Tuesday, November 4, 2014

AG Catering by Alex Garfinkel

At The Sage Farmhouse After Dark
Prix Fixe Menu / Fall Event
AG Catering Website
The Sage Farmhouse Website

I am often invited to events, but rarely make it. Once in a while something really interesting comes up, and I just have to see what it's all about. This fall dinner that featured local apples at the Sage Farmhouse was one of those opportunities.

The space is a circa 1785 farmhouse located just outside of Media, PA that's used as a rental venue for dinner parties, weddings, showers, etc. and has picturesque indoor and outdoor areas.

The focus of the night, however, was on the AG catering event. AKA the food.

The dining room is small, but intimate.

The kitchen is very cool, and features an old farmhouse stove. How they were able to crank out the meal in this venue is beyond me. The kitchen is definitely small for the output, but I guess that's the sign of a good chef – one who can triumph over the adversity.

Local Philadelphia artisans created these awesomely geometric water pitchers. They have a shop in Port Richmond called Edgewood Made and if interested, you can check them out here.

The experience began with the starters being prepped and we got to watch a lot of the action. Here's the chive butter with micro greens and apple butter for each table.

All of the greens were very locally sourced and I couldn't wait to get this stuff onto some warm bread.

The menu was small like a book mark, but it did the trick.

I pulled out some good wine from the secret stash, as this was a BYO event. The cups were also provided by the same Phila-based ceramics studio and kept the rustic theme going.

The warm rolls made a perfect vessel for the sweet apple butter and that rich & creamy chive butter. They were probably not intended to be eaten together, but I rarely follow tradition. Delicious.

The chicken rilletes amuse bouche was something I was looking forward to, and something I'd never really had before. Here they are, pre-plating with their little bits of pomegranate seed in the mix.

Just screaming to be set atop the crispy fried chicken skins. Who wouldn't love one of these perfectly edible, naturally-sourced 'plates'?

The stripped bass carpacio on the left was a delicate bite, served on a last-of-the-season green tomato slice. The fish was so smooth and buttery, with just the right smack of acidity from the tomato.

The rillete was helped along by the fresh herbs which gently cut the rich, poultry flavored puree. Two very well composed, and very different bites to get us started.

Beets, pears, and tomatos were dressed prior to their ultimate role as salad support team. And what a team it was.

Again, all major ingredients are locally sourced and fresh from the farm. So colorful!

The salad was anchored by a fried manchego cheese bite that had some pomegranate reduction tucked in, and just enough pepper and dressing to keep it spicy and fresh. It was a truly delicious fall harvest salad.

Fresh sunchoke chips were prepared for what might have been my favorite dish of the evening.

Again with the colors! So creative.

Sunchoke and apple soup was served with brandied apples, arugula pudding, and roasted wild mushrooms. A couple of pomegrante seeds gave a splash of color, and helped to further diversify what was an already unbelievable exercise in textural variety.

The soup itself was poured table side. It has the airiness of whipped cream, with a little bit of foam action, and the consistency was reminiscent of velvet.

An incredible edible velvet.

The Hudson Valley duck was among the finest cooked duck I have ever eaten. Again, presentation and creativity were front and center here. The hint of pomegranate can be seen here as well.

Tender, juicy and flavorful, the duck breast was accompanied by a wide variety of components – every dish of the evening had been so complex in its composition – and included charred romanesco, broccoli, cauliflower puree, among others. Even with so many differing items on the plate, every bite was balanced and everything worked together in perfect harmony.

The dessert was almost Halloween-inspired, with actual rootbeer leaves (I didn't even know that was a thing!) as the base for sassafras and bourbon ice cream served with stickybun bread pudding.

Here is Chef Alex Garfinkel making the icecream with dry ice for the audience.

Another perfectly composed dish in front of me, I was quite full and unsure if I could put this one down too. I had literally eaten every morsel they'd put in front of me up to this point.

But of course, I powered through and enjoyed these last flavors of fall from Chef AG.

In the end, it was a fabulous meal and one that I'd have recommended to anyone. He's a young chef with a big vision and seems to know exactly how to express it. If you're into it, I highly suggest you check out his supper clubs and get a taste of his colorful compositions in any season.


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