Kerry’s picnic, for me, wasn’t as much about a single standout dish as an overall experience. I love that he started with a white soup—was it intentional? It was gorgeous, that cold cauliflower cream with that brash streak of yellow saffron. It was luxurious and plain, a starting point. From there, we got the appealing blandness of mozzarella, but we started heading into fuller flavor with pesto. And then he teed up a ridiculous grilled chicken and kielbasa smothered in peppers and paprika. It was like falling asleep to your mother reading you a bedtime story and waking up in an acid trip of a dream. That’s a good thing, I mean.
And Patricia’s menu, actually, I thought was the most interesting and exciting of the day, telling a story of traveling through the Middle East into China. (We were at the Venetian, where Marco Polo was from, ya dig?) Sadly, starches did her in—the fact that starches recrystallize, that is. You know how rice gets hard after you put it in the fridge? And it doesn’t soften back up until after you actually get it hot again? That’s because starches seize up and crystallize in the cold. Rice does it the worst, but others, like Patricia’s flatbread and lentils, do it to some degree as well, making that dish sorrowfully unappealing. She’s a great cook, and it bummed me out that she ended up leaving on this challenge, because the thoughtfulness behind her food was so inspiring.