Food Battles

Battle Berry… with a twist

Posted in Food Battles on July 1st, 2011 by nita – Be the first to comment

For this season’s battle, the main ingredient was Summer Berries. In addition to showcasing this ingredient, there was a twist… each course needed to use an additional 2 ingredients out of the following: fresh tarragon; any variety of mushrooms; any variety of dried chilies; maple syrup. Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us! (Challenge accepted! – for you HIMYM fans out there, this deserves a giggle :) Click on the photos for an enlarged version.

First Course
Piyush and Jigna presented a gorgeous and delicious starter course. Grilled crostini with harissa rubbed salmon (which was also grilled) topped with a strawberry maple compote. Jig’s version utilized tofu instead of the salmon. I have had the good fortune of tasting their home-made harissa in the past, and once again, it left me wanting more. The savory and sweet components of the dish were so well balanced and proved to be the perfect introduction to a very berry meal. They also allowed us to whet our palates with a delicious cocktail: Strawberry Fields. The concoction was a shake of muddled strawberries, tarragon, tequila, lemon juice, and simple syrup. I’m not sure that I could describe summer in a glass better than that :)

Second Course
Next, Chirag and Priti delivered the perfect summer salad course. The mix of sauteed and fresh fruit and vegetables provided layers of flavor, and the vinaigrette is going to be one of my summer staples! Sauteed mushrooms and cherries accompanied tarragon and creme fraiche atop toasted brioche; and this was balanced with a fresh spring salad with strawberries and a tarragon maple vinaigrette. Delicious brightness and warm earthiness were complimentary mates in this dish! They brought the outstanding 2009 Robert Sinskey Pinot Gris to pair.

Main Course
Forgive the tangents that I may go off on here, as this is the course that Manish and I were in charge of. Various proteins trickled through my mind as we planned the main course for this battle. We finally resolved to using duck. And inspired only the night before the battle with the thought of doing a trio course, we were a bit unsure as to how it would all play out. We opted to showcase our trio as a “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” themed plate. Chirag and Priti did this once before with great success, and this time our decision seemed to pay off as well! Forgive the messy plate, as we realized only after we all started eating that we forgot to photograph this course! For the “breakfast” part of the course, we made a savory corn fritter topped with some duck confit that we glazed with a maple and New Mexico Chili mixture. We topped this with some green onions and accompanied it with a blackberry maple “syrup.”  Jigna’s course was topped with shitake mushroom that were glazed with the same chili-maple mixture. For the “lunch” part of the course, we grilled flatbreads that were topped with a spicy raspberry and guajillo chili sauce. On top of that was some sliced smoked duck, shaved ricotta salata, and some cilantro. We charred a strawberry and placed that on top of each flatbread “slice.” The vegetarian version of the flatbread utilized pan fried oyster mushrooms instead of the smoked duck. The “dinner” part of the course was grilled Magret duck breast that was marinated in the maple-chili mixture that I mentioned above, topped with a strawberry gastrique. Jigna’s main dish was a grilled portabella that was also marinated in the chili-maple mixture, a poached egg that was placed inside the cap, and the strawberry gastrique on top.

I think parts of the course worked better than others, but it seemed that the flatbread was everyone’s favorite. Manish and I were surprised by the balance that the sweet berries and savory protein brought to the dish. And although I am a huge fan of “less is more,” this was a ridiculous challenge (proposed by ME!) and somehow, some way, it worked….. For all of us! We chose a grenache based wine to pair with this course. The 2006 Coume del mas Coullieure Schiste in my opinion was a nice choice – berries and game in both the food and the wine!

Dessert
Rick and Sejal created a picture perfect plate of “Summer” for dessert. As Sejal explained, she wanted us to think about happy children playing in the park, ice cream trucks, sunny days, and skinned knees – all of the components of summer that we as parents are so fortunate to experience through our kids. What a perfect ending to an absolutely terrific meal. We first bit into a deliciously sweet and tangy berry tart. It was an open faced rustic sort of tart, with a delicate but oh so savory home made crust. The filling incorporated various summer berries and the addition of maple syrup. The ice cream cone was filled with homemade strawberry and guajillo chili ice cream. The fresh, ripe strawberries took hold of your palate at first, and then the spicy guajillo kicked in on the finish. Absolutely brilliant and it certainly pleased that “kid” in all of us!

Thanks to all of my fellow battlers. This may have been the last “Food Feud” for a while, so thank you for putting your ALL into the meal last week, and making it a BERRY delicious one!  YES…. I had to go there. :)

Battle BEAN

Posted in Food Battles on March 24th, 2011 by nita – 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, Priti and Chirag hosted our latest Battle. Battle BEAN. Numerous menu choices set the foundation of what became an unforgettable culinary experience. Reigning course of champions, dessert, took the win again! Read on for details, and click on the photos for larger images!

Manish and I were assigned the appetizer course. Favoring a theme of past, “the trio tasting,” we decided to introduce our friends to three different spins of classic “bean” preparations, all served in porcelain appetizer spoons. With a fancy vegetable peeler, we sliced green beans ever so thinly, creating an almost “shaved” result. These diagonal shavings of green beans were dressed with a sesame soy vinaigrette and topped with tiny little pieces of red bell pepper (we called it red bell pepper “roe” because it took on the look of tobiko.) Fresh, crunchy, and clean, a different spin on a green bean salad. The next spoon showcased a fritter, made entirely of lima beans, herbs, and spices. This was served atop a minted yogurt. Our take of a “falafel” fritter. The last spoon was the result of three days of preparation. It all seems so silly now for just a spoon, but I guess that’s what this group is all about! Cassoulet. Made with gigante beans. Home-made duck confit, pork shoulder, garlic sausage, and slab bacon. We made sure to have a taste of every component in the spoon. Jigna’s version had a medley of vegetables, and instead of topping it with the duck confit, I made a garlic confit for her. We served this course with the Parigot Bourgogne Rouge, which I spoke of in my last post.

Sejal and Rick created a delicious interpretation of the traditional Vietnamese Banh Xiao. This is a mung bean pancake, with various types “fillings.” Bean sprouts and shrimp were sauteed first and then the batter was poured atop the “filling.” The crepes were then served with fresh lettuce leaves, a shmear of sriracha, and fish sauce. Jigna’s version had mushrooms in it, and instead of fish sauce, soy. The way to eat these is to wrap a piece of the crepe in a lettuce leaf, and then dip into the sauce. The flavors married so well, and the dish was a complete success. Definitely a recipe to add to the repertoire!

Priti and Chirag grilled some grouper, and alongside displayed a colorful array of tasty bean accompaniments. The grouper was grilled to perfection, and provided the perfect backdrop for all of the concentrated flavors around it.

There was a roasted tomato and edamame sauce to accompany the fish, which added brightness and depth at the same time. Gorgeous yellow wax and green beans were combined with a red wine vinaigrette – visually and texturally just as appealing as the burst of flavor. Small discs of the chili-cumin crusted black bean tart rounded out the meal with equally flavorful ingredients. The wine that they paired was the 2007 Bloomer Creek Chardonnay, Block 97.

Jigna and Piyush proved once again, that thinking “outside the box” with dessert really does win the game! Their plate displayed several uses of beans. First was a berry and canellini bean smoothie “shot.” Who would have thought that this would even be palatable? It was delicious. The berry flavors shined but the texture was smooth and rich because of the beans. The whoopie pie with marshmallow filling was made with cocoa and espresso beans. This took me back to childhood… so much so that now every time I go to the grocery store, I have to stop myself from buying OREOs for the mere fact that they will NOT taste like this decadent creation! And last was the black bean brownie with home made vanilla bean ice cream. Texturally very smooth and “fudge-like,” very rich. The ice cream was the perfect accompaniment!

And now to quote Kayla, who was trying to be funny on the way to battle bean… “Beans beans, they’re good for your heart. The more you eat, the better your heart.” BTW, she stands by her version of the “rhyme.”

Now, some sad news that was “discussed” during the course of the battle… The next battle MAY be our last… :( So, I am asking all of you foodies out there to either comment to this or send me a private message and tell me what you think a great “battle finale” theme would be!? Manish and I are hosting, and we already have some ideas. But we want this one to be grand. So all suggestions are welcome!

Fellow battlers… I <3 YOU

Battle Pumpkin

Posted in Food, Food Battles on November 27th, 2010 by nita – 1 Comment

In celebration of the bounty of the season, Sejal and Rick hosted this month’s Food Battle…. Battle Pumpkin. To switch things up a bit, we were all to make brunch foods, rather than the typical dinner foods that we have been accustomed to. The versatility of this main ingredient made the challenge so interesting… Sweet? Savory? Spicy? And to add to the questions… Brunch!?

The challenge was accepted by all parties, and here is what we feasted on…

Appetizer Course – Priti and Chirag
Pumpkin Spiced Yogurt with Home-made Pepita Granola
The yogurt was rich and creamy, and was garnished with just a swirl of vanilla and spiral of pumpkin rind. The granola added texture and an incredibly nutty flavor from the almonds and pepitas. Chirag mentioned that the secret behind the texture of the yogurt was using a strained Greek variety, and then adding the fresh pumpkin and spices. This was a lovely starter – so delicious and something that I would love to add to my Sunday brunch repertoire! :)

First Course – Jigna and Piyush
Spiced Pumpkin and Sausage Hash ~ Pumpkin Crepe stuffed with Spinach and Fontina Cheese ~ Poached Egg ~ Spiced Pumpkin Puree

Complicated ingredients and sophisticated plating made an impression even before tasting the dish. But the combination of flavors is what stood out. The slightly spicy hash, the warm zing of the molded crepe, the brightness of the spinach and the perfectly poached egg – it all melded into a harmonious marriage of pumpkin goodness! Super creative use of the ingredient – especially in the crepe – and super tasty!

Main Course – Sejal and Rick
Roasted Spiced Pumpkin with Cream ~ Spicy Pumpkin Hash with Pancetta ~ Pumpkin and Bacon Muffins

Another mouthwatering course – providing the solution to everyone’s brunch dilemma – Sweet? or Savory? The “concern” of the morning was that the two middle courses had similar ingredients – the hash and the egg. But it’s brunch, folks – and two variations of an amazing dish are better than one, in my opinion! :) The roasted pumpkin offered something for the sweet seekers – warm and earthy with just the right amount of sugar. The hash was as savory as could be with the added help from the pancetta and the gorgeous fried egg (good job capturing the dripping yolk, MB!) And the muffin was the perfect balance of both – embracing the sweetness from the fruit and the meatiness from the bacon. Plates licked clean once again!

Dessert – Nita and Manish
Our version of Pumpkin Pie

I refuse to use the “D” word… Deconstructed, that is. I know that it’s what chefs used say, oh 10 years ago or so, to describe their versions of showcasing individual ingredients of dishes and proving that the combination of all of them would be just like the original dish. UGH. I never took well to the term and I hate it even more, now that WE were doing a dish that essentially WAS a deconstructed version of a classic. So, for my piece of mind, let’s say that this was “Our Version of Pumpkin Pie.” ;) We baked strips of puff pastry as the “crust,” created disks of pumpkin pie custard (essentially the filling without a crust,) made some granola using pumpkin seed oil for the “streusel topping,” a quenelle of cinnamon spiced whipped cream, and dotted the plate with some pumpkin caramel. The custards were sprinkled with roasted, then sugared pumpkin seeds. Mission accomplished, in our opinion – and just in time for Thanksgiving weekend… :)

Thanks once again to my co-battlers for an incredible meal. Cheers!

Battle Cacao

Posted in Dinners, Food Battles, Pairings on May 19th, 2010 by nita – 1 Comment

Spring had sprung, and CACAO was the theme ingredient in this Season’s Battle. Possessing earthy and sometimes bitter qualities, cacao laid the foundation for unique, and creative dishes and was utilized in every form: From cacao nibs, to unsweetened cocoa, to dark chocolate, and even a chocolate infused liqueur. Each course combined creative uses of the theme ingredient with seasonal spring market touches. Folks, we definitely all stepped it up a notch! Here are the details…

Battle Cacao!

Cacao Amuse Bouche!

The Hors d’oeuvre/Cocktail Course: Sejal and Rick brought three adorable and delicious amuse bouche to the table! A spiced pumpkin soup (in a shot glass) was topped with a cocoa cream and sprinkled with a little bacon. The warm spices in the soup matched the earthy components of the cream – the key was to get all of the flavors in one “shot.” Mission accomplished :) Next to that was a beautiful micro green salad dressed with a chocolate vinaigrette. The dressing was so light and complimented the zingy and peppery little greens. The star of the plate was the chocolate Napolean. Tiny shards of dark chocolate (not unsweetened, but definitely not overly sweet) were layered with an chive cream cheese. Such a unique flavor combo – but yum… they really complemented each other… I’ll take another! All of this was paired with the lovely J Winery Brut (sparkling wine.)

Cacao Mushrooms

The First Course: I have a bittersweet memory of this course (literally,) as it was the one that Manish and I brought to the table. Hands down, I will tell you that we have NEVER spent so much time on the planning and execution of a single course. Our theory behind the main ingredient in this course (wild mushrooms) was justified by our desire to pair the earthy flavors with the cacao, and make them vibrant. Our base was a medley of wild mushrooms. We smoked petite whites and shitakes with cacao nibs and wood chips. We combined these smoked mushrooms with the morels and chanterelles that we marinated in a cacao “coffee” (that we made by grinding cacao nibs and filtering the coffee through a french press.) We folded some fresh thyme, sauteed ramps (and the fresh green tops as well,) and a little taleggio into the mushrooms. Alongside, were two diamond shaped pieces of “mushroom consomme and cacao coffee” gelee. A dot of chocolate barbecue sauce added a bit more smoke, and we topped the entire plate with a cocoa-Parmiggianno crisp. I enjoyed everything about the dish, but was unsure that the combination of flavors actually complemented each other. In the end, we would do it again, but maybe without brewing the cacao coffee! ;)

Cacao Entree

The Main Course: Jigna and Piyush contributed to our mouthwatering journey by offering the evening’s unforgettable entree. Short ribs were marinated for 48 hours in red wine, slow cooked, and then finished with a chocolate rosemary reduction. So tender and so flavorful… SO good! The herbaceous quality in the sauce really paired well with the rich chocolate addition and the protein. This was accompanied by a lovely pasta with zucchini and cacao nibs cooked “risotto style.” The luscious texture of this amazing pasta made for an exquisite  foundation for the beef. The course was finished with a bright splash of spinach, and topped with a perfectly fried pheasant egg. The bold and subtle components of the ingredients made for a perfectly balanced dish! We enjoyed one of my favorite Malbecs with this – 2008 La Posta del Vinatero Malbec Cocina.

Bfast, Lunch, and Dinner Dessert!

The Dessert: Priti and Chirag presented us with a ”day” of desserts. No joke! They served what they called “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.” Who wouldn’t be happy with chocolate as a main ingredient in each meal of their day! ;)  For “breakfast,” we enjoyed crepes stuffed with a rich chocolate filling and blueberries. So decadent, so rich, so delicious! For “lunch,” they served us a “sandwich and chips.” Perfectly crisp chocolate cookies sandwiched homemade vanilla ice cream, and for texture, savory and sweet potato chips were drizzled with caramel and chocolate. YUM. And for “dinner” (or dessert,) we were offered a libation that tasted like black forest cake…. topped off with chocolate mint. These individual dishes melded into one fantastic dessert – awarding them the title of Battle Cacao Champs!

Black Forect Cake with Chocolate Mint

Thanks to Jigna and Piyush for choosing such a versatile theme ingredient, and to all of my “Battle” family for executing yet another unforgettable meal!

Battle STREET

Posted in Food Battles on February 10th, 2010 by nita – Be the first to comment

Last Saturday marked the date of yet another incredibly delicious food battle. Battle “Street Foods.” The challenge was to create a dish based on a common street food – could be from any region of the nation, or the world. Sounds easy, but I think when you have SO much to choose from, the decision becomes extremely difficult. The four courses were all so unique, and showcased flavors from all over the world.

Course 1The hors d’oeuvres and and drink course was created by Piyush an Jigna. They decided to do a scrumptious trio tasting of eastern flavors. A traditional Chinese pork bun was steamed to perfection while the sweet and savory filling was making me want more. Lucky for me, there were two more items to consume! Bombay Chaat was cleverly stuffed inside a curled Banana Leaf. Such delicate flavors and just the right amount of spice. The third part of the dish was a Vietnamese pork “Slider.” Perfectly spiced (with a little extra Sriracha “shmear” on the plate for those of us that needed more,) these sliders were accompanied by a sweet and tangy slaw and a smoky mayonnaise. They paired a dark aged ale to drink with, and it was perfect. And that was just course ONE!Empanadas

Chirag and Priti’s dish was fresh off the “street” with the packaging perfectly depicting where the food was from! Mouth watering Empanadas filled our plates for this course. Two flavors at that! The Beef and Vegetable Empanadas were beautifully prepared, with delicious and authentic Puerto Rican flavors. The Spicy Shrimp Empanadas were also incredibly flavorful, the heat exploding in our mouths, and allowing us to chase it down with some Tecate… :) A fresh salsa accompanied, and the entire package was adorably presented in disposable street food containers. We had to take a break at this point – we were all stuffed and extremely satisfied!

New England MoviesManish and I were in charge of the entree this time. We wanted to come up with some sort of creative take on hot dogs and fries. But we only thought up some ridiculous options, and finally became exhausted with those ideas. We still wanted to stick to an American theme, and ultimately decided upon the idea of “New England goes to the Movies.” Yes, quite the corny theme. Here’s what we did… Our take on the Maine Lobster Roll – We made a Lobster Salad which was folded together with some tarragon aioli. We topped the salad with a toasted brioche disk. We served this alongside our version of a classic New England style chowder. Instead of clams, we used Nantucket Bay Scallops. The “popcorn shmear” was the “movies” part of the dish. Manish and I once tasted Wylie Dufresne’s popcorn puree at WD-50. This inspired us to create something similar, and the shmear is our version of it. Quite time consuming but it actually tasted like buttered popcorn in the end! If we do it again though, we will heed to the “best when served warm” theory, as once it cooled down, it lost a bit of its savory quality. We served this dish with a the 2005 Peter Michael Point Rouge Chardonnay. I wanted to serve White Burgundy (you know ME,) but decided to stick with the American theme :) Churros

For the 3rd time in a row, Dessert took home the prize! Rick and Sejal stole our hearts with their gorgeous interpretations of the classic Mexican Street Dessert…. Churros con Chocolate. Pumpkin Churros were accompanied by a Mexican Hot Chocolate, Cinnamon ice cream, and a spiced chocolate custard. First of all, I could have eaten everyone’s plate of churros. Not only is that one of my favorite desserts, but accompanied with decadent chocolate!? Fried to perfection, these “crispy on the outside, tender on the inside” pastry strips were dusted with sugar, cinnamon, and salt. The pumpkin flavor complimented the spices in the rich, luscious custard and the creamy and subtle ice cream. And to think – we still had something to pair with it… The 2002 Elk Cove Vineyards ULTIMA Viognier from the Willamette Valley. Congratulations to the Jains!

Once again, thank you to my fellow foodies – for you bring such 5 star quality to our monthly dining Battles! Here’s to all of you… Cheers!

DSC_9100

Battle of the Roots

Posted in Food Battles on January 24th, 2010 by nita – Be the first to comment

It’s that time again! We took a 3 month hiatus from our cooking battles, but it started once again. This time, the theme was Root Vegetables and Tubers. Priti and Chirag chose the theme and hosted this battle. What a versatile secret ingredient!

Manish and I were responsible for the appetizer and cocktail course. Our idea was to arrange a “three course” amuse bouche of sorts… We were going to start with a crudite of radishes and carrots, and place them on our himalayan pink salt brick. A little sweet cream butter was going to accompany these crudites. We were going to halve a cooked purple fingerling potato, hollow out the center, and pipe in a sunchoke puree. We were going to lay a piece of wild boar bacon on top – sort of a play on the double stuffed potato. Then we were going to created a “scalloped scallop.” A seared scallop, topped with tiny little rounds of scalloped potatoes, resembling scales of a fish. Sadly, we were unable to follow through with the prep of this course due to scheduling issues that morning, so we stepped out of the competition. But our kind competitors allowed us to partake in the meal, and judge! So, here are the highlights from the evening…

1st Course Battle RootThe first course, created by Sejal and Rick, showcased the earthy and spicy tones to what some of our favorite root vegetables pair best with! A perfectly pan grilled “Indian spiced” lamb rib chop was accompanied by a sweet potato and rosemary puree as well as a refreshing carrot soup. Such delicate flavors with an incredibly robust appeal! The colors and flavors of the dish were so vibrant and melded so harmoniously.Entree Battle Root

The main entree combined aspects of both comfort and elegance – which resulted in a gorgeous presentation and delicious flavors! A maple glazed pan seared salmon fillet was served over a sunchoke and purple potato puree. Alongside was a savory and rich root vegetable cobbler, and a hearty pasta that had some more roots folded into  it. Every “theme” element was incorporated beautifully in this dish by the hosts, Priti and Chirag.

Finally, dessert (the winning dish!) was brought to the table by Jigna and Piyush. I think that I can speak for everyone at the table when I say that we were all incredibly impressed by the use of the normally “savory” ingredients in this decadent dessert. DSC_0875The gorgeous plating offered a warm sweet potato cake accompanied by a coffee-caramel sauce, a fennel gelato, a chocolate-ginger gelato, a fennel brittle, and a drizzle of raspberry coulis.

The Fennel Brittle

The Fennel Brittle

The flavors went so well together – the earthy and warm spices from the cake and the caramel were such a lovely contrast to the fresh and bold flavors of fennel. I was surprised at how well the chocolate and ginger matched – it was as though all of these components were MEANT to be eaten together. Kudos to to the “Fanwood” Bardolias!!

To my fellow food battlers – as always, it was such an honor and pleasure to dine with all of you – thank you for the amazing meal, and for giving me a reason to smile on a not so bright day. Love you guys!! :)

Food Battles

Posted in Food Battles on August 21st, 2009 by nita – Be the first to comment

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!!