We were so excited to get out of the city yesterday and drive up to the Hudson Valley for the Northern Chef’s Alliance Play With Fire lunch. April Bloomfield, Sean Brock, Zak Pelaccio and more fabulous chefs cooking whole animals on the stunning Fish and Game Farm, all for a good cause supporting family farms. Add in music, cocktails, chickens roaming around, wildflowers and endless blue skies and it was the perfect Sunday.
And the food really blew us away.
Walking up the garden path after a three-hour drive, is there a lovelier sight to behold than April Bloomfield greeting you with roasted snow crab legs and spicy whelk scungilli? Raymonds‘ Jeremy Charles paired sweet snow crab, glossy with smoked uni butter, with the tiniest potatoes I’ve ever seen, briny sea greens and crunchy baby corn, while April’s whelk stew was rich with tomatoes and chilli, saved in my memory bank to recreate on a bracing winter’s night.
Over at the pork station, Fish and Game‘s Zak Pelaccio impressively tore up a whole corn-brined smoked pig for stuffing into golden roti, topped with red cabbage umboshi, water buffalo yogurt and greens. The roti made a great alternative to tortillas and we can’t wait to try this at home on our tawa.
One of our favorite bites of the afternoon went to the tigelle – an Italian flatbread similar to English muffins – filled with roasted goat and Sicilian harissa by chefs Townsman‘s Matt Jennings and Buca‘s Rob Gentile. It came with a summery roast vegetable salad with basil crema (reminder: I really need an iSi whip).
Sean Brock was fire-roasting vegetables like a boss – buttery potatoes and crisp-tender okra – while over by the rotisserie chicken, Toro‘s Jamie Bissonette and L’Abbatoir‘s Lee Cooper treated us to silky chicken liver parfait with stone fruit, and cabbage cups filled with shredded chicken leg.
Francisco Migoya, whose chocolate olives I obsessed over last year and would mail order at whatever cost from Hudson Chocolates, and now Head Chef at Modernist Cuisine, gave out heavenly caramel ganache truffles, while the goat team of Matt and Rob handed out the lightest cannolis I’ve ever tasted. Je ne regrette rien, except I should have got two.
Driving up, we passed so many beautiful farms selling corn, eggs and fruit pies – next time, we’ll spend the night in charming Hudson and stock up on farm-fresh produce to recreate some of these amazing flavors back in the big smoke.