Special tomato dinner Zely And Ritz

On August 10, 2012 by Phil Champagne

By Phil Champagne, Managing partner at Wren Investment Group

Yesterday, Marie and I went to a special event held at Zely And Ritz restaurant where they were offering a 5 courses dinner, all with various tomatoes in them.
This was our first experience at such event and it was great. Very tasty.  The dessert was exquisite!

What was perhaps very hilarious was who ended up being seated at our grand table. It was Kellie Falk-Tillet of Drucker & Falk. Drucker and Falk is an important property management company located here in Raleigh with which we have established a business relationship with. What a small world! But I think the surprise was even stronger for Marie and Kellie themselves as they have ran into each other just last week at a Pilates class downtown Raleigh.

Just looking at their smile, it is clear the event and the food was amazing!  It is always nice to have those random encounters.

-Phil

Marie’s input:

Now, regarding Zely and Ritz, it is a restaurant that is in a partnership with local farmers in the area, in particular with Coon Rock farm a sustainable family farm localed in Hillsborough. The large majority of this restaurant’s ingredients come from those local farms.

The dinner started with a small cup of a “tomato water” which I don’t believe I’ve ever had before. Chef Sarig explained that he blended tomatoes and salt and let it rest for the night. This process allow the water in the tomato to separate from the pulp. He collected the water and served it in small espresso cup with two half tomato floating on top. It was so refreshing and unexpected.

The tomato water was only to prepare us for the first course which was fresh and flavorful gazpacho finished with basil oil. Every bite opened up our senses with a wonderful combination of herbs and spiciness.

The second course was a beautiful arrangement of 5 different variety of tomato (all passionately explained by the NC Tomato Man: Craig Lehoulier) served with  some fresh mozzarella cheese from the Chapel Hill Creamery drizzle with olive oil, basil and balsamic vinegar glaze. The colorful description given by Craig while eating the dish made us experience all the flavor of the different tomatoes and their subtle taste and texture.

The third course was stuffed tomatoes with ground lamb and grilled eggplant served on a bed of creamy tomato risotto. The marriage of the lamb and the eggplant was perfect for that stuffed tomato. The contrast of texture between the stuffed tomato and the creamy risotto was very pleasant.

The fourth course was a grass fed beef ribeye served with Roma tomato confit, roasted new baby potatoes, caramelized onions and grilled cherry tomatoes finished with house made ketchup. The ribeye was to perfection, tender and flavorful. All the surrounding were only adding pleasure to the beef experience.

The fifth course, like a grande finale, had the most surprising taste combination ever. It was a Sungold tomato panna cotta. The sweeteness was just right and when you expected it the least there was an incredible taste of tomato that when it reached your senses, it gave you that WOW factor. It was a fantastic, surprising and sensual experience.

They say that experiences give you more lasting happiness than material things and it’s probably true. Good memories, food, people you met and had fun with can be revisited any time and feel those shared happy moment. See you again soon Zely and Ritz, and see you soon Kellie!

-Marie

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