Beard finalist Craig Deihl sends dining dispatch from NYC

May the 4th be with you

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Tonight, Monday May 7, the 2012 James Beard award winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York City. Charleston finalist Craig Deihl and his wife Colleen hit New York on Friday for a weekend-long celebration. Here's a recap of their whirlwind eating and drinking tour:


Colleen and Craig Deihl take on NYC
  • Colleen and Craig Deihl take on NYC

Team Deihl arrived Friday in Manhattan and hit the streets for Parm in SoHo. The beet negroni was their speciality cocktail, made with beet infused gin, and we knew we were in the right place. Only the bar menu was available, and we scarfed down the hand-pulled mozzarella sticks and the B&G poppers (pepperoncini stuffed with pimento cheese served with homemade thousand island). No sooner were we talking about the death of MCA, did the Beastie Boys start playing. This would be our soundtrack for the rest of the afternoon as we shopped at Kid Robot and Piccolini children's boutique and made our way back to the hotel.

Our lack of decision-making skills paid off when we went to Gotham for a drink and possibly dinner at the bar but lucked into a seat in the dining room. The signature seafood salad and the diver scallops with parsnips and sunchokes in brown butter got us started in the right direction.

A sublime dish at Parm
  • A sublime dish at Gotham

The sheep's milk ricotta tortellini with black trumpet mushrooms and chip peas, mint, and Parmesan is usually an appetizer, but they made it into a larger portion for us. Craig ordered the suckling pig with broccoli raab, sweet onion marmalade and crispy potatoes, which was delicious. Our favorite dessert was the rhubarb, pavlova, ginger meringue, buddha's hand confit and formage blanc sorbet.

At Per Se
  • At Per Se

Our culinary adventures only got better on Saturday with a 14-course lunch in the salon at Per Se that left us feeling like we were the luckiest people in the world (follow @cdeihl on instagram for the full menu). We couldn't think about dinner until midnight at which point we ended up at Momofuku Noodle Bar for buns, noodle bowls, and octopus salad. Once again Colleen said she wasn't hungry yet ate everything in front of her. Nightcaps at Angel's Share proved to be a unique choice, especially the award-winning Speak Slow, which Colleen managed to get down without any help from anyone. This cocktail had two rums, sherry, and matcha, and looked like a wheatgrass shake.

Soft-Shell at Diner in Brooklyn
  • Soft-Shell at Diner in Brooklyn

Sunday fun day led us to Williamsburg to meet a friend at the Diner for brunch in an old diner car and possibly our last soft-shell crab of the season. The thick-cut bacon and beef carpaccio with sauce gribiche was awesome. We realized we had to eat again in four hours and walked around Brooklyn before heading back to the hotel for nap time.

Later, the pregame started at Craft Bar for cocktails that mesmerized all five in our party as we watched and listened to John Patterson, the sommelier. Their version of a margarita with vanilla-infused tequila and a floater of Campari made up for the lack of margaritas consumed by us on Cinco de Mayo. Dinner at Gramercy Tavern was a first for half of the table and a dream come true, especially when the chef, Michael Anthony (best chef NYC finalist) had a menu created specifically for us. Chef was actually dining in the next room and greeted us with a big smile.

Fellow finalists: Deihl and Matt Jennings
  • Fellow finalists: Deihl and Matt Jennings

As if our day wasn't fulfilling enough, we attended the Chef's night out at the Chelsea Market along with fellow chefs, finalists, and journalists. We ran into Matt and Kate Jennings, Sean Brock, Cathy Whims, and Lee Anne Wong before cabbing it back for a long awaited sleep.

This morning, Craig woke up early because he couldn't sleep and has felt foggy all morning.

Colleen Keegan Deihl: Are you nervous, Craig?
Craig Deihl: Yeah.

CKD: Are you going to eat more food today?
CD: Oh yeah!

And off we go to the Southern Mafia luncheon with the Southern Foodways Alliance at Butter.

Follow #jbfa and the Beard Foundation on Twitter tonight for live streaming of the James Beard Awards, which begin at 6 p.m.

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