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International Food & Wine Festival
September 30 - November 13, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
10 a.m. - noon
Robert Irvine's eat!, Hilton Head, SC
Rick Bonitati, La Crema Winery, Sonoma County, CA
Shrimp Cocktail - Duo of Cocktail
La Crema 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Roast Tenderloin of Beef, Hassleback Potatoes, Demi
Glace, Carrots and Swede Potatoes
La Crema 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Banana Bread and Butter Pudding
La Crema Anderson Valley "Sweet As" Late Harvest Gewurztraminer
Review by John Bowers
Robert Irvine is a celebrity chef who has appeared on a variety of Food Network programs, including Dinner: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America, and his latest, Restaurant: Impossible. In Restaurant: Impossible, Robert and his staff breathe new life into a failing (or failed) restaurant over the course of 36 hours, with $10,000. Robert said he gets 700 applications a week from restaurateurs hoping for his help. The show moves along at a breakneck pace, it's fun to watch, and you share the joy the restaurant owners feel at the end. He also has a restaurant in Hilton Head, SC, known somewhat appropriately as 'Robert Irvine's eat!' On Friday, October 21, 2011, Robert was the featured chef at the Kitchen Memories event at Epcot. Joining Robert was Taniya Nayak, a Boston-based interior designer who is working with Robert on his Restaurant: Impossible show.
The featured winery was La Crema, the highly regarded winery located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, California. Rick Bonitati, La Crema's General Manager, was on hand to explain the wines. La Crema is especially known for their chardonnays and pinot noirs, both of which we were fortunate enough to have with our lunch. And they were fabulous. More on that later.
Robert Irvine is quite a character. Robert grew up in England and joined the Royal Navy when he was 15. His culinary skills led to his service aboard Her Majesty's Royal Yacht Britannia. Now he's famous for all of his Food Network adventures.
Our first course was a Shrimp Cocktail Duo. The 'duo' here refers to a duo of sauces for the boiled shrimp. And these were far from your typical cocktail sauce for shrimp, yes indeed. We had a Mango Chili Horseradish sauce, and a Finnadinni Sauce. The Mango Chili Horseradish had, well, mangoes, chilies, and horseradish, plus some sriracha to kick that heat level up just a notch or two. I'll bet this sauce would be good with stone crab, too. Very interesting and unique. The ingredients should be easy to find and it looks relatively simple to prepare. Your guests will be very impressed. The Finnadinni Sauce was soy-sauce-and-vinegar based, plus cilantro, basil, mint, and parsley. Not quite as much of a surprising taste treat as the Mango Chili Horseradish, but still very good.
Rick hit his first home run of the day with the wine pairing: the 2009 La Crema Russian River Valley Chardonnay. A classic RRV chardonnay, it tasted of baked apples, baked pears, lemon zest, and spice. Really, really wonderful wine, which should be relatively easy to find in a good wine store. I know it's easy to find here in Orlando. La Crema's web site lists it at $30 a bottle. $30 is a good price point for chardonnays. Once you get to about $30 and above (and you can go WAY above!), there's a big difference in quality. This is a marvelous wine. Still, the best was yet to come.
Robert talked about not overcooking shrimp because they can get tough and chewy. He said many recipes call for plunging things into ice water to quickly stop the cooking process, but he feels that water can dilute flavors. He suggested spreading your shrimp (or whatever you are cooking) on a plate or pan and immediately sliding them into the refrigerator so they can cool but not have their flavor sapped by cold water.
Our main course was Roast Tenderloin of Beef,
Hassleback Potatoes, Demi Glace, Carrots and
Swede Potatoes. Robert's British upbringing shone brightly,
one could almost hear "God
Save The Queen" playing in the background. Brilliant
food, as Robert might say. Beef tenderloin,
probably the tenderest cut of beef there is. Interesting
Hassleback Potatoes: you peel a potato,
then make a series of slices across the potato, cutting
about 3/4 of the way through.
Kind of like making potato chips, but don't actually
cut the potato into individual slices.
Then boil it a bit to soften it, sprinkle with salt
and pepper, drizzle
it with butter or olive oil, and bake it. Ideally it will kind of fan out (sort of like a blooming onion) as it bakes. Robert suggested sprinkling some grated parmigiano cheese on before you enjoy it. Very simple and delicious.
What's a Swede Potato? It's what the Brits call a rutabaga. You combine carrots, Yukon Gold potatoes, and rutabagas into an English version of mashed potatoes. Colorful and delicious.
I've had plenty of good wines with wonderful meals
over the years at the Food and Wine Festival. I can
reservation that Rick's choice of the 2009 La Crema
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is the best
I have had. Two reasons for that. OK, three. First
is that 2009 is turning out to be a spectacular
year for Russian River valley pinot noir. Second is that choosing a pinot noir for an event like this shows confidence. Pinot grapes are difficult to grow and the wine is tricky to produce. Finally, pinot noir is not usually a robust enough wine to pair with beef. But Rick said this particular pinot is heartier than most, and he was dead on. Tremendous. Depending on where the grapes are grown, pinots are chameleons. Light and fruity or darker and more savory. I cannot say enough about this wine and how well it complemented the beef.
Our dessert was Banana Bread and
Butter Pudding. It's a dish baked in individual ramekins, containing
layers of bananas, buttered bread, and raisins, held together with eggs and cream, and topped (oh, yeah!) with ice cream. An elegant and rich dessert, and quite British.
Rick's wine pairing was the La Crema Anderson
As" Late Harvest Gewurztraminer. I am sure
I would have enjoyed it, but either the wine ran out
or the servers were kind of frazzled by the big
crowd, because I didn't get any! I and one of my tablemates
got passed over. I think this is the only
Kitchen Memories that sold out so far this year. I didn't count the tables, maybe there were 18 or so, each with 6 people. So they probably ran out of wine. But Gewurztraminer is usually a solid choice for a dessert, just be sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert, so the wine won't taste tart.
Robert was a lot of fun, he spent as much time running
around among the diners as he did on the stage.
He was full of jokes and cute stories about his adventures on American television and in American restaurants. And the crowd adored every minute of it.
Ingredients for Shrimp Cocktail:
2 pounds large shrimp in the shell (about 30)
1. Cut the lemon in half and add it to a pot of boiling salted water.
2. Add the shrimp and cook, uncovered, for only 3 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked
3. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cool water. When the shrimp are cool enough to
handle, peel and devein them. Keep cold until ready to serve.
Ingredients for Mango Chili Horseradish
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 cup cut mango-fresh or frozen, diced
1/4 cup cold water
3 basil leaves
1/4 cup green chilies, cooked, de-seeded, and rinsed
1/4 cup horseradish
Pinch of salt
1. In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the mangoes with water and sugar until the
mangoes have started to break down, stirring throughout. This should take 10-12 minutes,
then add all remaining ingredients, except for basil, and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and puree in food processor or blender.
3. Serve or hold. Storage: Hold cold over ice bath, covered.
Ingredients for Finnadinni Sauce:
5 cups soy sauce
3 cups white balsamic vinegar
3 cups cilantro leaves
2 cups basil leaves
2 cups mint leaves
1 cup parsley tops
2 each jalapenos
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup garlic, minced
Juice of 2 lemons
1. First, in large mixer, blend all liquids with sugar and jalapenos, mix well.
2. Next, add cilantro, parsley, basil, and mint to previous liquid, then pulse. (To pulse, the
blender should be turned on to reach high speed, then turned off 10-12 times.)
3. Finally, add garlic and pulse as above 3 more times. Remove sauce from mixer and let rest
for 24 hours before usage if possible.
4. Storage: Refrigerate - covered.
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 fresh vanilla pod
2 cups heavy cream
12 slices white bread (you can also use leftover coffee cake as a substitute)
2 to 3 bananas, sliced
2/3 cup raisins
4 tablespoons sugar
1. Using a little of the softened butter, grease an ovenproof baking dish.
2. Slit the vanilla pod lengthwise in the middle and remove all of the seeds by scraping the
inside of the pod with a paring knife. Put the seeds and the pod itself into a saucepan
with the heavy cream and bring to a boil, then set aside for about 20 minutes to allow the
vanilla to infuse.
3. Take the remainder of the softened butter and spread it on each side of the bread on both
sides. Cut each slice of bread diagonally, so that you are now left with two triangles
for each single slice.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. In layers, first arrange some of the buttered bread in the ovenproof dish and top with
slices of banana and sprinkle of raisins for each layer, reserving 1 tablespoon for the
top. Continue to layer the bread and bananas until you have used them all.
6. Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a bowl, then pour the warmed vanilla cream over
the eggs, whisking constantly (because you do not want scrambled eggs!).
7. Then pour the mixture through a sieve over the bread and top with remaining raisins.
Place the ovenproof dish in a larger, deep roasting pan.
8. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water comes halfway up the outside of the
9. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the blade of a knife inserted into the center of the
pudding comes out clean.
10.Serve topped with a scoop of any ice cream you like!
1 whole filet (beef tenderloin), about 5 pounds
6 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper
1. Heat the grill. Place the whole filet on a utility platter, brush with melted butter, and
season with salt and pepper. Sear the filet on all sides on the hot part of the grill.
Move the filet to indirect heat for medium rare. Alternatively you can sear the filet in
a pan with oven-safe handles and transfer the pan to a preheated 425 degree oven for about
30 minutes to reach the same internal temperature.
2. Allow the meat to rest before slicing.
Demi Glace (makes about 1 pint):
2 cups brown stock
2 cups brown sauce (espagnole)
---For Optional Sachet---
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3-4 fresh parsley stems
1. Combine the brown sauce and the brown stock in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat to a simmer, add the sachet and
reduce for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by half.
3. Remove pan from heat and retrieve the sachet. Carefully pour the demi-glace through a
wire-mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
2 pounds potatoes, medium sized (your choice of type)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil
1/4 cup very finely minced parsley leaves
1. Peel the potatoes and rinse to remove any traces of dirt. Cut the potatoes into uniform
large pieces. (This will help in cooking time if they are all similar.) Take a sharp knife
and beginning on one end, cut about 2/3 through the potato. Repeat the same incision from
one end of the potato to the other, spacing the cuts uniformly. (The idea is to create the
look of a fan, which is why you don't cut all the way through the potato.)
2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and cook
until just tender. Do not overcook. The potatoes should remain a little hard, as they will
continue to cook during roasting.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
4. Drain the potatoes and place them on absorbent toweling to remove excess water. Mix the
flour and salt and pepper, to taste, in a bowl and carefully toss with the already blanched
potatoes. Place the floured potatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Bake until
golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.
5. To finish, scoop the potatoes with a slotted spoon onto absorbent paper toweling to drain
excess oil. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the parsley. Grate a little
good-quality parmigiano cheese on top if you wish.
Ingredients for Carrots and Swede Potatoes (Rutabagas):
2 cups carrots, medium dice
2 cups rutabagas, medium dice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 gallon water
Ingredients for Potatoes:
4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, medium dice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 gallon water
For both lists of ingredients, follow the same procedure (below). Then place each puree into
separate piping bags, then place both bags into one larger bag with a large star-style piping
tip and pipe into center of plate.
1. In a saucepan over high heat, add water and bring
to a boil.
2. Next add vegetables or potatoes and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes or until softened.
Once cooked, remove from heat, drain through colander then in a food mill or ricer,
press all foods until smooth.
3. Next add seasoning and butter, mixing well. Seasoning can be adjusted as needed.