Tag Archives: Hugue Dufour

The Catskills Comes to Queens celebrates the best in farm-to-table fare


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Foodies from across the borough were given the chance to sample farm-fresh epicurean delights during The Catskills Comes to Queens, a tasting event celebrating the farm-to-table movement, held at Flushing Town Hall on Saturday.

The culinary event was created by New York Epicurean Events co-founders Chef David Noeth and Joe DiStefano, famed food writer behind Chopsticks and Marrow, the wildly popular guide to adventurous eating in Queens.

“As someone who’s been writing about food in Queens for years, it’s always been a dream of mine to do a food festival,” DiStefano explained. “In early 2015, I met Ellen Kodadek, the executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall, and she told me that they wanted to do more culinary programming. For months beforehand, I’d been having all sorts of wonderful meals made with Catskills-sourced ingredients—grass-feed beef, farm-fresh eggs, free-range chicken, locally foraged mushrooms—at my business partner David Noeth’s house.”

“At some point the idea hit us: Why don’t we go into business together and help showcase all these wonderful products, help the farmers and expose the people of Queens to some great food?” DiStefano added.

Chef Nate Felder's pork belly

Chef Nate Felder’s Berkshire pork belly with red pepper marmalade.

The Catskills Comes to Queens featured a delectable array of mountain-fresh fare from some of the borough’s best chefs. Chef David Noeth’s beef heart tartare was accompanied by cheese from Vulto Creamery in Noeth’s native Walton, New York.

Chef Nate Felder of The Astor Room in Astoria topped tender maple syrup-cured Berkshire pork belly with a red pepper marmalade and served them over a bed of sour cream grits. Lamb and goat tacos dressed in homemade queso fresco, crisp corn salsa and an earthy corn crema were on the menu at New World Home Cooking Co. courtesy of The Food Network’s 2010 Chopped champion Chef Ric Orlando.

IMG_5786

The Food Network’s 2010 “Chopped” champion and New World Home Cooking Co. Chef Ric Orlando.

Smokehouse favorites were popular throughout the festival. Chef Alfonso Zhicay of Casa del Chef Bistro in Woodside featured succulent short ribs braised in an intoxicating blend of fruit chutney and Madeira wine served atop a briny bed of homemade pickled carrots and cabbage.

Chef Danny Brown's

Chef Danny Brown’s torchon of La Belle Farms foie gras and guinea fowl.

Chef Danny Brown, of Danny Brown’s Wine Bar and Kitchen in Forest Hills, crafted an exquisite torchon of La Belle Farms foie gras and guinea fowl accompanied by hazelnut oil and fresh microgreens. Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 7 runner-up and Sotto 13‘s Chef Ed Cotton offered a twist on traditional American fare with his mini rabbit and mortadella hot dogs served between toasted brioche buns topped with mustard and spicy kirby relish.

Bravo's "Top Chef" Season 7 runner up and Sotto 13 Chef Ed Cotton prepares his rabbit and mortadella hot dogs

Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 7 runner-up and Sotto 13 Chef Ed Cotton prepares his rabbit and mortadella hot dogs.

Smokey fare ruled the outdoor courtyard of Flushing Town Hall as well, where Chef Tyson Ho’s whole barbecued hog from Arrogant Swine took center stage, its head displayed on the table, presiding over the festivities. Guests were delighted by bite-sized treats, such as the lamb sliders from Chef Harry Hawk of Schnack and the Eagle Hollow Farms barbecue chicken sliders from Chef Lou Elrose of the soon-to-be-opened Charred smokehouse and bar in Middle Village.

Smoked beef tongue sliders from Harry & Ida's Meat and Supply Co.

Smoked beef tongue sliders from Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.

Adventurous eaters enjoyed the warm, earthy smoked beef tongue sliders topped with birch bark-infused mayo and pickled heirloom tomatoes from Chef Will Horowitz of Harry and Ida’s Meat and Supply Co., while M. Wells Steakhouse Chef Hugue Dufour’s lamb tagine provided a flavorful feast for the senses.

Chef Hugue Dufour unveiling his gigantic lamb tagine

Chef Hugue Dufour unveiling his gigantic lamb tagine.

Silk Cakes bakery’s Pandan cupcakes topped with coconut buttercream and white chocolate truffle nearly vanished in an instant. Delicate pastries by Rudolf Merlin at Creme French bakery and Leske’s Bakery’s peanut butter and Cotton Hill goat cheese donuts provided a sweet finish.

“We like to think that we’re bringing the best products in New York State to the New York’s best chefs at New York City’s best venue,” DiStefano added. “And what better place to do it than Flushing, which was once itself farmland.”


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More than just a steakhouse


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

It is not your typical steakhouse.  M. Wells is anything and everything besides just a steakhouse.

In a Napoleonic tradition of aristocracy, corks—still attached to the severed necks of champagne bottles—clunk to the floor with the swing of a sabre.  A couple at the Chef’s Counter sipped glasses of Nero Né, while trout swam beneath the glass countertop.  Beside the trout tank sat four panoramas—two yet-to-be decorated.  One of the designs—perhaps representing Chef Hugue Dufour and his wife, Sarah Obraitis—is of a couple relaxing by their cabin in the mountains, surrounded by grapes and mushrooms and decorations of nuts and berries, as if to celebrate the fruits of their labor.

The entire space is like a breathtaking tribute to the dichotomy between work and play.  From the outside, the space appears to be merely an old rundown garage, while in actuality it is an epicurean sanctuary on the inside.

The menu is equally brilliant and baffling.  Appetizers can easily pass for full meals, and there is so much more than simply steak—though it is very much a presence, with or without the bone, intended to serve just one or an entire party.

On my first visit, a bag secured by a drawstring was the first thing presented at the table, and we stared at it, almost waiting for something to crawl out.  Nothing did—of course—and so we passed out the warm pretzel rolls, which are served with a tiny pitcher of mustard, as well as a warm pat of butter.

From the raw bar, we ordered the “Dog Bowl,” which essentially could have served as our meal.  The lobster tails were exquisitely smoky and sweet after being grilled, then slathered in an herbed aioli.  Pickled smelt lay across potato waffles with crème fraiche, smothered in salty golden orbs of trout roe.  Hackleback caviar was pressed into sheets and served on brioche, like tea sandwiches.  A decadent lobster roll arrived  next, dripping with tarragon aioli.  Escargot was lined up and roasted alongside bone marrow.

Everything was luxurious.

Potato gnocchi were stuffed with foie gras medallions, and poutine was served with straws of crispy golden French fries loaded with melted cheese curds, all drizzled in brown gravy.  The Grassfed Cowboy was as exquisite as any steak I have ever enjoyed, the juices burst in my mouth as I would bite.  And I have never, ever had potatoes like these before—almost two parts butter and cheddar to a single portion of spud—stringing from the spoon playfully as I drew my fork.

The meal was outstanding in every possible way.  And there are so many things that still I want to try.  The beef butter sounds divine.  The Caesar salad looks remarkable, covered in a snowfall of pecorino shavings.  At just $15, the bone-in burger looked  delicious.  And the Coquilles St. Féréol is supposed to be like a seafood shepherd’s pie, with scallops buried beneath an afghan of mashed potatoes, which have been carefully piped onto the plate.

We paid the bill without even considering dessert.  Our waitress, who had been incredible, smiled as she handed me the leftovers in a brown bag.  “I snuck in a piece of cheesecake,” she said as she winked, which I had been eyeing on the dessert cart, swimming in a vanilla bean sauce.

M. Wells
43-15 Crescent St., Long Island City
718-786-9060

BRADLEY HAWKS

 

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