As the Food and Wine Festival continued, so did my gluttony. I was insanely lucky to get a ticket to Get Pickled, with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and his right hand man at his restaurant, The National, Paul Corsentino.
Eat, drink, learn how to cook from an Iron Chef…is this real life?
The main thing I learned was that pickling is the first step in canning. It is done in minutes and need not be put in sterilized mason jars. If you have 10 minutes, some good vinegar, and the inclination, you can be a pickling maven.
Let’s get to the good stuff:
Oh, so THIS is why he is an Iron Chef. Tender beef, so sweet and grassy that it is vibrant and bright within its luscious fatty texture. Edged in a fragrant and very spicy rub with cracked pepper and coriander. The beef was actually the star of the dish, though the mushrooms provided an excellent textural and taste contrast. The honjemiji mushrooms, cooked briefly in vinegar with sugar, yuzu juice, and other spices, were firm and earthy, enlivened by the zesty mustard aioli.
This was paired with a Karlsson’s Gold Vodka Apple Shrub Spritz – a drink made with vodka, a bit of sweet vinegar, and a topper of seltzer. The drink didn’t taste like straight vinegar, but it was very bright and a little tangy, with the sweet back note of apples. This tasted like apple cider, but had enough alcohol to get the party started.
These were the weakest part of the class. The chicken wings were somewhat flaccid, even verging on soggy. Them marinade was neither salty nor spicy nor nutty enough to complete the flavor that the chefs were going for. The pickles tasted totally different – sweeter and more floral, thanks to the Asian aromatics that were used in the pickling spices.
Have you ever had one of these? Whiskey chased with a shot of pickle juice, this time made with the homemade sweet pickling brine and a shot of citrusy yuzu juice. It sounds crazy, especially to a whiskey-phobe like me. It was electrifying. The bracing, quick burn of whiskey followed by the sweet, salty,and very bright yuzu juice was incredible. Savory, salty, nutty, and satisfying. I could drink these all night.
Doubt I could stand up straight after two of them, but I could certainly drink them all night.
A balanced salad to end the meal. Fatty, rich duck. Stiff, bitter frisee. Creamy dressing, sweet pomegranate arils, and toothsome slices of tangy pickled pears. This dish was all about balance, the layering of flavors and textures to produce a totally round taste sensation. The pickled pear martini served with it, crisp and clean, cut through the fatty duck and rich dressing.
This was an eye opening class in every way. I learned how to make pickles, why they are important in food, and how to make cocktails that compliment them. Moreover, I got to eat some great food and drinks some great cocktails. I went home with a jar of pickles,an awesome buzz, and an appreciation for the NYCWFF.
I already can’t wait until next year!