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events

Something Nordic

Seared Halibut Demo

Recently, I attended a few events at the NORTH Nordic food festival hosted by Honest Cooking. It was a practical exposure to Scandinavian food. Prior to this festival, my experience has been limited to restaurants in New York like Aquavit and S'morgas Chef, which are great outposts of the cuisine. But, I was excited to partake in real Nordic chefs cooking real home cooking adapted to this soil. But I am running away with the story. Let me start again.

First, there was a demo; With Norwegian Salmon and Halibut. Chefs Neal Fraser and Greg from LA showed us how to gut a whole fish and fillet into the fatty and searing pieces. It was interesting to see how the technique is similar yet different for the two as the latter is a flat fish. It is also an ugly fish! But, true to the idiom, it is rather tasty. For a flat fish, unlike a regular side swimmer like salmon, you fish comes apart in four section rather than two whole sides. Very informative. I don't know when I am likely to break down a whole fish in the near future but I am armed and ready! I plan to go fishing off the

coast of Brooklyn

soon. So, perhaps...! ;-)

Next we used that freshly gutted fish to prepare an array of crudos, tartare, seared bites and risotto. It was a fun evening, the chefs were friendly, my group of four was cool to hang out with and we ate a lot of good food. We snacked on a basket of grapes along the way. Watching food cook is very hunger inducing, I say!

The other event I attended was a wonderful dinner cooked by

Chef Sasu Laukkonen

at a pop-up restaurant in LES. He brought with him his signature hay smoked onion rings. Borne out of serendipity and a kitchen accident, in his native country, he stumbled upon a way to make the humble white onion taste like bacon. It wasn't quite porky tasting with the NY hay but it definitely lent a meaty punch. The entire dinner was wonderful of course but I was most impressed by the effortless elegance of clean plating that we have come to expect from Nordic styling. I watched him and his team plate about 100 plates for each course; their efficiency, exaction and perfection was indeed remarkable! And, this was all done amidst friendly banter, co-mingling with the guests crossing into the kitchen space on the excuse of taking photos {me..hehe} and in general fairly more chaos than in a regular kitchen.

I also met another Sacndinavian chef at the dinner, whose restaurant

Acme

, I plant to visit sometime soon. Will keep you posted on that. For now, I leave you with my memories of the festival.

Filleting Halibut
Norwegian Farmed Salmon
Grapes- Demo
Filleting Salmon
Halibut Crudo
Hay smoked onion rings
Hay smoked onion rings
Chef Sasu Laukkonen Plating
Seared Halibut
Servers
Plating 2
Plating
Halibut dish - Sasu dinner
Dessert plates set up

Weekend Edition: Brooklyn - Celebrating 50 years of Parma Ham in Style

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I confess, I have been a staunch Manhattan-er for the worse part of my life in the city, which, well, is a long one. Yes, I say 'worse' because really I missed out on so much! Call it lethargy, call it reluctance, call it bedazzled, the truth is until two years ago, I sniffled crossing the borders of the microcosm I live in and even when I did huddled back to my UES cul-de-sac with alacrity!

I do sound rather stiff, don't I? Oh well! I make no bones about it. That was then. In the past... Phew! I am a

butterfly now flitting away towards the sun

....Thanks to dedicated efforts of friends, I have managed to shrug off that silly cape and molted into an adventurous soul

seeking pleasure wherever it is on offer without geographic discrimination

.

Props
sandwich & Drink

So, anyway, I have been making rather frequent trips across to the different parts of Brooklyn! It really is not all hip or hippie, but it does have something for everyone and every mood. There are the European strongholds in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, the younger neighbor Cobble Hill that is slowly becoming a Williamsburg II and there is, of course, Williamsburg. When the arty party bug hits, it's the latter you head to. There is art, there is adventure and there is a revolution. Many woe the yester days of casual artistic gatherings giving in to orchestrated elitism and superlative rents. But, hey, that is the story of New York, isn't it?

One of my favorite places in Williamsburg is the Wythe Hotel. It is a boutique hotel that hosts many food related events and itself has quite a good offering in its restaurant. Plus, it has a rooftop bar with a stunning view of Manhattan. That is the advantage of height-controlled Brooklyn - panoramic views all around. Last week, I was invited to

celebratory event marking 50 great years

indulging in the perfectly cured leg of ham, organized by

Parma Ham USA

as part of the Parma Palooza. Since 1963, the

Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma

has ensured that every ham branded with the Parma crown meets the highest standards of quality and taste!

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The company joined hands with 10 brilliant New York city chefs and restaurants to create an evening of pure dining pleasure. There were new concepts and new chefs as well as established favorites. The tasting event was a wonderful exploration of how beautifully prosciutto marries and enhances flavors from simple to elegant. Chef's creations included simply wrapping it with fruits or bread and cheese to pairing the crispy ham with seafood to inducing Asian flavors to churning it into a rich, savory ice cream. Every bite and they were conveniently bite sized was perfectly cooked and it was a great opportunity to meet the brains and talent behind some of the best places to eat in the city.

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There are not too many times in one's life that you get these see chefs cooking for you in front of you and everyone present made the most of it. What made the event more interesting and engaging, was the ability for diners to provide instant feedback by voting for the best bite they had tasted during the evening. Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird needs no introduction. He walked away as the Prince of Parma Ham having been adjudged to have the best small plate. His Octopus Saltimboca with Proscuitto di Parma sitting on a bed of braised chickpeas was indeed a brilliant creation.

Wild Rise Pizza - Prep
Wild Rise Pizza - served

Some others I loved were eternal favorite Elizabeth Faulkner's scallop and crispy ham, prosciutto ice cream by Odd Fellows Ice Cream & Co., Sea Urchin and prosciuttopaired by Mission Chinese, Autumn Squash saltimboca by Reynard. The surprise of the evening was the sourdough crust pizza made by Wild Rise NYC in the engineering genius of an oven that takes a mere 90 seconds to bake an incredibly flavorful Roman style pizza! The parma ham event was organized on a Thursday and I told everyone I spoke to since about this pizza and promptly visited their pop-up joint in Dumbo last Sunday. I can't get enough of it and I not a pizza person!

The event was very well attended and made even more entertaining by a giveaway of whole cured legs of ham to anyone who was brave enough to get the parma crown tattoed on their skin. On last count I heard atleast seven legs had been spoken for and I had a couple of amusing conversations with those who got them done! Entirely fascinating indeed!

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On the whole, the event was very well put together and even if you had not been a fan of prosciutto going in, they definitely made it very hard to not be one coming out. I had not such qualms already being a die hard fan of that particular cut of the pig meat and

absolutely reveled in the opportunity to sample such varied creations

. Kudos to the firms organizing the event for bringing together such an eclectic cast in perfect harmony and making it so much fun.

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