Dining Out: April – June 2015

July 1, 2015

Chevalier

April

New York City

Dinner:

Braised Lamb Shank
BLT Prime

Roasted & Braised Chicken
Telepan

Cara Cara Orange Salad
Union Square Café

Cole Slaw
betony

Carpentras White Asparagus
Chevalier

Lunch:

Pizza
Upland

Picnic Basket Fried Chicken
Blue Smoke

Super, Duper Stack Burger
Genuine Superette

Plain Pie
Rocky Slims

Spring Veal
Eleven Madison Park

Late Supper:

Hemant's Tandoor Grilled Lamb Chops
Haldi

May

New York City

Dinner:

Chocolate
Bien Cuit

Lunch:

Sugar Snap Peas and Charred Beets
Untitled at the Whitney Museum

Crab
Eleven Madison Park

June

New York City

Dinner:

Tomato Salad
The Clocktower

Foie Gras Torchon
Picholine

Profiteroles
La Gamelle

Compliments of the House
Daniel

Anniversary Gift
Eleven Madison Park

Seared Foie Gras
NoMad

Mackerel
betony

Lord Baltimore Cake
The Simone

Pesce a la Griglia
Marta

Keens's Coffee Cantata
Keens

Striped Bass “en Paupiette”
Café Boulud

Lunch:

Asparagus
Rocky Slims

Roasted King Salmon
The Clocktower

Chicken Liver Cavatelli
Landmarc

Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium

Sigara Boregi
Turkish Kitchen

Foie Gras Sautéed with Rhubarb
The Modern Dining Room

Lobster Ravioli
Del Posto

Sturgeon & Sauerkraut Tart
Gabriel Kreuther

Pink Lady Apple Tarte Tatin for Two
The Clocktower

Brunch:

Burgers and Fries
Shake Shack

Pastry Basket
Upland

Late Supper:

Eggplant Timballo
The Leopard at des Artistes

Harissa Charred Yellowfin Tuna
Boulud Sud

Pre-Dinner:

The NoMad Library:  Scotch Olives
The NoMad Library

Post-Dinner:

The NoMad Library
The NoMad Library

Click here to see the complete photo sets of all the places listed here on my Flickr.

The Foie Gras Queen Returns!

June 30, 2015

Well, she hasn’t really been gone. But considering that since the beginning of this year, I’d had foie gras just seven times – a rather paltry number by Foie Gras Queen standards — you might say I was on a semi-hiatus.

In fear of losing my queenly status, I needed to do something about it toute de suite. An excellent opportunity presented itself earlier this month when we celebrated our 47th anniversary. During our week-long stay in NYC, I had foie gras in some way, shape, or form six out of the seven days. Thus, in one week, I was just one foie gras short of the number I’d had in the previous five months.*

Monday: My week of foie gras started on our anniversary at Daniel. Quite the production number, the foie gras was flambéed and plated tableside.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras
Kirsch Flambéed Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Bing Cherries, Almond Cream, Anise Hyssop, Dandelion Salad

Tuesday: As I detailed in this previous post, we were at EMP. The tasting menu-only format always includes foie gras. Diners are given the choice between foie gras cold or hot. Since we’d had the spring menu’s cold version during a prior visit, we both chose the hot.

Foie Gras
Foie Gras
Seared with Sorrel and Horseradish

Wednesday: Dinner was at NoMad. Though there is a foie gras torchon dish on the appetizer list, Michael and I decided to have the new Charcuterie Board for two. Lucky for me that among its various items was a jar filled with – Yes! — a torchon of foie gras.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie: “The Butcher’s Block”

Now, here’s the thing. When I made the reservation via OpenTable, I didn’t mention our anniversary. However, since NoMad is the sister restaurant of EMP (both under the Made Nice company umbrella), turned out that little EMP birdies told the staff at NoMad about it. So, NoMad’s executive chef James Kent, who was previously the chef de cuisine at EMP, hatched a surprise. Along with the charcuterie, he sent out a seared foie gras dish he created especially for us! We were totally floored and extremely appreciative of this gesture.

Seared Foie Gras
Seared Foie Gras with Rhubarb

Thursday: We did the tasting menu at Betony. Before opening Betony a little over two years ago, Chef Bryce Shuman was the executive sous chef at EMP. Like the tasting menus there, Bryce’s tasting menus always include foie gras. In this one, that would be twice.

Amuse
Amuse
Foie Gras Bonbons

Foie Gras Brulée
Foie Gras Brulée

Friday: The Modern Dining Room was the setting for lunch where another EMP alum, Chef Abram Bissell is in charge of the kitchen. His menu there always includes both hot and cold foie preparations. Though I like torchons and terrines, I do favor seared or roasted foie gras, so that’s what I chose.

Foie Gras Sautéed with Rhubarb
Foie Gras Sautéed
With Rhubarb, Basil, and Lime

Saturday: We had dinner with Jen and Louis at The Simone. While the regular menu did not include a foie gras dish, happily for me, it was one of the specials.

Sautéed Foie Gras
Sautéed Foie Gras with Apricot

Thinking about this variety of foie gras dishes, I realized something interesting. While hot foie gras is traditionally accompanied by something sweet, fruit being a favorite choice – as at Daniel and The Simone – you might have noted that in several instances, the accompaniments were savory in nature, for example, the rhubarb at both NoMad and The Modern. In those cases, there was enough of a hint of sweetness added to make the dish work very well.

Which was my favorite? Honestly, I’m hard-pressed to choose. Each and every one was seriously delicious. All in all, a terrific comeback for the Foie Gras Queen!

*P.S. I actually ended up equaling the previous five months’ total with another foie gras dish at the end of the month. However, rather than include it here, I’ll discuss it in an upcoming post about the brand new restaurant where I had it. Have I piqued your interest? If so, stay tuned!

Links to the complete photo sets:
Daniel
Eleven Madison Park
NoMad
Betony
The Modern Dining Room
The Simone

NYT Sunday Puzzle – June 28, 2015

June 28, 2015

NYT Sunday Puzzle - June 28, 2015

Title: Getting in the Final Word

Theme: This one’s a bit complicated to explain. Answers are familiar phrases containing the word “in,” but “in” is not written out. The first part of the phrase crosses the last part which is a single word.  Ergo, the first part is “in” the second part. Also, one letter in the final word needs to be mentally dropped to make it the correct word for completing the phrase.

3D. With 18-Across, “To be on the safe side…”/18A. Gay rights, e.g. = Just/Cause = Just in case

16D. With 21-Across, remembering/21A. Like some enemy waters in wartime = Keeping/Mined = Keeping in mind

30A. With 13-Down, shorthand pact for a wild trip/13D. Unlikely butchers = What happens/Vegans = What happens in Vegas

52A. With 49-Down, 1995 Oscar-nominated Pixar theme song/49D. Good name for a lawn care guy = You’ve Got a Friend/Moe = You’ve Got a Friend in Me

80A. With 58-Down, request for an official document/58D. Twisting = Could you put that/Writhing = Can you put that in writing?

101A. With 90-Down, reacting to a gut punch, perhaps/90D. Bristol, for one = Doubled over/Palin = Doubled over in pain

87D. With 104-Across, talking with a fake rasp, perhaps/104A. Cleverly crafted = Calling/Slick = Calling in sick

109D. With 125-Across, got the booby prize/125A. Tiniest thing = Came/Least = Came in last

It’s definitely been a dry spell — a whole month, actually — since I last posted a puzzle. So. it was nice to finish this one error-free. Clever and entertaining.

Happy Birthday, Jen!

June 22, 2015

Jen R.

Father’s Day 2015

June 21, 2015

DSC07048
Dad and me (1943)

DSC07053
Michael and Jen (1971)

Our 47th Anniversary Celebration at Eleven Madison Park

June 19, 2015

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 47th Anniversary

O.K., Wizard fans! I’m not going to make you wait until next year to read about our 47th anniversary celebration at EMP and to learn what surprises they had in store for us. But before I get into it, I should tell you that for the second year in a row, we were not able to celebrate there on the actual date. Unlike last year, it was not because of anything related to the Big Apple BBQ because this year, our anniversary did not coincide with that event which took place the following weekend. This time, EMP was closed for a private party on Monday, June 8th, so we moved our reservation to Tuesday, the 9th. Let me assure you that did not in any way make it feel less special.

We were in the reception area being greeted by various members of the staff when… Surprise! Will Guidara was in the house! A few moments after we arrived, the man himself with his dazzling smile and ebullient personality was actually there in the flesh! These days, he’s rarely in during our monthly visits, so the fact that he made it his business to be there to offer us anniversary wishes was such a treat and started the evening off on a high note.

At our table, the lovely card pictured above awaited. During our discussion about the menu with our captain Elizabeth, she suggested doing something unique – something we’d not done before. Normally, diners select one of the two options for the main savory course. Chef Humm’s signature duck is always one of the choices. For the spring menu, the other choice is the aged veal, which we’d had in April and loved. Why not, Elizabeth posited, have both? Since we’d requested that the carrot tartare be eliminated (although we like it, we’d had it way too many times), this would be a splendid way to fill that gap. We also decided to have the seared foie gras preparation since we’d already had the terrine version. We were offered two choices for the cheese course as well. I chose the Farmer cheese (I love its creaminess and mild flavor) while Michael opted for the local selections. We also had a choice for dessert between strawberry and chocolate. Since it was strawberry season, and it’s one of our favorite fruits, that was a no-brainer. Michael then chatted with Dev, the sommelier, about pairings. Of course, there would be some wines from the Coravin list served in Zalto glasses. I requested my favorite French Sparkling Cider. And so on to the meal….

Champagne
Michael’s favorite Champagne

Champagne
A bit of Krug for me for a Champagne anniversary toast

Krug

Krug for Michael

Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple

Morel
Morel Custard with Trout Roe

English Peas
English Peas Glazed with Buffalo Yogurt and Garlic

Radish
Radish Salad with Pike and Nasturtium

Caviar
Caviar Benedict with Egg, Ham, and Asparagus

Caviar*
Benedict sans Caviar (for me)

House Made English Muffins
House Made English Muffins for the Benedict

House Made Rolls, Butters, and Salt
House Made Rolls, Butters, and Sea Salt

Foie Gras
Foie Gras Seared with Sorrel and Horseradish

Lobster
Lobster Butter-Poached with Dandelion and Ginger

I don’t remember exactly when but during this part of the evening, Chef Daniel Humm stopped by our table to offer his best wishes. As with Will, we hadn’t seen much of Daniel lately, so it was great having the opportunity to chat with him.

Just after the lobster course, Zach, one of the maître d’s, appeared. After offering his felicitations, he escorted us to the kitchen. Shaved ice cups were prepared. Michael’s contained liquor; mine did not.

Kitchen Visit

We chatted with Zach and other staff members. Executive Sous Chef Dmitri Nagy, who was in charge of the kitchen that evening, spent a few minutes with us.

Kitchen Visit
Executive Sous Chef Dmitri Nagy facing towards the camera

Normally, the preview of the Asparagus “en vessie” (in a pig’s bladder), which would be our next course and which we’ve had previously, is done tableside. But they surprised us by presenting it in the kitchen.

Kitchen Visit

When we make these kitchen visits, I usually just take a few photos of the shaved ices being prepared and maybe a shot of the pass. This time, Zach kept encouraging me to take photos of other areas. And when we left, instead of leading us out the way we always come in, which is through the service area, he took us to the side exit, along the way exhorting me to continue taking photos, which I did. From this exit, we came out near the reception area.

In retrospect, we should have suspected that something was up. But we didn’t. And that’s because on these special occasions, we get so caught up with having such a good time, we don’t think about what they might have planned, which is why we’re always taken by surprise.

We followed Zach through the dining room back to our table. When we got to it, we stopped short and gasped. A gift had been placed on the table.

Anniversary Gift

Here’s why this was so amazing. The day before, I’d posted this wedding photo on the blog. They made a very fine copy of the photo and had it surrounded by a heavy lucite frame. Staff members then signed their good wishes on the front of the frame. The lovely bow was the finishing touch. I know they monitor my blog, but to come up with this?! And to get it done in just a day’s time! Utterly astounding! I’ve said many times before that we don’t even bother trying to figure out how they are going to surprise us because it’s bound to be something even in our wildest dreams we couldn’t imagine. And so, once again, they’d done exactly that with this beautiful memento.

If we were on a high before, our spirits were now way up in the stratosphere as we finished the rest of the meal.

Asparagus
Asparagus “en vessie” with Potato and Black Truffle

Duck
Duck Roasted with Lavender Honey, Rhubarb, and Spring Onion

Our Engraved Knives
Our engraved knives: EMP’s gift to us on our 45th anniversary

Veal
Veal Dry-Aged with Ramps and Bone Marrow

Farmer Cheese
Farmer Cheese (for me)

Cheese
Local Selections (for Michael)

Whey
Whey Sorbet with Caramelized Milk and Yogurt

Strawberry
Strawberry Variations with Vanilla and Elderflower

Chocolate:
Chocolate Course: “Name That Milk”

Siphon Coffee
Siphon Coffee

Chocolate
Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt

Along with the homemade granola that all the guests receive as a parting gift, Elizabeth had the kitchen pack us a boatload of those pretzels to take home. Anyone celebrating a special occasion also receives the candy bar. This version was chocolate covered coconut.

Celebration Candy Bars

From the moment we walked through the revolving door at 8 p.m. until we exited near 2 a.m. the next morning, it was another memorable evening. “Thank you!” hardly seems adequate to tell the wonderful folks at EMP how much we appreciate what they did for us and always do. We’re truly honored that they consider us members of the EMP family.

Eleven Madison Park

To see the entire photo set of this dinner, including the wines for Michael’s pairings, click here.

It’s Our 47th Anniversary!

June 8, 2015

June 8, 1968

June 8, 1968

The Sabering King

June 7, 2015

Last year, I did a post looking back at our 45th anniversary celebration on the eve of our 46th. Now, here I am doing a look-back recap of our 46th the day before we celebrate our 47th. Could be it’s becoming a tradition. In any case, it’s a great way to relive an exciting evening. So, here we go….

It will come as no surprise for those who know us that our 46th anniversary celebration took place at Eleven Madison Park. There was, however, a slight change as to when the dinner took place. For the past three years, our anniversary fell on the weekend of the Annual Big Apple Barbecue. Last year, June 8th was on that Sunday, and EMP was going to be closed that evening in order to host a post-barbecue Bluegrass concert.* So, we changed the reservation to the evening before. No big deal, especially since by the time we finished well after midnight, it was June 8th!

There was, of course, lots of seriously delicious food, and many staff members stopped by our table to offer congratulations. However, the highlight of the evening – and the focus of this post — was the surprise they had in store for us. There is always a surprise when we celebrate our anniversary and birthdays there. But the fact is it would be really, really hard for them to outdo the myriad surprises they sprang on for our 45th. Since then, each time we’ve dined at EMP, and they place our engraved knives on the table for the main savory course, we are reminded of what a memorable evening that was. Still, undaunted, those ever creative and resourceful folks at EMP managed to come up with a surprise for our 46th that blew us away.

It started during our kitchen visit. Since many previous surprises have taken place there, we should have suspected something was coming. But as we chit chatted away with some of the staff and enjoyed our cups of shaved ice, we were surprised when Jon, one of the sommeliers, appeared carrying a large rectangular wooden box. Inside was a gorgeous sabering knife with LAGUIOLE engraved on one side…

Kitchen Visit

…and EMP’s logo engraved on the other.

Kitchen Visit

“Jon,” I said, “Are you going to saber a bottle for us?.”

“No, he’s going to!” Jon replied, pointing. The “he” being pointed at was – Michael!

“You must be joking!” I exclaimed.

“No, we’re serious.”

We all looked at Michael. He hefted the knife and said, “I’m game!”

Kitchen Visit
(That’s Chef de Cuisine Chris Flint taking a photo with his phone camera.)

We all trooped out of the kitchen through a side exit to the patio. (You didn’t think this was going to take place in the dining room?!) Tables and chairs were set up outside because during the Big Apple Barbecue weekend, EMP sells liquid refreshments and has music provided by a small band whose members are old college buddies of Will Guidara. Will has even been known to sit in with them on the drum. But I digress…

One of the tables was ready for us. Obviously, they had no doubt at all they’d be making Michael an offer he wouldn’t refuse. There was a bucket containing two bottles of Champagne (the second one a back-up in case of a disastrous first attempt, for example, a shattered bottle), two glasses, and a card signed by Chef Daniel Humm and other staff members.

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 46th Anniversary

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 46th Anniversary

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 46th Anniversary
(Made Nice is the parent company of EMP and its sister restaurant The NoMad.)

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 46th Anniversary

After I took the photo of Michael again hefting the saber, he and Jon got down to business. Jon showed him the spot on the bottle where the saber must hit and the correct swing. I was in the process of readjusting my camera’s focus when, suddenly, the top of the bottle went flying. Michael had done it so swiftly that I didn’t get action the shot. That was the bad news. The very good and exciting news: He sabered the bottle perfectly! The Champagne was poured, we toasted, and I pronounced him “The Sabering King”! Seemed especially fitting since his middle name happens to be “King.” (No joke!)

When we returned to the dining room, the sabered Champagne bottle and the cork were placed on our table.

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 46th Anniversary

Cork...

Staff members stopped by to check the evidence of Michael’s sabering prowess, and when Chef Humm came to offer us his best wishes and examined the bottle and cork, he told Michael he was quite impressed. Needless to say, Michael was feeling very proud of himself. And justifiably so! See, here’s the thing. We had once been in the dining room when Jon sabered a bottle to celebrate a couple’s engagement. Ironically, his effort was a bit of a disaster which, after Michael’s success, we kidded Jon about.

It’s a fool’s errand trying to predict what our EMP family will be surprising us with for our 47th because it will no doubt be something we could never in our wildest dreams imagine. One thing’s for sure. There will be no more sabering for Michael. He’s retired the crown.

*Note: We were invited to attend the Bluegrass concert and did.

To see all the photos of our 46th anniversary celebration at EMP, click here.

Spring 2015 Landscaping Spruce-up

June 5, 2015

After putting in some new shrubs in May, I mentioned in that post we were waiting to do the annual spring spruce-up until all the helicopters came down from the large maple tree near the patio. That finally happened last week. And so, Wendel and his crew showed up to trim all the shrubs and lay down fresh mulch. As always, they did a spectacular job!

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

At Home:  Spring Landscaping Spruce-up (2015)

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

June 2, 2015

An annual tradition: making strawberry ice cream using berries I picked myself at Battleview Orchards.

At Home:  Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

In the Ice Cream Maker

At Home:  Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Delectable!


Uppity Woman

I'm just one of those Uppity Women. Live with it.

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