SideDish Supper Club: Details From Andrew Chalk

Thanks to Andrew Chalk for covering the event last night while I emceed with Willy Warner and Robert Chandler. Go, Andrew:

Sevy’s Grill was full last night as the fifth SideDish Supper Club rolled in and turned the place into Seafood Boot Camp. Interestingly titled “Mythbusters Seafood Dinner: You Be The Judge”  the courses of the meal contained three blind tastings of competing seafood ingredients where diners got to compare the taste and texture and guess which was which. This complemented the seafood story in the current issue of D Magazine. Expert commentary was provided by Willy Warner and Robert Chandler of Steve Connolly Seafood in Boston. At the front of the room they set up a display of some of the fish that currently appear on our plate. There was Pacific Halibut, Wild Sockeye Salmon, Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon, and a Monkfish. John Rector of Sigel’s provided commentary on the wines.

Jump for more and photos by Mathew Shelley.

The night began with a reception of Jonah Crab Crostini. Jonah crab is found on the Atlantic coast of the US and is a small but increasing part of the crab catch. This was served with a cocktail, pictured above, called a “Ketel One Oceantini”. Brad Allison, Sevy mixologist, explained to me that this is “Ketel One orange vodka, a splash of Grand Marnier, a splash of crème de cassis, a head of lime juice. Top it off with freshly squeezed orange juice. Shake very well with an orange twist as a garnish.”

The first contest of the night was Scallop Battle. Two identically seared scallops, one a true diver scallop, the other a dredged U-10 scallop (U-10 means 10 scallops per pound. ie. these were fairly large) arrived, but we had to taste and decipher which was which. One was marked with a cocktail stick. After chewing each I decided that they tasted totally different. The one without the toothpick was much mealier and earthy, and I suspected it was the diver scallop. I was wrong – and so was most of our table but we recognized that the two did taste very different. After making our decisions we tucked into the supporting pieces of the dish: a triangle of crispy polenta, lemon thyme sauce and tomato corn relish. The wine was 2008 Quinto do Feital, “Auratus”, Minho, Portugal a blend of two grapes Trajadura and Alvarinho.

Next was the Battle of The White Fish. Pacific Halibut  vs. Atlantic Cod. This one was much easier and most of our table scored their first points of the night. The cod was much flakier than the halibut (large finger-sized flakes) and the halibut had an earthiness that the cod did not. These samples were served with Roasted Artichokes, New Potatoes, Spring Onions, Red Peppers, Tiny Beans and a Saffron cream passed separately to drape on the fish after judging if that is how you liked your fish. With this dish the accompanying wine was 2008 Domaine Cordier, Macon Allier from Burgundy, France.

Robert Chandler and Willy Warner from Steve Connolly Seafood in Boston.

Next up was the latest round of the wild-caught vs. farmed salmon contest that hostess Nancy Nichols started at TJ’s Seafood Market a year ago. The contestants here were Bay of Fundy farm-raised versus wild King Salmon from the west coast. Both had been pan-seared. Once again they tasted very different. The farmed variety was moister but not less flavorful than the wild salmon. Most of the diners in the packed house picked the wild-caught over the farm raised.  These were served with creamy orzo, fresh peas, smoked bacon and red wine butter. The wine was 2008 Momo Pinot Noir, Seresin Estate, New Zealand. (That ugly fish below is a monkfish.)

The ugly but extremely edible monkfishFinally, not a contest but an old favorite. Surf and Turf in the form of Maine Lobster and Beef Tenderloin with Red Flannel Hash, Grilled Fresh Asparagus and Tarragon Shallot Hollandaise. The wine was the just released 2007 Robert Craig Vineyards, ‘Affinity’, Napa Valley. At a tasting last week we discovered that this 96/100 point is a bruiser of a Cabernet Sauvignon so it was opened several hours earlier. It had softened considerably and was a good match with the steak. However, the lobster had to be enjoyed separately to fully appreciate its delicate taste.

Dessert broke with the fish theme (ever had a good fish dessert?) in favor of Tangerine Crème Brulée. The evening had come full circle from Orange Vodka to orange-ish dessert.