Here are the people we saw last night at the Gourmet.com launch party at Bar Boulud:
– Calvin Trillin
– Mark Bittman
– Eric Ripert
– David Chang
– Jonathan Waxman
– Aaron Sanchez
– Michael Psilakis
– Rebecca Charles
– April Bloomfield
– Alfred Portale
– Joey Campanaro
– Daniel Boulud (it was his place, after all)
and, of course
– Ruth Reichl (it was her party).
To say the room was choc full of food celebs would be a profound understatement. I spent most of the party wandering around with Craig saying, “Whoah–do you know who that is? He’s/she’s a legend.” I also had fun chatting with all my food blogging cohorts–Ed Levine & The Serious Eats Team (Adam and Alaina), the Eater crew, Josh Ozersky. I befriended the managers of The Little Owl and Market Table (the latter of whom was freshman roommates with one of my college friends). I shook hands with Daniel and told him that one of his close friends was one of my favorite teachers in grad school (a true fact!); I kibitzed with Rebecca Charles who told me how she cooks a rib-eye at home (no oil, extremely hot pan, render the fat from the side of the meat first, then finish in the oven—oh and lots of coarse salt and pepper). It was a whirlwind of glitz and glamour, but mostly it was just passionate food people talking about food. And speaking of food, wait ’til you see the spread.
Bar Boulud, for all its hype, is a welcome return to classic French techniques and recipes that might scare off an average diner. The highlight, for me, was this table of forcemeats:
Upon that table you’ll see rabbit terrine, a beef cheek terrine and–that most fearful of all things animal–head cheese. I’d never had head cheese in my life and neither had Craig but we both bravely bit in and guess what? It was wonderful. (In case you don’t know, head cheese is where they boil the skull of the cow or pig and then skim whatever floats to the surface off the top and press it into a cheese. Don’t gag, it’s great!) Actually, it’s great with mustard. Mustard really helps.
There were more typical spread-like items, except prepared more elegantly (as befits Daniel). Like this smoked salmon appetizer:
No gloppy cream cheese and salmon scrunchies here–everything’s meticulous and beautiful and tasty to boot.
Most nifty were the devices that attached to the plates for which to hang your wine glass:
Me being a nervous person, I didn’t risk it: I used an older device called a “table.” Craig, though, found his “pretty cool.”
The sliced Serrano ham (dramatically carved off a hoofed leg) was terrific:
Though the man who carved it said we had to come back to try the Iberian ham, which comes from black pigs fed a diet of acorns and which he said would blow us away.
The party was structured in a clever way: you moved through different rooms to eat different foods, climaxing with the food in the kitchen where the food was hot. There you could have fish and chips (perfect, as expected); boudin blanc (which Craig said was as light as a marshmallow) and boudin noir (which we stupidly missed); I personally enjoyed the coq au vin and the salmon with bacon. Only problem: it was tricky to eat the food in there, so we took it back to the previous room to eat at one of those “tables.”
Finally, we worked our way upstairs and Craig was like a kid in a candy store. We were with Rachel Wharton of The Daily News and Bodega Beans and her friend Emery and they both thought it was super cute when he called to me: “Adam! Look, they have cheese!”
Here he is carefully inquiring about his options:
You would think he’d be fully pigged out after all that, but then he did something I’ve never seen him do. He fell in love with dessert. He normally eschews dessert, but this grapefruit dessert grabbed him by the collar and wouldn’t let him go:
A grapefruit sorbet with white chocolate too, it was incredibly refreshing and light and strangely intoxicating. Shamefully, and I am not making this up, Craig ate THREE OF THEM. THREE OF THOSE DESSERTS.
I know, sick right?
But that’s life at a Gourmet.com launch party. I hope you’ve enjoyed a vicarious thrill coming along with us. It was a dazzling night, “like an Oscar party for food celebs” and one we won’t soon forget–Craig will carry it forever in his hips! (I kid–he’s crazy skinny, the bastard.)