a crispy crunch to the simply prepared Bomba rice and soft mushrooms. Seasoned with Parmesan, this dish was a nice break for the palate.
Egg Raviolo in truffled brodo
This dish made a reappearance on the menu; last year it was quite a hit. As salty as the sea, the broth was nicely augmented by the raw yolk, which imparted richness to the brodo once the truffle-laden ravioli was cut. It's also worth mentioning that the pasta was perfectly cooked.
Black tie scallops “Daniel Boloud”
Ellen Gedra's delicate puff pastry was exquisitely stuffed with scallop, truffle, and fresh spinach in this take on Chef Boulud's famous Le Cirque dish. The divine sauce complemented the puff, adding salt and depth of flavor to the spring-y and fresh tasting spinach and scallop combination. Perfectly cooked and beautifully presented, this was nearly my favorite course of the night.
12-month T-Meadow prosciutto hearty northern kiwi, porcini chestnut espuma
Curing your own prosciutto from a locally-raised heritage breed hog is one thing. The result being better than high-quality imported Italian prosciutto is an entirely different ballgame. Served with locally-grown kiwi (a northern type we don't see in stores that are utterly delicious and much better than the larger, mealy kiwi we are accustomed to) and an intensely flavored porcini foam, it was easy to dismiss this dish as simple, but its flavors were anything but. Gedra's use of the porcini was deft—it enhanced the truffle flavor without drowning it out.
Truffled quail and foie gras roulade
Carrot caviar with dear, crisp half moons of radish provided an elegant respite for the plate in between bites of this luscious, moist, and fantastically delectable quail. The sauce alone was noteworthy, and when coupled with the foie gras, truffle, mushroom duxelle, raisin, and pistachio stuffed quail it was heavenly. What was most notable from my view was Chef Andrzejewski's ability to deliver sixty-five tiny lean birds to eager guests perfectly cooked and warm.
Alaskan crab, whelks and truffle lemon emulsion
This dish was decptive. I expected the lemon sauce to act as a palate cleanser of sorts, but instead it was surprisingly rich. It was the scungili that acted as the fresh and light balance to the butter poached crab that shared the plate. A half dozen or more of these scungili would have been welcomed at my table, despite how full its attendees were.
Blanquette du Veau, truffle cream
For this course veal cheeks were smoked and cooked sous vide, accompanied by a slice of potato and velvety sauce. It was a perfect example of refinement and appeal in both its appearance and its flavor and would easily be at home on the menu of any Michelin-starred venue.
Truffle Poutine with Duck Gravy
Just when you thought there was no possibel way to make this dinner any better, Chef Gedra throws us the best poutine I've ever had in Buffalo. The fresh cheese curds, handmade by sister and cheesemonger Jill Gedra, coupled with the lush gravy put this one over the moon. The portion was huge, I would have been happy wiht two fries, a curd, and a patch of gravy, but it was absoloutely delicious. I think Gedra could make a million wiht a high-end poutine truck?
Suckling pig porchetta with truffles
Bistro Europa's porchetta made an appearance, enhanced by the perfume of the decadent truffle. The portion size was very large and many of the guests asked for theirs to be wrapped, but can you fault them? Who would leave behind such beauty?
Truffle crème caramel, champagne float, roasted pear sorbet
"Watch out, Christa, that will blow your head off," was the comment Chef Bruce Wieszala made to me before this plate hit my table. One bite in and I knew he was right. This might be the most memorable dish of the night, something I will compare desserts to for a lifetime. Creamy and sensual, Chef Ellen Gedra told me that she soaked the truffles in the cream before making the flan, something I would encourage anyone to do from now on, even if it means your simple dessert will now cost as much as your house payment. Sadly, despite more than 24 hours of pondering, it is impossible to correctly and adequately describe the complex flavor notes of Gedra's work here. The roasted pear sorbet brought a bright, acidic lift to the rich dessert, but I almost hated to leave the flan for even a moment to venture over to the sorbet's side of the plate. Wow.
Truffle white chocolate air, port
The staff of Sea Bar and Bistro Europa prepared for this dinner for days before guests arrived, and their excitement was palatable. In addition, the front of the house staff of both establishments were professional and jovial, a rare combination that worked well given the camaradarie among guests in the dining room. Chef Mike Andrzejewski and Chef Steven Gedra should be proud of the quality, execution, and imagination they brought to the meal. Aided in the kitchen over the weekend by Chef Kenneth Legnon of Friar's Table, Chefs James Roberts and Brad Rowell of Park Country Club, and Chef Bruce Wiezala of Carmelo's, the meal was a tour de force. Can't wait until next year.