The Chef Series to benefit the Boys & Girls Club Of Northern Westchester ended on a high note with the delicious dinner served up by Cafe of Love in Mount Kisco. As with previous events, the repast was prepared in the new state of the art kitchen, and diners enjoyed eating at beautifully set tables in the adjacent dining room. Perennial Gardens, based in Bedford Village, supplied the delightful decorations.
Leslie Lampert, owner and chef of the much-esteemed local eatery said, "It's really easy to give love when you get love." Lampert and Executive Chef Michael Cutney pulled out all the stops to give patrons a gastronomical treat.
Lampert herself joined young members of the club in passing out the hors d'oeuvres, including mini walnut profiteroles with bleu cheese mousse. In accordance with the Cafe of Love philosophy of, whenever possible, cooking with produce and proteins from area farms, a platter of crisped local asparagus was dipped in Pecorino Sabayon by hungry patrons. My favorite was the cold croquettes with Romesco sauce, which were delectable, prepared with a crispy crust surrounding the perfectly seasoned fish.
Lampert boldly challenged our food preconceptions with the shrimp ceviche spoons. When one gentleman declined, protesting "I never eat raw fish," Lampert gently urged him to try a bite. "But this doesn't taste raw," he exclaimed. Lampert explained that because of the citrus marinade used in preparation, the shrimp had "cooked" itself without the need of added heat.
The first course was a world class carrot and caraway soup, with a goat cheese crouton from Bedford Hills purveyor Rainbeau Ridge. The texture was creamy and rich, and the warm orange color set the tone for the evening of relaxed enjoyment with friends.
The ramp risotto served next was a crowd favorite. Almost a meal in itself, the rice, butter and cheese were blended perfectly, and served slightly al dente. Risotto is not an easy dish to prepare for a crowd; the broth must be stirred constantly, and the end result is often overcooked and dry. Nowhere was Cafe of Love's expertise better displayed.
The main course was an upscale "surf and turf" of succulent soft shell crab paired with tender filet mignon, accompanied by fennel puree and potato-bell pepper sofrioto.
Lampert ended the meal with a raspberry crème brulee and her signature brownie bon bons. If they hadn't been so irresistible, I doubt that any of us could have managed to eat dessert. No one left the table hungry!
The perfect compliment to both the hors d'ouevres and the main meal, wines from Wine Junction in Mount Kisco were perfectly paired with each course. Dan Spadola, the amiable owner, engagingly explained what we were cheerfully imbibing. Spadola is especially to be commended for deciding to skip the dessert wine in the interest of the safety of guests, who would soon be driving home. He assured me that he will soon be having wine tastings and pairings at the store, so we can try the dessert wine then.
As delicious as the food was, to many, the highlight of the evening was the speech presented by BGCNW Youth Of The Year award winner, Andrea Mishel Alarcon. She spoke movingly about her experiences as an undocumented alien, and touched hearts by explaining how the club had helped her feel at home and welcome.
The Chef Series was the brainchild of Shelley Lewis Waln, who couldn't be more pleased with huge success of the dinners. She assured us, "There will definitely be another Chef Series starting up in the fall. We now have wonderful chefs calling us; we're over the moon!"
Also coming up on, June 5, is the 2010 Humanitarian Award Dinner to honor Bill and Jane Balter. It's being held at Lexus of Mt. Kisco, and will also include an auction. For ticket information, contact Jean Skanes at 914-666-8069 ext. 111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.