Recently I had the privilege of attending the StarChefs Rising Stars fifteenth year of celebrating exceptional culinary talent at its annual award ceremony, this year at Capitale in NYC.
There were 16 dishes provided with wine pairings from award-winning sommeliers from NYC restaurants Nix and Indian Accent – oh, and three expertly mixed cocktails.
I tried them all, and after – ahem – much hardship, I pared down my favorites to three, the first being the sunchoke, oyster mushroom, black truffle, and orange medley from Atoboy, conjured up by Chef Junghyun Park. The flavors were earthy and savory, bright – everything you’d want in a late-winter culinary revelation. Don’t take my word for it; the restaurant has two Michelin stars.
The star of the night was hands-down a quinoa medley piled innocuously on a plate without any of the usual visual bells and whistles. The ingredient list bordered on strange: banana, cashew, avocado, bacon, quinoa? How could this seemingly haphazard list of ingredients wow throngs of New Yorkers hungry for the nest NYC has to offer?
Make no mistake; this dish is incredible. The creaminess of the avocado is in harmony with delicately fried bananas, their flavor mellowed in a banana mayonnaise, which just so happens to juxtapose perfectly with salty, savory bacon. Quinoa, the heart of the dish, pops of just the right crunch. It’s all tossed with an apple-cider vinaigrette to temper the creaminess of the avocados and bananas, and… well, I could ramble on forever, suffice it to say that this dish is sublime. It looks deceptively simple, but there are at least 22 different ingredients in the recipe. Yes, I counted. And then asked for seconds. Visit Llama Inn in Brooklyn for more Peruvian delicacies by Erik Ramirez.
For dessert, Anna Bolz of Per Se, broke through the gray New York winter with a sliver of sunshine in her tropical dessert, Tequila Sun-prise. The classic cocktail is reborn in dessert form, boasting refreshing grapefruit sorbet, jewel-colored pomegranate gel, homemade soda, icy tequila granite – oh, and just for good measure, white-chocolate covered Pop Rocks for some good-natured nostalgia, all grown up and civilized. Even if all your friends are sunbathing in Aruba and you’re shivering in your boots as the wind shrieks off the Hudson, I promise this dessert will give you the sunny pick-me-up you crave.
Check out StarChefs for more information on New York’s best and brightest chefs.
By: Sarah Henry