Nothing makes you feel more like an uppity New Yorker than uttering the words, "oh, I can't tonight, I have a benefit to go to." That said, if the benefit in question is hosted by Tom Colicchio and offers tastings of some of New York's finest restaurants, I really don't care how the hell I sound.
Pre-benefit, Lindsay and I stopped by the new Polar Lounge in the Marcel at Gramercy Hotel for a little "Media Mixer"; hosted by nightlife mavens Kelly Brady and Matt Levine of Brandsway Creative, Polar Lounge is a great, cool space (no pun intended I swear) with inventive drinks. I told the bartender to make me something tart with vodka, and he made some delicious cherry, vodka, lemon concoction that tasted like fruit punch for grown ups. Loved it. We didn't stay long, because well, "oh, we can't tonight, we have a benefit to go to…"
Tom Colicchio's annual Toast to the Children benefit raises vital funds for the children of Bellevue Hospital, and was held at the gorgeous Gotham Hall on 36th and Broadway. Amongst the throngs of cocktail dresses, silent auctions, and Uma Thurman (?), there was food. And plenty of it. I think Lindsay and I did about three laps around the hall, and came to the conclusion that lamb is the new beef. Lamb was everywhere in all forms, shapes and sizes. My favorite of this breed was the lamb ragu sliders with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano on top from L'Artusi and Boqueria's lamb albondigas (meatballs). Another HUGE hit of the night came from the other white meat – Porchetta's pork ragu on a buttered, crusty toast point was absolutely heavenly. We went back for seconds and they were all GONE. We were very saddened by this news and we told chef Sara Jenkins so – her response? "You'll just have to come to the restaurant." Smart woman.
Some more of my favorites of the night included the scallop chowder with Pernod and thyme from Pearl Oyster Bar, pastrami sliders on pretzel rolls from chef Ken Callaghan at Blue Smoke, cashew tarts with cardamom ice cream from chef Floyd Cardoz at Tabla (continued obsession with Danny Meyer not faltering), chocolate 'Sacher Torte' with yuzu apricot jam and raspberries from chef Ryan Butler at Double Crown, and of course, vanilla-rose panna cotta with pistachio puree and poached rhubarb from chef Stephen Collucci at Colicchio & Sons. See below for some scrumptious bites from this wonderful event.