Events — 27 July 2012
Taste of the Marcellus – A Fundraiser to Fight Fracking in New York State

Blog: Taste of the Marcellus at Brooklyn Winery

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There was a passionate urgency in the air at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Winery Thursday night as some of New York City’s finest restaurants and chefs would join forces in an effort to prevent the allowance of fracking in New York’s Marcellus region, a source of produce for many area restaurants. As mentioned in our preview piece earlier in the week, the potential harms resulting from the process of extracting natural gas from deep within the earth are numerous, leading to the potential to poison our air and water supply. But the Chefs for Marcellus came out in number in an attempt to ensure that there is no fracking way that happens.

The fight against fracking became a rallying cry at Thursday evening’s well attended and expertly run fundraiser. Guests of this extremely important event were rewarded for their selfless donations with delicious food and spirits pairings, with ingredients sourced directly from the potentially affected region, and prepared by some of New York’s highest profile restaurants, breweries, and of course our host, Brooklyn Winery. The commencement of the evening featured several orators genuinely thanking and praising the crowd for coming and for their help in spreading the word on fracking. Throughout the evening, raffle tickets were sold to guests with prizes ranging from dinners and brunches to the participating restaurants to tickets to the upcoming Pig Island event in September. (Full disclosure: we failed to win anything.)

With guests inside dolled up in dresses and work wear, it was clear that the Taste for the Marcellus was not your run of the mill gorge fest. In fact, it was a tasteful, almost highbrow reminder of the pressing issue and the potential risks it poses to any New Yorker. That said, the chefs had already begun their prep work and the grills began to fire up. We gravitated right over to Brooklyn Winery’s tasting table where we chatted with the friendly and knowledgeable house director about the offered wines. Being a hot summer day, we went for an ice cold, Finger Lakes sourced Riesling. Of the five offered, the nose of the oak aged white presented a smattering of sweet and fruity flavors, which came out in the taste as well. Brooklyn Winery produces all of their wines in house, and each was particularly delicious on this night.

After the informative wine sampling, we made our way to the very back of the venue to pay a visit to one of the city’s favorite joints, The Meatball Shop. And as always, owner and chef Daniel Holzman was front and center to chat with event goers and talk about the evening’s meatball selection- a robust “Chicken Meatball with Pesto Corn Salad.” The meatballs themselves were tender and perfectly seasoned, loaded with a topping of summery and Italian flavors from the corn salad and pesto respectively. The paired Ommegang BPA brought notes of citrus and spice to the party, making this a terrific pairing.

Much of the food samplings being served featured ingredients direct from the Marcellus region, and as such, many of the tastings featured light summer style salads and meatless fare. But we managed to sniff some out anyway. Just a few short paces away, Telepan’s “Carolina Gold and Black Forbidden Fried Rice” was mixed with oxtail and some seasonal vegetables in a total pastiche-style dish, while perennial favorite Fatty ‘Cue was serving a “Smoked Lamb Belly” atop some fermented tofu and a summer bean salad. The belly was thinly sliced, but impeccably cooked delivering that melt in your mouth, marbled taste and texture that any fan of BBQ craves.

The evening’s finest dishes were a revelation. First, Brooklyn Winery’s own Chef David Colston prepared an outstanding “Sungold Tomato Gazpacho with Smoked Trout.” The small, chilled soup married the flavors together brilliantly, with a creamy burrata adding a thicker consistency to the base. Admittedly, we may have returned one time too many for the Winery’s liking, but we’re unapologetic when it comes to tasty food. The other standout dish belonged to The Stanton Social/Beauty & Essex’s Chef Chris Santos and his friendly crew. Their “Whipped Ricotta Jewel on Toast” was, plainly, delicious. The fluffy white cheese was topped with sweet grilled peaches, with equal touches of chili, basil, and honey to compliment the crunchy handheld bruschetta. The deliberate pairings with its Brooklyn Winery stainless steel aged Riesling kept us at this table for longer than expected as we talked with the chefs about this divine morsel.

It’s also worth mentioning that the guests on hand were more engaging and vocal than usual at similar events of this caliber- an added bonus considering the passionate nature of the people and their cause. Even Cooking Channel host, the lovely Ellie Krieger was out in support- chatting with guests, posing for pictures, and sipping on wine- enjoying herself like the rest of us. As the evening neared its conclusion and seemingly every guest was draped in anti-fracking paraphernalia, we made our way toward the exit, with a new found respect for the work that goes into planning an event of this caliber. But even more so, for the fervent and fanatical supporters determined to keep fracking out of New York state because in retrospect, the delicious food being served wasn’t the only thing that opened our eyes on this night.

And for information on the Chefs of the Marcellus, click this link.

-  Jay Rubin & Jane Van Arsdale

Rundown of the Dishes

Chef Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern

Okra Stuffed with Eggplant Puree, Sherry Vinegar, Parsley and Mint – paired with – Ommegang Rare Vos

Chef Elizabeth Falkner, Krescendo

Summer Squash and Peach Salad with Ricotta and Almonds – paired with - Rosé of Merlot (North Fork of Long Island, NY)

Chef Peter Hoffman, Back Forty & Back Forty West

Romano Bean Salad with Basil, Black Olives and Salvatore Ricotta Cheese – paired with – Ommegang Witte

Chef David Colston, Brooklyn Winery 

Sungold Tomato Gazpacho with Smoked Trout, Burrata Cream, and Toasted Millet – paired with – Barrel Aged Chardonnay (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, NY)

Chef Daniel Holzman, The Meatball Shop

Chicken Meat Balls with Pesto and Corn Salad – paired with – Ommegang BPA (Belgian-style Pale Ale)

Chef Zak Pelaccio, Fatty ‘Cue & Fatty Crew

Smoked Lamb Belly with Fermented Tofu, and Summer Bean Salad – paired with – Stainless Steel Aged Chardonnay (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, NY)

Chef Bill Telepan, Telepan

Carolina Gold and Black Forbidden “Fried Rice” with Oxtail and Seasonal Vegetables – paired with – Barrel Aged Riesling (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, NY)

Chef Chris Santos, The Stanton Social

Whipped Ricotta Jewel on Toast with Grilled Peaches, Chili Basil and Honey – paired with – Stainless Steel Aged Riesling (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, NY)

Chef Heather Carlucci, PRINT. Restaurant

Butterscotch Parfait with Roasted Strawberries – paired with – Ommegang Three Philosophers

Chef Mary Cleaver, The Green Table & Cleaver Co.

Blueberry Brown Butter Cakes with Black Raspberry Compote – paired with – Ommegang Hennepin

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