Rocco DiSpirito

Rocco DiSpirito goes deep about why Corey Roberts' party ultimately won.

on Jul 14, 2011

The party got started in the terrace with Corey’s Country-themed dinner. My guests were blown away by the little jars of just-made rhubarb jam that served as place settings. The waiters brought out the cheese course: Fried Saint-Marcellin Cheese with Swedish Country ligonberries. Terrance got a little miffed when he heard Corey was going to fry one of his cheeses. I guess he thought frying was an insult to the integrity of his great cheeses. Saint Marcellin is one of my top five favorites cheeses in the world. Was Corey going to change my mind with his fried version? I first had it in France with a serious side of black truffles, so you can only imagine the memories I had of it. Many cheeses do well fried but no one thought this one would. We all dug in. OMG. It was so freakin’ good that I almost fell over backwards in my chair. Usually, I let my guests make the first comment, but the dish was pure ecstasy and I couldn’t help but belt out a passionate response. The fried cheese was, well, pretty much my idea of heaven. Terrance ate his words –- and the cheese course -- declaring it superb.

Corey next served Fresh Baked Rolls (that he made the dough for), Forest Mushroom Soup, and Poached Eggs with Asparagus. Rave reviews followed.

He decided to redeem himself with the Mummy Fried Shrimp, and redeem himself, he did. Corey got it right, and my guests were wowed by it. Corey was a little slow in getting things on the table. I called him on it. Things got testy, and he told me to get out of the kitchen and back to my guests. I listened.

We got to the main course: Roasted Poussin and Salmon Trout. The salmon was dry; no one much cared for it. No matter how you do it, the most important thing to remember about cooking seafood is not to overcook it. Although a lot of people think raw seafood will kill you, overcooking it is almost a worse sin. My guests liked the poussin better. Poussin is the French word for a young chicken. For dessert, Corey ambitiously made two desserts (I don’t know how he did all this in four hours): Country Style Apple Pie and Macadamia Nut Tart. I advised my guests to take only a bite or two, because we still had a second dinner party ahead.

Nicole’s décor wowed everyone. They knew immediately that it was a spring-in-New-York setting, just what Nicole intended. She started us off with Sesame Seared Tuna Tartare with Wasabi Crème Fraiche. It had a real kick to it. Terrance felt it was clichéd and not a true tartare since the tuna had been seared. I came to her defense. Not all guests will appreciate the finer qualities of raw tuna, so cooking it a bit might be good for those who aren’t terribly adventurous eaters. The seasoning was unbalanced and ultimately crushed any chances the dish had, but raw or slightly raw is splitting hairs to me.