Eye Candy: Beets and Berries

Matthew Lighnter's beets, berries, and meringue at the James Beard House Matthew Lightner, chef of Castagna in Portland, Oregon, and one of Food & Wine's 2010 Best New Chefs, served this unique and texturally playful dessert at his recent Beard House dinner. It was composed of dehydrated beets, Oregon berries, salted meringue, and tarragon. See more photos of his menu here.

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Eye Candy: World Champion Ribs

award-winning ribs in the James Beard House kitchen At a mid-September Beard House event, lucky diners were treated to a slow-and-low feast prepared by IQUE BBQ, an award-winning team of chefs that has claimed victories throughout the competitive barbecue circuit. Their menu included these pecan-smoked ribs—a rack that helped them win the "Grand Champion" title at the 2009 Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Feast your eyes on more photos here.

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On the Menu: West Coast Italian

Christian Caiazzo will cook at the James Beard House It’s fitting that Osteria Stellina, located in Point Reyes, California, is named, in part, for the Italian word meaning “tiny star,” as local ingredients truly shine in chef Christian Caiazzo’s cuisine. Thanks to the chef's talents, the venue has become a popular Marin County destination, as well as a favorite of food critic Michael Bauer. Luckily for us, Caiazzo is bringing a taste of NoCal to the Beard House on September 29. Seats are still available, so book yours here. In the meantime, have a drool over the menu below (we can't wait for those grilled cheese and goat sandwiches!): Hors d’Oeuvre Grilled Point Reyes Farmstead Tomme Cheese Sandwiches with Brick Maiden Sourdough and Braised Goat Shoulder Hog Island Clams with

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Eat this Word: Puntarelle

puntarelleWHAT? Wild greens. Until very recently, this unusual ancient Roman vegetable, a relative of chicory, was available only in Italy. And even there it was known only in select geographic pockets. But now that puntarelle is being grown in the United States, chefs are rapidly incorporating it into their Mediterranean-inspired menus, noted New York Times reporter Paula Disbrowe. The unwieldy puntarelle grows in bunches that look like a cross between celery and dandelion greens. Along the long fleshy central core of each stem grow rows of short, pointy, triangular leaves. The whole thing, stem, core, leaves, and all, is eaten raw, usually in salads. Puntarelle has a delicate, peppery flavor, similar to arugula but greener tasting, and a refreshing crispness. In Rome, it is traditionally served with an anchovy sauce. WHERE? Christian Caiazzo's Beard House

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On the Menu: Artisanal Wine Celebration

Gabe and Katherine Thompson Husband-and-wife team Gabe and Katherine Thompson, along with business partner Joe Campanale, have hit three home runs with their unassuming trattorias and wine bars in the West Village: dell’ anima, L’Artusi, and Anfora. On Monday we'll be treated to the team's homey Italian fare, as well as some stellar wines from under-the-radar producers. See what's on the menu below (and click here to snag your seat): Hors d’Oeuvre Escolar Crudo with Avocado and Chilies Roasted Mushroom Bruschetta with Robiolina Cheese Chicken

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Eye Candy: Chicken and Waffles

chicken and waffles At their late-August Beard House dinner, Charlie and Kathleen Schaffer of Schaffer’s Genuine Foods presented a menu entirely crafted from sustainable and eco-friendly ingredients. Guests were especially fond of the chicken and waffles with pink-eyed pea succotash and fennel pollen honey. You can view more images here.

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Eat this Word: Semifreddo

semifreddoWHAT? A half-frozen idea. Italian for "half-cold," semifreddo is an Italian dessert made by freezing mousseline-like custards, which are often layered with ingredients like ground amaretti, nuts, or chocolate. Unlike ice cream, semifreddo is not churned. To make it edible while frozen, air is incorporated into the custard base, usually in the form of meringue or whipped cream. The air also has the effect of making the semifreddo seem less cold than it actually is, which accounts for its name. WHERE? Oliver Wolf, Shaun Crymble, and Pastry Chef Marcos Gonzalez's Beard House dinner WHEN? September 21, 2010 HOW? Warm Spiced Chocolate Cake with Local Beer Sabayon and Almond Semifreddo

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Eye Candy: English Pea and Ricotta Ravioli with Langoustine and Speck

Ravioli Husband-and-wife team Scott and Heather Fratangelo, whose Upper East Side-based Spigolo has attracted discerning diners and two stars from the New York Times, recently showcased their modern interpretations of Southern cuisine, such as this English pea and ricotta ravioli with langoustine and speck. See more photos of the Beard House dinner here.

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Eye Candy: Steak Souvenir

place setting When a group of chefs from the BLT empire cooked at the Beard House late last month, diners were given souvenir BLT Steak postcards illustrating the primal cuts of beef. Check out images of the meal here.

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Eye Candy: Top Taco

Seared Venison with Oak-Smoked White Jalapeño Salsa, Cucumber–Mint Salad, and Fennel Pollen Crema Rene Ortiz, who earned his chops under JBF Award winners Daniel Boulud, Jean-Louis Palladin, and Douglas Rodriguez before opening La Condesa in Austin, cooked up a contemporary Mexican menu at the James Beard House earlier this month. We're wishing we could have tried his funky tacos, stuffed with barely seared venison, oak-smoked white jalapeño salsa, cucumber–mint salad, and fennel pollen crema. Have a look at more photos here.

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