Monday, January 23, 2012

A Night of Dining, Drinking and Decadence at the NECN TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala

By: Jessica Cickay

If you’re from New England, own a television and/or listen to the radio during your morning commute, then you’re more than familiar with the ubiquitous media presence that is Billy Costa. From Kiss 108 in the A.M. to TV Diner in the P.M., New Englanders have been “Billy’d” time and time again throughout any given day. Some may ask themselves “Why Billy Costa?” or “More Billy Costa?” or even “Billy Costa, really?!” but no matter your opinion of the flashy foodie himself, there’s no denying that whatever Billy Costa touches in the New England area turns to gold – or filet mignon in the food-obsessed world. And at the 5th annual NECN TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala at the Seaport World Trade Center, Billy’s tasty touch helped bring together over 30 of the area’s best restaurants, breweries and bakeries for a night full of full stomachs and mouths.
The TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala was no casual affair. There were men in tuxedos, women in floor-length gowns, a full-piece band and open bars as far as the eye could see. The list of participating restaurants went from simply comforting – Tasty Burger – to simply decadent – Market by Jean-Georges Vongerichten – but no matter your cravings, the TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala catered to them…and then offered you a piece of cake, a sip of champagne and a swing around the dance floor, because, hey, why not? The atmosphere was buzzing, the mood was jovial and Billy Costa’s booming voice on the microphone – not to mention his gorgeous co-host Jenny Johnson floating around – made everything right in the world. The fact that the Gala was on a Friday night made the event – and the open bar – even that much more ideal.
Everything I sampled at the TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala was worth my sampling, but there were some clear standouts that deserve a shout out. Stephanie’s on Tremont not only offered me tender red wine braised short ribs nestled atop a pillowy pile of earthy and pungent truffled whipped parsnips, au contraire. Stefanie’s on Tremont offered me all of that deliciousness served atop an edible spoon that tasted like the most sophisticated cheddar Goldfish cracker one could ever imagine. Sharp, herbaceous and crisp, the edible spoon was the perfect mode of transportation.
Not to be shown up by their older sibling, Stefi’s on Tremont also brought their A-game to the TV Diner Gala. A piece of seared duck breast – chilled – was perfectly complimented by sweet and inherently sour cherries, plump and reconstituted and dotted with sharp clips of chives. A crisp piece of grilled toast helped cut the naturally rich piece of meat, and helped with my decision to take more than one bite…more than once…or twice…
Another tasty savory standout was the shrimp and thai green curry chowder served up by Summer Winter located in Burlington, Mass. The chowder, creamy via coconut milk and fragrant from notes of ginger, lemongrass and curry, was silken and luscious. Chunks of rich shrimp meat looked like icebergs necking out of the minted green chowder, while flowery jasmine rice was hidden beneath, helping to sop up all of the soup.
As I’ve described before on many occasions, my second stomach solely designed for dessert definitely came to play at the TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala. Let’s just start off by showing a wall of cannoli’s from Modern Pastry, which were essentially my appetizer to more dessert. Modern came packing heat, with tons of traditional Italian cookies, tiramisu, biscotti and more, all tempting already too-full guests.
A seven-tier, six-layer cake – one for each color of the rainbow – made by Cakes for All Occasions certainly was a showstopper. The light, whipped vanilla frosting pitted against the vibrant range of colors was a bold way to make a statement in a room full of statement makers. By adding a fondant Billy Costa and Jenny Johnson as cake toppers, I’d say Cakes for All Occasions really took the cake.
However, I’ll admit that the rainbow cake took the vanilla cake title, because hands down Barrington Brewery’s chocolate stout cake was the best chocolate cake of the evening – and possibly the best dessert overall. Although you couldn’t taste the beer they add to the batter, you could taste the finger-licking, four-piece taking, cut-in-line inducing awesome that Barrington somehow bottled and beat in. Dense yet light, rich yet delicate, fudgy yet fudgy and fudgy yet fudgy, the chocolate stout cake from Barrington Brewery was the perfect way to go big and then go home…and put on sweatpants.
The NECN TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala is certainly something New Englanders should experience at some point in their lives. Billy Costa and TV Diner have been drilling the event into viewers’ heads for months now, but after attending, I can see that it was definitely done with the best of intentions. It’s a night of dining, drinking and decadence that only Billy Costa’s tasty touch could deliver.

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