On Thursday, October 4, I had the pleasure of attending an event that would turn out to be the sweetest thing for me in a long time.
McDonald’s Unwrapped was, on the surface, a charity event to benefit the Ronald McDonald Houses of the Bay Area. Four of the Bay Area’s best chefs were given the challenge of creating 3 courses each, using nothing but the ingredients of the McDonald’s pantry. But for me, it was much more than this.
The evening started with an offering of passed hors d’oeuvres and wine, and wine, and more wine. The veggie wraps were fresh, chicken bites tasty, and what was described as a monte christo was probably the most inventive of the selection. Mini bacon burgers were dipped in a batter and fried until golden and crispy then doused with powdered sugar. Cute cute cute!
We were then led downstairs for the main event, a NINE course tasting of all the creative culinary genius that could come out of a McDonald’s pantry. And genius it was.
First, a perfectly poached egg that oozed liquid gold when sliced into sat atop a light and fresh bed of colorful tender greens and succulent sweet blueberries pickled to acidic perfection. Crumbles of bacon and toasted bread crumbs added the perfect crunch to the mix.
Course 2, a cool tangy roast tomato soup with what seemed to be a parmesan cracker, crisp onion bits and a dainty little triple cheese panini on a sesame seed bun.
Course 3, a smooth “parmesan puddin'” in an Angus beef and onion broth. This melt in your mouth treat was ultra-tasty. And with the exaggerated presentation of a bowl big enough to bathe in, this was the hands down winner of the first round.
Then the entrees:
Course 4, now this one is going to take a minute. Chef Ryan Scott showed out here – a 24 hour braised sugo? First of all, this man loved us enough to put 24 hours into this one dish for us. Second, WTH is a sugo? Honey, this dish was the bomb. How do you take McD’s ingredients and make gnocci?? Why isn’t this dish on the menu anyway?? I mean since he used their usual ingredients, I should be able to take my pic of this dish and my menu and go into McD’s tomorrow and insist on getting this dish. But I guess I’d have to order it 24 hours ahead, huh? Needless to say, this was my round 2 winner.
Course 5, a bacon wrapped meatloaf, paired with a chicken roulade atop whipped potatoes. Really, at McDonald’s? Does this even sound possible? Chef Beverlie Terra actually pummeled together McD’s fries until they melded into whipped potatoes. I’ll remember this the next time I’m cooking and all I have is a bag of frozen fries.
Course 6, the filet o’ fish meets the Ritz. Chef Sophina Uong (of Pican) dressed that little fish filet up in a mushroom “fricasee” and a fabulous lettuce puree. Who would think to puree lettuce? And sustainable fish – who knew McD’s was so environmentally conscious?? No pun intended, but I’m lovin’ it!
Course 7 – uh, may, zing… beignets. Enough said. The man made beignets. Oh lawd, I done died and gone to New Orleans. Chef Ryan cut up like he was on another round of Top Chef competing for the big bucks. I properly dipped my tender pillowy apple filled beignet in the coffee soda the chef prepared and closed my eyes and went on a little journey. This act was hard to follow. This was by far my favorite plate of the evening – with my 90% of the time gluten free self. I prayed that I would not suffer with indigestion later. Since it was just a taste, my stomach was spared.
Course 8 – Chef Beverlie treated us to a granola tart topped with real apples y’all, and a caramel coffee drizzle. I ate it all. No gluten worries there.
Course 9 – Get this – chocolate… hazelnut… chess pie. Oh, my, lawd. Everybody knows I love me some chess pie. And chocolate. And hazelnut. All atop a strawberry puree – with real, California strawberries I might add. Chef Sophina let the south hang out and went way back to my childhood with chess pie. Using ice cream cones, granola, chocolate milk and chocolate chips from the McD’s pantry – I never would have come up with this one. Sweet.
But what was sweeter than all of this for me was that October 4 would have been my second daughter’s 4th birthday. Had she lived longer than her 4 precious months, our family would certainly have needed the services of the Ronald McDonald House. And since this event was to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, being a part of it turned out to be an absolutely wonderful way to have celebrated her birthday. I’m now a supporter of this organization as a result of this evening. What a gift it turned out to be in many ways. Happy birthday, my Serene angel. And thank you, McDonald’s Unwrapped.