Tuesday, September 1, 2015

competition dining series | 03

here's the latest dish on the greenville competition dining series: you. have. to. go. i went for the goat cheese - green tomato battle (chef teryi youngblood of passerelle bistro vs. cheff todd warden of the cliffs valley) and was blown away by the flavor and creativity. the secret ingredients were green tomatoes from black's peaches (required to be in at least one dish) and three kinds of goat cheese from fishing creek creamery: tomme, chevre and brined feta (required to have some kind of cheese in every dish). i had the good luck to be seated at the table with the team from fishing creek, and in addition to producing some amazing fresh and aged goat cheese, they were the nicest people and happy to share their knowledge about things like making goat cheese ice cream. they're steadily expanding their presence in the greenville market, so keep an eye out for their cheese! i was also seated with my fellow greenville bloggers gap creek gourmet and love greenville. nicole livengood turned me on to the white chocolate bread from la farm in carey, nc. thank god you can buy it online because that stuff is like nothing i've ever tasted before. don't skip it if you go to one of the competitions. now on to the main course(s)! 

course 1- fishing creek creamery feta mousse, black’s peaches green tomato croutons, baby arugula, compressed black's peaches watermelon, aged sherry & pomegranate molasses

this was one of my favorite courses. it was so simple but delicious, and the watermelon was practically like candy. i would have been a happy camper with just a basket of those green tomato croutons too. 

course 2 - veal cheek & fishing creek creamery tomme perogi, braised red cabbage-black’s peaches green tomato-granny smith apple, benton's smoky mountain county hams & bacon, bacon & green tomato jam, melted leeks, shaved tomme, tomme broth

this dish was definitely a risk. perogi is not something you see on a lot of menus down south, so it was a surprise to find it on our plates. the creativity was definitely on point, as was the bacon jam, but the execution probably just needed a few more hours to perfect the perogi technique.

course 3 - maple leaf farms cured breast of duck, fishing creek creamery tomme dauphinoise, roasted beet-granny smith-scallion salad, orange blossom honey-strawberry gastrique

okay, the chef had me at duck, but this dish didn't rest on its meaty laurels. the tomme dauphinoise was one of the best things i've eaten in while. i dream of the chef coming to my house and preparing it for thanksgiving (please chef?!). and while i wasn't crazy about the mint color of the sauce, it tasted great and was a savory compliment to the sweet strawberry gastrique on the side.

course 4 - fishing creek creamery feta brined loin of lamb, freekeh & black pearl rice medley, feta-cucumber cream, black’s peaches watermelon pickle, sweet & spicy tamarind-green tomato sauce

this was a bold dish that the chef clearly wanted to push the envelope with. i had never had freekeh before, so that was intriguing to find on the plate. the sweet and spicy tomato sauce was my favorite for the lamb, and while the cucumber cream was also delicious, the two flavors were on opposite ends of the spectrum. 

course 5 - fishing creek creamery goat cheese ice cream, tres leches cake, pickled blueberries, black’s peaches green tomato & blood orange syrup, black pepper charleston tea cookie

this dessert had a lot of firsts for me: goat cheese ice cream, pickled blueberries, and a black pepper cookie. the tres leches cake stole the show, but i am a total convert to goat cheese ice cream now. it's such a light flavor that's really enriched by the texture of the dessert. the blueberries were a tad vinegary for me, but the green tomato and blood orange syrup really paired well with everything. who would have thought about green tomatoes for dessert? 

course 6 - fishing creek creamery lemon chevre semifreddo, tondo-basil-amaretto macerated berries, pistachio-chevre shortbread, meringue crumble

i'm usually a chocolate person, but this lemon semifreddo was so sweet and delicious that i didn't miss cocoa one bit. and i think i cleaned my plate mopping up the the melted goat cheese and berries with the pistachio short bread. this is something i would love to see pop up on a menu sometime soon.

so, think you know who made what? i was sure that chef youngblood would be my favorite dishes because i've had her food before at passerelle, and it's so good. but chef warden actually made most of my top ranked courses (chef warden: 1, 3 and 5 / chef youngblood: 2, 4 and 6). the element of surprise from the ingredients to the recipes to the chefs is what makes competition dining so much fun though...you really never know what's going to be in store for you. and it's amazing how much culinary talent greenville is filled with. if you can't get a reservation at the cliffs valley, you can catch chef warden tonight cooking against one fifty-one (tickets). the battle of champions will be held over halloween weekend. tables for the greenville dinners have been going fast, so if you want to be there for the creme de la creme, grab your tickets now! i can't wait to see who takes home the title.

update 9/14: 
chef todd warden of the cliffs valley also took home the overall regional title for the greenville series. he will next compete in the got to be nc competition dining series battle of champions this october in raleigh, north carolina and will compete against four other top chefs who each won regional tournaments.  four live dinner events will be held from october 28th through 31st, and tickets to these battles go on sale september 24th at 7 p.m. at www.competitiondining.com.

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