Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sweet and Savory: The Lucky Dog Dinner

Every few months, pastry chef Rebecca Masson corrals some of the finest and most buzz-worthy chefs in Houston for a multi-course meal benefitting Lucky Dog Rescue. I finally made it to one of these storied dinners this past Sunday, and… Well, wow.

Sunday’s event featured seven courses with seven different chefs—outstanding, outrageous, outspoken chefs who were each given one course to showcase their culinary wares. The resulting dinner was a series of food fireworks that meshed perfectly with the wonderful weather and amiable atmosphere to create what’s certainly one of my favorite meals in recent memory. Oh la la!

And it went a little something like this. Guests checked into the event with a delicious pork snuggie from the Eatsie Boys, one of the newest and most popular vendors in Houston’s burgeoning food truck biz. The snuggie paired beautifully with its partner, a lovely vodka-ginger-hibiscus punch. Truly sweet and savory. (Marcy Jimenez of the Houston Wine Merchant did the pairings.)

Onward! The first seated course was a gorgeous display of clam varietals on a bed of leeks and rice from Ryan Pera. The dish was also topped with the very first salumi to come out of Pera’s new Revival Market... Pig parts—yum! Next came a delicious rendition of smoked pork sopes with chipotle-tomato jam and pickled red onions from Cyclone Anaya’s Jason Gould. The dish was texturally complete with its accompanying cotija-avocado puree, which I would now like to live in.

And then came Seth Siegel-Gardner’s midpoint masterpiece, the third seated course and my favorite dish of the night: toasted lavender meringues paired with Barely Buzzed Cheddar from the Houston Dairymaids and topped with nasturtium and chicory. But get this: also floating around the plate were chunks of apples that had been baked in a coffee crust. So that’s bitter-tartness with a sweet-creaminess; in short, a perfect plate.

Three desserts followed: Uchi’s Philip Speer created a savory-sweet pretzel ice cream with beer foam, mustard sauce, crumbled peanuts, and a spear of chocolate ganache. Rebecca Masson’s pistachio macaron filled with rhubarb-raspberry ice cream was a standout, accidentally reminiscent of a burger and fries, and I loved the sparkling red wine that came alongside it. And Chris Leung from Bootsie’s capped the evening with a tremendously rich chocolate ganache with lemon and caramel accents, plus a more savory caraway ice cream.

Not lost in the fabulous food was the fact that the dinner was a charity event, complete with a dynamite silent auction (Sadly, I lost out on the preview dinner at Underbelly, making me bittersweet and savory), plus amazing gift bags for every guest. In total, the evening raised $7300 for Lucky Dog Rescue. Happy tails, indeed.

The next Lucky Dog Dinner happens in October. I'll be there, and I hope you will, too.