Marcus Samuelsson's Taste of Harlem at Post & Beam

A Swedish Ethiopian chef walks into a bar...or rather, Post & Beam, and next thing you know you're having a throw down, communal food fest in the middle of the Crenshaw Plaza parking lot.  OK, maybe there was a little more work involved, but the outcome was about the same.

Govind Armstrong's Post & Beam

Govind Armstrong's Post & Beam

Post & Beam's chef Govind Armstrong teamed up with the acclaimed Red Rooster chef in Harlem to celebrate Black History Month last week.

Perhaps they're predicting that this event will continue for the next 100 years

Perhaps they're predicting that this event will continue for the next 100 years

I justified the $140 dinner ticket by saying it was cheaper than a flight to NY to eat at Red Rooster, and besides that, proceeds from the event went to C-Cap, the culinary program for underserved high school kids, who also were in the kitchen helping to make our meal.

Chef Marcus Sameulsson was very warm and socialable, working the room and talking to people, and evidently sending e-mail for them.

Chef Marcus Sameulsson was very warm and socialable, working the room and talking to people, and evidently sending e-mail for them.

Govind Armstrong cooking in his kitchen

Govind Armstrong cooking in his kitchen

Continuing on the theme of bringing people together, the meal was served family style at communal tables with new friends.

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I won't say that I wasn't nervous eying the first plate of spiced flatbread going around our large table with pickled tomato and black eye pea hummus.  Would my table mates be good sharers, would they be overcome by the draw of the ripe red tomatoes, would there be enough warm bread to scoop up the smoky, sweet black eye pea hummus?  Rest assured, I would not go hungry tonight.

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Course after course rained down on our table.  There was passing, looking, photo taking, eating, comparing the menu.  What's on these deviled eggs?  Smoked catfish?  No!

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Can you really call this a taco, even if you put the word Ethiopian in front of it?  Nacho maybe.

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Kale salad?  You're just feeling guilty now that there's been no vegetables or green items on the plate so far.

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The crawfish beignets must be dessert right?  Wait, those were all just the starters?

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My looks then turned to panic as the servers kept dropping larger and larger plates at our table, and I'm not just talking about the size of the bowls, which were filled with things like dirty rice and shrimp that I would have loved just a little dirtier coming from these 2 gentleman (ok, that wasn't supposed to sound quite as "dirty" as it sounded).

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There was super crisp and moist fried chicken, which I greatly appreciate given the challenge of keeping the flavors and texture while cooking for so many people.  The fried trout, however, didn't fare quite as well.  While crisp, it wasn't able to keep anything resembling moisture inside.

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There was braised oxtail so as not to discriminate against any animal not being represented.  You can't forget the sides of black eye peas with roasted yams and bacon (gotta get the pig in there), buttermilk mashed potatoes and long cooked greens to give the nod to another leafy veggie in this round.

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It was Thanksgiving come early with a plate that wasn't liftable or digestable, but how could you pass up any of this?

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And yes, of course there was dessert.  Just a simple, light little trio of a sweet potato doughnut, red velvet creme brulee and a pistachio semifreddo.

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It took us a while to get up from the table, and if we could have slept in the restaurant, we probably would have, but there's more meals to discover.  Until next time!