Posts Tagged ‘Eleven Madison Park’

Celebrating Our 49th Anniversary at Eleven Madison Park: The 11-Course Retrospective Menu

June 29, 2017

Eleven Madison Park

You are no doubt aware that EMP is now closed for renovations and has moved lock, stock, and staff to the Hamptons for the summer. When Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara made the announcement of the closure, they said it would happen in June. The important question for us was exactly when in June? When we learned that the last service would be dinner on Friday, June 9th, we breathed a proverbial sigh of relief because it meant we’d be able to celebrate our 49th anniversary on June 8th at EMP as we do all special occasions.

The closure announcement also included the news that beginning in April, there would be an 11-course retrospective menu composed of classic dishes created by Chef Humm and his team during the 11 years he’s been helming EMP’s kitchen. Something akin to a “Greatest Hits Parade.” (As I see it, eleven courses would hardly suffice because there are way more than that.) Now, here’s the thing. We dine at EMP once a month and would normally be doing the spring menu — regular then vegetarian — in April and May. With this change, we faced a decision. Should we do the retrospective menu in April and/or May as well as on our anniversary in June? Or should we do it only on our anniversary? After mulling it over, we decided to wait until June 8th so that the menu would feel special.

Because we became regulars right after we experienced Chef Humm cuisine for the first time a few months after he arrived, it was a pretty good bet that no matter which dishes would be on this menu, none would be new to us. Indeed, that was confirmed when he posted on Instagram photos of dishes he considered important during his tenure. There were more than eleven, so which ones would end up on the menu? That question was answered by an article in Surface Magazine published on April 11th, in which Chef Humm was interviewed and which included an “exclusive” look at the actual menu that debuted that very day. We had had our suspicions which ones would definitely be on it, and we pretty much nailed it. Still, there were a few that did surprise us.

In his Instagram posts, Chef Humm included a date for each dish plus for some of them background comments. That sparked an idea for this post. The take-home menu included those dates, so using it as a guide, I looked through all the photo sets of our meals at EMP and found a photo of each dish the first time we had it.  So, for each dish, I’ll put up the photo I took on June 8th with, in most cases, a quote from Chef Humm followed by the photo of the dish I took the first time we had it with comments from me.  (In a few instances, there will be more than one photo related to a dish.)

And so to begin…

We walked through the revolving doors on Thursday, June 8th, promptly at 8 p.m., received warm congratulations from the reception staff, and were escorted to our table where an envelope with the card pictured at the top of this post awaited us. Our captain for the evening was Steven Kelly who’s been at EMP for many years. With regard to the menu, the only thing we had to decide was which of three main course choices we wanted: chicken, suckling pig or, of course, Chef Humm’s signature duck. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen! And then stick around to find out which we chose. Michael also consulted with our sommelier Andrew about wine pairings.

We began with Andrew pouring my favorite non-alcoholic French Sparkling Cider and for Michael, a half-bottle of Krug, the Champagne he always has on celebratory occasions.

French Sparkling Cider

Champagne

The meal started with Gougères with Grated Gruyère (2006).

Gougères

June 8, 2017

I began taking food photos in 2008 but didn’t start posting restaurant sets on Flickr until 2009. Although we became regulars immediately after we first tasted Chef Humm’s extraordinary cuisine in early 2007, the first photo I took of the gougères was on Michael’s birthday, January 26, 2009 — the amuse on Chef Humm’s first 11-course Gourmand Dinner. Unfortunately, that photo turned out blurry, so here’s a clear one from the next time we had them.

Gougères

April 23, 2009

1st Course: Sea Urchin Cappuccino With Peekytoe Crab and Cauliflower (2006)
Daniel Humm: “This dish was the first amuse bouche I added when I took over the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park in 2006. Becoming a guest favorite, it appeared thereafter on multiple menus in different iterations.”

Sea Urchin

June 8, 2017

Sea Urchin Cappuccino

July 22, 2009

2nd Course: Little Neck Clam Clambake with Velouté and Parker House Rolls (2011)
DH: “This dish was created after a trip that Will Guidara and I took to Tokyo. [It’s] roughly based on shabu-shabu. This was our first communal course and more importantly, the first that played with the senses – specifically with the steaming of seawater. It was also the first dish that truly tied back to our region and to NY cuisine. The dish holds a lot of importance to us as the initial shared experience that has our guests reaching in the middle of the table.”

Little Neck Clam

June 8, 2017

When the Clambake was first introduced, it came with little corn breads, not Parker House rolls.

Clam

Clam

Clam

Clam

Clam

September 11, 2011

3rd Course: Beet Salad with Goat Cheese (2008)
DH: “Beets have been served in different forms at EMP for many years.”

Beet

June 8, 2017

At our first Chef Humm dinner, the meal started with a parade of amuses the likes of which we’d never experienced before. So much so that we kept asking, “Has the main meal started yet?!” One of the amuses was beets cut in various sized squares and rectangles and arranged on the plate in such a way that it reminded us of Stonehenge. Too bad I wasn’t taking photos then. The precision was incredible and the image remains indelibly in our memory. The beets plated for the retrospective dinner did remind us of it but was different.  My first photo shows a radically different plating.

Beet

October 24, 2010

4th Course: Prawn Roulade with Avocado and Yogurt (2007)
DH: “During this chapter of EMP it was less about where ingredients were from and more about showcasing technique. The prawn roulade involved a very lengthy process that was extremely temperamental. Every step in developing this dish was crucial to its success. Because of our revolutionary approach to crafting the roulade, it quickly became a signature on the menu early on and a crowd favorite.”

Prawn

June 8, 2017

It totally knocked our gustatory socks off the first time we had it (before I began taking photos) and is one of Michael’s all-time EMP favorites. During one of our lunches last year, he happened to mention to our captain how much he loved it, and that it had been a long time since it had been on the menu. Next thing we know… Voilà! It arrived at our table! And this past January, Chef de Cuisine Dmitri Magi surprised him with it on his birthday. The recipe is in the Eleven Madison Park Cookbook. Foolishly, I once tried making it. Disaster! When I told Chef Humm, he said, “Leave it to us!”

First Course: Hawaiian Blue Prawn

May 1, 2009

5th Course: Foie Gras Torchon with Maple Syrup and Pain d’Epices (2004)
DH: “The Foie Gras was one of the courses served to Danny Meyer at Campton Place in San Francisco (my first position in America) and I, to this day, credit it as being one of the dishes that landed me my job at Eleven Madison Park. In many ways this variation on Foie Gras represents all the elements of our ‘new’ style in its simplicity and fundamental values. But at that time I couldn’t fully recognize it.” (Note: At that time Meyer owned EMP.)

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Pain d'Epice

June 8, 2017

As far as I know, the first time it was served at EMP was last year. Michael had it on his birthday while I had it two months later in the bar.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Roll

January 26, 2016

6th Course: Carrot Tartare with Rye Toast and Condiments (2012)
DH: “This is probably our most talked about dish due to its innovation and unexpected nature. It came at a time when restaurants were moving in the direction of vegetable-forward cuisine couples with the idea of shared communal courses. The shock value of placing the metal grinder on the table without saying anything only to return with a bundle of carrots instead of the expected ground beef really helped it capture the attention of a large audience. It’s a dish where history and agriculture come together beautifully.”

Carrot

Carrot

Carrot

June 8, 2017

Once it made its debuted, it remained on the menu for a lo-o-o-ng time. Though we liked it, we had it so often that we finally asked for a substitute. It has now been off the menu for a few years, so we enjoyed experiencing it again.

Carrot

Carrot

Carrot

Carrot

September 21, 2012

7th Course: Turbot, Poached Zucchini and Squash Blossom (2007)
DH: “This dish pays homage to the scaling technique of Frédy Girardet and Joël Robuchon…. [It and the roulade] ended up being breakthroughs for the restaurant.”

Turbot

June 8, 2017

Fluke

July 6, 2013

8th Course: Winter in Provence – Black Truffle, Celery Root, Potato and Chevre Frais (2009)
DH: “Provence is most famous for its summers. In fact, I spent most of my childhood summering there. However, what people don’t know is that winters are amazing there as well. During the coldest months of the year, amazing ingredients like black truffles, olive oil, potatoes, and chevre are abundant. This dish explored soft textures and questioning what guests think food should be. We did this, however, with familiar flavors which allowed us to push what guests would be comfortable with while leaving them with a clear point of reference. As well during this time, we didn’t yet have a sense of place. We were a restaurant in New York but not of New York.”

Winter in Provence

Winter in Provence

Winter in Provence

June 8, 2017

5th Course:

5th Course:

5th Course:

January 26, 2010

Our Engraved Knives

Our Engraved Knives

These engraved knives were a gift for our 45th anniversary (June 8, 2013). They’ve been stored at the restaurant and each time we’ve dined since then, they’ve been brought out for the main course. We’ve heard that when the new restaurant opens, there will probably be new flatware. If so, I presume we’ll be given our knives to take home.

So, what did you guess we chose for the main course? I’m guessing you guessed the duck since it is Chef Humm’s famous signature. Wrong! We’ve had it a gazillion times starting from its introduction in 2009 when the duck was carved tableside and guests were served one breast side per person. So, we passed. We also passed on the Chicken Poached with Black Truffles (2010) since we’ve had chicken in various permutations over the years. (Note: My first photo of that chicken was taken on May 6, 2011.)

9th Course: Suckling Pig Confit with Rhubarb, Leeks and Cipollini Onion (2002)
DH: “[It] was the first really important dish in my career. I started working on it back in Switzerland and along with the foie gras torchon with maple, it played a big role in my working at Eleven Madison Park. It became hugely popular, so much so we developed an entire suckling pig menu around it.”

Suckling Pig Confit

June 8, 2017

The first time we saw the suckling pig confit on the menu was sometime in 2008 at one of our lunches. Michael ordered it. Other than bacon, I was not much of a pork lover. But I did taste it and found it to be delicious. We took to describing it as upscale pulled pork. We attended that Suckling Pig Dinner. The various courses Chef Humm created showed me how delicious pork can be.  We chose the suckling pig because we haven’t had it since that dinner.

Third Course: Confit

April 23, 2009 (The Suckling Pig Dinner)

10th Course: Milk and Honey with Dehydrated Milk Foam and Bee Pollen (2010)
DH: “When growing up, my mom and I would come together just before bed to make warm milk and honey. Over the years it became a moment for us to pause with each other, reflect, and talk about the events of the day – ultimately transitioning into a ritual that was so incredibly impactful, it became the inspiration behind one of the most popular desserts ever at Eleven Madison Park. …[It] has evolved numerous times and sparked the NoMad’s version (as well as the soft serve at Made Nice)….”

Milk and Honey

June 8, 2017

The first time we had it, it was a pre-dessert.

Pre-Dessert:

June 8, 2010 (Our Anniversary)

It was a full-fledged dessert five years later.

Milk and Honey

October 24, 2015 (My Birthday)

11th Course: Chocolate Palette with Peanut Butter and Popcorn Ice Cream (2008)
DH: “This dessert had its origin before we had a pastry chef and I was overseeing all the desserts. Playing off classice (and delicious) flavors of chocolate and peanut butter, we added a unique thing – popcorn ice cream. The saltiness played really nicely with the chocolate and peanut butter and this dessert was extremely popular. The palette was sort of a signature dessert….”

Chocolate

June 8, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Palette

August 31, 2009

Mignardises (2007)
DH: “Back when we were trying to earn our fourth star, we looked at all the four star restaurants in the city and noticed they had certain things in common, like ending their meals with a large plate of mignardises. This led us to create our own version.”

Mignardises

June 8, 2017

Mignardises

September 16, 2011

What with this being the next to the last day of service, the dining room being packed, and tables being turned even at 10 p.m., we presumed there would not be a kitchen visit. When we’d finished the desserts and it hadn’t happened that seemed to confirm it. Thus, we were totally surprised when at that point, Sheryl Heefner came to our table and asked us to accompany her there. Sheryl had very recently left the g.m. position at Union Square Café. She did at one time work at EMP, which is how we first met her, and was back temporarily. We actually found out about all this when we had dinner at USC the night before. She’s one of the loveliest people we know, so it was great to see her.

Although Chef Humm was in the house (more on that anon), Chef de Cuisine Dmitri was at the pass. Visiting the kitchen gave us the opportunity to chat with him and thank him for the exquisite meal. He is now out in the Hamptons helming the kitchen at Summer House, so we’re looking forward to seeing him there.

The cocktail we were served was prepared by none other than the Executive Pastry Chef himself, Mark Welker, with Sheryl assisting. Did that make us feel special? You bet!!

Kitchen Visit

Kitchen Visit

June 8, 2017

We’d had this cocktail a number of times previously.

Visit to the Kitchen

Visit to the Kitchen

January 14, 2012

A couple of other highlights….

When we were first seated, I glanced over to the table immediately adjacent to ours. There were two men seated there, one of whom I immediately recognized: Gramercy Tavern’s Chef Michael Anthony. We often end up chatting with whoever is seated at that table, and this turned out to be no different. Not only is he talented, but Chef Anthony is one of nicest people in the restaurant world. It was fun chatting off and on with him and his dining companion who, we later learned, is his brother-in-law (they married sisters) and is involved in the wine industry.

Early during dinner, Will Guidara came to our table to extend his best wishes. After hugs and smooches, he turned to Chef Anthony and said, ”Any other time, you’d be the most important person in the room. But when the Rappaports are in the house, they’re royalty!” We all burst out laughing. What a guy!

Finally, on our way out, Chef Humm was standing near the reception area. He’d been in and out of the dining room all evening, stopping at tables to greet guests. He had just stopped at ours when he was called away to take care of something in the kitchen. Apologizing, he rushed off. Now, we had the chance to tell him how much we enjoyed the retrospective menu and how perfect every dish was.  He thanked us for all the years of support we’d given especially during the early difficult period. “You were always there for us,” he said. Though he’s mentioned our enduring support before, that evening, his words seemed particularly heartfelt.

Our sincerest thanks to everyone in our Eleven Madison Park family for all they did to make this another memorable anniversary celebration! When EMP reopens and we once again walk through those revolving doors, there will be a completely renovated kitchen, a re-designed dining room, different furnishings, and a new menu. But what will never change is their striving for the kind of extraordinary cuisine, warm hospitality,and overall excellence that this year earned them the recognition as the Number One restaurant in the world. As we so often tell them but are always happy to repeat, to us they have been and always will be Number One!

Eleven Madison Park

The entire photo set which includes the wine pairings can be seen on my Flick here.

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Congratulations to Our Eleven Madison Park Family on Being Number One on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List!

April 7, 2017

Dear Daniel, Will, Billy, Dmitri, and the entire EMP staff,

You did it! From last year’s third spot, you skipped over number two and went directly to the top! It reminds us of how you went from one Michelin star directly to three, something few if any restaurants have ever done. Nice habit!

We are beyond elated that you’ve achieved this pinnacle of world-wide recognition capping a long string of very well deserved accolades. As Will said in accepting this award, it is an affirmation of the hard work you all do every day to make dining at Eleven Madison Park a glorious and extraordinary experience.

To us, you always have been and always will be Number One! Now, the restaurant world agrees.  You are THE BEST!

Fondly,
Roz and Michael

EMP #1 World's 50 Best Restaurants 2017

Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, Co-Owners of EMP

5-Day Birthday Dining Extravaganza (Part 6): Dinner at Eleven Madison Park

March 7, 2017

Birthday Card

After having a night-before-my-birthday dinner at Mamma Guidara’s and a birthday lunch at NoMad, we completed the Made Nice trifecta with dinner at Eleven Madison Park. It’s where we always celebrate our special occasions. Most of our monthly visits to EMP are at lunch. However, for our anniversary and birthdays, we always do dinner. And so at 8 p.m., on Monday, October 24th, we pushed through the revolving doors and entered the gorgeous Art Deco room. I know I’ve said this before, but no matter how often we go to EMP, we’re always excited to be there, and the staff is excited to have us there. But we feel a heightened sense of excitement when we’re celebrating a special occasion.

Arriving at our table, I immediately spotted this beautiful hand-drawn card created by the very talented Emily Parkinson.

Birthday Card

The interior is at the top of this post. The lovely message and so many of the staff signing gave me a huge case of the warm and fuzzies.

Elizabeth was our captain for the evening while Sommelier John Ross saw to our beverage needs. It’s always great fun having them take care of us. After we discussed menu choices with Elizabeth, John wheeled over the Champagne cart.

It being a celebratory occasion, Michael had his favorite Champagne.

Krug

John knows what I like, so my favorite Non-Alcoholic French Sparkling Cider was also on the cart.

French Sparkling Cider (Non-Alcoholic)

As always, our first bites were of the signature cookies which are already on the tables when guests are seated.

Black and White Cookie

Black & White Cookies with Apple & Cheddar

The meal began with a quartet of Hors d’Oeuvres brought to the table by one of the chefs.

Hors d'Oeuvres Tower

Hors d’Oeuvres Tower

The chef disassembled the tower which then becomes four interlocking sections each holding a different hors d’oeuvre connected by a theme: Mushrooms.

Hors d'Oeuvre Tower: Mushroom

Tarte with Black Truffle

Hen of the Woods with Amaranth and Horseradish

Pickled with Apple and Shallot

Beignet with Black Truffle

The Caviar course was next. It’s Chef Humm’s upscale take on Eggs Benedict.

Caviar

Caviar Benedict with Potato, Leek, and Hollandaise

I don’t eat caviar, so I got this not exactly shabby substitution.

Black Truffle

Black Truffle Benedict with Parsnip and Hollandaise

Accompaniment for the Benedicts. Look out, Thomas’s!

House Made English Muffins

House Made English Muffins

Next up: Foie Gras! We had the option of choosing hot or cold. While I generally prefer hot, I’ve found that at EMP, I like the torchons better. And Michael always prefers cold. This one had us both swooning.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras Marinated with Plum & Cocoa

Foie Gras

Wine pairing:

Moulin Touchais

At this point, the House Made Rolls arrived along with the Amagansett Sea Salt. However, instead of the usual house made cultured butter, there was something quite different to spread on the rolls: Honey Nut Squash with Sage and Cinnamon that was mixed at the table with some other ingredients.

Honeynut Squash

Honeynut Squash

While it was tasty, I have to be honest and say I much prefer the butter.

For the fish course, we were given a choice between lobster and striped bass. We both chose the latter.

Striped Bass

Striped Bass Poached with Fennel and Clams

Wine pairing:

Schloss Gobelsburg 2000

The vegetable course was Celery Root. Previously, it had been prepared “en vessie.” This time, there was a brand new preparation expertly finished tableside by Elizabeth.

Celery Root

Celery Root

Celery Root en Croûte with Black Truffle

Michael likes to have at least one beer pairing, so John paired this beer with the celery root.

Beer

When one of the reception staff arrives at our table mid-meal, we know that it’s Kitchen Visit time! This time, it was Matt who escorted there. When we’re celebrating a special occasion, the kitchen is often the place where we will be greeted with a surprise. Even knowing this, we’ve given up trying to figure out what it might be. And damn it! They do always manage to surprise us!

We walked in and saw that they’d removed the high-top table and replaced it with a table for two. There were place settings and wine glasses which held pours of – GASP! – Château d’Yqem.

Kitchen Visit

After we sat down, Chef de Cuisine Dmitri Magi brought over this.

Kitchen Visit

OMG! Yes, a gigantic White Truffle!

Two plates were set in front of us holding a composition Dmitri had created especially for us.

Kitchen Visit

Ris de Veau, Cauliflower, and Almond

Dmitri spooned on some sauce.

Kitchen Visit

Kitchen Visit

Now, the idea was, of course, for the white truffles to be shaved on top. Next thing I knew, Dmitri handed me the truffle and said, “You do it!”

Kitchen Visit

Well, folks, let me tell you that was no easy task. What took me totally by surprise was that the truffle was not anything like the mushrooms I’m used to cooking with. This baby was hard! Like baseball hard. My first attempt didn’t go well. Dmitri retrieved the truffle, made some adjustments to the shaver, and shaved a few truffles. He made it look so easy!

Kitchen Visit

He handed the truffle and shaver back to me. It still wasn’t easy — you have to put some muscle into it — but I finally managed to get some decent shavings on Michael’s plate.

Kitchen Visit

Dmitri added a lot more and then rained truffles onto my plate.

Kitchen Visit

Dmitri’s creation by itself would have been sensational. Covered with a blanket of white truffles, it was orgasmic! John Ross knows that sweet wine is the one type of wine I like, and you can’t do much better than Château d’Yquem which also happens to be Michael’s favorite sweet wine. Overall, perfection!

We toddled back to our table basking in the glow of the fantastic surprise. The flatware for our next course had already been laid. It included our engrave knives (a gift from EMP for our 45th anniversary) which signaled that the main course would be served.

Our Engraved Knives

The choices were venison or Chef Humm’s signature duck. Michael chose the venison but since I don’t care for it, I had the duck.

Duck

Duck Honey and Lavender Glazed with Turnip & Huckleberry

Venison

Wine pairing:

Saint-Estephe 2000

Two sides served family style:

Potatoes

Potatoes

Black Radish and Spelt Dumplings

Black Radish and Spelt Dumplings

The Cheese Course was an oldie but goodie.

Cheddar

Cheddar Tart with Apple and Mixed Greens

Mixed Greens

Wine pairing:

Chardonnay

Approaching the meal’s denouement, we chose different desserts. From the photos, you won’t have to guess which was dessert was Michael’s and which was mine.

Pear

Pear Sorbet with Caramelized White Chocolate & Riesling

Chocolate

Chocolate Tuile with Crème Fraïche Ice Cream and Mulled Wine

John went a little overboard with the pairings.

Harlan Estates

Rappa

Riesling

Our usual Siphon Coffee was prepared by Whitney Boyer, one of the dining room managers.

Siphon Coffee

Michael always enjoys ending with Laird’s Apple Brandy.

Laird's Apple Brandy

For some time, we’ve been having the Chocolate Pretzels with Sea Salt and the “Name Your Milk” game packed to go. Also in the bag were the take-home gift House Made Granola, menus, and a Birthday Bonbon.

It was a truly magical evening. Outstanding cuisine, spot on pairings, exceptional service, and a memorable surprise. Couldn’t ask for anything more. Plus, we were surrounded by our terrific EMP family. I sincerely appreciate everything they did to make it an unforgettable birthday celebration.

Eleven Madison Park

To see the entire photo set for this dinner click here.

Here are the links for previous birthday extravaganza posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. The links to Parts 4 and 5 are in the first paragraph of this post.

Eleven Madison Park/NoMad/Made Nice Holiday Gift 2016

December 30, 2016

It’s that time of year. Once again, those endlessly creative folks at Eleven Madison Park, NoMad and the soon-to-be open Made Nice have put together a fabulous holiday gift.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

It arrived on our NJ doorstep on December 3rd. As you can see, there were 24 boxes. Since the instructions said we should open a box each day until the eve of the 24th (which happened to be both the first night of Chanukah and Christmas Eve) and it was now the 3rd, we immediately opened boxes 1, 2, and 3.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

From then on, we opened one box each evening after dinner up to the 13th.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

On the 14th, we went into the city for several days leaving the boxes behind. When we came back on the 19th, we opened boxes 14 through 19 at once.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Card 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

We then opened one box each evening on the 20th and 21st.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

On the 22nd, we headed back to NYC in order to prepare and have our Chanukah dinner with Jen and Louis on the 24th. We opened boxes 22, 23, and 24 when we returned to NJ on the 25th.

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

Eleven Madison Park Holiday Gift 2016

I think you have to admit that they do, indeed, know how to “Make It Nice”!

To Daniel, Will, and the entire staff, our sincerest thanks for this incredible gift! But the true gift you give Michael and me is considering us members of the EMP/NoMad/Made Nice family. We look forward to seeing all of you often in 2017.

It’s My Birthday!

October 24, 2016

It’s going to be a Made Nice day!!

Lunch:

The Atrium

Dinner:

Eleven Madison Park

(Back in January) Celebrating Michael’s 75th Birthday at Eleven Madison Park

June 4, 2016

(Note: Yes, I know it’s 5 months late! But I figured I’d better get this up before we celebrate our anniversary in 4 days.)

Eleven Madison Park

On Tuesday, January 26th, at 8 p.m. sharp, we walked through Eleven Madison Park’s revolving doors. Happily, the previous weekend’s Blizzard of ’16 did not derail our celebration plans (unlike last year when what turned out to be the “snowstorm that wasn’t” made us scotch our plans at EMP for his 74th) though we did have to cancel a pre-celebration dinner on Saturday evening with Jen and Louis. Upon entering, we were greeted by Head Maitre d’ Justin Roller and the reception staff. Then Will Guidara appeared to welcome us and as the others had done wished Michael a “Happy 75th!” We happened to run into Will the previous evening when we were having drinks in The Library at The NoMad before dinner there, so his showing up at EMP wasn’t as much of a surprise as it might have been. Nevertheless, it’s always a pleasure to see him especially since these days it happens so rarely.

Our excitement that evening was further heightened by the fact that it was the first time we would be having the winter menu as well as the new format. In December, Will and Chef Daniel Humm had announced that they would be reducing the 14-course menu to between 7 and 9. As for what else our EMP family had planned for this celebratory evening – and they always surprise us with something! – well, we’d have to wait and see. As will you, so stick with me!

Our captain for the evening was Elizabeth who has a very upbeat personality and always does a splendid job. She explained that some of the courses would have choices, others not.

And so it began….

Michael started with Krug, his favorite Champagne, and I had my favorite French Sparkling Cider. Michael had wine pairings during the meal while I had more cider.

Champagne

French Sparkling Cider (Non-Alcoholic)

As usual, the first bite of the evening was the Black & White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple.

Black and White Cookies

There was no choice for the first two courses though they did, as usual, make accommodations with regard to things I won’t eat: Oyster Poached and Raw (on the right) with Chestnut Velouté and for me, Sunchoke Hot and Cold (on the left) with Velouté.

Oyster/Sunchoke

Velouté

The next course has been on the menu since early last year: Caviar Benedict with Egg, Potato, and Ham; and for me
(since I don’t eat caviar) Black Truffle Benedict with Egg, Potato, and Ham. Accompanied by made in-house English Muffins.

Caviar

Black Truffle

House Made English Muffins

The ever popular house made Rolls served. They were accompanied by something new: house made Cultured Butter with Cheese. And, as always, Amagansett Sea Salt.

Rolls, Butter, and Sea Salt

The foie gras course was next. As always, there was a choice between hot and cold. I chose hot while Michael chose cold: Foie Gras Seared with Maple and Apple and Foie Gras Marinated with Maple and Apple. A special roll was served with the cold foie.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Roll

The wine pairing for the foie was this Sauternes:

Sauternes

Next was the fish course where there was a choice of lobster or black bass. We both chose the bass. Black Bass Seared with Black Radish and Sesame.

Black Bass

Wine pairing with the black bass: Gorvia

Gorvia

Celery Root Braised with Black Truffle is another course that’s been on the menu since last year. It’s prepared “en vessie”, i.e., in a pig’s bladder. Previously, one of the sous chefs brought the pig’s bladder to the table, basted it, and then took it back to the kitchen for the dish to be plated. Now, there’s a change. While the pig’s bladder is still brought out, basting, cutting open the bladder and finishing the plating are done tableside by a member of the front of the house staff. As you can see, Tina did a masterful job!

Celery Root

Celery Root

Celery Root

Celery Root

The wine pairing was this Bandol from the Coravin list.

Coravin: Bandol

When the flatware for the next course includes our engraved knives, we know it’s time for the main protein.

Our Engraved Knives

There were three choices for this course: Chef Humm’s signature duck, pork cheek, and mushroom. Since we’d not had it in quite a while we both chose Duck: Honey and Lavender Dry Aged with Salsify and Pear.

Duck

To go along with the main course, something new has been added — two sides served family style: Potato Confit with Potato Purée and Butternut Squash Roasted with Thyme + Squash Custard.

Potato

Butternut Squash

The wine pairing was this Barolo from the Coravin list.

When the main plates have been cleared and one of the maître d’s shows up at our table, we know precisely what that means. It’s kitchen visit time! On this occasion, it was Zach who escorted us there. Now, it’s in the kitchen that most – though not all — of the birthday and anniversary surprises have occurred. And even though we knew that something special was afoot, still, we were totally unprepared for what did happen.

Walking through the service area, there were shouts from staff members of “Happy Birthday!” Then, the moment we appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, the entire kitchen staff and front of the house personnel who were there stopped what they were doing and began clapping. This applause continued for what seemed like a long time. Stunned would be an enormous understatement! It was a lovely way to honor Michael on this milestone birthday.

The guest table was festooned with a banner and decorations plus a party hat for each of us, all of which was created by the very talented Christine. Zach snapped a photo of us…

Kitchen Visit

Chef Shante prepared Maple Snow on a stick…

Kitchen Visit

Michael put his party hat on (I don’t do hats)…

Kitchen Visit

And there was a gift: pocket handkerchiefs.

Kitchen Visit

So, now we’re thinking this was it. No more surprises. Well, silly us!

When we returned to our table, the next course arrived: Cheddar Tart with Apple and Bacon Marmalade accompanied by a serve-it-yourself Green Salad.

Cheddar

There was no pre-dessert, so from here it was directly on to dessert. I had seen, via someone’s tweet, that the Baked Alaska was back, its popularity very much in evidence on many tables. I also knew that there were other options; however, Elizabeth didn’t tell us what they were. I guess that should have tipped us off that something was up. But… Surprise! Surprise! G.M. Billy Peelle wheeled over a table holding four whole pies!

Surprise! Surprise! Pies!!

Now, there is a story behind this which I talked about in this previous post. But for those of you too lazy to click over there…. For the past two Thanksgivings, we’ve been going to both betony and EMP. At betony, they end that meal with a variety of fantastic pies which we raved about at EMP, suggesting they do the same. At last year’s Thanksgiving, they told us they are going to do it at this year’s Thanksgiving. Well, obviously, they decided not to make us wait that long!

So, there they were, baked by Executive Pastry Chef Mark Welker and looking scrumptious: Apple, Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Coconut Meringue. The object, as explained to us by Billy, was for us to have some right there and then to take all of them home. As generous as that was, it posed a small problem. There was no way we could fit four pies in our apartment’s frig. So, we decided we’d eat a pieces of each pie, take home a quarter of each pie, and leave the rest for the staff to enjoy.

The slices they served us were not exactly tiny.

Pies

And there was, of course, a wine pairing.

Kracher

We were stuffed! So, we asked Elizabeth to doggie bag the end-of-meal chocolate treats.

Eleven Madison Park

The package also included two birthday bonbon and three jars of granola!

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

And let’s not forget the pies! We left loaded with EMP-embossed carry bags!

What a glorious evening! A simple “Thank you!” seems totally inadequate considering the lengths to which the EMP staff went to make Michael’s 75th birthday a celebration to remember. They are truly a group – a family – of very special people. And we feel flattered and grateful that they consider us members of that family.

Eleven Madison Park

To see the entire photo set of this celebration dinner, click here.

New Year’s Eve 2015 at Eleven Madison Park

January 2, 2016

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.

Eleven Madison Park: New Year's Eve 2015

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.

Cocktail: Satan's Circus

French Sparkling Cider (Non-Alcoholic)

The usual Black & White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple were already on the table when we were seated.

Black & White Cookie

Black & White Cookies

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!

Krug

Smoked Sturgeon Sabayon with Chive Oil is a longtime favorite and has become a Daniel Humm signature.

Sturgeon

1st Course: Oyster Gelée with Potato and Leeks

1st Course: Oyster

Since I don’t care for oysters, I was served Potato and Black Truffle.

1st Course: Potato and Black Truffle

2nd Course: Caviar Benedict with Eggs and Ham

2nd Course: Caviar

I don’t eat caviar, so in my Benedict, the caviar was replaced with Black Truffles!

2nd Course: Black Truffle

Accompaniment for the Benedict: English Muffins.

English Muffins

At this point, the usual House Made Rolls were served along with Cow’s Milk Butter and Amagansett Sea Salt.

House Made Roll

Butter and Salt

3rd Course: Foie Gras Terrine with Sunchoke and Onion

3rd Course: Foie Gras

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.

Château d’Yquem 1987

4th Course: Lobster Poached with Cauliflower and White Truffle

4th Course: Lobster

5th Course: Hen of the Woods Mushoom Roasted with Horseradish

5th Course: Hen of the Woods Mushroom

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.

Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2004

The arrival of our Engraved Knives announced that the main protein was about to be served.

Our Engraved Knives

6th Course: Dry Aged Ribeye and Braised Oxtail, Potato, and Black Truffle

The Pat LeFrieda beef was aged 140 days.

6th Course: Dry Aged Beef

Paired with the beef, the Flaccianello Della Pieve 2004 was decanted from the Methuselah.

Flaccianello Della Pieve 2004 - Decanted

Flaccianello Della Pieve 2004 - Decanted

7th Course: Chocolate Ganache with Bourbon and Honey Ice Cream

7th Course: Chocolate

At the end of all EMP meals, Chocolate Pretzels with Sea Salt (though they normally hang from a little stand).

Pretzels

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.

Champagne Toast

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.

Counting down the minutes...

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.

Midnight!

On the divider, there were now tiered trays holding assorted goodies, including macarons, and servers circulated with trays of black and white truffle balls.

Goodies

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!The Band

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.

Eleven Madison Park: New Year's Eve 2015

Eleven Madison Park: New Year's Eve 2015

*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.