Le Bernardin Tribute Dinner and More Bourdain
Saturday night the hot ticket (and the only) event for the Food and Wine fest was the tribute to Le Bernardin at the Loews Miami Beach. The guest of honor was Eric Ripert, accomplished chef of the famed New York eatery since 1994.
As expected the culinary cognoscenti was in full swing at this uber-formal bash. Martha Stewart was there, Daniel Boulud was slaving away in the kitchen, and of course Anthony Bourdain was there in all his 7-foot tall glory. New York magazine food critic Gael Greene was hosting the festivities and as such saw it fit to don a captain's cap along with a flowy jacket with gold coins festooned on its tunrquiose shimmeryness. I give Gael credit, she certainly bucked the all-black conformity thing that was going on that night.
Local visionary Norman Van Aken handled the hors d'oeuvres for the Dom Perignon champagne reception. He is such a sweetheart. So nice and so hard-working.
When I popped "backstage" to have a chat with him he was seriously plating each and every mini-BLT and conch-ceviche with coconut-infused cream (below) himself.
Loews executive chef Marc Ehrler also contributed to the cocktail reception with arctic char salmon topped with shaved cucumber and scallion foam. His spicy Maine lobster with a lychee wine pipette topped with gold-dusted wasabi gelee (below) was a real show stopper. For $500 a ticket, there better be gold dust all over every morsel.
The main dinner of 6 courses, each with its own wine pairings consisted of wild mallard duck ballotine with Buddha hand confit by Mr. Boulud, foie gras and tapioca ravioli with celery and sunchoke broth with black truffles by Tony Esnault of Alain Ducasse in New York and chocolate cashew tart with red wine caramel and malted milk chocolate ice cream by Michael Laiskonis from Le Bernardin.
I had a chance to talk with live-cobra-heart-eating Bourdain before dinner started.
Me: Mr. Bourdain I read about your experience in Lebanon this summer with great interest.
Cobra Tony: Oh! (expression turns from smug to serious) Yes it was really upsetting.
Me: Well, I've always wanted to visit Lebanon, but I can't because--
CT: You should! It used to be just like South Beach and now Hizbullah's taken over again...
Me: Have you ever visited Israel?
CT: Well, no, I'm kind of turned off after this summer
Me: You should go. It's worthwhile for you to see it. I think you'd enjoy it.
CT: Really...yeah...(inching away)
Me: Have you explored Persian food?
CT: Oh Yeah, we're going to Tehran this year!
Me: That's great. Do you know anything about Persian food?
CT: Uh, no.
Me: You'll enjoy it. I've always wanted to go to Iran but I can't because I'm--
CT: Well, good night, nice meeting you.
Maybe I came off as a raving Zionist, but how annoying is it that Bourdain has no plans to visit Israel. At least go explore the other side.