Archive | September, 2011

Grandma’s Plum Tart

26 Sep

Italian Prune Plums are only in season for about one day each year.  When I saw that Fresh Direct had them, I jumped at the chance to order them so I could make Grandma’s Plum Tart.

I use the crust for this tart A LOT (you can use it on basically any pie or any savory dish, like quiche, if you take out the sugar).  It is the EASIEST thing in the world to make and requires no fridge time nor rolling out.  You make the darn thing right IN the pie pan.  It isn’t a flaky crust, but I’d challenge anyone to say it is any less delicious. I used it as the base for the Drunk ‘N Nutty pie, so head over to that link for more instructions.

I was actually out of breadcrumbs, so I used graham cracker crumbs.  You don’t taste this anyway, but good to know you can substitute (this stops the crust from absorbing too much of the sugar).

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Grandma used to halve the plums with her fingers and the pits would fall right now.  I guess I don’t have her magical ability to figure out when they are perfectly ripe, so I am usually splitting them with a knife and carving out the pit.  (And I have to give a shout out  to Mike, who meticulously and patiently cut all these for me since I broke my right pinky, further limiting my already clumsy knife skills).  This time was no different, even though they felt very soft to me.  You then soak them in sugar. (Grandma used to always worry they wouldn’t be sweet enough… I will keep that in mind for the future because while this turned out awesome, it was a little on the tart side.  Next time remember: MORE SUGAR)

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After you split them all in half, you arrange them in concentric circles.  I have done this starting from the center or from the outside, and while both methods need a little balancing and adjustment, the outside-in method seems to make the most evenness.

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You then bake it up for an hour.  Last time I made it, it wasn’t quite so juicy (the plums were frozen… not sure if that had anything to do with it).  This one was almost FILLED with juice.  I was concerned it wouldn’t work… but I should not have worried.

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You then pour in a mixture of egg, flour, milk and Bristol Cream Sherry (or any sherry really, but Bristol Cream is always the most delicious).  I was nervous it was going to overflow, but it fit in just right.

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You then bake it a bit more until the egg mixture is set (not runny).

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This thing is a crowd pleaser.  It has a beauty to it with those plums and is incredibly easy to make but looks VERY difficult.  The flavor is very unique, and unlike anything I have ever had.

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And best of all… it reminds me of Grandma.

 

___________________
RECIPE
___________________

Grandma Litty’s Plum Tart

Ingredients:

Plums:

  • 2 to 2 ½ pounds Italian Prune Plums – Split in half (they should be softish, ready to eat and splitable by hand. You should add more sugar if they are on the hard side. You can split them and freeze them since they are only available in early September)
  • ½ to 2/3 cups sugar (more if not very ripe)

Filling:

  • One egg yolk
  • 1 tsp flour
  • ¼ cup milk
  • One tbsp Bristol Crème Sherry (or any sherry)

Crust:

  • one stick butter, room temp
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 Tbl. Plain bread crumbs

 

Instructions:

· Cover split prunes with sugar and set aside

· Preheat oven to 350

· To make crust:

1. Cut up the butter in bottom of 9” pyrex dish

2. Add all the other stuff on top and using your hands, mush together very well, no flour should show.

3. Make ball in center, then press out with heels of hands, then fingers to get it up the sides… make even thickness bottom and sides.

4. Cover the bottom of the crust with BREAD CRUMBS.  This prevents the sugar from seeping thru the crust.

· Add plums in concentric circles, starting from outside… Stand them up and make it tight to keep them standing… use last plums in bowl to sop up all or most of the sugar.

· Bake at 350 for one hour.  Check after 35-45 mins, as sometimes the crust gets too brown, to prevent this, add a pie shield or place a ring of tin foil to cover the crust area.

· Remove from oven for 5 minutes and place on rack

· Beat one egg yolk with fork, then add 1 tsp flour, mix well with fork, then add ¼ cup milk, mix in one tbsp Bristol Crème Sherry (or any sherry)

· After crust has been out of the oven for 5 mins, pour the egg mixture gently over the plums.

· Return to oven for 5 mins… touch with your finger… if it is “set” (not runny) then remove from oven

 

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Pier 9

23 Sep

 

Pier 9 opened up on 53rd and 9th Ave earlier this year.  It took over the space that used to be Agua Dolce and seemed to become this new place overnight.  

Inside is very “under the sea” with dividers made of old sails, a watery color palette, and some plants that looked almost tropical.  It was almost a little TOO designed.  But it looked very nice.

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They put most of their menu onto a mirror, however, it seems as though must had changed since they finished this according to the menu we were given.

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We started with the lobster mac and cheese.  It was labeled as “non-traditional” and good thing, it certainly was anything but traditional!  It was like big, individual tubes of pasta stuffed with lobster and cheese and topped with lobster.

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It was delicious.

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Perfectly creamy and a really beautiful presentation.

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We also received biscuits, which Mike very much enjoyed.  

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They had peppers, so they brought me some surprisingly delicious toast instead.

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Mike got the burger.  Yup… even in a seafood restaurant, Mike judges by their burger.  He enjoyed it, but said it wasn’t anything super duper good.

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I got the scallops over celery root puree, eggplant, capers, raisins, and pine nuts.  It was a wonderful mouthful of textures with great flavor.  I was really impressed with this dish.  And the scallops were perfectly cooked and great on flavor.

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For dessert, we chose the s’mores donut. It was a homemade donut with marshmallow and s’mores ice cream.  I’m not a huge donut fan, but I LOVE s’mores.  Problem is… what I love most about s’mores is the combination of crunch, sticky, sweet, chocolate, melty goodness.  In this dessert, the donut reigned the plate and I thought it was good, but not my kind of dessert.  

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I was not expecting to like this place.  It had all the makings of a place that was so overstyled that they would let the actual food take a back seat. But this was food first.  And it was creative and delicious.  Well done.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

 

 

 

Strawberry Shortcake

21 Sep

 

I was on a mission to make a great strawberry shortcake.  In my mind, the shortcake should always be more biscuit like. It has become fashion to make a strawberry shortcake with something that resembled angle food cake rather than the shortcake I know and love.  I went through AllRecipes.com and read a lot of reviews and comments and eventually decided on the one that had the most people complaining about how this didn’t taste like commercially bought shortcake.  Perfect!

I also picked up an awesome tip when reading the reviews.  It is always a difficult task to keep the butter cold (an important part of flaky crust) while also getting it small enough to blend into a crust.  So someone recommended to freeze it and then use a cheese grater to make little butter ribbons.  Wouldn’t you know? Worked like a charm!  I will be doing this for all future baking.

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I wanted to make smaller short cakes, so I opted to make the dough into smaller balls and then press them down to create smaller shortcakes (rather than 2 large ones that I would layer). I also tried another version where I put them in mini tart pans, and that worked well also.

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The dough was a bit sticky, but as long as you’re not too worried about getting your hands dirty, easy to work with. I also added in almond and vanilla extracts to add a bit of flavor.  It was a good move.

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You are supposed to layer it with sugar coated strawberries, but I am a fan of adding balsamic vinegar to the mixture to add a little punch to the flavor.  I then made some home made whipped cream, layered, and adorned with fresh strawberries.  It was delicious!!

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___________
RECIPE
___________

Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake
(Original Credit to AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 quart strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I wound up needing a bit more since it was a humid day and my dough was a bit sticky)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I added this)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (I added this too)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups sweetened whipped cream
  • Balsamic Vinegar (enough to coat the sugared strawberries)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, gently stir strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar; coat with balsamic vinegar, chill.
  2. Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; cut in butter until crumbly. (refer to tip above about grating butter)
  3. Combine milk and egg yolks; mix well.
  4. Add vanilla and almond extracts.
  5. Add to crumb mixture, stirring just until moistened.
  6. Divide and pat into two greased 9-in. round cake pans. (Or into 8 4-5 inch tart pans, or divide into 8 balls and flatten onto a greased or Silpat cookie sheet)
  7. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; spread over dough.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  9. Bake at 300 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until golden.
  10. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. (Layer may be thin.)
  11. Cool completely.
  12. Place one cake layer on a large serving plate; spread with half of the whipped cream.
  13. Spoon half of the strawberries over cream. Repeat layers. Garnish with mint if desired.

 

 

 

The Breslin

19 Sep

I had been hearing buzz about The Breslin for quite some time, so when we were in the neighborhood and Mike suggested we see if they had any open seats, I was completely game.

They have an open kitchen in the back, and I was particularly amused by their decorations, which included “stuffed heads” that looked like stuffed animals and, as you can see in the picture below, pig toys hanging from meat hooks.

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Everywhere you looked there was something clever and cute.  (Look closely below to see the cute stuffed animal zebra “mounted head”)

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Mike and I started with the Terrine Board, which had guinea hen with morels, pork pate, headcheese, rabbit & prune, and liverwurst, and was served with pickles, piccalilli, and mustard. (Or at least I THINK that’s what it was).  Whatever it was… it was GOOD.


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Even the bread they served it with was perfectly crunchy.

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We then tried the scrumpets with mint vinegar.  I cannot for the life of me remember if these were pork or lamb, but it didn’t much matter.  After much Googling, there does not appear to be a definition of scrumpets really out there.  So let me define it simply by describing what these were…

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Slow cooked, melt in your mouth, juicy meat encased in a breaded, crunchy, fried (but not greasy), case that tasted a bit like heaven when you bit in.  There you go.  Scrumpet: A taste of heaven

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We also had to try the burger, since everyone kept talking about how awesome it was.  It was a lamb burger with feta (we got the cumin mayo on the side).

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It needed no cumin mayo.  It was perfectly cooked, perfectly juicy, perfectly charred, and perfectly delicious.

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The dessert menu was called “Evening Puddings” and was a great selection of delicious sounding desserts.

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We chose the dark chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream and brown butter bourbon sauce.  YUM YUM YUM. I want to go back and try more of these (ok… and the breakfast menu… and more off the dinner menu)

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This was a fantastic meal.  It’s one of those places that I’m kind of glad isn’t next door, or else I would be a lot fatter.  Everything was cooked to perfection with great ingredients and clever pairings.  Absolutely delicious.  And if you go, get the Scrumpets!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

 

 

Junior’s Cheesecake

16 Sep

 

There are a few “chains” in New York that are either near and dear to our hearts and make us proud to say that we, as New Yorkers, lay claim (Nathan’s, Nobu, Shake Shack) and some we don’t want anyone to know we started (TGI Fridays, Sbarros, Planet Hollywood).  Junior’s is somewhere in the middle, but I would say more on the positive side.  Who doesn’t like Cheesecake?

Though I’m not sure if MGM Foxwoods as the only location out of NYC qualifies it as a chain, we’ll go with it.

A friend of mine and I decided to check out the Junior’s in Times Square.

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I had only had the cheesecake, so it was time to try some real food.

This place is HUGE.  And it looks somewhere between a hospital and a diner.  Everything is shiny.

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We started with a cup of matzo ball soup.  The broth was tasty and the matzo ball was dense without being TOO dense.  I prefer mine a WEE bit more crumbly, but this was a very good one.

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My partner in crime got a tongue sandwich.  It was delicious.  As good as the tongue from Katz.

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I don’t know what I as thinking, but I got the sandwich called “Something Different.”  It was brisket of beef on potato pancakes with apple sauce. Woah nilly!  This was plum-diddly-umptious!  The beef and the potato pancakes were both great ,and made for quite the awesome combo.  I’m sure it was a heart attack on a plate, but it was worth every bite.

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We then ordered the Devil’s Food Cheesecake, which was layered with ganache, devil’s food chocolate cake, and, of course, cheesecake.  It had delicious chocolate chips on the outside and every bite was delicious and decadent.  Between the 2 of us, we couldn’t finish half.  

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It was mid-cheeseake that we looked up at the TVs and saw a completely atrocious site…

A workout video.

Playing in Junior’s.

Oh the humanity!

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Juniors: Worth the hype. Delicious, true to the deli concept, and awesome cheesecake.  There are a million other places to go in NYC, but if you’re looking for a quality diner-style meal before a Broadway show, you really can’t go wrong here.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

 

 

Il Punto- Take 2

14 Sep

 

We had been to Il Punto (on the corner of 38th and 9th) once before.  It was decent, but not some place I was chomping at the bit to go back to, however.  But when Mike’s family suggested we do a family meal there, we were game.  Hell… it’s hard to beat a place right on the corner!

We started with the artichokes, as we did last time.  These weren’t as good, and the sauce I loved last time seemed changed.

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We then ordered “Paper Thin Slices of Wild Boar” which came with mesculin, marinated eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and drizzled with pear vinaigrette.  This was good, but resembled roast beef a little too much to feel very special.  Still tasty though.

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I’m a bit foggy on what was ordered, but this may have been some sort of salad with meat and potatoes? Hmm. Not positive.

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This was the Salmone Alla Brace, which was grilled atlantic salmon served in a nest of julienne vegetables and roasted potato.

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Next was a Lombatina Al Vincotto: A grilled tender rib veal chop with red wine reduction, drizzles with vincotto, sprinkles black turffles, mashed potatoes and swiss chard.  This was pretty good.  Probably the best thing on the table. However…I have no idea what happened to the truffles.

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Someone also ordered a fish.  This may have been a special, because I can’t find it on the menu.  I know it’s not easy to bone a fish, but this one looked a bit like it had been through a war when it came out.

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Mike got the Bisteca Di Manzo Arrostita: char grilled sirloin steak with roasted potatoes and vegetable. This was pretty good.  Well cooked at the very least, though missing the fantastic char that, in my mind, sets steak apart.

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I got the special of pasta with beef and vegetables with shaved truffles.   I need to stop ordering shaved truffles.  They never taste as rich in flavor as I want them too.  This basically tasted like a small diced stew over over-cooked noodles.  Disappointing.  Fair at best.

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Overall consensus was pretty poor on Il Punto.  It was fine… but for the price, it should be much more than fine.  (Most entrees were $25-$30)  I probably won’t go back, but it’s just fine if you need an option in the area.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10 (a full Nom Point lower than last time)

 

 

 

 

Birds Eye Samples

13 Sep

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a few free samples of the new Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites frozen sides.  I am unable to take part in many Tastemaker programs because they send coupons and I, sadly, don’t live near a grocery store and get almost all my groceries from FreshDirect.  So I was SO excited when they sent me a box of the actual product to try.

Over the past few weeks, we have found multiple reasons to use them as a great side for proteins that we were cooking.

We first tried the mushroom and green bean risotto.

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It was a creamier version of rice, but I’m not sure if I would call it “risotto.”  It did taste quite good, however, and I especially liked the amount of flavor in the green beans. (I always worry about frozen veggies tasting like water)

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We paired with with tequila lime shrimp and some sautéed spinach with shallots.

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Next we tried the roasted red potatoes and green beans with parmesan olive oil sauce. 

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This one we heated in a pot instead of in the microwave.  Just as easy (just dirties a pot, of course).

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This was my favorite of the bunch. The potatoes were well cooked (not too mushy, not too tough) and the green beans were as good as the ones in the risotto. Yum!

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We paired this with an awesome butter poached baked chicken and they went very well together.

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We also tried the creamed spinach (which was so good that I didn’t even realize it came from a frozen bag until Mike told me).  Separately, I was enjoying these so much that I ordered  the Specially Seasoned Garlic Baby Peas and Mushrooms from Fresh Direct.

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Perhaps I’m a garlic snob, but these were not nearly garlicky enough for me.  They just kind of tasted like frozen peas and mushrooms.  I found this one also needed salt more than the others.

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I think the Chef’s Favorites are really the way to go with Birds Eye.  They are perfect “afterthought” sides because they heated up in just a few minutes, so you don’t need to plan too much to use them.  Since I find myself concentrating more on proteins than sides, this was a perfect way to make an easy meal. I was impressed with the flavor and quality, and will be buying these again (hey FreshDirect… please add these to your product list!)

(While I did receive these samples for free, I was not at all required to blog about them, nor provide a positive review accordingly.  All opinions are expressly mine and reflect my honest take on the product.)

Confetti Cupcakes with Bailey’s Frosting

12 Sep

I have a tradition in my office where I bake my coworker’s favorite desserts for them on their birthday.  One coworker said she loved confetti cake.  Hmmm… I was stuck.  That’s out of a box.  But… I said ok. I went to the store and looked for a box of confetti cake.  To my dismay, they had none.  I wasn’t sure if confetti cake could actually be made (weren’t those sprinkles inside magic so they got soft and didn’t bleed into the cake?) but a short google later, I found out that any regular sprinkles will do.  Good to know!

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So I whipped up a simple vanilla cake recipe (recipe here) and added in some sprinkles.  Worked like a charm!

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But I had to get a little more original with the frosting.  Lori had blogged about a Bailey’s frosting a few months back, and that seemed like a great idea to spice up these cupcakes. She originally got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

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I also bought a new cupcake piping set, and it made for some LOVELY looking cupcakes.

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So lovely in fact, that I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

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And this picture was definitely my favorite.

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If you want to make Bailey’s frosting at home, I recommend staying very close to the following recipe.  I added a bit of extra powdered sugar to make sure the peaks kept their shape after I piped them and brought this to the office.  It was perfect.

___________________
RECIPE
___________________

Bailey’s Frosting
(from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Directions:

1. Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.  NOTE FROM SMITTTEN KITCHEN THAT REALLY HELPED: “This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.”

2. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill

9 Sep

One perk of my job is that I get to go on client dinners.  This supplements my expensive eating habits nicely.  Sometimes I wind up at places that are less than ideal (a recent trip to Dos Caminos left me in the prickly position of a waitress saying to me “there is NOTHING on the menu you can eat”… awesome) but sometimes I wind up trying awesome places like Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill (on 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in the 6 Columbus Hotel).

I had been there once before, however, this time I was with a coworker who knew the manager and he knew EXACTLY what to order.

We started with the lamb chops, which was yummy.  It even converted someone who typically doesn’t like lamb.  Winner.

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It came over a delicious sweet potato puree.

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Next up we ordered the pork belly.

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It was a delicious slice of perfectly cook pork belly with a great balance of sweet and spicy veg on top.

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We also ordered pork and shrimp dumpings, both of which were good, but no better than most NY Dim Sum.

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They enjoyed an order of spicy ceviche. I’ll take their word for it that it was good.

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We also ordered the duck, which came with orange teriyaki, cauliflower puree, and asian broccoli.  The skin on this was so perfectly crisp and the meat was so well cooked it almost melted in your mouth.  One of the top duck dishes I have had.

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And then… heaven came out…

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This was Oxtail Fried Rice.  It came with daikon, shiitake, and bone marrow.  The bone marrow was actually tucked inside an egg pocket.  See it broken open in the picture below.

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This was unbelievable.  One of the best dishes I have ever had.  And it was rice.  The most delicious rice I have ever had!  I actually felt bad while eating this that Mike wasn’t enjoying it with me and look forward to bringing him back here soon just for this dish.  Add this to the list of dishes I will crave during bad days.  Om nom nom nom nom nom nom.

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Just in case that wasn’t enough food, a sushi tray made its entrance.  I won’t go into the specifics (since I don’t remember them anyway) but I can tell you that every piece was awesome.

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For dessert we got bread pudding and this made lovers out of haters.  It was insanely good, perfectly cooked, unbelievably tender and moist, and full of flavor.  YUM!

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We also got green tea chocolate lava cake.  Awesome.  Simply awesome.

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This was a fantastic meal.  Absolutely fantastic.  Knowing what to order is key.  I usually wouldn’t focus on the cooked food at a sushi restaurant, but don’t forget about the “Grill” part of their name.  It’s fantastic.

And that Oxtail Fried Rice… mmmmmmmmmmmmm

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Tribeca Grill: Tasting Event Courtesy of Rue La La

7 Sep

Sometimes I look around and truly realize that I live a charmed life.  This blog has provided opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined. I have been invited to amazing complimentary dinners, been awarded a free Kodak Gallery book, and been given many opportunities to try new products.  Recently, I received an invite from Rue La La to enjoy a complimentary dinner and wine tasting at TriBeCa Grill.  I wasn’t quite sure what it would be, but they said I would be sitting with other bloggers and enjoying a meal and wine directly from the vineyard.  I was in!  Why not?

I had been to the TriBeCa Grill once before, for Restaurant Week, and had a so-so experience.  I was happy to have the opportunity to try it again.  And I recently found out that Robert De Niro was a co-owner, so if Vito Corleone approves, I had to give it a second shot.

I arrived and quickly learned that this was actually an event that Rue La La offered from their NYC Local site where many people bought into this opportunity.  I was even more humbled to have been invited as I sat at a round table with 3 other couples.  They were all surprised to hear that I blog about food and it led to some fun conversation throughout the night.  I was the only single person at a table of couples.  This was one of those moments that I was happy that I have no problem being chatty.

The menu looked great, and I did the usual schpiel with the waiter about peppers.  He said it wouldn’t be an issue.

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The wine was supplied from Joseph Drouhin vineyard and one of the brothers from the family that owned the vineyard, Laurent Drouhin, was there to tell us about the wines.  He was an absolute charmer, with great charisma that really captivated everyone’s attention as he spoke.  All learned that all Burgundy is really Pinot Noir (red) or Chardonnay (white).  Suddenly it made sense that I have recently found a fondness for Pinot Noir, seeing as though I have always been a Burgundy fan.  We learned a lot about the vineyard, including that in 2009 it was certified organic, making them the largest landowners to be certified.  We heard some great quips from those that make wine, including “When I see my dogs eating the berries, I know [the wine] is ready.”

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The chef also came out to say hello, however, he seemed more on the shy side.

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As we waited, we were served awesome chardonnay (Saint Veran) which he described as “beachy,” which was apropos.   There were numerous passed hors d’vors, including some awesome short rib pot stickers.

Our first item on the menu was diver sea scallop carpaccio with yuzu raita and sea urchin vinaigrette, paired with Drouhin Vaudon CHablis ‘Premier Cru’ 2008.  Sadly, I was so into the chat that I completely forgot to take a picture.  I also didn’t get the sea urchin vinaigrette due to my allergy, which as a bummer, but it was delicious.  It was summery, fresh, and creamy with a slightly grassy note. The cucumber with it was great but mine seamed to be missing the yuzu sauce.  The wine was grown in a cold climate, in a chalky and limestone soil.  It was good on its own, but it really sang when paired with the scallops.

Our next item was the Mushroom Crusted Halibut with gulf shrimp raviolini and lobster consomme.  It was supposed to look like this…

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But mine came out without the mushroom crust and without the raviolini.  I was disappointed by this fact, and quickly realized that they thought my allergy was to BLACK pepper as well as the vegetable peppers.  This is the most annoying part about my allergy.  In every language, black pepper and peppers are the same word.  But they are not related.  I cleared it up with the waiter immediately, but it wasn’t in time to get that raviolini back on this plate.  This fish was, sadly, overcooked. But the consomme was sensational.  Looking back, I wished I hadn’t eaten this entire piece of fish, as it was the worst thing all night (since it was overcooked) and I wound up far too full by the end of the evening.

The wine that was paired was a Drouhin Beaune ‘Clos des Mouches’ Blanc 2008.  The story of this wine was interesting.  It was on the 1st vineyard the family purchased and it was actually produced by accident.  In 1928, they were only producing red wine and told the pictures not to pick the white wine grapes yet because they were not yet ripe.  Some white wound up mixed in with the red, and when they tasted this white, they loved it.  It became the housewine for the famous restaurant in France, Maxine.  The name translates to “enclosure for flies,” however, flies were really bees (honey flies) and it happened that there were many in this area. It was smoky and long lasting.  One of my favorites of the evening.

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Next was the currant glazed duck.  It came with summer truffle and a duck leg confit croquette along with herb roasted heirloom carrots.  I thought it was a very well composed dish, with a great balance of sweet with the fattiness of the duck.  The carrots were garlicky and awesome and the croquette sang to me.  Some found the currant glaze too sweet, but it was right up my alley.

The wine was the Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Clos des Godeaux’ 2009.  It was from a vineyard that was purchased by the family in 2009 and was fruity and smelled like my Grandmother’s Italian Plum Pie.  It was my second favorite of the evening.  We were informed that the 9s were very good for wine years, and 2009 was one of the best in the last 110 years in the Burgundy region. I agreed.

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We then were presented with a selection of artisanal cheeses (Coupole from Vermont, Le Marecha from Switzerland, Ubriaco Speciale from Veneto, Italy, and Cantalet from Auvergne, France).  I honesty couldn’t tell you which was which, but they were all great.  And made even better by the fig jam, quince paste, and raisin walnut bread it was served with. That bread was simply scrumptious!

The cheeses were actually served with 2 red wines.  One was the Drouhin Clos de Vougeot 2004.  I thought this was a bit strong and almost blotted out the flavor of the cheese.  The second wine was produced just 5 miles away, but was completely differently.  I really loved the Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny ‘Premier Cru’ 2003.  I thought it was fantastic and my top wine of the evening.  It smelled a bit like port and I thought it was the perfect foil for the cheeses.  Interesting, Laurent Drouhin asked the room who liked which one.  1/3 were with me, and 2/3 preferred the first wine.  He made the point well that wine preferences are very personal.

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Our final dish of the evening was a strawberry cheesecake with strawberry rhubarb sorbet.  This was… unnatural.  The color was a little too fake and the taste reminded me of fruit loops.  I couldn’t get past it and didn’t really enjoy this (which is strange for a dessert lover like me).  Someone else mentioned that it tasted like those Hostess packaged strawberry treats.  Neither comparison was something I would want my dessert to taste like.  It was a shame after such a lovely meal.

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Our table left very satisfied, and the number of glasses we amounted over the course of the evening amused me.

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Overall, both the food and wine at this event were fantastic.  I’m really thrilled to have been invited and this definitely elevated my perception of the restaurant.  Laurent Drouhin said the wines were made to be “Food Friendly” and he was absolutely right.  I will pursue these wines and hope I can find them in local stores.  (If only I could figure out how to pronounce them).  I’m bummed that my allergy mix-up at the beginning meant I didn’t get to try things the way they were intended, however, even without that it was great.  I will make a point of going back here.

And I have to thank Rue La La for being so good to local bloggers and inviting us out to this event.  There was a handful of us in attendance, and we all enjoyed ourselves very much.  I have purchased a number of local packages from Rue La La (and don’t even get me started on how many pairs of shoes have been shipped my way courtesy of their shopping site) and have always found them to be one of the better “deals” sites.  This event was personal and professional and all around delicious.  They just recently launched local editions in Chicago and Miami and I highly encourage you to check out their site to see if they have deals in your area.

Thank you again to TriBeCa Grill, Joseph Drouhin Wines, and Rue La La for reserving a seat for me at this dinner.  It was NomAlicious!