Dinner with Chef Barbara Lynch at Osteria in Philadelphia
Chef Barbara Lynch, a James Beard award-winning chef and owner of several top food establishments in Boston, is not only a terrific cook, but a really nice person too. Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Barbara here in Philadelphia at Marc Vetri, Jeff Michaud and Jeff Benjamin's Osteria as a kickoff to the upcoming Alex's Lemonade Stand Great Chefs Event that I will be sponsoring again this year. I will be writing more about this great event where more than 30 top chefs from around the country each put out a tasting dish for people to sample and raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Last night's event was to introduce Barbara Lynch to some of the sponsors of the Great Chefs Event by presenting 10 recipes from her new cookbook called Stir - Mixing It Up In The Italian Tradition. The food was incredible! And the wines Jeff Benjamin paired with the food were also fantastic.
Before the speeches and dining began, my wife and I along with her colleague Alan and his wife Michelle had an opportunity to speak with Chef Lynch about Boston and the farmers she works with to supply local meats, cheeses and produce to her restaurants. You could tell by listening to her the importance these farmers are to her success and her dedication to keep them thriving.
We talked about the need for more local butchers in cities and small towns alike. Chef Lynch told us she buys her beef locally and butchers it up in her restaurants rather than buying preprocessed cuts. I told Chef Lynch about my experiences growing up in a small town in northern New Jersey where we had a local butcher my mother would take us to a couple of times a week to purchase meat for dinner.
I'll never forget watching the butcher open the big walk-in refrigerator door and seeing a couple sides of beef hanging from a hook. You just don't see that anymore. Meat now comes to the supermarket trimmed, processed and cryovaced from who knows where. I noticed on Chef Lynch's website, she has The Butcher Shop, both a neighborhood wine bar and full service butcher shop. How cool is that?
It was wonderful opportunity to meet Chef Lynch. I hope to be able to interview her for my Novice2Pro cooking segment to learn more about her culinary adventures and maybe ask her to share some cooking tips and advice with my readers.
Barbara was gracious to offer everyone at the dinner a signed copy of her new cookbook, Stir. After looking at it for a couple of hours when I got home from the event, as stuffed as I was, I can highly recommend you go out and purchase it.
Every dish we enjoyed last night is in her new book and I can say from first hand experience, they are all terrific. Not only are the recipes accessible for home cooks to prepare, the ingredients are readily available in most supermarkets. And the photography in the book is beautiful. Much better than the ones I took with my little pocket camera shown here.
Each dish was served family style to the tables of 8. We didn't know the folks we were sitting with but by the time the night was over you would have thought we were old friends. The food was served on large oval platters and we passed around plates to serve each other.
Jeff Benjamin, owner and wine expert, matched the food with the wine perfectly. As you will see, the wine (and one beer) may not be all that familiar to many of you but are worth seeking out.
I'm not a food critic so I'm not going to try to describe each dish. Buy the cookbook and let Chef Lynch tell you a story about each recipe. What I would like to do is just give you a listing of what we were served and you can decide if this is something you would like to prepare at home. I know I will be.
Stuzzicchini (Italian for appetizer)
- Baked cheese and tomatoes with black olive crisps
- Ham and cheese puff pastry bites
- Served with Scarpetta, Pinot Grigio delle Venezie I.G.T 2008
- Roasted eggplant with raisin pine nut vinaigrette and feta cheese
- Bibb lettuce with Parmesan dressing and cheese cialde (wafer)
- Served with Yard Saison Beer (Philadelphia, PA)
- Rigatoni with spicy sausage and cannellini beans
- Cheese agnolotti with celery, apple and prosciutto
- Served with Bastianich, Rosato Venezia Giulia I.G.T 2008
- Cornish hen cacciatore with creamy polenta
- Wood oven baked Todd with chorizo and claim ragout
- Served Casa Girelli, Primitivo Puglia I.G.T. 2006
- Yogurt panna cotta
- Creamy vanilla bread pudding (the best I've ever had)
- Served with Librandi, "Le Passule" Vino Passito, Val di Neto I.G.T 2007
It was an amazing night and I can't wait to see Chef Lynch again along with the other great chefs who will be at the Great Chefs Event in June. Thanks to Barbara Lynch, Jeff Benjamin, Marc Vetri, the Vetri Foundation and the entire kitchen staff at Osteria for a great night of food and wine. And a special thanks to the entire wait staff last night - the service were perfect.