when clark first heard about the "mango hometown tour taste-off," he knew immediately that vegstlouis had to make it a priority event. lois, you see, is gaga over mangoes (particularly ataulfos, aka champagne mangoes). so, yesterday we attended the show-down between chef galliano of monarch and chef miller of harvest. galliano's monarch was the host restaurant for the competition, which was cool with us because we're more comfortable at galliano's place.
now a quick rant: about a week before the scheduled taste-off, clark sent a letter to both chefs to inquire about vegetarian options for the event. the letter was quite clear: if you're not going to be offering veg-friendly options, it's no big deal and we'll just pass along our tickets to some of our omnivore friends. as we've mentioned before, it doesn't bother us at all if a chef only wants to serve only bloody meat in his or her restaurant. what does bother us is when a chef can't be bothered to communicate with potential customers. chef miller falls into the latter category. now, you can make a hundred excuses for miller--too busy, too distracted, too many letters--but the facts are the facts, and the facts is these: chef galliano responded to the letter within a day. a day. countless other chefs and/or managers across the city have managed to send replies to our inquiries within 24 hours, too, and these people work in some of the busiest places in st. louis. so, yeah, we don't want to hear excuses for miller or any other chef/kitchen (we're talking to you, highlands brewery, amongst others). we think it speaks volumes about a person or place that isn't willing to interact with its customers. and, again, we wouldn't have cared if chef miller had written back and said, "nope, i'm not making anything for vegetarians." from there, he could easily have said, "but please visit harvest for dinner, and i'll be sure to whip you up some wicked good veggies." how hard would that have been? not at all. how much would it have done to encourage us to tell our vegetarian friends that harvest is a great place? a lot. so, chef miller (a guy we're sure will never read these words, but we insist on typing them anyway), we bid you adieu, as we will not be joining you for that dinner you never invited us to. never again, good sir, will we send hungry patrons your way. (side note: the food wasn't very good, anyway.)
lest this post devolve into more of a mudslinging event, let's get back to the mangoes. the mangoes! upon arrival, we were given gift bags full of mango literature and one gigantic haden mango each. we took a seat at the bar where we served iced tea and a cup of freshly diced mangoes. after we listened to the event coordinator speak about mangoes for a bit, she introduced the judges (shout out to a vegstlouis reader, alanna kellogg, who was one of the three judges!), and soon after chef miller delivered his food for scoring. we, of course, did not receive a plate. not long after, chef galliano's food made an appearance. true to his word, he had two beautiful plates made up just for us. gorgeous, vibrant, stunning--these impotent adjectives cannot adequately express this brilliant presentation of color, texture, and flavor. there was a mango vinegar that is as difficult to describe as it must have been to execute, but it was the grilled mango that had us crushing hardest on galliano's skills. oh, yeah, and galliano was the winner on this day. as you might imagine, we were delighted to see galliano send the interloper home with his meat-loving tail between his meat-loving legs. (btw, we're just having a little fun at miller's expense; we don't really hate the guy. and, as lois rightly said to me yesterday: "it's hard to hate a guy when his dad is sitting across the bar.")
all in all, we had a lovely time. it was enough to be a part of such an interesting and quirky community event; the icing on the cake was experiencing galliano's culinary virtuosity.