Last Wednesday, I was invited to my first Emerging Chefs event, Aphrodisiacs at the Velvet Tango Room. VTR provided the perfect setting for an evening of culinary seduction. The event, which was sold out, was held in the private backroom behind the door with the Russian crest. On my many visits to VTR, I always wondered what was behind that door. Guests were only allowed in after saying the secret pass code which was emailed hours prior to the evening. The room was dimly lit and I found a spot on a love seat by the fire. Overall, the setting alone was very intimate.
Chef Matthew Mytro of Stove Monkeys prepared a wonderful four course tasting inspired by foods considered to be aphrodisiacs. Each was paired with a cordial sized VTR cocktail. Our first course to set the mood was East Coast Oysters with tarragon, a lemon champagne granita, and chocolate bubbles. The aphrodisiacs featured in this course, oysters, champagne, and chocolate are quite common and well known. The flavors blended well and it was a perfect teaser course for my pallet. It was paired perfectly with the Aviation cocktail.
Our next course was ginseng poached duck breast served on a bed of smoked corn polenta with asparagus and drizzled with harisse buerre monte. The duck melted in my mouth and the drizzle added a little spice which is great especially considering the theme of the evening. I loved the polenta since it was very flavorful and the corn was a great addition. Also, anything infused with truffles appeals to me. I never knew asparagus was considered an aphrodisiac either. We were served VTR's Manhattan which is the only part I didn't enjoy only because I do not like bourbon. If I didn't enjoy a Manhattan at VTR, I will probably not enjoy one anywhere. However, the cherry garnishing the Manhattan was very tasty.
The third course, and my favorite, was Chef Mytro's "Poke a Dot" Scallops with gold and red beets, basil sauce, and caviar. Scallops are one of my overall favorite dishes. Chef Mytro cut the center and filled one with a gold beet puree and the other with red beet. They were served on beets and drizzled with the basil sauce with a small garnish of caviar. Again, much to my pleasant surprise, basil is an aphrodisiac. In my personal opinion, this whole course seduced me. The flavors blended so well together, my mouth is still watering as I write this. this course again, was perfectly paired with one of my favorite VTR cocktails, "The Lady in White". However, there was nothing innocent to be said for this course or the cocktail. I am lusting more!
Our dessert course featured three different mini cupcakes, one banana, one almond-vanilla, and the third, chocolate and coffee. Each flavor combination was inspired by an aphrodisiac flavor. Again, I learned banana and almond to be aphrodisiacs. Cupcakes to me are pure bliss and a very guilty pleasure. We had a choice for our final cocktail, the sweet "Lady in Red" or the bitter "Negroni". I chose the sweet "Lady in Red" and it was the perfect finish to my culinary seduction. However, like any good lover, I left VTR wanting more. I am planning on attending future events put on by the Emerging Chef and Chef Matthew Mytro.
Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your desire hunger.