Clara Maass, A Tasteful Experience 2012 at Pleasantdale Chateau

by Melody Kettle

I have nibbled and sipped my way through many tasting events, but the chefs at this year’s Tasteful Experience, the signature event benefiting Clara Maass Medical Center, provided a cornucopia of cuisine sure to impress the most seasoned food enthusiasts.  Inside the exclusive Pleasantdale Chateau, chefs, restaurateurs, mixologists, wine distributors, and very happy attendees mingled, while noshing the evening away for a good cause.

There were many outstanding tasting portions handed out over the course of the evening.  In my food-bloggerly opinion, top honors for culinary creations must go to Francesco Palmieri of The Orange Squirrel for his decadent lobster roll.   Francesco generously spooned swoon-inducing butter poached lobster, subtly infused with saffron and lauro (fresh bay leaves), atop toasted mini buns.

Mitchel Altholz and Zod ArifaiNext to Francesco, Zod Arifai, owner of the acclaimed restaurant Blu, served bay scallops with thinly sliced fresh fennel dressed in a pumpkin chai puree. The crunch of the fennel melded with the sweet, creamy, delicate texture of the scallop, and that provided a fresh, crisp palate cleanse. 

Ryan DePersio’s trifecta of restaurants, Fascino, Bar Cara and NICO were all present and serving delicious bites, like the outstanding pumpkin mezzaluna with sage and brown butter, sprinkled with cinnamon scented pumpkin seeds.  

Pig & Prince, Mike Carrino’s new restaurant in Lackawana Station, served roasted porchetta with Delicata squash puree and miso applesauce.  Pig & Price also kept the social lubricants flowing with a mini-cocktail appropriately dubbed, Cranberry Sauce’d, mixed with muddled cranberries, rye, apple cider, and ginger beer. 

House-cured Fall Salmon from UpstairsThe crew from Upstairs, including chef Trevor Perkins and mixologist, Joe Landolfi, offered house-cured Fall spiced salmon with notes of coriander, black pepper and molasses.  Placed on fork and topped with fried capers and house pickled red onion, it was the perfect bite with bite!

Michael and Ariane Duarte, of CulinAriane, toasted up home-made tortilla’s for their delicious pork tacos, while Chef Bill Zucosky, of the Strip House, plated up his porktastic roasted bacon salad. Osteria Giotto served veal meatballs with pecorino, plum tomatoes, eggplant and crostini.  At the NICO table, Adam Rose served pork meatballs with braised collard greens and eggplant caponata, along with a spiked pear cider mini-cocktail.  Amy Russo of Toast served Fall-perfect sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon whipped cream, and Fin served up their seven spice tuna with soba noodles. 

Angela Nissirios, owner of Stamna, a favorite Greek restaurant in Bloomfield was present, as well as chefs from Montclair’s Peruvian restaurant, Costanera, Tuscania Trattoria in Little Falls, and Montclair's Ethiopian restaurant, Mesob. 

To pair with this broad selection of cuisine, Sharon Sevrens, proprietor of Amanti Vino in Montclair, coordinated with distributors who provided over 100 wines to sample and enjoy.  Ketle One vodka served martini’s, and the Warwick Valley Winery sampled their wines and my personal favorite, Doc’s Draft hard cider.

To top off all the savories, desserts were offered by Gencarelli’s, Anthony’s Cheesecakes, and, of course, Miss Nicky.

I attended A Tasteful Experience with Hot From The Kettle contributor, VeggieGirl Dianne Wenz.  Stay tuned to HFTK for next week’s #MeatlessMonday column, where Dianne will examine the vegan experience.

Visit the Gallery for more photos from A Tasteful Experience!