Five tickets are enough to buy one decent dish, or a few nibbles. Azure's offerings looked the most enticing. They had two options, for four tickets each. Having nothing to lose, I asked the cook if he'd recommend one or the other for my final tickets. He thought for a moment and then offered to give me one of each, in exchange for all five of my tickets. The windfall was unexpected and delightful. A soup balanced in one hand and a dessert in the other, I made my way over to a table with a grin on my face.
Part of the soup's initial appeal was its superficial resemblance to C&Z's recent Bar à Veloutés confections. A wild mushroom soup, topped with parsley cream and truffle oil, was finished with a crunchy bread swizzle stick. It was pleasant enough, nothing eventful, but while I was standing there savoring it, a man with a plate of deep-fried brie wandered up to me and asked me about the food from Azure.
I was honest, and he commented how he'd been eyeing the pistachio financier dessert the restaurant had available as well. He offered me his untouched third piece of brie, and, siezing an opportunity, I traded half of my dessert for his brie and sauce. For my final five tickets, I got to try three different dishes!
The financier was pretty, with candied pistachios elegantly adhered to the edge of the plastic plate with a drizzle of chocolate, but ultimately no more exciting than the soup, alas. The deep-fried brie breaded with panko crumbs (Brasserie Frisco booth) was served with a strawberry black peppercorn compote, an extraordinarily sweet confection which few foods would have had the power to balance. The brie succeeded, and it proved a striking nibble. (The contrast of brie also saved the day for the Rosewater Supper Club's excessively sweet butternut squash cappuccino with chanterelle mushrooms and maple-infused whipped cream.)
And so I finished my first Food and Wine Show with a trio of bonus foods and the generosity of strangers. I left with a smile, a slew of notes, and lingering memories of rich and memorable tastes.