I first discovered Moss Café too late, alas, to participate in their Kickstarter campaign, but watching the video certainly whet my appetite (and tried my patience waiting for them to finally open).
Moss Café is taking kosher dining to new frontiers, creating seasonal dishes with entirely organic, bonafide local farm-to-table ingredients. Emily Weisberg built Moss Café on four pillars: community, sustainability, quality, and creativity, and she demonstrates a fierce commitment to abiding by them. Moss Café maintains strict standards for sourcing, even if it means running out of a given ingredient. Emily would rather take a dish off the menu than present a substandard ingredient to a customer. Since I’ve met her, Emily has been very receptive to my feedback (which when it comes to Moss Café is only pedantic minor issues, like how small the greens in a rice bowl are cut). It’s clear she wants to present food at its best.
I don’t live in the area and don’t get to visit Moss Café very often, so I was incredibly excited for the opportunity when Emily invited me to their mid-winter supper club last Thursday night. The event featured pastry chef Liza Miller-Price and served as both showcase and welcome for new Executive Chef Michael McCabe. Chef McCabe’s pursuit of harmony was excellently demonstrated at the dinner, where each dish was so well balanced and executed. Principles and ideals are great, but won’t get very far if the food isn’t good.
This was the largest supper club Moss Café has hosted to date, and the warm and convivial atmosphere at the communal table made for a perfect evening.
Smoked White Fish Tartine saffron | pumpernickel
I don’t usually care much for fish, but this dish had me hooked. Rich yet light, with just the perfect presence of smoke. Chef McCabe roasted the garlic rather than leaving it raw, which helped tame the pungency of the saffron.
Braised Leeks + Fried Brussels Sprouts poached egg | black truffle oil |shaved black truffle
A little sake makes an excellent palate-cleanser between courses.
House-Made Pasta pistachio pesto | balsamic portobello | house ricotta
My gut reaction at first bite was “OMG delicious!” The freshly made pasta was tender and toothsome, the ricotta and pistachio pesto sauce was rich while still being light and not too nutty (in the literal sense), and the portobello mushrooms provided a meaty, earthy counterweight. Their tart balsamic infusion brought a sweetness just when needed it to round out the savory richness of the dish.
Bouillabaisse + Rouille seared bronzino | purple sweet potatoes | shallot confit
Again, I’m not a fish person, but this dish drew me in with its complexity. A rouille is a Provençal sauce made from pounded red chilies, garlic, breadcrumbs, and other ingredients blended with stock, often blended into bouillabaisse. Here, Emily instructed us in the traditional manner of eating the dish, spreading the delicious shallot confit on toasted baguette and eating along with the soup (which for me turned out to be a messy but satisfying affair). The dish was hearty and rich, and I’m happy to report I devoured the fish.
Blood Orange Bread Pudding rum glaze | candied blood orange peel
Blood oranges are more bitter and less acidic than typical varieties, and Pastry Chef Liza Miller-Price used them to great effect in this final dish of the evening without overpowering the dessert (as you can see, I keep coming back to the idea of balance of flavor and texture). The bread pudding was tart and custardy, sweet and warming, a perfect send-off on a cold winter night.
Clouds and Mist Yun Wu organic green tea
I love matcha or any green tea, and this one made an impression. I can’t outdo the description on the tea menu, so I will suffice to quote, and attest that it’s true:
This delicate, fragrant tea of slender emerald leaves produces a complex elixir reminiscent of freshly steamed garden greens and reveals sweet, buttery notes of clover honey with a hint of campfire ash.
I hope I’ve managed to tantalize you with all the creative, farm-to-table goodness waiting for you at Moss Café. Go check them out, and I hope to see you there. I’m looking forward to seeing what Emily, Chef McCabe, Chef Miller-Price, and the rest of the crew are cooking up next.
Kathy Knapp says02/23/2016 at 8:43 am
This was a wonderful recounting of our shared culinary experience at Moss Cafe last Thursday evening in Riverdale, NY. In keeping with your theme of “blending, melding, balance” I, too, not only found the menu demonstrative of those attributes and the result completely delicious, but I also found the staff who created it and served it and the delightful gathering around the table to be even more exemplary of those descriptors. What a beautiful community of good people-friends, family, and supporters. If this is what Moss Cafe is all about – not least of which passion and talent- then you were entirely correct in saying, “her mother is intensely proud” of Emily and what she’s created here. Everything about that evening was memorable. This proud mother thanks you.
AJB says02/23/2016 at 11:12 am
Kathy, you are ever welcome. Thank you for elaborating on the idea of community, which I only touched on. The evening was definitely more than just eating good food. The ambiance and the company made for a warm and memorable event.