A James Beard House (Dinner) Away from Home with Cheese of the Queen

CALLING ALL FRIENDS & FAMILY — The foundation set aside some tickets at our member rate of $160 each (reg. $210) — the procedure is to call 212-627-2308 to reserve as “friends of chef/CODE WORD FENNEL Mon-Fri, 10a-5p EDT.

Apropo, @kasekaiserina! Delectable Instagram, reposted from @cheesegrillenyc featuring Tia’s The Art Of The Cheese Plate.

“Michael is a purist. He’s classical at the same time that he is creative,” Mark explains. “It’s the same way I am with my wines.”

Mr. Tobin is certainly passionate about what he does, and we can relate. The approach is old school, non interventionist, like Chef’s.  Instead of tweaking and tweaking, it’s about what you can take away, not add to make food, and in Mark’s case, wine, perfect.

“I have incredible respect for Michael,” he continues. “His authenticity, passion and commitment makes mediocrity completely unacceptable.  He is a freak about detail and executing properly. I’m just thrilled to collaborate with him and the Cheese Queen.”

Indeed New York City-based writer, cook, and cheese specialist Tia Keenan, as her Instagram @kasekaiserina indicates, is rennet royalty and will effectively, indulgently tie this collaborative trifecta together on Friday, June 2, as we kick off Michael’s third dinner at the James Beard House. A Team chef de cuisine Tim Piazza, GM Nicole Kelly, and TGHG executive chef Bradley Herron will preside to support our featured co-hosts, part of our ongoing 10 year celebration of all things MGFD.  We’ll share the menu and link to tickets first here today, and later chat with Tia.  We want to dig into the what really has us revved up: her cheese selection.

Over the years, cheese has played a subtle yet an important role at MGFD, less even about the cheese itself but the way it is featured that crystalizes exactly what Michael’s approach is all about.  Many of you may recall the more deliberate Cheese of the Week (some blogged selections above circa 2011), where one cheese each week was highlighted with one accompaniment. No elaborate cheese plate, organized by firmness, milk, type and aging.  Just a simple presentation on a board, in its element, to let hand-crafted product shine.  It was the only item on the dinner menu encased by a bubble, special and notable in its lack of artifice and celebrated as such. Servers and cooks were able to get to know it, really understand it. And then cheese class would begin all over again the next week.  To start the dinner we are paying tribute to this legacy with Tia owning passed hors d’oeuvres, five beautiful cheeses presented as they’re meant to, almost unadorned except for one accompaniment each and the final ingredient: Mattebella Vineyards Rosé 2016:

Pipe Dreams Farm Dairy Buche Cheese with Beet Tartare
Lazy Lady Farm Sweet Emotions Cheese with Cucumber–Celery Marmalade
Jasper Hill Farm Calderwood Cheese with Carrot Mostarda
Woodcock Farm Humble Pie Cheese with Pickled Asparagus
Boucher Family Farm Green Mountain Blue Cheese with Chocolate–Onion Chutney

We’ll look forward to a peek into the cheesemakers, what drives them and the special stories behind each cheese from Tia.  The menu follows.  See you in NYC on June 2!

FIRST – Market Salad with Anson Mills Farro Verde and Nettle Meadow Farm Sappy Ewe Cheese | Mattebella Vineyards Riesling 2014

SECOND – Grilled Skuna Bay Salmon with Peas, Spring Onions, Crispy Potato, Meyer Lemon, and Crème Fraîche | Mattebella Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay 2013

THIRD – Ricotta Cavatelli with Wild Mushrooms, Taleggio Fondue, and Parmigiano–Reggiano | Mattebella Famiglia Red Wine NV

FOURTH – Slow-Roasted Niman Ranch Beef Short Rib with Roasted Peppers, Marcona Almonds, and Herb Aïoli |Mattebella Vineyards Old World Blend 2013 (Public Debut)

DESSERT – Milk Chocolate Cremoso Cheese with Hazelnut Praline, Toasted Sourdough, Sea Salt, and Olive Oil | Mattebella Vineyards Noble Late Harvest Chardonnay 2013

Rancho Patel Pizzeria | Indian Night Pops at Harry’s with Chef Niven Patel


Finally, a delicious Indian dinner is coming to Harry’s Pizzeria.  We are excited to announce that chef de cuisine Niven Patel of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is taking over Michael’s neighborhood American pizzeria in the Design District on Tuesday, December 15 at 7pm for Rancho Patel Pizzeria.  TICKETS ARE NOW LIVE HERE!

Niven manning his post at Michael's Genuine.

Niven manning his post at Michael’s Genuine.

Responsible for the kitchen at Michael’s flagship restaurant going on 3 years, Niven is a genuine chef at heart.  His approach to Rancho Patel Pizzeria is to share his uniquely fresh take on authentic Indian cuisine from his home in Homestead and family traditions. The menu will be released closer to the event.  Trust that each dish will pack that special pop with exotic spices and preparations!  A tour through his Instagram only scratches the surface, but will certainly whet your palate, like this homemade roti factory with wife Shivani that happened last night.  As the chef says… it never gets old.

Welcome cocktail, passed snacks, four courses including dessert, beverage pairings and tax and gratuity, and that special brand of Niven hospitality are included for $110.  What a pre-holiday treat!!!

A pursuit for knowledge was the stimulus and continues to be the driving force behind Chef Niven’s career. Patel’s first glimpse into the restaurant world was during culinary school, and he was hooked. “I was cooking and working in restaurants the whole time during college”. But his passion for cooking came much earlier on, he says, “I have been cooking all my life. I used to make my menus as a child and let my family order, and then I went into the kitchen to cook whatever they wanted.”

From Miami to Cayman and back again, now deepening his connection with the land and its bounty at Rancho Patel and in Homestead at large foraging its small farms, it’s time to celebrate what we crave most about Niven’s kitchen.  His passion and curiosity is infectious, with the whole restaurant lighting up when his own harvest turns up on the menu.  For young cooks dreaming of one day becoming a chef, Patel offers some words of wisdom, cultivated over his many years of due diligence, “Be inquisitive. Every time there is something you don’t know, research it, look it up”. Clearly the success of the highly disciplined Niven proves that the chef is guided by his own advice.

[UPDATE] What’s in the Walk-in: Selles-sur-Cher & 400 Pounds of Fish

New cheese of the week hitting the menu tonight.

Here’s how many of these items arrived to the table last week! We’ve got golden heirloom tomato chutney with the Selles-sur-Cher, a fregola, orange, and radish salad with the African Pompano, and housemade organic ricotta with meyer lemon jam. Heard that food porn Monday!

Selles-sur-Cher from fromagier P. Jacquin & Fils Depuis 1947  in France’s Loire Valley has an ash-covered rind that develops blotches of gray and blue molds as it ages.  The cheese is sweet, nutty, and peppery with mildly tangy acidity. The texture varies depending on ripeness, but it is typically dense and chewy. Bradley’s got it coming on as the cheese of the week  tonight. A first for us!

Like many goat cheeses from the Loire Valley, the outside of Selle-sur-Cher is coated in edible ash. The ash is flavorless but adds a stunning visual contrast against the stark white goat cheese.

So much fish came in yesterday that Bradley had to get cutting before he could store it all.

Line cook Trevor shows off the biggest pompano I've ever seen. Trevor is tall, too!

Our walk-in fish drawer couldn’t accommodate all 400 pounds of whole fish!  Three sources all came in with a variety of beauties, the most stunning being African Pompano from George Figueroa at Trigger Seafood.

“It’s a pelagic fish that migrates southern waters of the gulf stream in winter,” he explained via text yesterday.  “It falls into the jack and pompano family. Very cool looking. Mostly seen during this time of year.”

Pelagic fish live in open oceans rather than shallow, inland waters.  We also received cobia, myriad snappers, and yellow-dappled golden tilefish.

For more photos of what the kitchen was working on yesterday, see our set on Flickr. TBD on what accompaniment Bradley’s got up his sleeve for the cheese of the week and how the fish will become dinner…  We’ll tweet what we find out later this afternoon!

Cheese of the Week: Fiscalini Farmstead Bandage Wrapped Cheddar

Sitting pretty, one of the best you can find of America's favorite cheese, cheddar.

On Sunday, I had the Cooking Channel on in the background as I did some computer work when I saw from the corner of my eye the largest sheep I had ever seen.  And it was speaking English!

Of course this was no sheep, but rather one Jason Sobocinski, a cheesemonger and chef, dressed as a sheep as he toured Old Chatham Sheepherding Company (NY,) for his new show, The Big Cheese. Continue reading

Cheese of the Week: Nocetto di Capra

Nocetto di Capra (cheese of the week/9)

Sous chef Matt Hinckley is focused on cheese, as he should be.  Matt curates our cheese of the week program, which Michael deliberately designed to get to know one cheese at a time.  Really well.  It’s about the process, from its selection and proper storage to plating with the right accompaniments and beverage pairing. It all adds up to a special weekly service in which the customer should be able to taste the care and attention put into it.  This week’s selection is delightful.
Continue reading