2011 Food Network’s NYC Wine & Food Festival-30,000 Feet Above Sea Level

America’s favorite airline pulled out all routes to take our dining experience to the ultimate heights. We enjoyed a collaborative gourmet tasting menu designed by the chefs while Andrea Robinson , one of only 16 women in the world who have been appointed Master Sommelier by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers…. lead an unforgettable wine pairing, perfect for each course.

I was very excited to attend ” Delta’s Catch of the Day”, yet a bit nervous since I am so not a ” foodie”, let me further explain, I am a ” picky eater”. But upon entering the restaurant, I was very excited to see the decor and bit-by-bit my reservations were assuaged.  We were greeted by beautiful Delta Flight attendants who were dressed in fabulous, fiery red, vintage inspired uniforms, some of the ladies even wore pearls. The new television show PAN AM have nothing on these Delta flight attendants.

Catch is a  tri-level seafood tower . We were escorted upstairs to the glass penthouse on the roof. A lounge-like space with reflective gold brick and leather banquettes. Glasses of white wine awaited us at the bar and passed hors d’ oeuvres. I had my first tasting of fried oyster with a dollop of caviar. If only my husband Joseph was there to witness this. I was in the presence of foodies. I had to eat the oyster and put to rest my peculiarities about certain foods and textures. It tasted yummy! 45 minutes into the event, we were led into the elevator and on to the main dining room featuring a spectacular open air kitchen. Judia and I were seated with two lovely  companions we met at the – event, Betty a self confessed foodie and cardiologist and Peter, a gentleman who sells food enzymes. The next day, my most capable and knowledgeable companion Sommelier  and foodie Judia Black and I got together to chat about our night and what we thought about the different courses and wine pairings.

Naima : Judia, why did you choose this particular event to attend together, out of all the events at the 2011 Food Network’s New York City Wine & Food Festival?

Judia : When looking to select from the impressive lineup of events at the 2011 Food Network’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, “30,000 Ft Above Sea Level: Delta’s Catch of the Day” was an event that resonated with me in so many ways. Who better than the Atlanta-based Delta Airlines team to host a culinary journey that spanned the globe from the Southeastern U.S. to South America, Europe, and Asia? Talk about a cross-cultural exchange of flavors!  And the opportunity to meet Master Andrea Immer Robinson, along with the rest of Delta’s Culinary Dream team was an added bonus!

Naima : Judia, I really know very little about wine, I hope to change this now that we have become good friends. I am interested to know, what did you think of the wine pairings with the appetizers in the cocktail lounge?

Judia The talented and charming Master Sommelier, Andrea Immer Robinson curated a diverse selection of wines that enhanced the creatively eclectic cuisine. Spanish wines dominated the evening, and understandably so — some of the best wine values in the world today are coming from Spain (and South America). Starting in the cocktail lounge of Catch Restaurant in the Meatpacking District, the versatile Luxium Albarino from the Rias Baixas region of Spain was as wonderful with Chef Hung Huynh’s Oyster “Rich Boy” Fried Oyster with Remoulade & Caviar appetizer as it was with Chef Michelle Bernstein’s Shrimp Tiradito with Aji Amarill, Popcorn & Soy

Naima : Dinner was superb, delicious and I am very proud of myself for opening up my picky palate and trying dishes I never had in my entire life. The second course presented by Delta’s Chef Michael Chiarello, (award-winning chef and owner of critically acclaimed Bottega restaurant in the Napa Valley) was one of my favorite dishes of the night. Crispy gnocchi with carpaccio of tomatoes, burrata and balsamic caviar. Wine pairing a Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino. How did you enjoy the dinner courses prepared by these top chefs and the wines paired with them?

Judia : Congratulations on your bravery, Naima! I agree Michael Chiarello’s dish was fabulous, and the Brunello was a perfect pairing  with the tomatoes, by the way. I also really enjoyed the  Castillo de Molina Chardonnay from Chile; it had just the right amount of fruit , earth, roundness and restraint to compliment the exquisitely sweet and savory flavors of Chef Hung Huynh’s ” melt-in-your-mouth” Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower, Pistachio & Tamarind-brown Butter. My favorite wine of the evening was the 2005 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva – its ripe dark cherry fruit, balanced with good acidity and tannins offered the perfect combination of charm, complexity and muscle to bring out the best in Chef Franklin Becker’s  Wood Oven- Roasted Prime Aged NY Strip.

Naima : I had the most spectacular time at this event, thanks Judia for letting me tag along with you. Delta Air Lines Culinary Dream Team consisting of James Beard Award winners, Michelle Bernstein, Michael Chiarello, and Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, was a DREAM indeed. I cannot wait to fly on Delta on my next trip. All that delicious food.  I hope everyone enjoys all the pictures I was able to take of our wonderful night.

Judia : I had a blast too, and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy the evening together Naima. I went with high expectations, and Delta did not let me down. Andrea Immer Robinson and the rest of Delta’s Culinary Dream Team appear to be quite the CATCH for Delta. They are taking airplane wining and dining to a whole other level.

Naima Sanowar  also writes for her own Blog The Adventurista

Judia Black is Certified Sommelier and founder of enJoie a lifestyle, media and events company that provides food and wine-related education, services and marketing to private and corporate clients.