As often as I can, I moonlight [in the daylight hours though, because that's when the lighting is better] as a food stylist for Pittsburgh based photographer Adam Milliron. Adam is one of the most delightfully busy gents around the town! He can text and sip a cocktail and juggle a growing Vizsla puppy, while simultaneously setting up lights and cameras. Note: I said “texts.” Adam rarely has a free hand to answer a phone call or conversely, to make a call, so when I saw a missed call from him, I knew something epic was unfolding. I was correct! The surprise, warranting an actual phone call, was an invite for my special one and me to be Adam’s guest at a Sunday Supper of Seafood & Cocktail Pairings at Cure, one of my favorite Pittsburgh restaurants (as you may recall, I first fell for Cure on my wintry birthday eve)!
As Cure’s website says, when you dine with Cure, you’re supporting many local farms and organic food purveyors. I applaud Chef/Owner Justin Severino’s commitment to the quality, taste and economic/environmental benefits associated with using local ingredients. Between the interior design of reclaimed wood, the hidden piggies and the communal atmosphere, Justin has created not just a place for a meal, but an entire dining experience.
As if a Sunday tasting menu at Cure were not a big enough slice of heaven, the man, the myth and the legend was lending his mixology wisdom to the cocktail pairings. Yes- Spencer Warren, who gave Pittsburgh its first Prohibition style bar (which will be reopening in a new location soon!!!), crafted unique cocktails for each course. Fortunately, Spencer shared his concoction details with me, for my head was spinning far too freely with the bliss of the perfect Sunday meal to document the details properly. The meal was a perfectly paced meander through a menu, much like dining with a European family. The best part is, Justin has barely begun to entertain! There are more events and even a farm dinner or two in store! Stick around this nook of the blogosphere, and hopefully, I’ll have notes from a hog butchering at some point.
Caipirinha Peach Punch
Cachaça Peach liquor, Peach Puree and Champagne.
Poured over ice and topped with Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters. A light and refreshing complement to the chilled, citrus spritzed seafood spread.
Fruits de Mare
Lobster, crab, oysters, goeduck, caviar
Due to birth in a landlocked state (Nebraska) and a mom whose Midwestern roots influenced her cooking, I had often claimed to be a seafood “virgin.” I had this notion of making a seafood mecca to Maine or Scotland or some paradise near the Equator, but much like many a coast, the notion has gradually been eroding. Aside from other forays into oceanic eating, each orgasmic bite from that seashell blew all notions of seafood virginity out of the water. Take a look at that seashell! It contained such decadent deliciousness. I shall now leave the sexual metaphors at bay [the aquatic puns, however, seem to be continuing], but know this: if you eat seafood at Cure, expect to close your eyes, block out the world and thoroughly savor each bite.
Avocado Mousse w/ Grapefruit Foam
Looking at this course was like studying a section cut of the earth. There were so many layers and textures, but unlike a geology class model, digging into this blend of avocado and citrus accents was far more satisfying.
Ricotta, pig’s feet, San Marzano tomato, basil, Pecorino
The flaky pasta inspired crust revealed shredded, tender meat with the fresh kick of basil and salt from the Pecorino. Furthermore…look at that lobster shaped crust!
The Count Severino
“Since Justin loves Campari and drinking Negroni’s, we made a Campari based cocktail to pair with the [tortellini pie]. What better than an Italian based cocktail with a pasta course. It was Death’s Door Gin, Campari, and Cynar mixed with fresh grapefruit juice, and a cardamom and date syrup. It was topped with one of Justin’s salumis (a cocoa & pepper salumi).” – Spencer Warren
“This is an Embury favorite. We muddle jalapeño with Angostura Bitters, then add lemon, Ginger Syrup, Basil Syrup, and Bluecoat Gin, then pour it up, and top with cayenne pepper. It is refreshing yet spicy, and it paired very well with the cured meats Justin had prepared.”
House cured meats (lomo and French style sopressata), pickles, farmstead cheeses
Laying Down the Broom
“The lemon from the dessert fit very well with the cassis (Black Currant) and the honey from the cocktail. I used Gekkeikan Sake & Plum wine, Barenjager Honey liquor, basil syrup, fresh lemon and cassis juice. Its light, refreshing taste complemented the tartness of the dessert.”
Lemon curd, white chocolate ganache, rhubarb gelee, balsamic-vanilla sabayone
The meal ended with a bang! The dessert was like a firework, both for its color and explosion of sharp, contrasting flavors.
What Spencer Learned In The South…
And a very special finale…BOURBONS!
I wish I could say I sampled them all. Why didn’t I sample them all?!?
PS: Thanks to everyone who made this Sunday deliciously different from the rest…
Special thanks to Justin Severino and Spencer Warren for collaborating and creating a memorable, palate-teasing Sunday supper.
A very special thanks to Adam Milliron for thinking, “Who is passionate about slow foods and artisan cocktails and would appreciate this experience?” and more importantly for answering that question with my name and my special one’s name!
Special thanks to our dining partners for putting up with the fact that Adam and I like taking pictures…of EVERYTHING. You were a patient pair, and we appreciated your willingness to stare at food, wide eyed and salivating, as we tried to capture the perfect shots. You are gems!