Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving dinner with the US Potato Board

I had my very first taste of an authentic American tradition last Nov. 25, 2009 at M Café when I was invited to join the United States Potato Board's Thanksgiving Dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner table setting at M CafeThe dinner menu was especially prepared by Chef Sau Del Rosario, M Café's food consultant and Chelsea Market Café's chef. It was like something out of the TV show Iron Chef, with US frozen potatoes as the theme ingredient. I was very excited, I always watch Iron Chef and here the great Chef Sau himself was going incorporate US frozen potatoes into every single dish of our multi-course dinner.

USDA Agricultural Attaché David Wolfe and Potato Dill Sourdough BreadUSDA Agricultural Attaché David Wolfe (pictured above left) gave a little talk about US Frozen Potatoes just before dinner. He said that the Philippines is the second largest market for US Frozen Potatoes in Southeast Asia. Quite impressive since we're such a small country don't you think? Anyways, the first course, Potato Dill Sourdough Bread (pictured above right) was served shortly after. I loved its freshly baked goodness. Amazingly, it was made with US Frozen Hash Browns.

Crispy Seabass, Parsley Brandade, Root Vegetable Floss, Rosemary Orange Beurre Blanc and Seared Foie Gras US Scallop Potato Soup at M CafeNext up were Crispy Seabass with Parsley Brandade, Root Vegetable Floss, Rosemary Orange Beurre Blanc (pictured above left) and Seared Foie Gras US Scallop Potato Soup (pictured above right). It was the first time I ever had a sizable piece of seabass for an appetizer. It was very tender and juicy. The parsley brandade was made with US Frozen Mashed Potatoes. Meanwhile, the soup had this amazingly rich and creamy texture which makes it hard to believe that US Frozen Hash Browns were used to create it. The foie gras was a surprise -- I was expecting something buttery and sweet but Chef Sau's foie gras was savory in flavor and lightly crisped. It complemented the soup perfectly.

Turkey Carving Station and Porcini and Truffle Gnocchi at M CafeOf course, what's a thanksgiving dinner without the traditional turkey? A turkey carving station (pictured above left) was set up. I got a couple of slices and topped them with cranberry sauce. Then came the best dish of the night -- Porcini and Truffle Gnocchi (pictured above right). I was already quite full at this point but wow, I was in heaven as soon as I had a gnocchi. The gnocchi is so chewy it rolls in your mouth. I also felt as if I tasted truffle for the first time. The mushrooms were drenched with truffle oil. I've had a lot of truffle dishes in the past and yet never really tasted truffle. It was incredible.

Baked Pork Tenderloin Potato Spinach Flan, Mustard Sauce and Potato Torte with White Chocolate at M Cafe
When the main dish of Baked Pork Tenderloin Potato Spinach Flan with Mustard Sauce (pictured above left) was finally unveiled, I was already so full I could manage only a few bites. Anyways, I didn't think the potato spinach flan was successful because what we got was a US Frozen Potato with mustard sauce and spinach salad on the side. It was rather disjointed and not really one of my favorite dishes. Then came one of the most exciting parts -- dessert! How do you incorporate US Frozen Potatoes into dessert? Chef Sau came up with a Potato Torte and a circular piece of hash brown partially coated in white chocolate. The Potato Torte tasted like Sansrival, except that instead of the usual regular buttercream this one mixes in US Frozen Mashed Potatoes. The resulting layers of sweet potato-buttercream in between crisp meringue is quite indescribable. I don't like Sansrival but this was something else.

And I thought US Frozen Potatoes were only used for fries...

Photo op with Chef Sau Del RosarioAfter dinner, I had a chance to meet and have a little chat with Chef Sau. He admitted to being hesitant about taking the US Frozen Potato challenge, but he did an amazing job all the same. I miss his Porcini and Truffle Gnocchi already! :)

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