Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending an Iron Chef-style supper soiree between two of Delray’s best known restaurants, Vic and Angelo’s and The Office.
Each restaurant was responsible for creating four unique courses, based on four predetermined ingredients: scallops, duck, venison and pomegranate. Each dish was paired with a complementary wine, and it was up to the diners to decide which restaurant would take home bragging rights with the most skilled chefs.
Guests were seated at an extended table inside of Vic and Angelo’s and managing restaurant partner and host of the evening, Adam Robin, explained the simple voting procedures. Each diner received eight cards (one for each plate from each restaurant). Everything on our left was from Vic and Angelos, everything on our right was from The Office, and at the end of every dish, we had to vote for our favorite meal, taking into careful consideration the wine pairing.
Serving up dishes from Vic and Angelo’s was executive chef Erick Miranda, chef de cuisine Rocco Pirelli, and sous chef Ronald Marinello. The Office’s menu was executed by executive chef Nicholas Trosien and chef de cuisine Zach Orsini. After a polite introduction to the table, the culinary masters took their places in the kitchen and competed for our palettes.
First course: Scallops
Vic and Angelo’s prepared a scallop gratin on a half shell...and it was literally served on half of a beautiful fan-shaped shell. The light appetizer was served with a nest of julienne vegetables and pancetta vinaigrette. The meal was divine. Light, full-flavored...I wished I could have been served a table-length platter of the scallop gratin. The dish was well paired with a refreshing, sweet Tomaresca Roycello Fiano (2010).
The Office delivered a beautifully presented plate to my right, a pan-seared scallop sat on top a delicate heap of roasted farm fresh vegetables, pork belly, meyer lemon nage, and pea shoots. It was paired with a Stags Leap Wine Cellars sauvignon blanc (2009). The pork belly was unbelievably tender. One forkful was packed with a variety of textures and flavors.
The Office narrowly won the first course with a vote of 11-10. I voted for Vic and Angelo’s divine scallop.
Second course: Duck
Our plates were cleared. Our wine glasses replaced. We were prepped for the second course.
Vic and Angelo’s prepared a sage roasted duck with blackberry coulis, duck pate, fregola with grilled fennel, and a rosemary garnish. The dish was accompanied by a red Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Antinori Bruciato (2008).
The dish tasted like Christmas morning. Smokey, comforting and warm, the sage roasted duck is one of the best meals I have had the pleasure of eating. Guests quietly savored their plates, while trying to remind themselves that they had five more dishes to devour. But the duck really was a magical meal. Absolutely spectacular.
The Office prepared a duck duo confit, using duck leg and smoked duck breast, with a lentil salad and huckleberry gastrique. The meat was topped with sweet, tiny blueberries, which when sampled together, was brilliantly delicious. The meal was complemented by a bottle of Stags Leap Wine Cellars’ Hands of Time (2009).
The Office dish and drink pairing was perfect. However, Vic and Angelo’s holiday-on-a-plate was the landslide winner. The sage roasted duck won every vote at the table, for a score of 21-0.
Third course: Venison
Halfway through the dinner, and I was still ready for my fill of food. The third entree tested our local chef’s talents on a more uncommon meat variety.
Vic and Angelo’s prepared a marinated pan-seared venison steak with morel sauce and wild ramp pesto buckwheat polenta and paired it with a Tignanello Antinori (2008). It was my favorite plate presentation of the evening, three little sections: venison, pesto, and a juicy tomato (which was said to be for decoration, but I ate the fruit as well). The meat was very juicy and according to a few close-by diners had a more gamey flavor.
The Office delivered a hearty, heavy plate-- cured venison rack over a Swiss chard salad with goat feta salad and bordelaise sauce. On top of the venison was a tiny taste of bone marrow, which was extracted by the chefs, dropped in flour and then fried for just a moment. The result was a strange and unique butter-esque topping. The meal was accompanied by a Col Solare Antinori-Chateau Ste. Michelle (2007).
Again, guests had the incredibly difficult voting decision. The Office won the split table, again, with a close vote of 11-10.
Fourth Course: Pomegranates
Finally, it came time for dessert, highlighting one of my favorite fruits that I rarely have an opportunity to enjoy.
Vic and Angelo’s prepared a trio of mini desserts --vanilla coconut panna cotta, pomegranate jelly, and sorbet with biscotti-- on top of a frozen plate of ice, sprinkled with pomegranate arils. It was as lovely, cool and delicious as it sounds. Plus, it was paired with a Col De Salici prosecco (2010), which is not commonly a dessert wine, but worked beautifully with the plate.
The Office served a white chocolate pomegranate “risotto,” with sparkling wine sherbet, fresh berries and micro-basil, paired with a Domaine Ste Michelle blanc de blanc (non vintage). The dessert mimicked a rice pudding dish, a delightful balance of sweet and creamy.
At the end of the meal, The Office claimed 16 votes, and Vic and Angelo’s took five, including mine.
The final score? Vic and Angelo’s won the evening with 46 total votes, however The Office won three of the four plates. Both restaurants should be proud of their culinary creations. There were no losers.
And the real winners of the night were the guests. The eight plate-eight glass dining experience will be marked as one the most elaborate and delicious meals of the summer. Thank you chefs!