With all the food events that happen around Philly each year, I only attend one or two that I’m really interested in. I’m also not a millionaire, which is another reason why I only go to ones that draw me in. It may only be February now, but two of the things that please me more than anything else are prosciutto and beer, so when I heard about the Cured & Crafted event going on, I knew this would be an event for me. I also knew that I wouldn’t be bringing my camera along for the ride because while I know that people like to see pictures with blog posts, I wanted to focus on having fun, and that does not include my poor photography skills. However, I did manage to rack up a couple of crummy iPhone photos over the night that I will share.
This 50th Anniversary celebration for the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma was everything I was hoping it would be and more. The first thing I gravitated towards was a man slicing prosciutto in the middle of the Power Plant and passing it on to the people mingling around. I may or may not have mingled there for a little bit longer than I should have, but I made sure the guy knew that both my stomach and my college debt thanked him for feeding me! In addition to that, there was an open bar that featured the beers the chefs were pairing with their meals and cocktails by both Jesse Cornell of Sbraga Dining and Resa Mueller of Twenty Manning. I tried the Wrinkle in Thyme gin cocktail by Cornell and it was deliciously herby and boozy. I also had a sip of my friend’s vodka based cocktail by Mueller called When Life Gives You Melons…but I don’t think this increasingly popular trend of drinks that have a little spice and kick to it from jalapeno are for me. Either way, Emily was pleased, so if those spicy kinds of cocktails sound yummy to you, you would have probably liked it.
Although the cocktails were a great addition to this event, what I was really looking forward to was the food that the chefs were featuring throughout the night. Luke Palladino‘s entry won the judge’s choice as well as my heart. This dish featured a slice of Prosciutto Topped with Truffled Burrata, Caviar, and Ligurian Oil. The decadent food snob within me completely fangirled over this. If there was ever a bite of food that encompassed the word toothsome in all of its definitions, it was this one. He also had the best pairing for his bite, the Flying Fish Brewery’s Abbey Dubbel. After I tried that beer, the open bar received my patronage for big girl versions of that taste. Another notable entry was Jeremy Nolen’s from Brauhaus Schmitz, which was Prosciutto with a Tomato Jam and Grated Aged Gouda. This bite was different from Palladino’s rich one because the jam added a sweet element to it, but it was no less satisfying than my first bite.
Of course, with any competition there have to be losers as well as winners. My least favorite dish of the night shocked me because it came from Le Virtu‘s Joe Cicala. The dish was Proscuitto Agnolotti en Brodo with Black Pepper and Stracciatella. However, the pasta he served hardly had any prosciutto flavor to it and was very disappointing. While I don’t think pasta would have been the right choice even if the meat was better featured, this was especially upsetting because unless you had a palate of gold, there was no way you could have picked up the flavor of the ham. Another one that didn’t win me over was the entry from Doug Allen of Lacroix. This open-faced Rye Bread Sandwich with Whipped Lardo, Pickled Winter Vegetables, and Greens featured a variety of ingredients, but the dish lacked any wow factor for me and was hard to eat. At this event, I literally wanted to be punched in the face by prosciutto and these dishes were more like light pats on the back. Considering I’ve never heard a bad thing about either Le Virtu or Lacroix, I was pretty surprised when I realized that my most forgettable bites came from these chefs.
Now, even though I imagine my joy at this point of the evening equaled that of someone who just scored a goal for the World Cup, my dessert-loving belly was thrilled to see cupcakes from Sweet Box. The Chocolate Stout Cupcake was moist, inventive, and proved every cupcake naysayer wrong in my book. The most interesting part of this treat was the candied prosciutto rice crispy crumble that topped it all. It added a crunch to the otherwise soft dessert and proved that prosciutto deserves a place in every part of a meal. When the time came to leave, I can say that I was one happy geek and that I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. If you did miss this event, I’m sorry, but if they do a 60th anniversary party, I would recommend jumping on it before tickets sell out…