My reality television world collided with my reality once again last week, when the Commonwealth Club presented a panel of this past season's Top Chef-testants. Jen Biesty, Zoi Antonitsas and Ryan Scott gave us some juicy tidbits thanks to expert moderating by Tablehopper's Marcia Gagliardi.
What's the scoop you didn't see on the show? There was lots of love for ranch dressing on pizza, not so much for Tom and Padma. The chefs also shared their philosophies of cooking, eating out, critics and more. (Thanks, Ryan for the blogger love!) The full audiocast hasn't been posted yet, but keep checking the Commonwealth Club archive if you want the full meal.
Then, a lucky group including yours truly made its way over to Mission Beach Cafe, where Chef Ryan and his crew made us an outstanding dinner.
Campari with fresh citrus
First: Sweet Corn Soup with Avocado, Tomato Oil and Pancetta
Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila, sweet pepper syrup, cucumber, fresh lime
Second: Rocket Salad with Parmesan, Plums, Dates and White Balsamic Dressing
Skyy Infusions All-Natural Citrus, fresh citrus, organic basil, agave nectar
Third: Fusilli Pasta with Tomato Confit, Baked Ricotta and Toasted Bread Crumbs
Thyme and black peppercorn infused Jean Marc XO Vodka, fresh lemon, heirloom tomato water
Fourth: Champagne Grape Stuffed Quail with Summer Squash and Roasted Romano Beans
Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, Maple-Pinot Gastrique, bay leaf, fresh lemon
Fifth: Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse with Salted Brittle and Summer Fruit
Flor de Cana 7 Year Grand Reserve Rum, muddled bing cherries, apricot liqueur, allspice dram, Blue Bottle Brazilian chipada coffee diamantina
Everything was great, but the most memorable dishes were the fusilli (rich and hearty sauce, and I can still taste those buttery, crunchy breadcrumbs) and the dessert (the mousse was just the right consistency, and the hazelnut brittle was made with salty hazelnut butter...soooo decadent...)
At the end of the meal, Chef Ryan introduced us to his talented and crew of recruits -- explaining that when he took over the restaurant a few months ago, the existing staff all up and left.
The restaurant's atmosphere was intimate, warm and lovely, and thanks to the Commonwealth Club, I met some nice new friends. I also checked out the regular dinner menu, and I definitely plan to go back to the Beach.