Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a special dinner at Fearing’s featuring Barbuto chef Jonathan Waxman. This evening began with a cocktail hour featuring a few choice appetizers and a special cocktail created by Jason Kosmas. Inside each glass was a fork-tongued orange peel and a faceted ice ball by Mate Hartai. Kosmas’ cocktails are always inspired, but this time the ice gem is what caught my attention. I had no idea how lucky I’d be to sit at their same table and hear Hartai talk about the science of his ice. He starts with triple-filtered water. Then he’s created a special contraption that assures it freezes from the bottom up rather than the way water normally freezes. The ice blocks that result are taken down to chunks with a chainsaw, then chiseled into unique snowflakes. It’s crazy-interesting stuff that just goes to show there are all types of nerds out there. Heh.
Let’s talk about dinner, shall we? Anytime I sit down to like five wine glasses scattered around a place setting, I know we’re in for something. But the food was obviously the star of the show at this dinner. We began with a lobster pizza, which was an introduction to the richness that was to follow.
Next came dungeness crab pasta with uni, jalapenos and fresh peppermint. This dish was simple but elegant with just enough spice from the peppers and a subtle sweetness of crab.
Next up was a raw vegetable salad featuring asparagus, carrots and watermelon radish with Parmesan. The dish was a welcome break from the richness with enough black pepper to sneeze a rock. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but there it is.
Back to the richness, and I apologize for the darkness. Next up, as I was swiftly running out of stomach space, was grilled Lockhart quail with foie gras and a raw kale salad.
After all this, there’s a New York steak? Yeah, that’s right. This one arrived alongside wilted Swiss chard and crispy potatoes. I wished I had a second stomach. I still do.
I do want to mention how the lovely staff at Fearing’s saved my ass. My Food Bastard is not eating red meat (no exceptions) and instead of the steak, they brought out this inspired, Indian-spiced vegetarian dish. Honestly, I could have made a meal out of the rice, which was rich with cardamom and delicate and perfect. I was so impressed by the way they made magic happen in a pinch. If they’re reading this, THANK YOU!
Dessert was a welcome sight, as there’s always room for it. This was blood orange panna cotta with “ugly cookies.” The ugly cookies tasted like biscotti and looked like meringues. But the panna cotta really, really stood out for me. Sweet, tart and lovely, it was an incredible way to end a meal prepared by a legendary chef.
NOTE: Thanks again to Fearing’s for inviting me to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And thanks to chef Dean Fearing and chef Jonathan Waxman for hosting us. This meal was comped.
Fearing’s | Inside the Ritz-Carlton at 2121 McKinney Avenue | fearingsrestaurant.com