It was an evening of wine and passed hors d'oeuvres at Buccan in Palm Beach as the intro to the intriguingly named 'Last Supper' event for the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival. At F&W festivals, even the smallest of events, in this case an hour-long reception before a major meal, can showcase the talents of participating chefs. The small format of passed hors d'oeuvres is a perfect canvas for chefs to take a few ingredients and make a powerful hand-held statement in the palates of diners.
Monday night's reception was no different. Chefs David Burke, Clay Conley, and Todd English took to the kitchen together to put together an array of delectable finger foods, and set the course for the evenings' later dinner.
Among the passed hors d'oeuvres were a lollipop-esque salmon pastrami with mustard oil, held in the hand via breadsticks. The meaty fish was joined by flavors of spice and pepper, with the breadstick giving just the right amount of crunch.
Sizzling brick-sized pink salt blocks, heated in coal fired ovens, held strips of wagyu beef that were placed upon them just before being brought out - the quick contact time allowed one side to arrive salty-seared while the other was perfectly tender and a deep shade of red.
Later, foie gras mousse with pear chutney came around, and dolloped the senses with a hit of sweet and acidic fruit flavor backed up with a mild umami of duck liver.
Speaking of sweet, the wine was a treat, and paired nicely with everything that was passed. Guests were treated to Loveblock, a New Zealand sauvignon blanc hailing from Marlborough's Awatere Valley. On the nose, it exudes peach skin and green apples, while coming in with flavors of melon, peach, and a finish of slight black pepper and herbs. Or, there was the 2010 Cantine Riondo Prosecco Brut, a less-sweet-than-usual wine with a mild woody nose and a crisp floral flavor and juicy finish.
Throughout the reception, it became evident that food and conversation are a match made in heaven, especially when that food comes to you in hand delivered bite-sized morsels.
The Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival finishes off Tuesday night in spectacular fashion, at 150 Worth Ave. with the Grand Tasting - a massive party starting at 6pm featuring 30+ chefs and restaurants from Miami to Palm Beach Gardens that culminates with the 4th Annual Grand Chef Throwdown. Tickets appear to be still available.
If you missed the reception, head up to Buccan to sample to exemplary cuisine of Clay Conley. It is located at 350 South County Road in Palm Beach.