Exploring the culinary world with heart, soul and hunger.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Magic, Martinis and Mario: Having a Cocktail for the Kids
The hoarde of zombies was getting closer and their numbers were increasing at an alarming rate. Where can we find an escape from our impending doom? Look, there's Mario Batali in the door of Del Posto with a fist full of salamis beconning us to come to safety. We run inside and he locks the door.
I wake with a start and immediately begin to laugh. Work has been a little stressful as of late and my subconscious is telling me that I picked out the right person for some relief.
I received an e-mail about a month ago detailing an evening of Magic, Martinis and Mario as a benefit for the Mario Batali Foundation. It was a bit exspensive, but it was for charity, so out came the Amex and I was in. The evening arrived just in the nick of time. A very nice cocktail, containing more ingredients than I can recall, was in my hand. It went far in assuaging the days ills, as did the parade of appetizers that was streaming from the kitchen. All of the little bites were quite tasty, but the polpette and the prosciutto wrapped scallops were standouts.
Since this was a benefit event and not just some foodie round up, it did have a bit of a different vibe than what I am used to. Outside of the silent auction articles, the large number of very tall, very thin women lent a "I'm not in Kansas anymore" athmosphere to the happening.
Soon Mario appeared, working the crowd with ease and enthusiasm. I only had a chance to exchange a few words with him before he flitted off to the next group of attendees. I had time for another cocktail before the evenings main event got started.
Cocktail meister extrodinarie, Tony Abou-Ganim, took the stage demonstrating how to make the drink that would accompany the first course, "The Happy Mario". Mario then took the stage and demoed how to prepare the first course, shrimp with soft polenta. His years of TV experience was evident with the ease and confidence he showed while cooking, teaching and bantering with the audience.
In between cooking demos, the evenings mc, magician Bill Harris, entertained the audience. He did promote a festive athmosphere while trying to loosen the attendees purse strings. Mario retook the stage to demo the second course, merguez sausage with orecchitte. This was my favorite dish of the evening, the spicness of the sausage was the perfect foil for the sweetness of the pureed carrots.
After a few more tricks and a lot more schtick, Mario was up again making pork chops with cardoons. This was a very good demo and a very good dish. This was the "foodiest" demo as Mario got into a discussion of heritage pork breeds and having to cook the cardoons au blanc(with flour in the water).
When these plates were cleard away, the real money making began, the live auction. I was tempted to make a bid on the 5 magnums of wine when the opening bid was $500. I would not have made the final winning bid, $6000, however! The item that generated the most buzz was a Tiger Woods golf event called Tiger Jam. Two people traded bids until it finall went for well over $20,000!
I wearily made my way back to Hoboken, laden with a very heavy gift bag. I was not believing any of the clocks I passed showing midnight. Alas, they were correct and I did not get to bed till nearly 1:00AM. The alarm went off in what seemed like minutes, but I was feeling pretty good as I got up to face another day of chaos.