Hearts All Aglow

Faith Middleton, public radio personality and host of the weekly food talk show The Food Schmooze, has been holding signature themed events featuring hot local chefs. We attended the last one, Hearts All Aglow, at which Faith challenged five chefs to create one hors d'oeuvre and one course each that would be both delectable and heart healthy. The event was sponsored by the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center and was held at The Society Room (formerly Joe Black's) in Hartford last week, just in time for Valentine's Day.
First of all, the space was gorgeous. The building was once a bank, with high ceilings and opulent ornamentation, and the dramatic decor definitely added to the luxurious feel of the event. The feasting began upstairs with passed hors d'oeuvres and the Carpene Malvolti Brut Rose poured freely. Each beautfully displayed nibble was a perfect mouthful. My favorite was a seared scallop served on a spoon with a bit of applesauce and diced pancetta, an excellent mingling of sweet, smoke and salt. Chris loved the smoked salmon with fennel gelee (photo below), a nice herby bite, and the faux sushi - a roll made with sweet potato, mango chutney and almonds wrapped with brown rice. Shots of refreshing gazpacho were passed on a tray covered in red roses and carnations, and amaretto shrimp came out on a glowing tray of white flowers. All five tastes were presented in such a pretty way, and all were so delicious that we would have been satisfied with the cocktail hour alone.

However, there was a lot more to come. As we glided down the sweeping staircase, we saw a dozen or so elegantly set tables prepared for a five-course meal awaiting us below. House Chef Stefan Drago created a nappa cabbage salad (photo at top of post) wrapped with a thin slice of cucumber and dressed in a spicy soy vinaigrette. All at our table loved the crispy freshness of the salad and the creative use of the cucumber to contain the greens. Miya Sushi's Chef Bun Lai made a roll that he cleverly named "Ann and Nancy Wilson's Favorite Barracuda Sushi Roll" -alluding to the Heart theme. Next we enjoyed braised monkfish saddle, a tender yet meaty fish, served with with parmesan-cauliflower gnocchi with lobster oil made by Chef Daniel Chong Jimenez of The Spa at Norwich Inn.
Braised oxtail ravioli topped with wild mushrooms and potato foam seemed to be a favorite in the room, with people hmmming and nodding and wanting more. Kudos to Ibiza's Chef Manuel Romero - we'll definitely be visiting your restaurant soon.
And how can you go wrong with chocolate soup for dessert? Chef Jordan Stein of The Pond House Cafe made this bittersweet concoction even more delicious by adding crunchy cocoa puffs and a cloud of Devonshire cream. To top it off, each course was paired with a perfectly matched wine, none of which we had ever tried, but all of which we will look out for.

It was an elegant and enjoyable evening. We mingled with local foodies, including the food columnist for our local paper, got our pic in said paper (this is us!) (thanks, MaryEllen!), and enjoyed a heart-healthy gourmet meal. We left holding hands, full, happy, and "hearts all aglow," looking forward to the next Food Schmooze Signature Event.

1 comment:

jck said...

How many stars would you award to this delicious event?