Food Battles

It was my intention to write about the following experiences in separate posts, immediately after the events occurred. But now that so much time has elapsed, I will condense my thoughts into one blurb.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I have felt incredibly lucky to have shared numerous “foodie” experiences with my family and close friends. In one way or another, with every important person in my life, food has played a very important role.

My husband and I take part in a monthly food challenge with 3 other couples. Each couple takes a turn hosting and it is the hosts’ responsibility to choose a theme. Each couple is assigned a “course” and the courses are all judged on presentation, creativity, and taste. There is ultimately a winner of the evening – but in all honesty, all 8 of us win after tasting the magnificent creations!

The most recent themes were Battle Nut and Battle Stone Fruit.  See below for some pictures from both of these challenges. I apologize in advance to all of the wine lovers that are reading this… I know that some really nice wines were served with these, but can’t remember all of them!

This first photo is the incredible appetizer course that Sejal and Rick brought to the Nut Challenge. It was a delicious tuna tartare with ground almonds. So earthy but still so fresh. We had this with some lovely sparkling wines.

Appetizer Course - Battle Nut Tuna Tartare

Appetizer Course - Battle Nut Tuna Tartare

This next photo is the first course that Manish and I brought to the Nut Challenge. Manish called it “The 3 second Rule” – sort of his take on a fallen ice cream cone. The green puddle is a fava bean puree with pine nuts, the “ice cream scoop” is a warm crab salad with almond crumbs, the “cone” is a pine nut tuile, and of course – can’t forget the blistered cherry tomato on top. We had this with the 2007 Domaine Pollier St Veran.

First Course - Battle Nut Crab Salad with Pine Nut Tuile

First Course - Battle Nut Crab Salad with Pine Nut Tuile

The winner of Battle Nut was Piyush and Jigna’s creation… Trio of Pork Tenderloin (Jigna’s version was substituted with Tofu.) The first presentation was roasted butterflied pork tenderloin, stuffed with herbs, rolled and encrusted with grainy mustard and pistachios and served with a Bordelaise Sauce. Next was a roasted pork tenderloin encrusted with grainy mustard and panko, topped with almond butter. And last was a roasted pork tenderloin with mahammura sauce.  Mahammara Sauce is a mixture of walnuts, roasted red peppers, panko, garlic, olive oil, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Creative and the flavors were divine! I remember a Pinot Noir being served with this but can’t remember which one… sorry. :(

Entree - Battle Nut Trio of Pork

Entree - Battle Nut Trio of Pork

We don’t have a picture of the lovely dessert that was presented at the Nut Challenge. Priti and Chirag created a scrumptious “feta” cheesecake with hazelnut crust and to accompany that, they served homemade butter pecan ice cream on the side. They made sure to serve this with a wonderful dessert wine from the Long Island wine region. Talk about splurge!!!

Priti and Chirag stepped it up again at the Stone Fruit Battle with their drink and appetizer course. They served mouth quenching blackberry mojitos to start. And their appetizer plate had three components: a peach and yogurt soup; a crostini with fontina and dried apricots; and a lychee and coconut sorbet. So fresh, so tasty, and so original!

Appetizer - Battle Stone Fruit - Peach Yogurt soup with Crostini and Sorbet

Appetizer - Battle Stone Fruit - Peach Yogurt soup with Crostini and Sorbet

Next was the reigning champion’s dish… This first course was so unique, and again, so flavorful – sweet and savory all at once. The course was a mango gazpacho with cilantro oil drizzle.  On top of the bowl was a skewer of 3 grilled shrimp which were marinated in garlic, oil, lime juice, a little jalapeno, paprika, and cayenne.  On the side was a simple grilled avocado with almond oil filled in the cavity and a sprinkle of kosher salt.  (The gazpacho was made with mango, jalapeno, cucumber, green apple, celery, orange juice, lime juice, ginger) This was served with the 2006 Barth Rene Pinot Blanc. Perfect pairing!

First Course - Battle Stone Fruit Mango Gazpacho

First Course - Battle Stone Fruit Mango Gazpacho

Sejal and Rick created an entree that I think about making every Summer Sunday night after work. It’s a perfect balance of rich and delicate flavors on a single plate. They served a perfectly grilled mahi mahi over a fragrant saffron risotto. The dish was outlined by a stream of mango sauce that completed the balance of flavors. Deliciously paired with the 2006 Pride Viognier and the 2004 Kongsgard Chardonnay (Rick correct me if I’m wrong here.)

Entree - Battle Stone Fruit Mahi Mahi and Saffron Risotto

Entree - Battle Stone Fruit Mahi Mahi and Saffron Risotto

Last but not least, everyone was kind enough to vote our dessert the favorite of the evening… We served warm sugar beignets with three sauces: one was a blackberry plum coulis; one was a peach mango sauce; and one was a black cherry and chocolate fondue. In the middle of the plate was a lemon scented dollop of fresh ricotta. Served along with dessert were two dessert wines – both from the producer Braida in Piedmont, Italy. The 2006 Bracchetto d’Aqui and the 2007 Moscato d’Asti.

Dessert - Battle Stone Fruit - Beignets with Three Sauces

Dessert - Battle Stone Fruit - Beignets with Three Sauces

To my monthly food challenge brothers and sisters – thank you so  much for these “5 star” meals! Can’t wait for the next one!!

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