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, here are a few highlights served up during the month of May. These spectacular dishes, while making great use of springtime bounty, were also decidedly soothing—and we're not complaining.
Sea Urchin Risotto with Poached Wild Sea Bass, Smoked Oyster, and Maitake Mushroom Dashi / Japanese Comfort for the Soul
At his Berkeley hot spot Iyasare, Shotaro Kamio crafts show-stopping plates of California cuisine by way of his native Japan, proving that comfort food is far from just an American specialty. A shining example of the chef's signature work was the umami-packed sea urchin risotto with delicate poached wild sea bass, rich smoked oyster, and earthy maitake mushroom dashi served at his recent Beard House dinner. If this is the new comfort fare, then consider me in constant need of soothing.
—Elena North-Kelly, Senior Editor
Oysters with Turnip Vichyssoise, Pickled Radishes, and Lamb Ham / Lambs and Clams
Shepherd Craig Rogers and his chef friends brought the raucous spirit of his farm's annual lamb-and-bivalve salute to the Beard House, where we sampled creative dishes like miso–peanut butter lamb ribs with clam kimchi and chocolate bavarois with lamb fat brittle. Even the comparatively classical vichyssoise, surrounding an oasis of phonetically challenging but gustatorily appealing lamb ham, had spunk.
—Anna Mowry, Special Projects Manager
French Onion Pho with Braised Brisket Dumplings, Roasted Bone Marrow, and Baguette / House of An
If the enduring allure of the banh mí is any indication, the pairing of French and Vietnamese cuisines is basically the peanut butter and jelly of the culinary world. Helene An and Tony Nguyen highlighted the potential of this international marriage with their Gallic take on the Vietnamese pho, which fused the earthy flavors of the marrow-based broth with the rich depth of French onion soup. Presented elegantly in distinct components, half the fun of the dish was blending it together, from discovering vermicelli noodles tucked into a blanched onion shell, to breaking open the petite packet of brisket wrapped delicately in dumpling skin.
—Maggie Borden, Assistant Editor
View all upcoming Beard House event menus and book your seat at jamesbeard.org/events.