EDP’s Big Giveaway—It’s Grand Prize Time! People We Love to Sit Next to in Restaurants; Beurre Blanc and Lobster at Buffet de la Gare

EDP’s Big Giveaway—It’s GRAND PRIZE TIME!

Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: a chance to win an All Access Pass to Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend! What, you may ask, does the coveted plastic badge buy you? We’re talking admission for you and your honey to two days of Dionysian eating and drinking at the Grand Tasting in the Ballroom of the Ritz Carlton, Westchester. That means delicious tastes from 50 of the county’s best restaurants and literally hundreds of glasses of fine wines. It’ll be a sublime orgy of sensation for you and your deserving palate (and your honey).

Plus, to excuse all the sensual excesses, you will edify your mind with informative seminars conducted by Kevin Zraly (recent recipient of the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award), Riedel Glas Austria, Gérard Bertrand, Ned Towle, and Linda Noel Kawabata. Just flash your badge and you’re in like Flynn.

Oh, but that’s not the end of it. Your prized plastic badge buys you a front-row seat to Thermador-sponsored demos by some of our region’s best chefs. You will see Chef Eric Gabrynowicz of Restaurant North butcher a whole, locally raised pig; you’ll see hunky Chef David DiBari of The Cookery in the hunky flesh; you’ll find Chef Alex Grunert of Blue Hill at Stone Barns; Chef Peter Kelly of X2O (who is chairing this whole shebang, and folks – he’s been working); and Chef Phil McGrath of Iron Horse Grill. Basically, you’ll see your favorite local chefs prepare your favorite local dishes.

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(Of course, there’s also the cook-off with Top Chefs Ash Fulk and Dale Talde, who, it’s no secret, is my all- time favorite Top Chef-testant. He told Mr. Whippy-Head Marcel where to stick it, and expressed—in taut, Anglo-Saxon terms—just what Colicchio and Padma could do with their Judges’ Table. My hero.)

Finally, the super-swank moment in this weekend full of gastronomic wonders is the Winemaker’s Dinner, which will honor John Crabtree, a man who’s been elevating Westchester’s tastes at Crabtree’s Kittle House since 1981. Check out the Winemakers’s Dinner menu and wine pairings here, but the breakdown is that Chef Kelly, Chef Gabrynowicz, Chef Anthony Goncalves of 42 The Restaurant, Ethan Kostbar of Moderne Barn, and Chef James Dangler of the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, will each be slinging a course along with specially paired vintages. Recently, we spoke with Event Sommelier Billy Rattner (of Xaviars Restaurant Group), and he was audibly excited about the wines available at for the whole weekend—and, especially, being poured at the big-ticket Winemaker’s Dinner.

And, after all that, – do we pat you (the Grand Prize Winner) on your back, hand you your car keys, and send you home? No, that’s not our style here at Westchester Magazine. The winner of EDP’s Big Giveaway Grand Prize gets a Saturday-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester (and a spa package)!

So, what is the brain-melting question this week? For the EDP Grand Prize (described in porny detail above), tell me which Spanish Baroque artists painted “Los Borrachos” (“The Drunkards”), alternately titled “The Triumph of Bacchus,” linked here: The painting, completed in 1629, shows, in disturbing detail, the lengths those Baroque Spaniards went to in the worship the Roman God of Wine, Bacchus. Basically, the scene sort of presages the movie, The Hangover Part II, in theaters now.

Answer the question in the comments section below, and sorry, employees of Westchester Magazine and its affiliates are not eligible for prizes.

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The People We Love to Sit Next to in Restaurants

 I was amused to see in one of the Village Voice’s food blogs, Fork in the Road, a list of the Five Most Annoying Types of People to be Seated Next to at a Restaurant. I loved the post, but the list had one gross omission. Namely, being seated next to a fabulously famous celebrity really sucks. It means that the entire restaurant full of diners (including you) will helplessly stare at the poor star, who gamely tries to eat his/her food with appropriate decorum while politely ignoring the scores of losers trying to capture the moment ontheir cellies. Boo.
But we here at EDP are all about the positivity, which is why we’re going to list the…

5 Types of People We Love Being Seated Next to at Restaurants

1. People who order outside the menu (especially in ethnic restaurants)
I strongly suspect that, in many ethnic restaurants, because of my bland, American looks, I get handed the bland, American menu (of two possible options). I love to see a restaurant’s co-ethnicists order dishes that I don’t see on my menu, so I can point to those dishes and say, “I want whatever they’re having.”

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2. Women who have just been cheated on dining with a girlfriend
Someone’s dirty laundry will be aired with the venom, total recall, and historical context that only a wronged woman can offer. Whenever it happens, it’s all I can do not to turn around in my chair and scream, “He doesn’t DESERVE YOU!” Which, of course, would be inappropriate.

3. People who share outlandish sex stories (but not too loudly)
To excuse this, let me just point out here that I dine out a lot. I love it when someone volunteers to entertain me with glimpses into a world I’ve only read about in the pages of, say, the Village Voice. I fondly remember a young man who regaled his table with shocking tales from the back rooms’ sex club/bars. Okay, so, I spent the entire meal with my fork poised halfway to my mouth, straining every nerve to hear, but, folks, let me tell you, the time just flew by.

4. People who know the chef or restaurant owner
When I’m reviewing a restaurant, I do my best to hide my identity. I book the tables under false names, pay with my guests’ credit cards, use cash, etc. (cloak and dagger ad nauseam, you know the drill). So, I can’t really bowl into a place and start grilling the chef and owner about their venture face-to-face. I love it when someone at a neighboring table does it for me.

5. Chefs from other restaurants
Wanna know what to order at Le Bernardin? Wait until Eric Ripert’s best bud, Anthony Bourdain, drops in for a meal. Chefs always out-cook themselves for other chefs. If you’re lucky, you can use the classic point-and-order tactic mentioned in #1.

 

 

Lobster Vol au Vent at Buffet de la Gare

When I was cooking for a living, tomato/chive beurre blanc was on our menu, and, though it was delicious on the salmon that I cooked, my secret pleasure as I cooked was to drag a chunk of bread through a plated personal pool. I remember being asked to prepare the sauce, where wine, vinegar, and shallots are reduced until almost disappeared. I magically revived the vanishing, eye-burning acid with chunks of cold, sweet butter, and, like The Six Million Dollar Man, the resulting sauce was stronger and better than any of its components. It’s one of those many feats of classic French cooking that never ceases to amaze me.

I never really recovered from my love of beurre blanc, whose lingering tartness only makes the sweet butter seem more luxurious. I was brought back to those stolen moments beside the stove as I cooked, when I recently visited Buffet de la Gare. Its lobster vol au vent with asparagus and Champagne-truffle beurre blanc has the added luxury of warm chunks of lobster, white and green asparagus spears, and a shattering puff-pastry shell; but the pleasure of dragging my warm dinner roll through that pool of magical beurre blanc is just as intense. Buffet de la Gare (155 Southside Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson, 914-478-1671)

 

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