For the first time in five years, we were not at home on New Year’s Eve having our annual beef fondue and listening to the Classical Countdown on WQXR.* Michael will be 75 at the end of January, so he decided he wanted to start his next quarter century by celebrating New Year’s Eve with our EMP family (which is where we went five years ago). We reserved for the second seating and arrived at 9 p.m. sharp.
The second seating was fully booked (as had been the first). Beautiful white floral arrangements and balloons gave the gorgeous space an especially festive feel. Music – jazz during dinner and later what would I think would be called popular rock — was provided by a terrific 5-piece band and a songstress.
The menu was a 7-course tasting. There were a few familiar things on it but most of the dishes were new. And since the kitchen is aware of what I won’t eat, they were prepared to make a couple of adjustments for me. Michael did the wine pairings which, as you will see, were incredible.
Michael started with what has become his favorite cocktail: “Satan’s Circus.” I requested a glass of my favorite French Sparkling Cider.
The usual Black & White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple were already on the table when we were seated.
Michael had planned not to begin the meal with Champagne instead intending to have a half bottle of Krug on his birthday. However, during a discussion with Sommelier John Ross about pairings, John suggested that Michael have a “splash” of Champagne with the first couple of dishes, a sweet wine with the foie gras (I drink sweet wine, so I said I’d have it too), a white for the lobster and the mushroom, and then a red with the beef.
Well, here’s John’s idea of a “splash” of Champagne. LOL!
Smoked Sturgeon Sabayon with Chive Oil is a longtime favorite and has become a Daniel Humm signature.
1st Course: Oyster Gelée with Potato and Leeks
Since I don’t care for oysters, I was served Potato and Black Truffle.
2nd Course: Caviar Benedict with Eggs and Ham
I don’t eat caviar, so in my Benedict, the caviar was replaced with Black Truffles!
Accompaniment for the Benedict: English Muffins.
At this point, the usual House Made Rolls were served along with Cow’s Milk Butter and Amagansett Sea Salt.
3rd Course: Foie Gras Terrine with Sunchoke and Onion
The wine pairing for the foie totally blew us away! Château d’Yquem 1987! I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised considering that it was New Year’s Eve. But what also stunned us was the bottle size, a Methuselah, which we’d never seen before. Well, not in person.
4th Course: Lobster Poached with Cauliflower and White Truffle
5th Course: Hen of the Woods Mushoom Roasted with Horseradish
The pairing for these two courses – both of which, you will note, included white truffles — was a Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2004 which also arrived in a Methuselah.
The arrival of our Engraved Knives announced that the main protein was about to be served.
6th Course: Dry Aged Ribeye and Braised Oxtail, Potato, and Black Truffle
The Pat LeFrieda beef was aged 140 days.
Paired with the beef, the Flaccianello Della Pieve 2004 was decanted from the Methuselah.
7th Course: Chocolate Ganache with Bourbon and Honey Ice Cream
At the end of all EMP meals, Chocolate Pretzels with Sea Salt (though they normally hang from a little stand).
The clock had been ticking away and, at this point, we were just a few minutes away from midnight. The captains came to the table with glasses of Champagne to toast the New Year and silver-colored tubes which we discovered when blown into released confetti.
John Ross and Wine Director Cedric Nicaise climbed up on the divider in front of the bar area holding bottles of Champagne. Everyone counted down the minutes, and at the stroke of midnight, they popped the corks.
As is the EMP custom, Chef de Cuisine Chris Flint, Executive Sous Chef Dmitri Nagi, and the entire kitchen staff had come into the dining room for the countdown.
On the divider, there were now tiered trays holding assorted goodies, including macarons, and servers circulated with trays of black and white truffle balls.
The band was stationed on the upper level, and a space had been cleared for dancing. After midnight, many of the guests left their tables to walk around. Some took to the dance floor, including Michael and me!
Exquisite cuisine, phenomenal wines, a great band and, of course, being with our EMP family made New Year’s Eve 2015 a truly memorable event.
*Note: When we left our apartment, the Classical Countdown was in the middle of Number 6: the complete Brandenburg Concertos. No surprise to later find out that Number 1 was Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. In fact, this year it was all-Beethoven in the top three slots with the 5th at Number 2 (up from last year’s Number 5) and the 7th at Number 3 (same as last year). Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, From the New World, also maintained its Number 4 rank. Well, at least Holst’s The Planets dropped from last year’s Number 2 (Ridiculous!) to Number 7. Still way too high in my not-so-humble opinion.
To see the entire set of photos on my Flickr, click here.