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johnnyd

Deathmatch - The Last Supper

29 posts in this topic

Portland Maine's Deathmatch crew - a collection of talented area chefs and cooks - got together again for another legendary feast.

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Sunday, April 19th 2009

This time, the theme embraced the inevitability of one's demise but afforded the following indulgences:

1) What would be your last meal on Earth?

2) What would be the setting?

3) What would you drink?

4) Who would be there?

5) Would there be music?

These questions were sent out several weeks ago to the short list of regular Deathmatch participants, so adequate time - although if considering the circumstances for real, hardly so - was spent pondering the meal of a lifetime.

Sixteen chefs produced 18 courses. The inventive menu, below, constructed the repast as Cantos, beginning at the bottom (Hell) and ascends eventually to the top (Heaven).

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A very handsome booklet was created for the occasion by Marya Baron, author of Accidental Vegetables - a local food blog - Photographer Zack Bowen portrayed the chefs in poses approaching their final moment,

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...or maybe just after,

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The topic of bacon embalming technique surfaced at an alarming frequency over the course of the evening.

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The outdoor bar was in the capable hands of Nick the sommelier,

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and Myers, founder and curator of the Casco Bay Institute for Applied Toxicological Studies,

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About 70 bottles of rare and excellent wines were served, along with some small batch weiss bieres, David L. Geary Imperial Ale and Wee Heavy, Caipirinhas and Corpse Revivers by Myers, and as things got going, various stashes of PBR and Patron appeared.

---------------

While I wrestle more pictures from a dodgy camera chip (the old girl could be dying - I got her a month before joining eG 5 years ago), here are links to prior Deathmatches in the event you are new to this talented group of cooks:

October 14th 2007 - Deathmatch Deer: click here

March 9, 2008 - Deathmatch Japanese: click here

June 7, 2008 - Deathmatch Bizarre Foods on Travel TV: click here

August 31st, 2008 - Forage! Grow! Kill! click here


Edited by chrisamirault (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Holy #@*! Johnny D.

I have long admired the Deathmatch dinners that you've pulled together before. But this one looks to be a work of art. I love the theme. I think. The booklet photos are a little scary, though beautifully composed. And the food lineup...please tell us more.

I'm curious about your music throwdown, as well. How well did did the soundtrack accompany the food? That could be a whole new cooking thread.



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Things are off to a great start. Anticipation is high as chefs and guests sample some terrific champagne and wines (list to come).

Meanwhile, the kitchen is whiring to life.

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Pre-prepped dishes were loaded into the kitchen all afternoon.

Canto III Jamon Iberico de Ballota stands ready for the knife.

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Chef/Owner Krista Desjarlais of Bresca, Chef/Owner Erik Desjarlais of Evangeline, and Artist-at-large Steve Benenson survey the gathering storm. In keeping with theme, most are dressed for a wake.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Deathmatch is a concert of chaos. It's a miracle we pull it off, but we do because of a blend of unfailing attachment to good cuisine and stubborn desire to have the best damned party possible.

What occasionally suffers is a detail or two, like my camera deciding to crap out, or the house plumbing shits the bed (more on that later). So owing to various challenges that arose, I wasn't able to capture all our courses. The good news is that there were at least two professional photographers at the feast, so anything I missed will be available in the near future, and I will see about filling in the gaps. [ETA: DM participants and photographers have come to the rescue: photo's marked zb were taken by Mr. Zack Bowen]

Canto I

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American Spoonbill Caviar - Erik D.

Sublime start to the feast.

Canto II

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Tortilla Soup - Joe

Great color and piquancy. Joe used house-dried peppers for this.

Canto III

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Jamon Iberico de Ballota, Marcona Almonds and Amontillado Sherry aged by Juan Luis Gonzales Obregon - Jon

Lovely stuff! Almonds at a perfect state of crunch and sips of delicious sherry made this traditional triad one of my favorites.

Canto IV

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Classic Peruvian Ceviche / Creamy Coconut Ceviche - Joel

Excellent rendition of a classic ceviche, it's citric tang countered with creamy coconut covered tuna.

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Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Holy #@*! Johnny D.

I have long admired the Deathmatch dinners that you've pulled together before.  But this one looks to be a work of art. I love the theme. I think. The booklet photos are a little scary, though beautifully composed. And the food lineup...please tell us more.

I'm curious about your music throwdown, as well.  How well did did the soundtrack accompany the food?  That could be a whole new cooking thread.

It's important to point out that full credit (or blame, as it were) for these events sits squarely on the shoulders of these two intrepid gentlemen (photos, from DM Last Meal booklet, by Zack Bowen) I am merely a conduit through which all this can be shared:

Mr. Joe Ricchio,

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and Mr. Jon Dietz,

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Scary photos? Why, whatever do you mean?? :biggrin:

The music was painstakingly arranged by Joe, who grouped mellower selections (Astrud Gilberto, Debussy) at the start of the evening, then ramped up the pace (Grateful Dead, Roxy Music) through the courses. By dessert, Metallica, N.W.A and Dead Kennedys were getting the dancefloor going. All invitees were allowed 3 selections so 50 trios were printed in the DM Last Meal 2009 booklet.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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The photo of Jon Dietz was actually one of two in the book taken by Katie Selva, not Zack Bowen (she also took the photo of Erik and Krista). The photo with the baby in the pot was taken by someone else but I never found out who!

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The photo of Jon Dietz was actually one of two in the book taken by Katie Selva, not Zack Bowen (she also took the photo of Erik and Krista). The photo with the baby in the pot was taken by someone else but I never found out who!

Thanks Marya - Terrific job on that, my dear!


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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The photo of Jon Dietz was actually one of two in the book taken by Katie Selva, not Zack Bowen (she also took the photo of Erik and Krista). The photo with the baby in the pot was taken by someone else but I never found out who!

Thanks Marya - Terrific job on that, my dear!

Thanks! It was an honor. :)

Your stew was delish. I am still recovering from the whole experience.

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Canto V

Oysters - Pieper

Who can resist the most decadent of bivalves their final day on earth? I thought so. Well Pieper's lovely companion Patty happens to work at the best fishmonger in Maine so a pile were procured for Deathmatch.

The method was ingenious: apply a layer of oysters atop a smoldering hot grill and remove when popped open by the pressure buildup inside where the liquor is poaching the meats. A minimum of shucking is needed. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and tabasco dribble - goodbye cruel world.

Unfortunately, the grill was really, really hot - I could tell because those oysters were popping like rocks in a campfire - so I put down the camera to help before the little buggers went to char. I saw a couple flashes so I know someone caught the comedy of pieper and I madly sweeping hot oysters on to a half sheet pan... (why yes, I would like you to send me that one, thanks!)

Canto VI

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Roast Quail - Erik

From Cavandish Farms, Vermont Simple, perfectly roasted little birds,

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Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Canto VII

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Harissa Spiked Scallop with Pickled Fennel - Asian Spice-Braised Belly Pork - Cold Smoked Baby Octopus - Brad

Holy Hannah, was this good. Brad from 555 kicked out this little number and blew us away. Wonderful play on flavors

Canto VIII

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Tagliatelle with Broadturn Farm Butter, Sea Salt and White Truffle - Leslie

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This went so fast I never got a taste - obviously stupendous, as was the...

Fondutta di Tartufo e Fontine with Crostini - Leslie

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...which I did get fistfuls of. As Last Meals go, who wouldn't go for a plate of fresh pasta and piles of molten cheese? Really good cheese? ...with truffles!?

Canto IX

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Maple-Candied Pulled Pork and a Popover - Nolan

Sublime. Not only was the sauce mapley, but check out those maple-sticks!

Canto X

Feijoada Finale with Caipirinhas - Johnnyd/Myers

This simple family dish from Brazil was my choice because it reminded me of hot Saturdays in Brasil when I was a young teen. Tons of people, food and music.

It took two days to get this ready. Black bean stew with several pounds each of eye-round beef, fresh chorizo and smoked ham hocks, served over white rice, collard and leek sauteed in bacon fat with a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar, topped with a Naval orange segment. Sauce options were malagueta w/lime & garlic, or malagueta w/EVOO & whiskey. Can't seem to find a picture of it! :angry:

I almost dumped the whole pot in the trash while those incredible courses rolled out of the kitchen before me, but many people came by and complemented the dish on it's simplicity and authenticity. I'm now convinced. So much so that if anyone is interested I have several quarts of leftover feijoada in the freezer - $50 each! Hey, I'm here all week!

Mr. John Myers made about a gallon of terrific caipirinhas that employed some cane-sugar stuff from Martinique. While I was serving fiejoada I heard some glass breaking outside so they were clearly a hit out by the terrace bar.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Canto XI

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If you know you've got one meal left on the planet, wouldn't it be bacon?

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I don't know about you but I've had near nirvana-like moments with a Bacon Lettuce Tomato sandwich as my only companion. So the Pickett Street posse won me over with their selection for Last Meal,

Deconstructed BLT - Hot Mayonnaise In Your Mouth - Josh & Kate

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What made this Canto different from the others was it's delivery system...

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Before serving the course, the BLT Waitresses do a dry run,

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A not-so-dry result, but I'll wager that was the idea.

Amazingly, it was a hit with the crowd...

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As you can imagine things got, um, out of hand. But this is a family website so we'll move on now, shall we? There are seven cantos still to go!

note: all photos in this post by Zack Bowen


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Canto XII

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Shortrib Pot Pie - Stephen & Merry

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Absolutely stunning little pillow of pleasure here. Flaky crust holding a scoop of perfectly braised short rib - a huge crowd-pleaser.

...but disaster looms near!

Somewhere around the middle of the evening, the usual fine-tuned hum of the kitchen was snagged by a plumbing snafu,

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Naturally, several able people stepped in to remedy the situation

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Alas, without proper tools, we settled on running buckets off the upstairs bath and the feast resumed.

Canto XIII

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Sweet & Sour Balsamic-Braised Short Ribs, Salt & Vinegar Fries - Jason

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I was getting pretty full, but I helped dab Jason's paprika mayo on a dozen of his plates so I really couldn't resist. This was probably the closest thing to what everybody really wanted for their last meal: a big pile of good french fries!


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Canto XIV

Foie Gras Mousse Bacon Crumble - Nat

Foie is an essential part of a decidedly unhealthy final meal so it was certain to appear tonight. And when it did, it disappeared so fast that no one snapped a picture (that I know of yet).

Suffice to say that Nat made an outstanding dish that was surprising for its light touch on a rich ingredient. Bits of bacon punctuated the airy mousse with specks of salty goodness. Great gateway to the dessert portion of the evening.

Canto XV

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Croquembouche - Krista

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I like the deployment of a traffic cone when I cook too.

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And what's wrong with getting delicious caramel thread on everything? Including, probably Krista.

Most decadent nibbles, these.

Canto XVI

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Ginger Puddings with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce - Ginger Caramel Crumble - Jodi

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When you bit into this, not only is the amazing praline effect knocking your socks off, but somewhere inside is a mysterious gingery pool surrounded by some of the best chocolate (so far) of the evening.

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Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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The Deathmatch Wine List

The Wine: (92 bottles)

12 x Broadbent, Vinho Verde N/V

Bellenda, Brut Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene “San Fermo”, 1.5l

Bellavista, Brut Franciacorta Cuvée, 1.5l

Perrier-Jouët, Brut Champagne Cuvée Belle Epoque “Fleur de Champagne” 1990, 3.0l (Jeroboam)

6 x Lustau, Amontillado Jerez Puerto de Santa Maria “Almacenista Jose Luis Gonzalez Obregon” N/V

Georg Breuer, Riesling QbA Rheingau Rüdesheim Berg Schlossberg 2004, 3.0l (1 of 30 Produced)

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Riesling Spätlese Trocken Pfalz Forster Kirchenstück 1997, 1.5l

St. Michael-Eppan, Sauvignon Alto Adige “Sanct Valentin” 2004

6 x Bodegas Aragonesas, Campo de Borja “Coto de Hayas” Rosado 2007

Estancia, Meritage Alexander Valley 1989, 1.5l

Tramonti, Chianti Classico 2004, 3.0l

Nicolis, Veronese IGT “Testal” 2001, 1.5l

Poggio Amorelli, Toscana IGT “Oracolo” 2003, 3.0l

Domaine Henri Perrot-Minot, Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes 1999, 1.5l

Domaine Jean Chauvenet, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Rue de Chaux 2001, 1.5l

Louis Bernard, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1999, 1.5l

Domaine de Vieux Télégraphe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau” 1997, 1.5l

Château Lamartine, Cahors Cuvée Particulière 2004

Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero “Janus” Gran Reserva 1995

Château Musar, Bekaa Valley 1999

Hanzell, Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley 1990, 1.5l (Signed by Bob Sessions)

Marchesi di Barolo, Barolo “Grande Annata” Riserva 1988

William Hill Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1990, 5.0l (Imperial)

Librandi, Val di Neto IGT “Gravello” 2003

Tenuta Il Poggione, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1997

Ridge, “Geyserville” Sonoma County 1999, 1.5l

Fauchon, Sauternes “Réserve” 1995, 375ml

Foreau, Vouvray Moelleux Domaine du Clos Naudin 1995

Wegeler-Deinhard, Riesling Spätlese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1990

Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, Riesling Beerenauslese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Trittenheimer Apotheke 1989

Fonseca, Reserve Porto “Terra Bella” N/V

Château de Montpezat, Coteaux du Languedoc “Palombières” 2003

Condado de Haza, Ribera del Duero 2001

Mt. Difficulty, Pinot Noir Central Otago 2004, 1.5l

Etude, Pinot Noir Carneros 2004

2 x John Duval Wines, Shiraz Barossa Valley “Entity” 2005

Niebaum-Coppola, Zinfandel Napa Valley “Edizione Pennino” 1999 (Signed by Francis Ford Coppola)

Masciarelli, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Villa Gemma” Riserva 2000

Marchesi di Barolo, Barolo Cannubi 2004

Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas Les Ruchets 1998

Bollinger, Brut Champagne “La Grande Année” 1999

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The Beer

G. Schneider & Sohn, “Wiesen Edel-Weisse” Hefeweizen, Kelheim, Germany, 20l (1/6 Barrel)

St. Bernardus, “Abt 12” Quadrupel, Watou, Belgium, 20l (1/6 Barrel)

Harviestoun, “Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12” Old Ale, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, 30l (Cask)

Castle Eggenberg, “Samichlaus Bier” Doppelbock, Eggenberg, Austria, 3.0l

24 x Geary’s, “Wee Heavy” Scottish Ale, Portland, Maine, 12 oz. bottles

24 x Geary’s, Imperial IPA, Portland, Maine, 12 oz. bottles

12 x Anheuser-Busch, “Bud Light Lime” Beer, 12 oz. bottles (F’n Spider)

6 x Falstaff Brewing Company, “Ballantine XXX” Ale, 16 oz. cans (F’n Gerry)

Lots x Pabst Brewing Company, “Pabst Blue Ribbon” Beer, 12 oz. bottles, 12 & 16 oz. cans

Master Myers (polishing his scythe)

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The Hooch

Lillet, Apéritif Blanc, France

Cointreau, Triple Sec Liqueur, France

Cock-Russell & Co., “Boodles British Gin” London Dry Gin, England

Lucid, Absinthe “Supérieure”, France

Leblon, Cachaça, Brasil

Herredura, Tequila “Silver”, Mexico

Don Julio, Tequila “Reserva de Don Julio” Blanco, Mexico


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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What a feast -- all Seven of the Deadly Sins are somehow in play. Thanks for the coverage, johnnyd.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Canto XVII

Classic Pound Cake - Samantha

Served with strawberries and cream? Are you kidding me?! Just bury me surrounded by Sam's perfect pound cake, squeeze enough whipped cream to fill the coffin, and plop a strawberry in my cold, dead mouth - I'm outta here.

Canto XVIII

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Cherubs & Diablos - Meg

Oh my god!

Oh my god!!

Oh my god!!!

Meg's cherubs were little clouds nestled in a handmade (milk?) chocolate cup. The Diablos were made of head-spinning dark chocolate with what I think was a candied jalepeno piece on top, but the whole package had a piquant kick that would conjure Satan himself.

I liked them both, but if I had to choose, I would join the rest of the Deathmatch crew at Satan's side...

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Thank you for visiting the Deathmatch, April 19th 2009, in Portland Maine

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A crypt of thanks go to Photographers Zack Bowen and Katie Selva, without whom eGullet coverage of Deathmatch events would not be possible.

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See you next time!


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Oh mygod! Such decadence here in Maine! If you do this next year, I'll have to make a rare trip to Portland.

PS. I know a little about plumbing.


Edited by Country (log)

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If I had to request a last meal, I'd like the same courses served to me before I die. Yes, all of them. Thanks for the great coverage, Johnny! You and the DM chefs rock!


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Great stuff, johnnyd. Thanks.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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Madness! But sublime madness.

It's really wonderful to see so much creativity and love at work. Thanks for sharing it.

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The photo of Jon Dietz was actually one of two in the book taken by Katie Selva, not Zack Bowen (she also took the photo of Erik and Krista). The photo with the baby in the pot was taken by someone else but I never found out who!

What baby in WHICH pot? I didn't see no baby in a pot... :blink: Would love to see all the pix, if you have permission to post them. :wub:

And thanks for sharing this with us!


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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The photo of Jon Dietz was actually one of two in the book taken by Katie Selva, not Zack Bowen (she also took the photo of Erik and Krista). The photo with the baby in the pot was taken by someone else but I never found out who!

What baby in WHICH pot? I didn't see no baby in a pot... :blink: Would love to see all the pix, if you have permission to post them. :wub:

And thanks for sharing this with us!

That's a great idea - some fun portraits still in the book. I'll see about digital versions.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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By popular demand, the chef photos from the Last Meal booklet, specially made for the recent Deathmatch, are posted below, pretty much in order of their appearance. Affiliations with Portland eateries, food purveyors or otherwise are noted.

The two Hosts with the Most are pictured up-thread. Then we have,

Samantha Hoyt Lindgren

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Sam and her husband Don run Rabelais Books, an internationally-recognized purveyor of books about all things culinary, on Middle St. in Portland.

Stephen & Merry Benenson

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Stephen & Merry run One Longfellow's Square, Portland's au-courant Arts & Music venue.

Leslie Oster

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Leslie is the whirlwind behind Aurora Provisions busy catering department, among other hats worn at this highly-regarded Portland West End food-landmark.

Erik & Krista Desjarlais

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Erik Desjarlais, chef-owner of Evangeline, his well-received eatery in Portland. Erik's take on daring bistro fare earned Evangeline Portland's only 5-star distinction.

Krista (Kern), Erik's recent bride, runs Bresca, a unique and oft-recommended Portland dining experience.

Between these two, much ink - and many pixels - have been cast by those lucky to sit at their tables, accounting for much of why Portland commands it's station in the American Food Arena.

Jason

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Jason holds down the BOH at Novare Res Bier Cafe deep in the bowels of Portland's Old Port

Nolan

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Nolan works the historic floors of Downeast Beverage on Commercial Street, the waterfront drag in the Old Port.

Joel

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Joel manages Portland's premier bakery, Standard Baking Company

johnnyd

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Johnnyd plays guitar and shucks a mean oyster.

Nat

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Nat is part of the 10-person staff of R.P. Imports, importers and brokers of boutique wines from around the world.

Kate Squibb & Josh Potocki

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Josh and his wife Parker own and operate 158 Pickett St. Cafe near Willard Beach in South Portland. Kate is their chef extraordinaire, First Mate and keeper of the keys to the brig.

Pieper

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Pieper helps cook up a storm at 555 a famous eatery on Congress St. and sometimes helps out Brian with his inventive new menu at Brian Boru on Center Street

Meg Swoboda

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Meg is the tour de force behind Sweet Marguerites artisanal chocolate makers of South Portland. I swear she's trading that kid's soul for a brick of bittersweet.

Not pictured, at least in this post, is the amazing Brad who currently works at 555 but plans to explore farming in Bowdoinham, Maine, this summer. He was photographed in an amusing, but compromising position - sitting on a toilet - so I thought it best for everybody that we leave that one out.

It is without doubt that Deathmatch cannot occur without the help and hard work of many people, only some mentioned here, who are compensated only by eating some of the best damned food prepared in New England, and knowing they are having more fun than a person should be allowed to have.

We'll be back in the not-too-distant future when our hangovers finally abate, our bank accounts stabilize a bit, and when new challenges vie for a call to arms.

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All photos in this post - except Nat, Erik & Krista - are courtesy of Mr. Zack Bowen - thanks, man!


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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