If you found this blog by Googling my name or by following sundry noxious links (you know where), please note that all claims that I was fired from my job are 100% false, as are most of the other things written about me. I don't know the people who are libeling me, but it's clear they have some imaginary axe to grind and way too much time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meatopia!

Thanks to the amazingly generous spirit of Josh Ozersky, I found myself the recipient of an email invite to Meatopia, Ozersky's annual carnivorous fete at Water Taxi Beach thrown in honor of...himself.

In other words, the baddest motherfuckin' birthday party one could have.

My email address, clustered in with the other J's as it was, found CC'd company with big-time industry names like Jefferey Chodorow and Jay Rayner, so I dared hoped the B's contained a Bourdain and a Bruni.

But the first person I recognized was this guy:

"I was rooting for you!" I told him. He looked embarrassed and harried. The man had cooking to do, minions to order around, but he posed for a snap anyways. Call it Asian Love. Here, I am mid-bite in his zingy lamb sausage.

Next person I saw was Floyd Cardoz. "I went to Tabla a month ago and loved my meal!" I told him. This evening was rapidly becoming Zoe's gush-fest. I did not take a picture with him, but I did have a couple of his succulent banana-leaf baby lamb wraps. (Is "baby lamb" redundant?) No pics of that either, because I ate them too fast.

In between sips of sangria and craft bears - my friend Alex graduated straight to Jack Daniels - I roamed, wanting to see everything and everyone.

There were four of five whole lambs being roasted over spits:


Team Philippe Massoud stuffed leg meat from another lamb into grape leaves, and then stuffed the grape leaves into this baby. Served with yogurt sauce, it was tangy and juicy.


Team Michael White (of Alto, Convivio, and Marea) hand-turned their spit the whole time. Respect.

My conversation with Gordon on the right, a sous-chef at Alto, went something like this:

Me: OMGTHISISSOGOODWHATDIDYOURUBITWITH?
Gordon: Sapa.
Me: ?
Gordon: Wine must.
Me: ...

For a second, I thought he said "Grape-Nuts." I am NOT ready to talk shop with the big boys.


Team Fatty Crab's offering was served atop a summer peach salad. ("Fatty Crab is one of my favorite restaurants in New York!" I told Corwin Kove.)


The double-smoker


RUB's amazing lamb stew, served over cheesy grits.

For the ovine-shy, there were Motz burgers:



And an oyster bar...



I think it's a testament to how good the cooking was that the raw bar was kind of an afterthought, tucked away in a corner on the way to the Port-A-Potties.

I didn't get to try even half of the offerings - the lambs were small and each only had about 5lbs of meat. That said, my favorite dish of the night was the lamb by Team Michael White.

Besides the sapa, they encouraged DIY seasoning with Maldon sea salt, chili powder, and an incredible salsa verde that will haunt my dreams forever. Gordon revealed one secret to be anchovies, which "bring out the umami":

video
Someday I'll get over my fear of talking in videos and actually explain what I'm filming

They also gave me the most perfect piece of crispy wine-whatever rubbed skin:



Around this time, I found the birthday boy to extend my thanks and well wishes. Maybe it was too late then - maybe he'd had too much to drink - but he didn't seem to have a clue who I was. Hardly surprising, given the throngs upon throngs of satellite acquaintances and plus-ones, twos, or even threes that showed up. I'm just the girl who won a silly contest.

But the highlight, by far the best part of my night, was meeting Gail Simmons, who looks so young and fresh in real life. (Of course, she is lovely in celluloid as well, but on Top Chef she seems older because she's all judgy and serious.)



My friends had to drag me over to meet her because I was so intimidated (that judgy and serious thing again), but she was super gracious and sweet - she certainly talked to me longer than she had to. Nevertheless, I was not able to pry any secrets re:Top Chef Las Vegas out of her, nor even get her to pick a favorite season ("They all kind of run together by now.")

The takeaway: I couldn't have had a better time at Meatopia. The lamb was cooked so inventively by each chef that it was never boring, the weather at Water Taxi Beach was perfect, the drinks were cold, the music was relaxed, and the crowd was appreciative. (Ok, maybe if Anthony Bourdain had showed up...)

Three friendly sous-chefs from the coming-soon Abe & Arthur's invited me and Alex to their opening party, sure to be another epic bash with the owners of Tenjune at the helm. Hope they weren't just saying that because they were drunk - I sure hope this party chain continues...

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