Diners eat polenta and meatballs directly off a table at Fortina
At Dubrovnik, meats are roasted under an ember-laden steel bell
The technique can be used on many meats, from whole lambs perfumed with rosemary and garlic and roasted until crispy to tender octopus in a mix of tomatoes, capers, and olive oil. (All Under the Bell preparations require at least two days’ notice and a minimum of four people.) Each dish is served with vegetables that have been cooked alongside the meats. “The lamb comes with roasted potatoes [so good], you want to die for them because they take on all the flavor from the food,” muses Tomic. “That’s the beauty of it.”
In North Salem, Chef Michael Kaphan is also cooking with fire at Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish. On August 4 and 18 (additional September dates may be added), one of the four-acre farm’s terraces will be transformed into a sort of alfresco dining room. “Everyone is farm-to-table now, but except for us and Blue Hill, no one truly has a farm,” says Kaphan. “I wanted to give diners a true farm-to-table experience.” Guests can even stop by the fields and greenhouses earlier in the day and join Kaphan to harvest seasonal produce — summer squash, tomatoes, eggplants, and chili peppers, for example — for the night’s dinner. (This year is also the farm’s first harvest for sweet corn and ripe summer peaches.)
The all-inclusive sunset dinners ($250 per person; reservations required), which started in July (with all proceeds from the first dinner going to a local family whose child is battling leukemia), will really hit their stride in August as the farm comes into peak season. After cocktails, parties of 10 will settle into a candlelit five-course meal, each dish paired with wine. “We have custom wood-burning grills, so we’ll be cooking [right there],” says Kaphan before adding, “We have perfect sunsets on the farm.”
At O Mandarin in Hartsdale, you’ll only need two to order its trademark Peking duck. “This is very authentic Mandarin food,” says GM Peter Liu, who points out that the dish was once fare for royalty. As you’d expect with food fit for an emperor, preparing the dish is a painstaking process: Each duck is fan-dried for at least six hours and brushed repeatedly with maltose sugar, to create a deep color and that characteristic crisp skin, then roasted until tender with just the faintest hint of pink remaining in the meat.
Brought to the table with a steaming plate of translucent crêpes, julienned cucumber and scallion, and a house blend of plum, oyster, and hoisin sauces, eating the dish involves its own ceremony. And that skin? It’s as irresistibly crisp as you’d imagine; each mahogany shard crackles as you pick it up with chopsticks. “We make our own crêpes. We make the sauce,” adds Liu. “Our chef has done Peking duck pretty much his whole life. [When we opened, we wanted to] present some of the best Mandarin dishes. Peking duck was the first choice.”