Top Chef contestant Lindsay Autry and Roy Villacrusis, master of Asian cuisine, came together Sunday and Monday (May 20 and 21) to create a unique and delicious pop-up dinner at the Cook's Studio in Palm Beach Gardens.
Autry (left) and Villacrusis (right) prepare the Monday Leftovers pop-up dinner
The five-course menu featured ingredients that were "80-percent local," said Autry, and was the same for both nights, even though Monday night was called "Leftovers."
Guests were greeted at the door with a glass of sparkling lychee mead by Seth Thomas of In the Mead Time. Hors d'oeuvres included crab tabbouleh and fried balls of homemade goat cheese and local greens.
The open kitchen allowed for interaction between the chefs and guests as each course was eagerly anticipated. First up was a Florida cobia done two ways. Autry's was a ceviche with a bright citrus bite, while Villacrusis' was decidedly Asian with a rich soy sauce and mango. The second course was a locally sourced poached egg along with "melting" leeks, frisee and house charcuterie, which was made of pork belly. The creaminess of the egg yolk was a perfect "sauce" for the dish, but really, they had me at pork belly.
These dishes were paired with Summerer Gruner Veltliner, a crisp and acidic white wine, poured by local wine purveyor Matthew House, who plans on opening a shop in Northwood Village very soon.
Next up were a number of dishes served family style, including something many had never tried before (myself included)—roasted bone marrow and braised cheek. The bones came out on a nice platter, topped with beets and cheek. I chose a smaller one. Baby steps.
The braised cheek was like the most tender pot roast, it just melted in your mouth. And speaking of melting...on to the marrow. Autry told us to just think of it as "fancy butter," and eat it on the provided pieces of bread. It was actually really good. I don't think I would ever order it, but if it was offered at a dinner, I would eat it again. Along with the marrow there was locally caught flounder filets, fried and served with a spicy dipping sauce; braised greens from Swank Farms tossed with crispy chicken skin (the best part!); Seminole fried rice from the only rice farm in Florida; and foraged vegetables with uni butter. Yes, uni, as in sea urchin roe. These dishes were paired with a lovely La Closerie des Lys Pinot Noir.
Dessert was a delightful Meyer lemon and poppy cake topped with lemon curd and hibiscus meringue, and the salted fudge on the side was divine.
The perfectly sized dessert was paired with a bubbly blend of cava and hibiscus simple syrup. One of my tablemates suggested calling it a Cavabiscus, and we all agreed that was perfect.
Autry and Villacrusis are hoping to do more pop-up dinners like this during the summer, so keep your eyes open for the announcement. You do not want to miss out on the the opportunity to sample the fruits (and veggies) of their labors.