Valentine's Day may have come and gone, but romance is forever, right? That's what Faith Middleton, public radio personality, host of the weekly food talk show The Food Schmooze, and local celebrity, would have us think. On Thursday, February 23rd, she hosted the Heart to Heart Champagne and Romance Dinner Dance, and we were there with fellow foodie friends L and C.
Mushroom duxelles in a parmesan cup
Pulled shortrib and taleggio grilled cheese
The candlelit night of luscious foods, fine wines, sophisticated company and live music (with dancing!) took place at Belle Terrace at Avon Old Farms, a historic inn in Avon, Connecticut. The space itself, perfectly elegant, exudes romance, and the incredible dishes created by Connecticut's finest culinary masterminds surely helped. Giddy from champagne (Pol Roger White Foil Brut) and passed hors d'oeuvres (like mushroom duxelles in a parmesan cup, and pulled shortrib and taleggio grilled cheese) set amidst elaborate flower displays, we took our seats and waited expectantly for more.
The table was lavishly set with five sets of silverware and countless wine glasses (always a good sign). Each setting also had little gifts - a bottle of hot sauce made by the folks at the Pond House, who were also resonsible for the delightful hors d'oeuvres, and a box of truffles from Carol Monnerat in Branford, CT. The band played, a couple of speeches were given, and the food started to arrive. Without further ado, we offer you our photos of the culinary splendors of CT:
Course One (not too bad for someone who despises mushrooms, nice sweetness and very creamy): from Deniz Yalim of Zula (Hartford): Mushroom Cappuccino, paired with 2010 Hugel Gentil.Course Two (very tasty with good crunch and lots of lobster): from Chris Prosperi of Metro Bis (Simsbury): Metro Lobster Salad, paired with 2010 Rocca del Dragone Falanghina della Campania.
Course Three (plenty of crab meat, crunchy slaw, interesting green-hued wasabi cream): from Stefan Drago of Belle Terrace (Avon): Sesame Crusted Crab Cake, Nappa and Jicama Slaw, Mango-Wasabi Coulis, paired with The Connecticut Blue Blood Cocktail (a sweet-tart mixture of Absolut Berri Acai vodka, ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, and cinnamon dusted flax seed - shown being held by another guest at our table).
Course Four (the pastry was nice, but escargot are maybe an acquired taste?): from Arlene Ghent of 1249 Wine Bar (Waterbury): Escargot with Chanterelle mushrooms and white truffle cream, en croute, paired with 2010 Olivier Leflaive Les Settiles
Course Five (for most of the table, this was the winning dish: tender, juicy, loads of flavor and we loved that sliver of potato cake): from Manuel Romero of Ibiza (New Haven): Braised Short Ribs, Parmesan Potato Cake, Dark Beer Ginger Soy, paired with 2010 E Solo Montepulciano
Course Six (the most disappointing dish of the night, slightly overcooked and lacking seasoning): from John Brennan of Plan B (we never knew which one - it's a small chain): Petite Lamb Shank braised atop Black Truffle with Asiago Polenta, Roasted Shallots, Asparagus, and a Duet of Blood Orange and White Balsamic Reduction, and Pomegranate and White Balsamic Reduction, paired with 2009 Michel Torino Don David Malbec.
Dessert: (this one gets a big "Wow, this is a-MA-zing!"): from Jordan Stein at Pond House Cafe (West Hartford): Baby Banana Split: Maple Cream Gelato, Caramelized Baby Bananas, Sweet & Spicy Walnuts, Chantilly Cream, paired with choice of Churchill’s Tawny Port or Zebo Moscato