The Seafood Grill is a more informal fun wrapup to the week. For some reason it seemed a bit more subdued this year. In years past people usually started dancing toward the end. This year they ate, drank, and left. The wines are all arrayed at a long table accross from the bar. There is a good selection of wines that were left by some of the wineries that were presenting earlier in the week. They were pouring Echo Sparkling wine, both Brut and Rose. The wines I found exceptionally good were the Jayson Chardonnay and Siduri Pinot Noir.
There was a central self service bar that was stocked with shrimp, Maine Labster Claws, Oysters, and Snow Crab Claws and assorted cocktail and mustard sauces.
There were several stations around the Pacific's Edge and the Fireside Room. Unlike opening night there were plenty of tables to sit at. We luckily got in early enough to score a table for 4 overlooking Pt. Lobos.
CLARK FRASIER and MARK GAIER, ARROWS, Ogunquit, ME
Mini "Down East" Lobster Rolls, with Garden Herbs Mayonnaise. These were wonderful. The best lobster rolls I've had on the West Coast that I didn't make myself. They had the lobsters flown in fresh. They felt that lobsters sitting in a tank for a day or two were not good enough. My only quibble was even though they used real New England rolls that they brought with them, they didn't grill them in butter.
Maine Lobster Shortcakes with Clove, Curried Shallots, and Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce. This was a lobster claw and piece of tail meat served on a very good flaky bicuit with a wonderful lemony, vanilla butter sauce. It was great.
Maine Oysters in Lettuce Cups, with Cilantro, Noodles, and Lime. This was a very tasty presentation almost a ceviche of oyster wth rice noodles.
I was so happy with this station it took effort to try the rest of the offerings. Fortunately there was a long line there most of the afternoon.
JAQUES and CLAUDINE PEPIN, JAQUES PEPIN INC., Madison, CT
Smoked Trout with Egg and Pepper Salad. The smoked trout was very good, but paired with the salad od red bell peppers and eggs it bcame something extaordinary. It seems like a simple enough dish to make at home on the spur of the moment.
Grilled Halibut with Anchovy Butter. This was a very well prepared piece of halibut, cooked just right, and the butter sauce complemented it well. The anchovy flavor was subtle enough to not overpower the halibut.
Grilled Squid with Lemon Sauce and Brocoli Rabe. This was tasty enough, but I really didn't care for it. The best part was the brocoli rabe, which was not overcooked and took up the lemon sauce very well.
GRANT MacPHERSON, PICASSO, BELLAGIO, Las Vegas, NV
Smoked Sturgeon Parfait with Oscetra Caviar. This was a light, airy mousse with the flavor of smoked sturgeon that was complemented by the briney flavor and texture of the caviar sitting on top. It was served in little port glasses. Bonni kept going back for more of these.
Spicy Crustacean Soup with Braised Root Vegetables. This was served in an espresso cup. The soup was a shell fish flavored broth with tini diced root vegetables. It was very rasty and interesting.
Rock Shrimp Potsticker. The potsticker was sauted so thet the skin was browned, but not overcooked and toughened. It was place upon some yhin slices of Asian Pear, and had a Seaweed Mignonette poured over it. It was a nice blend of textures and flavors.
NEIL DUNN, CALIFORNIA MARKET, Carmel, CA
Saffron Paella Balls with Spicy Pepper Coulis. This was another big hit. I hope he puts it on the menu. It was basically paella with rice, chorizo, shrimp, and fish made into a little ball the size of a ping pong ball and fried. It was delicious.
Vietnamese Hand Rolls with Peanut Sauce. A clear rice noodle wrapper filled with shrimp, pork, and veggies with peanut sauce. It was very good.
Cod and Potato Cakes with Black Truffle Viniagrette. This was a little pan fried cake that had good flavor and a kind of interesting mouth feel supplied by the potatoes.
DOUG RODRIGUEZ, ALMA de CUBA, Philadelphia, PA
Pico Rico and Crab Ceviche with Lime and Mustard Oil and Mint. A pico Rico is a Chilean Acorn Barnacle, and easily wins the prize for the ugliest looking dish of the day or many other days. The barnacle was about six inches long and three inches high. the ceviche was served in the barnacle and was very good.
Hmachi "Fire and Ice" Ceviche. The ceviche was seasoned with Preserved Lemon, Sage, and Hot Garlic Oil, and garnished with a Fried Lemon Ring. It was definitely hot but the lemon did help offset the hotness. The hamachi was sliced thin and was very good quality. I thought this dish worked well.
Ecuadorian Style Ceviche. This was Smoked Red Clam (Machas) and Shrimp in a lime ceviche sauce. Very good also.
STEPHEN DURFEE, THE CULINARY INSTITUTE of AMERICA at GREYSTONE, St. Helena, CA
Churros con Chocolate "Ibarra". This was a little churro served with a demitasse of very, very rich and thick hot chocolate. I can only remember once ever having richer or thicker hot chocolate. It was wonderful.
Little Floating Islands. These were seved in a half egg shell cut length-wise with a sauce of Maple Syrup, Mout Gay Rum, and Bacon Bits. The bacon bits seemed to generate quite a bit of conversation. It lent a surprising smokiness and saltiness to this sweet dish, as well as texture. I kind of liked it. Others didn't.
Crepes with Tangerine Sabayon and Pickled Cranberry garnish. These were well made crepes and the sabayon was quite good the cranberries added a nice touch