Overcast skies and the threat of rain could not dampen the spirits nor keep away the masses at this past Saturday’s Dine With Design Benefit at in New Canaan. An All-Star lineup of leaders in the culinary world headlined the event to benefit the late Philip Johnson’s estate, and celebrate the link between nature, art and cuisine.
Guests were able enjoy the buildings, artwork, and landscape of the historic property, while sampling fresh, innovative dishes inspired by the venue itself, served under a huge tent set up just to the south of the The Glass House.
The participants were culled from the popular “Harvest To Heat” cookbook, which features some of the country’s top chefs and pioneers in the farm-to-fork movement. The five chefs chosen for The Glass House event were Michel Richard of Washington, DC’s Central Michel Richard, Derek Wagner of Providence, RI’s Nicks on Broadway, Lee Chizmar of Bolete in Bethlehem, PA, Brian Lewis of Bedford, NY’s Bedford Post and New Canaan’s , and Bill Taibe of in Westport. Also in attendance were baker Mark Furstenberg (Breadline, Washington, DC), Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA), Tuthilltown Spirits (Gardiner, NY), Freddy Guys Hazlenuts (Willamette Valley, OR), Chesapeake Bay’s Rappahannock River Oysters and Peete’s Coffee and Tea (Berkeley, CA).
And while all the culinary presentations were fantastic, it was the two local chefs who (appropriately) made the biggest impact.
Bill Taibe featured a foie gras terrine set atop granola and macerated strawberries; a wonderful combination of texture, color and flavors. Another winner was the refreshing and flavorful Sunburst smoked trout salad, served on whole grain toast. And a hearty cold potato soup with black pepper fennel pollen crème fraiche was a welcome inclusion.
I’m not a carrot guy, but Taibe’s rendition of “Carrots and Dirt” might have me converted. As one approached the table, attractively set up with locally sourced wildflowers and greens, it appeared as though he had rolled the carrots in dirt, which was actually ground pumpernickel. The natural sweetness of the carrots were complemented nicely with a bacon gastrique. The ingenious concept of bringing nature to his craft was directly in line with that of The Glass House itself.
And if attendees weren’t already excited for the arrival of elm, after sampling Lewis’ cuisine at the event, the anticipation has now reached a fever pitch. A Maine lobster salad with pickled grapes, cucumbers and butter crunch lettuce was a justifiably popular dish, as was burrata with Wave Hill garlic toasts topped with a gorgeous sweet pepper romesco. The addition of marcona almonds gave a nice contrast of texture, and the inclusion of mint was a nice surprise amidst a dizzying flurry of flavors.
Lewis’ dedication to local purveyors was evident in another fantastic dish, the charmoula grilled Merguez sausage, served with a stone fruit mostarda atop Millstone Farms arugula. The peppery dish was bold, yet not overwhelmingly spicy, as the mostarda cooled it off nicely.
Exquisite cuisine, classical music in the air, and guided tours of New Canaan's treasured 47-acre property, it was an event that Phillip Johnson himself would have been proud of.
(Note: The author is the husband of LeFarm's General Manager.)