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Levon's Obsessions

A gal whose obsessions lie within fat, sugar, carbs, caffeine, and beverages that could strengthen the heart or seal up a womb.

Archive for the tag “Banks White”

Taste of the Nation NYC 2014

Sponsoring the annual Taste of the Nation NYC event, I assumed we would have some sort of laborious obligation prior to the event.  Which was perfectly fine given the dynamics.  No Kid Hungry is an ongoing initiative and close affiliate in which the overall objective is to raise awareness, engage the public, and raise money to feed hundreds of thousands of children. We arrived hours in advance to help load in the vendors’ food and materials.  Since that was my heaviest ordering day of the week, I spent the majority of my time taking orders on my laptop in my makeshift office space in the wardrobe room.  Hours after everything was strategically set up, we were given wristbands and asked to stay for the VIP cocktail reception.

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This was bittersweet since I was far from fabulous that day and not at all dressed for the occasion. I had to suck it up and go to the ladies room to primp myself into the most presentable shape possible.  I figured I’d just lurk around the event looking like the overworked journalist in all black and grey, and knee high, flat boots, yet chic and smart looking enough to be present.

There were countless restaurateurs and vendors displaying their trendiest creations possible, in addition to falling into the theme of healthy cuisines.  From the delectable crab puffs at one booth, to Nios‘s seared scallop and crispy pork belly, accompanied with white sweet potato puree, pickled ramps, and fava bean salsa..

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..to Red Rooster Harlem‘s jumbo lump crab salad Ssam with Yuzu mayo and pickled chili..

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There were several notable moments that put a euphoric look on my face like the shrimp on shrimps moment I experienced at Alder NYC‘s booth with
Maine sweet shrimp, green papaya salad, and peanuts on an amazing skin textured shrimp cracker..

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There were other moments where your true food knowledge versus your personal palate were tested.  Like the Quail egg en gelée with American caviar from Balthazar. Balthazar has some of the most amazing pastries in the neighborhood of Soho, as well as countless other locations.  So I was curious to try something on the complete opposite end of the sugary spectrum, which is what led me to the golden speckled egg.

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Poached quail is truly an acquired taste, as are certain types of cordials and spirits, as are everything in life that comes on a plate, or in a styrofoam bowl at a $200 – 400 ticketed charity event.  If this were a Paris Fashion Week show, let’s just say this would’ve been the Lanvin finale piece that made every bit of since to the Parisiennes in the tent that watched the entire show/collection and knew the entire story.  To the street pedestrians however, it would’ve left them in a slight state of bewilderment.  Let’s just say after swallowing the egg and wandering off to the next tent/I mean booth, if I weren’t on such a strict diet I would’ve downed the first shot of bourbon in sight..

Other dishes on display included L&W Oyster‘s smoked cantaloupe oyster shooters which were delightful and refreshing..

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..Minton’s North African spiced lamb loin was a pleasure to digest, along with the pleasant culinary staff that I spoke to about their location and their sibling restaurant The Cecil..

..my favorite art piece at The Cecil (artist unknown..)

..my favorite art piece at The Cecil (artist unknown..)

I also had the opportunity to chat with Chef Banks White as well, mainly about distributor stuff. Chatted up to the point of forgetting to take a picture of the savory loin..

Miss Lily’s and their incredible jerk chicken chutney dish was, very Miss Lily’s..  It was was piercing in flavor and colorful.  No different than what I’ve experienced at their restaurant in the West Village. Their staff at the TONNY event were replicas.

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..and this extraordinarily, naturally flavorful and robust dish which was a vegetarian’s sanctuary.  I believe this was the Hamachi Crudo from Bill’s Food & Drink ..

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..situated next to its sibling restaurant The Lion, with their cocktail explosion.

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I was in heaven and hell at this show due to my gluten/glycemic free diet I’m on for the next few weeks.  I did however triumph not having a single cocktail, wine, or shot of caffeine the entire evening.  They looked amazing though..

Overall it was a successful event and I had a great time and appreciation for the limited dishes I was allowed to indulge in.  Anything involving food and passed hors d’ouevres from the top 80 restaurants in NYC, and the notion of donating 10 meals for every dollar raised with the various proceeds and silent auctions, I’m all for it. It definitely warrants my stamp of obsessionista approval, and I definitely look forward to doing it again next year..

 

 

 

 

 

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Minton’s Playhouse – Harlem

After going to the Minton’s Supper Club reception the other week in Harlem (ok fine, I’ve slacked, it was several months ago..) it was a no brainer where I’d be heading that perfect Saturday evening in Harlem with my number one guy. The food presentation from the reception never left me, nor did the owner’s full historical recap, not-to-mention revival tale of the landmark location.

mintonsreceptionThe intrigue re-emmerged at our 8:00pm reservation that evening, and I was still a bit shocked about how such a rich history at this foodie gem had remained hidden until I discovered it a few months back.  Well the secret was definitely out, and Chef Banks White and Executive Chef Alexander Smalls now both have a face to go with these impeccably plated creations.

That night all the mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres from the previous Minton’s Supper Club re-opening came full circle.  The biggest hit being the mini crab cakes, with the prosciutto wrapped asparagus not at all being short of flavor, and the spicy Cajun prawns immediately punching you with intensity.

Saturday we started with the Grilled Shrimp and Charred Okra, and the delectable and nearly orgasmic, Smoked Gouda and Gruyere Mac and Cheese.  Out of the one million and five mac cheese combinations, this is truly my favorite.  It was incredibly moist and flavorful, which really leads me to believe there was possibly some truffle oil involved.  But I guess I’ll have to keep guessing and experimenting in my kitchenlab to figure that one out.

We then went with the Cremolata Crusted Grouper…mintonsfish

…and the Smothered Lobster and Shrimp Casserole.

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The Lobster Casserole was simply everything.  I had to take several pauses to truly absorb what was happening at our table.  The magic in that plate was indescribable.  I tasted my FPIC’s grouper, which had a nice texture and vibrant presentation, but in all honesty the lobster completely overshadowed and stole the fish’s moment.  It was the showstopper.

With the old skool crowd, the old skool band, and even the old skool “jackets only” rule, it truly was reminiscent of Old Harlem and what I’d imagine the Renaissance feeling like. It made me step back a few decades, but the food unquestionably crossed over into the now.  Minton’s Supper Club aka Minton’s Playhouse is certainly making its resurrectional mark in this age of Harlem gentrification.

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