Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Epic Dinner at the Foodbuzz Community Table

Last night at Epic Roasthouse, I attended the San Francisco stop of the Foodbuzz Community Table sponsored by Visa Signature. Foodbuzz has been holding these events across the country, bringing together select Visa Signature cardholders and local food bloggers for an evening of fine food and drink.

We were treated to a great meal by Chef Jan Birnbaum, which I captured in all its flash-lit glory, as you can see. If you've never dined at a large table of food bloggers before, here's the drill.

The servers bring the plates to the table. The bloggers commiserate with each other over the fact that while the room is beautifully lit, it's too dark to get any decent shots (at least for the photographically-challenged).

Then, as the food cools and sauces
congeal, plates are photographed, passed around so others can photograph, tilted for better angles, and eventually returned to the rightful owner.

Finally, a good ten minutes into the meal, forks and knifes finally go to work. After two or three bites, as is the custom, small bites are exchanged all around the table so everyone can say they tasted everything.

I ordered the cedar plank smoked wild king salmon, which came with baby
butterball potatoes, sicilian olives, butter pears, and piperade of sweet onions and late summer peppers.

It was very good, but I looked with envy at the other tw
o entrée choices nearby. Thanks to Alexa, one of our hosts from Foodbuzz, I got to taste her "Steak-n-Cake," a beef filet with spicy crab cake, dungeness crabmeat hollandaise, and ragout of summer tomatoes. It was really good (although I have to admit, the dish did annoy me only because I was upset I've never thought of the name Steak-n-Cake!)

The other main course choice was a very sexy looking wood fired rotisserie pork rack chop with asparagus flan, roasted chanterelle mushrooms, and a smoky, gingered ham hock sauce. The pork could not have been cooked more perfectly.

After a brief meeting of the minds, I offered a small bite of my salmon to Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, who promptly returned with a bread plate containing a marvelously constructed sample of pork.

One way you can tell a true foodie, is by how they put together a taste. You just don't hack off a piece of whatever and pass it over. The bite must have a little bit of each component on the plate to give a true sense for the soul of the dish.

Not only had Doug (aka DACFresh on twitter) served up the right mix of meat, sauce and chanterelle, he had included a perfectly sized piece of crispy pork skin. This simple act of culinary consideration was the highlight of my evening.

The salad course was an iceberg wedge with shaved rad
ish, creamy gorgonzola crouton, and something called "rustic garlic." I forgot to ask the server what that meant, so it remains a mystery. Rustic garlic? Do you know?

Dessert brought a delicious, but not too decadent duo of warm chocolate banana cake with caramel sea salt ice cream and a bread pudding with ricotta and fresh peaches. I've decided that every dessert should be served with caramel sea salt ice cream.

In addition to all this great food, there was of course wine. I had some pink, some white, and some red, and enjoyed all three colors very much (sorry, but I'm always so involved with the food and conversation that I'm usually oblivious to the wine pairings, and this meal was no exception).

The meal came to a graceful and satisfying end as we sipped hot coffee, traded twitter handles, and made dubious promises to check out each other's blogs. Thanks to Alexa and Doug from Foodbuzz, Visa Signature, and the Epic Roasthouse for such a great meal!

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