Savor Borgata brought some of the finest chefs in the world to Atlantic City for a fine-food and drink frenzy last Saturday evening, Nov. 12.
Major corporations throughout the world have what is known as a “Key Person Policy.” Simply put, this dictates that head honchos — whoever they might be — not travel together, in case of catastrophic accident.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa defied that logic again Saturday, Nov. 13 with its second annual “Savor Borgata” dining extravaganza.
Nine of the world’s finest chefs, including a former White House executive chef, convened to present a evening of astonishing gastonomic art.
Held in that facility’s Event Center — the room reconfigured from rock concert use to an open, airy space filled with bright lights and white heat — allowed a glamorous, dramatic stage for those culinary stars to present their creations.
Working with the theme “A Taste of France, Spain and Italy,” each country was represented by several of Borgata’s restaurants. We began our meal, as all great sups should begin, with oysters. Not ordinary oysters, mind you, but rare, round Belons from the rocky shores of Brittany, in north-westernmost France.
These massive creatures, double the size of domestic products, were topped by rough shaved strips of fresh horseradish. Presented by chef Romeo DiBona of Old Homestead steakhouse, they were finished by a dousing of champagne migonette.
Speaking with the Philly-born chef a few hours prior, he hinted at an insider tip. The classic vinegar-shallot dressing had been augmented with a tiny hint of amber Vermont maple syrup. Together, the combination of meaty, steely oysters plus heat, sour and sweet opened our palates, preparing for the delights ahead. From his station we also sampled a fine filet mignon with carmelized shallots and arugula on grilled toast.
Moving to SeaBlue’s Michael Mina, we were treated to a pair of seafood items. The first, tuna crudo with fennel and black olive “panzanella” was deceptively simple, allowing the ahi’s natural fattiness top billing. Mina’s second offering, piccolo fritto misto, arrived in a delicate basket. Three tiny, perfectly fried shrimp — no easy task with items this small — combined with the unique citrus flavors of Meyer lemon.
Our dining strategy next brought us to Geoffrey Zakarian’s realm. Zakarian, the New York-based food guru of Borgata’s sister property, The Water Club, served up what we consider to be the most challenging, thoughtful items on this night.
As with DiBona, we had an opportunity to converse with Zakarian prior, and queried about one of these creations — a brandade beignet with spicy rouille and roasted lemon. Brandade, characterized by the chef as “a hearty, peasant preparation” is composed of rehydrated salt cod (baccala) blended with potatoes passed through a ricer to create a smooth texture. Zakarian’s out-of-the-box thinking was to create a beignet, New Orleans’ favorite fried breakfast treat, in savory form from that fish and veg mixture. This resulted in a crisp fritter-like exterior, hot and soft within.
His other plating, rillettes of foie gras with truffled fig marmalade and dragees hydromel was nothing short of genius. The foie, slowly cooked in oil, was rich and luxurious enough to stand alone. Add to that the seasonal sweetness of chocolatey figs, and this became a transcendent experience that we returned to sample multiple times.
Representing Spain, Chef Michael Chiarlanza of Bobby Flay steak house served a surprising stuffed piquillo pepper. The crimson, mildly smoky chile, stuffed with tuna tartare, was finished by one of the night’s finest sauces, a saffron-infused yellow pepper blend.
Michael Schulson of Izakaya’s “new style” seafood paella offered octopus, chiles, chorizo and a saffron-miso vinaigrette. What really got our attention, however, was the rice. Puffy and light, it reminded us of a haute-cuisine take on Rice Krispies, novel and whimsical.
The evening’s longest lines, throughout the event, belonged to Austrian-born, California-based Wolfgang Puck. Snaking almost halfway across the spacious room, we wondered why? Obtaining visual range, things became clearer. Puck’s minions were busily engaged preparing steamy orders of fresh ricotta gnocchi, tossing and saucing those creamy discs.
Simulatenously, cooks grilled huge hunks of Bistecca Fiorentina, the glorious, Tuscan-style porterhouse. Basting with natural “brushes” of olive oil soaked rosemary, the foresty aroma wafted and intoxicated. Trust us, a la minute preparation like this takes great big culinary cojones. Puck, sweat on his brow, personally carving and portioning that precious, mid-rare beef, adding a pinch of salt before sending. How cool is that?
Rounding out our evening — no big deal, just former White House Executive Pastry Chef Thaddeus DuBois. His service delivered a bit of everything; hot espresso-chocolate gelato from Italy, a Mantecados biscuit with lemon creme from Spain, and authentically French crepe Suzettes. The best part for us: watching this creme-de-la-creme dessert master burn his fingers banging out massive quantities of espresso with press-style coffeemakers. And not stop moving for a second.
"That serving, the most complex execution of any on this night, was a combination of grilled American Kobe beef, Armenian lamb kabobs and ricotta gnocchi with shrimp. "
Foodies anticipate yearly the exceptional dining event at Borgata known as Savor Borgata — An Evening with Borgata’s Culinary Masters. This year marks the fifth anniversary of this acclaimed culinary conclave of the casino’s top chefs.
The Celebrate Summer Luncheon at the Shore at Borgata’s Wolfgang Puck’s American Grille today (Friday, Aug. 3) was planned as a fundraising effort for the Shane Victorino Foundation. However, as an emotional Melissa Victorino, Shane Victorino’s wife, took the podium, it became her opportunity to say goodbye to all the friends she had made after, “Eight seasons in Philadelphia.”
There are some events in life mandatory in attendance and others that remain optional. Then there are those rarest moments, to paraphrase Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone in The Godfather, when you are made an offer you simply cannot refuse.
As the final remaining, original restaurant property at the Borgata, Old Homestead Steak House maintains a special status among peers.
Other details in the $50 million room redesign project include oversized, glass-enclosed showers; larger counter space in the guestroom bathrooms; a "spa-like atmosphere," and more high-tech gadgetry.
Plus Savor Borgata 2012, the Album of the Week (Billy Joel with a Philly twist) and DrewToonz on Furthur.
This is the first year the Borgata is blending an "outside" chef into the mix. It is also the first-year that the Borgata will preface the Nov. 12 celebration with a Savor Borgata Restaurant Week, which will run from Sunday, Nov. 6 to Friday, Nov. 11.
In a casino complex whose appellation derives from the Italian word for “village,” Fornelletto restaurant now plays the indispensable role of the house’s standard-bearer for that revered cuisine. Dining over Labor Day weekend, we took note of many small, but significant changes made since conversion from its original occupant, Chef Lucas Palladino’s Specchio/Ombra.
The stresses of the season — and those of 2009 require no elaboration from this corner — don’t necessarily need to include food preparation for friends, family and holiday events.
With that thought in mind, we offer the following suggestions of fine local purveyors who specialize in festive food designed to pamper your palate without making a dent in your pocketbook or wallet.
Just in case anyone is still wondering about Atlantic City's current status in the world of fine dining, those concerns should permanently be put to rest by Saturday, Nov. 8. On that auspicious eveni...
The Phillies had a winning record in April. The Sixers shocked the NBA community by hanging tough with the Detroit Pistons. The Flyers rode their hot goalie into the second round of the playoffs and ...
For a guy who dropped out of high school at 17, Bobby Flay’s career hasn’t turned out too shabby. The New York City native’s culinary identity initially took shape at Joe Allen’s famed restaurant in the theater district, where his father was also a partner. A young cook who impressed Allen so much that the owner offered to pay his tuition at New York’s French Culinary Institute, Flay went on to earn their first Outstanding Graduate award in 1993. In two decades since, the chef has become a Food Network fixture, cookbook author and owner of more than 10 restaurants. Atlantic City’s outpost of this empire, at the Borgata, holds the unique distinction of being his only steak house. The room is warm with...
Congrats to the McCauley Clan
Spring Dining Dish ’13
Strolling The DO AC Wine Promenade
Taste of Revel Revisited
Jose Garces Truckin’ at Revel
Tropicana Seafood Week Coming Soon