Asking us to pick our favorite dishes at the Beard House is a little like asking a mother to pick her favorite child, but to give you a taste, we'd like to share a few sumptuous highlights. From decadent desserts offering exotic flavors, to the undeniable allure of good old-fashioned barbecue, July dinners at the Beard House had us salivating over summer bounty.
Sweet Corn–Honey Cake with Lemon Cream, Poached Rhubarb, and Pine Nuts / Flavors of Oaxaca
Follow the yellow brick road, or in this case, the gentle curves of chef Mel Mecinas's incredibly tasty lemon cream, flanked by generous triangles of super moist sweet corn–honey cake, tart poached rhubarb, and a toasted pine nut crumble. At his recent Beard House dinner, the Oaxacan native and Four Seasons veteran of nearly 20 years designed a menu that celebrated the foods of his native region (think pungent moles, smoky mezcals, and spicy tamales). The meal finished with a flourish with his perfect combination of sweet and savory, crunchy and creamy—the dessert of my dreams. If only I could tap my ruby slippers three times and conjure up another…
—Hilary Deutsch, Editorial Assistant
Dum Pukht–Cooked Turmeric and Masala–Wrapped Sea Bass with Coconut Chutney and Lemon Basmati Rice / Summer Seafood Celebration
It’s Christmas in July, thanks to chef Gaurav Anand of NYC's acclaimed Awadh. Among the delicacies on display at his recent seafood-centric Beard House dinner, Anand presented diners with this petite parcel of sea bass wrapped in a banana leaf. Untying the package revealed a tender and supple fillet, fragrant with turmeric and begging to be doused in the addictively silky coconut chutney served alongside. The dish’s demure plating belied its flavor-packed contents, showcasing the Lucknowi technique of dum pukht slow-roasting, and leaving me wondering just how I could convince Anand to stow some of these under the tree come December.
—Maggie Borden, Assistant Editor
Quark Dumpling with Summer Fruit and Sour Cream Sorbet / New York Meets Vienna
Nearly every food culture has some kind of dumpling to offer us, and Austria is no exception. At his lovely Beard House dinner, veteran New York City chef Kurt Gutenbrunner enlisted his homeland's classic cheese-based dumpling for something of a dessert and cheese course twofer. Made with quark, a fresh, tangy cheese found in German-speaking countries and other regions in Northern Europe, the dumplings arrived wreathed in poached apricots, strawberries, and currants, with a quenelle of sour cream sorbet riding sidecar. Sweet, bright, not too rich—and further proof that dumplings are the food world's diplomat.
—Anna Mowry, Special Projects Manager
Smoked Pork Spareribs with Beef Brisket, Simmered Pole Beans, Carolina Gold Rice, and Spicy Watermelon / Beard's Barbecue Joint
At our annual summertime 'cue bonanza, Percy Street Barbecue's Erin O’Shea (one of the country's elite few female pitmasters, mind you) brought her acclaimed smokehouse fare to the Beard House, transforming it into a homespun, Southern-style sanctuary for finger-lickin' fun. The pinnacle of the meal was a family-style serving of delectable smoked pork spareribs stacked sky-high, thick layers of impossibly tender beef brisket, bowls brimming with vibrant pole beans and buttery rice, and trays of watermelon dusted with O'Shea's signature smoky-and-fiery spice rub. I couldn't help but sit back and smile as I observed the singular delight in diners' eyes as platters were passed around convivially, and fingers were licked without shame.
—Elena North-Kelly, Senior Editor
View all upcoming Beard House event menus and book your seat at jamesbeard.org/events.