I never did post about it. So, as Michael and I get set to celebrate another year together, now seems an appropriate time to take a look back at what took place at Eleven Madison Park on Saturday evening, June 8, 2013.
First, some background info. Last year, our anniversary coincided with the Big Apple BBQ weekend.* During that annual event, EMP participates by offering music and liquid refreshments on the outdoor patio. When we stopped by in the afternoon, Will Guidara told us that he wasn’t going to be in that evening but some special things were in store for us. That there would be a surprise wasn’t exactly unusual since for previous birthday and anniversary celebrations, our EMP family had “cooked up” various amazing ways to do so. However, in our wildest imaginings, we could never have conjured up what actually transpired.
The task of doing some “research” was given to Service Director Billy Peelle. He told us he’d spent time reading through my entire blog (Poor Billy!) hoping it would yield an idea for a surprise that would especially suit commemorating our 45th. But he came up empty. His next move was contacting Jen. When he asked if she could tell him something about our wedding, she quipped, “Well, I wasn’t there.” Further conversation with Jen elicited the information that Michael and I had met at the (defunct) Concord Hotel, in the Catskills. It was during a Singles Week in August 1967. Having finished dinner, I was dawdling around the front lobby. Michael was at the top of the lobby’s staircase when he spotted me. Since I’d previously caught his eye one day as I walked through the lobby in my tennis whites, he came down the stairs and approached me. Would I be interested in having a drink with him? I replied that I didn’t drink but would be happy to keep him company. In the bar room, he ordered a Scotch on the rocks, we began chatting, and the rest, as the expression goes, is history. For Billy, where and how we met was just the kind of information he was looking for.
Now, in photos and some commentary, the tale of June 8, 2013.
The EMP wizards managed to locate a spoon from the Concord Hotel’s silverware service. A fantastic souvenir for us!
Michael started with a cocktail from the Manhattan cart while I had the virgin cocktail Gingered Ale.
Savory Black & White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple start the food ball rolling.
Champagne for a Toast
Sea Urchin Snow with Smoked Summer Melon and Surf Clam
White Asparagus Custard with Caviar and Rhubarb
This was added to Michael’s Champagne to make a White Velvet.
Royal Sterling Caviar with Buckwheat and Buttermilk
Since I don’t eat caviar:
Asparagus Salad with Bitter Almond, Buttermilk, and Miner’s Lettuce
As we waited for our next course, a carving table was wheeled up. Executive Sous Chef Dmitri Nagy appeared carrying a pan in which sat a huge tranch of roasted foie gras. Chef Daniel Humm was in the house. He arrived to do us the honor of carving and plating the foie gras. Since it’s no secret that I’m the Foie Gras Queen, all of this was a very special surprise.
Foie Gras Roasted with Blueberry and Spring Onion
For the Foie Gras:
Carrot Tartare with Rye Bread and Condiments
For the Carrot Tartare:
Keg Beer from Long Island
Halibut Seared with English Peas and Variation of Egg
For the Halibut:
Lobster Butter Poached with Snap Peas, Morels, and Sweetbreads
For the Lobster:
At this point, we were escorted to the kitchen which we have visited countless times. Chef Humm honored us by assisting in the preparation of our cocktails.
Although the kitchen had been the scene of surprises on previous special occasions, we were still totally rocked back in shock when Chef Humm presented us with this gift: framed Concord Hotel postcards including one showing the front lobby with staircase, as noted above, the place where Michael and I first met. On the back, many members of the staff had signed it.
We returned to the dining room.
Squab Roasted with Mushrooms, Garlic, and Pine Nuts
Lamb Crisped with Ramps, Bib Lettuce, and Meyer Lemon
Then came this OMG! surprise:
The knives are stored and each time we dine, they are brought out for us to use when the main course is served. We used them for the first time with this course:
Lamb Roasted with Freekeh, Mint, and Ramps
For the Squab and the Lamb:
Picnic Basket: Greensward Cheese, Pretzel, Pickled Strawberry, and Ale
Egg Cream: Malt with Vanilla and Seltzer
Another special treat: Severing a 1983 Bottle of Porto with Hot Tongs.
Cheesecake: Sheep’s Milk with Berries, Orange, and Vanilla
Card Trick Chocolates
The meal ended with Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Sea Salt and, coming full circle, with sweet Black & White Cookies with Apricot.
They weren’t quite done with gifts: Made Nice Canvas Bags and Tee Shirts
The last gift. Pastry Chef Angela Pinkerton made us this Strawberry Shortcake Tart.
It’s particularly significant because the header photo of this blog is a picture of the strawberry shortcake tart that used to be served several years ago when EMP offered a dessert cart at lunch.
I think you can see why our 45th anniversary celebration will forever remain one of our most memorable evenings. I can’t imagine our EMP family will ever be able to top it. But with those endlessly inventive folks, you never can tell.
45 Years and Counting….