Manresa, Los Gatos (September 2013)

Quite awhile back I was talking with my good friend BLT(the Beltless Tiger) about all the meals we had intended to write posts about but never got around to. We both had a good number we were too lazy busy to put up promptly and by the time motivation struck it seemed to be too late or irrelevant and he (jokingly I think) made a suggestion that we start doing Throwback Thursday posts. It seemed like a good enough idea and I thought for months that I would get going on it any day now. At last the moment has come. Manresa for a few years now has been my favorite restaurant in the US. Until an accident thwarted my planned 2014 trip, the Los Gatos restaurant was the only place I had made an effort to dine at each year since 2009. My nights there are consistently among the best dining experiences of my life. As I’m sitting in my Wall Street apartment looking forward to my next meal at the hands of David Kinch and team in mere weeks, and even more so feeling thrilled at the announcement that Michelin has finally awarded them a third star, I am getting around to posting about my dinner with Rocky from roughly two years ago.

manresa table setting

At my preferred table, ready to rock.

manresa red pepper black olive

manresa red pepper pdf black olive madeline

Petit fours “red pepper-black olive” Kinch’s signature opener of red pepper pate de fruits and black olive madeleines. Good vegetal balance in the PDF and lightly sweet, nicely dense madeleine.

manresa garden beignets leaves

Garden beignets and leaves  Light savory beignets with crispy kale leaves.

manresa 25 tomatoes

25 tomatoes, coriander  A beautiful expression of the fruit in the height of the season.

manresa almond tofu

Almond tofu, berries and verbena, melon snow  Not really sweet, but almost dessert-like. Tart dried fruit and expressive almond flavors.

manresa abalone milk panna cotta

Abalone and local milk panna cotta  Monterey Bay abalone, braised and in gelée, with breakfast radish and panna cotta.

manresa summer beans octopus

Summer beans with octopus, horseradish  Ever slightly charred Moroccan octopus with summer beans and lychee tomato. The acid-starch balance was kickin.

manresa fava bean risotto

manresa fava bean risotto

Without rice, fava bean risotto, sheep’s milk cheese  With summer truffle and mushrooms. Mind-blowing legume treatment combined with mushroom earth and an enchanting, almost hypnotizing truffle and cheese perfume. Rocky put this in heavy contention for dish of the trip.

manresa into the vegetable garden

manresa into the garden

manresa vegetable garden

Into the vegetable garden…  A consistently stunning homage to Le Gargouillou by Michel Bras. A flawless journey of pea leaves, lambs quarters, nasturtium, beet, malabar spinach, ice plant, arugula, wild dandelion, and many other vegetables, leaves, and flowers.

manresa albacore puttanesca

manresa albacore cassava

Albacore “puttanesca,” lightly smoked, crispy cassava  The acid and brine in the puttanesca was great support to smoked meaty fish.

manresa summer clams beans pine mushroom

manresa clams beans mushroom

Summer clams and beans in a pine mushroom broth  Various clams with seabream in a dashi broth accompanied by matsutake mushrooms, seaweed, beans, and peas. Badass savory layers.

manresa duck figs fennel milk honey

Duck, confit of figs and wild fennel, milk and honey  An outstandingly great roasted aged duck breast with leek, fennel, and turnip and a touch of sweetness from figs and honey.

manresa lamb dates olives

manresa lamb

Lamb with dates and olives, onion fondue  Straight forward and damn delicious.

manresa cheese cart

manresa cheese plate

A selection of cheese from the cart. Varying styles from California, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and New York.

manresa plums butterscotch buckwheat black walnut

Andy’s plums with butterscotch, buckwheat, black walnut  Smoothly rich butterscotch with perfect plums, crisply buckwheat, and popcorn. Perfect.

manersa strawberry white chocolate milk pebbles yuba

manresa strawberries white chocolate

Strawberries and white chocolate, malted milk pebbles, crispy yuba  Fresh strawberries, strawberry ice, and strawberry mousse in a white chocolate shell over crunchy malt crumbles with small bursts of mint.

manresa raspberry chocolate coffee parfait

manresa raspberry chocolate

Raspberries, chocolate-coffee parfait, golden raspberry sorbet, almond

manresa bon bon macaron

Mint bonbon and coffee macaron

manresa strawberry chocolate

Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”  The signature closer of strawberry pate de fruits and chocolate madeleines.

manresa take home muffin

And a treat for breakfast. An outrageously superb meal.

Date of visit: September 7, 2013

Manresa. 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA  408 354 4330  www.manresarestaurant.com

Tempura Matsui – NYC – July 2015

After a ten month hiatus from posting on my blog I ran into my friends Michael and Linda, The Wandering Epicures, and got to talking about the meals we’ve had since our last meeting. We spoke mostly of restaurants in Japan and California, but it was the comparison of our recent meals at newly opened Tempura Matsui that led me to finally dust off my blogging machine and get this post up.

Since returning from our winter trip to Japan, Rocky has been on the lookout for a good place to get her tempura fix. So when we found out about Chef Masao Matsui’s new spot on East 39th we put our dining shoes on and headed uptown.

tempura matsui place setting

As there is only the one menu option for dinner, all we had to do was order a bottle of sake to get the party started.

tempura matsui sakizuke

tempura matsui sakizuke

Sakizuke: Junsai with Sea Urchin. The first serving was a small bowl of uni, yam, lotus root, wasabi, water lily buds, and vinegar.

tempura matsui zensai

Zensai:

Homemade Sesame Tofu topped with Wasabi and Dashi. The soy-wasabi dashi was great.

Simmered Octopus Sakura-ni. 

Simmered Eggplant Hisui-ni. Topped with bonito flakes.

tempura matsui chawanmushi

tempura matsui chawanmushi

Chawan-mushi with Red Rice, Tai fish and Uni Ankake. Seemingly endless layers of surprises for such a small dish. And a generous amount of urchin.

tempura matsui sashimi tuna abalone

Assorted Sashimi with Tuna, Tai and Sake-Steeped Abalone. A nice sashimi plate I suppose for a tempura restaurant. The tai was beautifully delicate, the tuna beautifully fatty, and the abalone nice and tender with a sauce from its liver.

Tempura:tempura matsui condiments

Condiments: tempura sauce, grated daikon radish, salt, and lemon. Though the tempura was wonderful on its own and mostly didn’t need any dressing.

tempura matsui shrimp heads

Shrimp. First bites of the tempura portion. Two superbly light and subtly savory shrimp heads.

tempura matsui shrimp tail

Shrimp. A perfectly sweet shrimp.

tempura matsui shrimp

Shrimp. And another one.

tempura matsui asparagus

Asparagus. Clean, unobscured flavor.

tempura matsui scallop

Scallop. Wrapped in seaweed. An outstanding serving. The tenderness and sweetness of the scallop were balanced dead on with the savory and crisp seaweed and batter.

tempura matsui cherry tomato

Cherry Tomato. Served far too hot for me, I had to let it cool awhile. Super juicy.

tempura matsui king crab

King Crab. Damn delicious. Like over the top amazing. My favorite of the night.

tempura matsui maitake

Maitake. Straight forward fried mushroom. Very nice.

tempura matsui ginger sproutJapanese Ginger Sprout. Probably my least favorite bite of the meal.

tempura matsui whitefish

Japanese Whitefish. An outstanding show of Matsui’s skill. Very nice fish enhanced by the delicate batter.

From here we were told the planned tempura menu was finished and we were given the option to add more pieces. I elected to have one more of their choice.

tempura matsui tofu uni

Uni. Sea urchin wrapped in tofu skin. Very tasty, intense uni flavor.

tempura matsui conger eel

Hamo with Cucumber and Plum Sauce. A decent enough plate of conger eel.

tempura matsui ten don

tempura matsui ten don shrimp

Ten-don. Shrimp tempura over rice. My second favorite of the night. An excellent handful of shrimp over a fantastic bowl of rice accented by the salty and sweet tentsuyu sauce.

Akadashi Miso Soup. Tasty enough soup. Though Rocky couldn’t finish hers because of the fairly obscene amount of sand in the bowl.

Homemade Pickles. The small dish of very nice pickles was a great condiment.

tempura matsui peach

Peach Compote. Poached peaches in simple syrup. As simple as that. As much as I love the light, fresh Japanese style desserts..I was thankful there is Shake Shack a block up to fulfill Rocky’s dessert demands our appetite for sweets.

tempura matsui chef masao

A very serious Chef Masao Matsui.

tempura matsui kubota manju

Our bottle of Kubota Manju.

Overall a very tasty meal. High quality products treated impeccably. Though I would have preferred the focus to be more on tempura. Especially given the name and all the press declaring it New York’s first real tempura restaurant. I look forward to seeing how Tempura Matsui evolves.

Date of visit:  July 27, 2015

Tempura Matsui. 222 East 39th St, NYC  212 986 8885  www.tempuramatsui.com

Ramen Omakase at Okonomi

When Yuji Ramen was still operating in the Whole Foods Market on Bowery, I used to stop in with moderate frequency for the fantastic mazemen ramen. I had wanted to join in on one of the omakase nights they used to hold, but I never managed to work it out. A couple weeks ago I received an email advertising that the seats were about to go on sale for the next rounds of the newer incarnation of the Yuji Ramen Omakase in their newer Brooklyn space, so I figured I would give it a try.

okonomi yuji place setting

This past Sunday Rocky and I made our way out to Williamsburg to see what Co-Chefs Tara Norvell and Yuji Haraguchi are cooking up at their restaurant Okonomi. I was initially a little miffed by the lack of a wine list or BYO option, but ended up very pleased with how well each of the singular beer and sake offerings flowed seamlessly with the meal. With the beverages in place, we were ready to get the party started.

okonomi red drum fish

First up, Local Red Drum. Lovely local fresh fish to begin. Accompanied by plum soy sauce and a fairly spicy yuzu condiment.

okonomi cured salmon cheese mazemen ramen

Cured Alaskan Salmon Mazemen. With Camembert, shiso buds, and tare soy sauce. The noodles had an amazing bite and the shiso a nice pop. The fish was beautifully complimented by the sweetness of the tare.

okonomi ikura soba orecchietteokonomi ikura soba pear ramen

Ikura. The roe from the same fish as the previous dish. With soba ramen orecchiette and grated pear.

okonomi whole wheat ramen ravioli uniokonomi uni miso ravioli

Whole wheat ramen ravioli. Filled with uni miso. Topped with Maine uni and orange. Again, the dough was wonderfully textured, with great sea urchin taste.

okonomi tilefishokonomi tilefish broth skin

Slices of delicate tilefish, cooked in a dashi of the fish, topped with crispy fried skin from the fish. An excellent expression of the tilefish.

okonomi chips and dip mackerel tataki

‘Chips and Dip’. A chip of fried ramen dough. Alongside a Spanish Mackerel tataki with ginger, scallion, sesame, and quail egg yolk.

okonomi nori ramen agno

okonomi nori monkfish liver

Nori ramen ‘agnolotti’ filled with monkfish liver and topped with fresh grated wasabi. Superb marine richness balanced by the wasabi.

okonomi broth

okonomi ramen broth

Broth of chicken, pork, drum fish, and mackerel. With noodles, scallion, and nori. Purely wholesome. The broth hit on multiple savory levels without being overly fatty or salty.

okonomi shiso tofu pear panna cotta

Shiso tofu panna cotta with fresh pear. Light, herbaceous tofu kicked up with the acid and texture of the pear.

A super fun and remarkably tasty dinner in a relaxed and intimate setting. I’m excited to return to check out Okonomi’s Ichiju Sansai breakfast.

okonomi brooklyn service wear

Date of visit:  October 12, 2014

Okonomi. 150 Ainslie St. Brooklyn, NY  www.okonomibk.com

 

 

In de Wulf. Again.

It’s always exciting when I start putting together the pieces of a dining trip. Especially the anticipation of trekking to locations I’ve not yet been to savor my first bites from the kitchens of chefs I’ve not yet met. When it’s the case that the tour I’m planning is focused around a particular restaurant that I’ve long been particularly eager to visit, I often like to go twice. Sometimes two days in a row, and many times twice in a day. After assembling the majority of the building blocks of my recent dining campaign in Belgium, I was feeling regretful that I had only booked a single meal at In de Wulf. Just as I was beginning to accept that I would have merely one dinner in Dranouter, my good friend Simon, who is currently working with Sergio Herman in Antwerp, expressed a desire to join Rocky and me for a great meal while we were in his part of the world. So I was quick to oblige and booked a lunch table for three, three days after my first affair with Chef Kobe Desramaults and his team.

in de wulf walkway

in de wulf patio

in de wulf table setting

in de wulf menus

Waking up on a rainy Sunday morning in Brussels, Rocky and I checked out of our hotel, packed up the rental hybrid, and hit the road for our return to Wulvestraat. After racing with a couple in a bright yellow Lotus Exige down the final stretch of highway, we pulled into the farmhouse compound, met up with Simon, went straight to the table and got the party started with a bottle of Jerome Prevost’s 2010 La Closerie.

Naturally, since this meal was mere days after my first, the majority of the menu was the same. Though there were a few extras thrown in from Chef Kobe.

in de wulf porkskin

Porkskin. With mustard mayonnaise and white currants and more mustard powder than last time.

in de wulf whelks bay leaf

Whelks. From the North Sea with bay leaf white wine vinaigrette.

in de wulf mackerel mugwort

Mackerel, mugwort. Mackerel cured and smoked with mugwort and topped with fermented beef miso.

in de wulf swimmer crabs

A bonus dish of swimmer crabs, which Kobe told us were typical of Belgium. He instructed us not to eat them, but just suck out the juice. Pretty tasty.

in de wulf radish egg yolk

Radish, egg yolk. Egg yolk poached in the shell and dressed with radish flowers, powder, and sauce.

in de wolf bread service

Bread service: sourdough baked out back in a brick oven. With butter and rapeseed oil.

in de wolf north sea sepia

North sea sepia. Cold ‘noodles’ cut from the sepia, dressed with squid jus, garlic vinegar, and chamomile petals. Served in a bowl fashioned of frozen ink and water.

in de wulf dogfish kohlrabi

Dogfish, kohlrabi, rhubarb. Meaty dogfish sandwiched with kohlrabi, rhubarb, creme fraiche, lovage, and rye toast.

in de wolf north sea crab carrots

North sea crab, carrots, lemon thyme, carrot flower. Just like in the previous meal, a terrific plate of sweet compliments and textural contrasts.

in de wolf broad bean goat cheese

Broad bean, goat cheese of Uxem, verbena. In line with the last meal, but without the surprise addition of peas.

in de wulf lobster

Lobster of Audresselles. Once again, tremendous lobster meat in a jus from the head of the animal.

in de wulf snails goosefoot

Snails of Comines, fat-hen. Snails and goosefoot. Delicious snails accompanied quinoa wrapped in a fat-hen leaf.

in de wulf cauliflower

Cauliflower, whey-mussel sauce. Borderline mind-blowing dehydrated cauliflower in a foamy sauce of mussels and whey. A stellar combination.

in de wulf kobe desramaults

in de wulf turbot and onion

Roasted turbot and onion. On paper the same, but on the plate quite different than the turbot and onion we had a few days before. A much tastier piece of fish(especially the skin) and an even prettier winter onion.

in de wulf lamb gherkin

Lamb, roasted gherkin. Lovely brisket and filet of Dutch lamb alongside a roasted stuffed gherkin dressed in lamb jus.

in de wulf pig brain flax seed tart

Flax seed tart and pig brain. A light, crisp flax seed tart with a rich gelee of pig brain topped with carrot flowers. Served on a pig skull.

in de wulf pigeon in hay

in de wulf pigeon and hay

Another bonus dish from Kobe. Pigeon aged whole for two weeks, cleaned and smoked, then aged with smoked hay. Effing fantastic. Amazing, rich, intense flavor.

in de wulf flammèche vieux lille

Flamiche Vieux Lille. A traditional Flemish cheese tart.

in de wulf beetroot sloeberry

Beetroot/ Sloeberry. Lightly crisp beet pastries filled with chocolate ganache.

in de wulf meadowsweet yoghurt honey cherry

Meadowsweet, yoghurt, honey and cherry. Meadowsweet ice cream, yoghurt parfait, cherries, and local meadowsweet honey. Sweet and floral. Wonderfully beautiful light dessert.

in de wulf pineapple weed cucumber

Pineapple weed, young cucumber. Pineapple weed ice cream inside a chamomile meringue covered with slices of cucumber compressed with lemon verbena. Light and very nice, though not as nice as at the previous meal. This one had thicker meringue with much less ice cream inside.

in de wulf strawberry cheese poppy

Wild strawberry, fresh cheese, poppy. Gorgeous young strawberries from a local farm with creamy fresh cheese, poppy petals, and a sauce of strawberry, rose and verbena. Delightful.

in de wulf mignardises

Mignardises:  Nuts and seeds in chocolate and honey. Goat cheese tart with red currant. Fresh berries. And cake.

Some nice wines to accompany a stellar meal:

in de wulf la closeriein de wulf puligny montrachetin de wulf winein de wulf vouette fidele

After we closed down the dining room for lunch, Rocky, Simon and I shared some pleasant conversation with Chef Desramaults then relaxed in the adjacent lounge with a few rounds of excellent coffee.

in de wulf dining room

in de wulf dining room

in de wolf coffee lounge

Another outstanding meal in Dranouter with Chef Kobe and crew. Two months later, I’m still singing praises of In de Wulf, and will continue to do so until my next visit.

Date of meal:  July 6, 2014

In de Wulf. Wulvestraat 1. Dranouter, Belgium +32 57 44 55 67  www.indewulf.be

L’Air du Temps

l'air du temps street sign

Last month, halfway through our Benelux trip, Rocky and I spent the Fourth of July dining in Eghezee with Chef San Degeimbre providing the fireworks. After a tremendous dinner the night before followed by an al fresco breakfast on a beautiful morning in Dranouter, and a day of touring castles in the Belgian countryside, we headed to see what was cooking up at L’Air du Temps.

l'air du temps barn

l'air du temps restaurant

We showed up early for dinner and spent a moment wandering around the grounds and peaking into the different spaces. Their set up is really pretty effing cool.

l'air du temps table setting

l'air du temps jacques selosse

We made our way into the restaurant, went straight to our table, ordered up a bottle of Jacques Selosse Les Carelles(Blanc de Blancs from Le Mesnil Sur Oger – a gorgeous treat), and got the party started.

l'air du temps bread

Eau de verveine. To begin, a glass of water lightly infused with verbena and lime zest(not pictured, but imagine a glass of water).

Le Pain. A ‘paper’ cracker of onion and grains.

l'air du temps snacks

l'air du temps beet cereal

Betterave en coque de céréales. Beetroot in a cereal grain shell. With sunflower seed condiment to dip. Full flavored without being too sweet or rich.

l'air du temps peas cauliflower lettuce

Texture de petit-pois. Peas and bacon in a pea sauce. A little apple gave a slight acid kick. Superb.

Laitue poêlée – Pomme de terre fumée – Citron confit. Fried lettuce with smoked potato and preserved lemon.

Chou-fleur – Crème de jaune d’œuf au miso. Textures of cauliflower with egg yolk creme and miso.

l'air du temps lobster

Homard – Tomates – Ficoïde. Belgian lobster with mushroom, tomato, ginger and ficoide glaciale. Boom. Solid.

l'air du temps mussels

l'air du temps moules frites

Classique 2010 : Moules-Frites. A take on the Belgian favorite. A meaty mussel in an edible potato shell with mayonnaise.

l'air du temps bread service

l'air du temps bread

Bread service with salted butter and butter flavored with Japanese vinegar.

l'air du temps lobster gazpacho

l'air du temps lobster strawberry

Homard breton – Gaspacho de fraises – Beurre noisette – Cosmos. Brittany lobster with strawberry and red cabbage gazpacho, brown butter ‘rocks’, and cosmos flower.

l'air du temps clams artichokes

Coques et Artichaut. A tasting of clams and artichokes with seaweed, daikon radish, and a sauce from the clams. The artichokes acted almost as potatoes in a clam chowder.

l'air du temps vegetables

l'air du temps spring vegetables

Légumes de printemps  A bowl of spring vegetables from their garden. White asparagus was the feature, accompanied by zucchini, radish, fermented radish, lettuce, nasturtium, kimchi, fried alliums, and a sauce made from the fermenting juice of the kimchi with butter and lovage.

l'air du temps pigeon

Pigeonneau de Waret – Anchois – Chips de crêpe de riz. A tender, luscious piece of local pigeon dressed in anchovy sauce and covered with rice chips.

l'air du temps veal oysters

l'air du temps veal oyster

Veau – Romanesco – Huître – Passion – Lacto carottes. A brilliant pairing of veal and oysters with the briny salinity against the light, slow cooked loin. With acidic passionfruit, carrot, buttery romanesco, salty potato crisps, and herbaceous, lightly spicy tagetes leaves.

l'air du temps sweetbreads

l'air du temps sweetbreads

Oignons – Ris de veau – Amélanchier – Fèves. Veal sweetbreads with peas, white onions, pickled red onions, beets, celeriac cream, and a reduction of amelanchier fruit and veal jus. The sweetbreads had a hay ash bbq flavor and aroma that was pretty bad ass.

l'air du temps strawberry mousse

l'air du temps strawberry rose raspberry

…L’important c’est la rose… (the important thing is the rose). Rose ice cream, gelee, and meringue with strawberry mousse and raspberries filled with apricot and harissa. Fresh, fruity, and floral with a lingering spice from the harissa. Very nice.

l'air du temps peach melba

l'air du temps peach melba

Comme une pêche Melba. A take on the classic peach melba. With flavors of vanilla, peach, and thyme.

l'air du temps petit fours

Some sweets and chocolates to finish out the meal. Followed by a kitchen tour and some fun chatting with Chef Degeimbre and his crew.

In addition to the Jacques Selosse, I ordered the non-alcoholic pairing, which was a series of waters each lightly infused with flavors from their respective plates. It was really an impressive and successful offering. Standouts were lemon and licorice water to accompany the clams and artichoke dish, and bell pepper water with lovage alongside the spring vegetables.

A brilliant night in a delightful setting.

l'air du temps restaurant

Date of visit:  July 4, 2014

L’Air du Temps. Rue de la Croix Monet 2. Éghezée, Belgium  +32 81 81 30 48  www.airdutemps.be

In de Wulf

For the past few years I had been wanting to make a trip out to Dranouter, Belgium to see what’s going on at the restaurant In de Wulf. It consistently seemed that whenever I had some time free to travel, the restaurant was having a closure. Earlier this year when I found out I had vacation in July, the first thing I did was check the schedule on their website, then I booked a table(and a room) to see what Chef Kobe Desramaults is cooking up in Heuvelland.

in de wulf restaurantAfter a remarkable meal the night before, followed by a perfect day of sightseeing and taking in the history of Ghent, Rocky and I hit the road and arrived for dinner with high hopes(as this was the meal our whole trip was planned around). We settled in our room and relaxed for just a moment before taking a seat on the restaurant’s patio.

in de wulf patio

in de wulf menus

in de wulf jerome prevost la closerie rose

After chatting briefly about the menu, we ordered up a bottle of Jerome Prevost’s 2008 La Closerie fac-simile rosé(effing amazing) and got the party started. The first few small bites were served outside.

in de wulf pork skin

Porkskin. Crisp and super light. With mustard powder and mustard mayonnaise.

in de wulf crispy potato

Crispy potato. A nest of wound up fried potato strings with smoked potato mousse. One of Rocky’s favorite bites of the trip.

in de wulf dining room

in de wulf table setting

We moved into the dining room and made ourselves comfortable at a spacious wood table.

in de wulf whelks

Whelks. Meaty, oceanic tasting whelks from the North Sea accompanied by a tangy bay leaf white wine vinaigrette.

in de wulf mackerel

Mackerel, mugwort. Cold fillets of mackerel cured and smoked with mugwort and topped with fermented beef miso.

in de wulf radish egg yolk

Radish, egg yolk. A nice yolk poached in the shell and dressed with radish flowers, powder, and sauce.

in de wulf bread service

Sourdough baked in an outside brick oven around the back of the restaurant. Accompanied by butter, salt, and rapeseed oil.

in de wulf north sea sepia

North sea sepia. Cool ‘noodles’ of sepia dressed in a sauce of the head with some cucumber flowers. Served in a bowl made of ice with the ink from the fish that slowly melted and combined with the noodles. A good expression of the animal.

in de wulf dogfish kohlrabi

Dogfish, kohlrabi, rhubarb. A dense piece of dogfish sandwiched with some really nice kohlrabi, stringy acidic rhubarb, and sourdough toast.

in de wulf crab carrots

North sea crab, carrots, lemon thyme, carrot flower. The dual sweetness of the picked crab with the carrot was outstanding, as was the crunchy snap of the carrots against the supple meat. The lemon thyme lent a nice herbal lift.

in du wulf broad bean goat cheese

Broad bean, goat cheese of Uxem, verbena. Broad beans accompanied by some perfect peas in frothed goat cheese.

in de wulf lobster

in de wulf lobster

Lobster of Audresselles. Rich, sweet claw and tail meat in a bisque made from the head of the lobster. Tremendously delicious.

in de wulf snails

in de wulf snails goosefoot

Snails of Comines, fat-hen. Tasty snails heavily dressed in a gremolata-ish condiment. Along with the snails, some members of the goosefoot family. Quinoa based mix wrapped in a fat-hen leaf.

in de wulf cauliflower

in de wulf cauliflower whey

Cauliflower, whey-mussel sauce. Stunning, multi-textured dehydrated cauliflower with a foam of mussels and whey along with what I gathered to be some type of toasted miso bread crumbs. The distinct mollusk taste of the foam was a terrific match with the concentrated cauliflower flavor.

in de wulf turbot onion

Roasted turbot and onion. A cut of turbot with a sauce from the bones of the fish and young fennel. Along with a great Flemish winter onion. For me, the weakest plate of the meal. Rocky gave up on hers after pulling a succession of bones from her mouth.

in de wulf pig brain flax tart

Flax seed tart and pig brain. A light, crisp flax seed tart with a rich gelee of pig brain topped with carrot flowers. Appropriately served on a pig skull.

in de wulf lamb gherkin

Lamb, roasted gherkin. Super tender Dutch lamb with a stuffed roasted gherkin and some lamb jus.

in du wulf flemish cheese tart

Flamiche Vieux Lille. A traditional Flemish cheese tart.

in de wulf beetroot sloeberry

Beetroot/ Sloeberry. Lightly crisp beet pastries filled with chocolate ganache.

in de wulf meadowsweet yoghurt

Meadowsweet, yoghurt, honey and cherry. Meadowsweet ice cream, yoghurt parfait, cherries, and local meadowsweet honey. Sweet and floral. Beautifully restrained and balanced.

in de wulf pineapple weed

in de wulf pineapple weed cucumber

Pineapple weed, young cucumber. Pineapple weed ice cream inside a chamomile meringue covered with slices of cucumber compressed with lemon verbena. Marvelously light and herbaceous.

in de wulf wild strawberry poppy

Wild strawberry, fresh cheese, poppy. Gorgeous young strawberries from a local farm with creamy fresh cheese, poppy petals, and a sauce of strawberry, rose and verbena. Such a delight.

in de wulf petit fours

Mignardises: Rhubarb pate de fruits with lemon verbena. Malt cake. Berries of different ripenesses with sour cream and honey in a little tart. Hazelnut chocolate candies.in de wulf marie courtin champagne

We ordered a bottle of Dominique Moreau’s Marie-Courtin Efflorescence to have with desserts and finish in our room after dinner. Lovely bubbles.

And here’s what we had for breakfast the next morning, served on the back porch. F*cking bad ass:

in de wulf breakfast

in de wulf breakfast eggsin de wulf breakfast

in de wulf breakfast berries

in de wulf brick oven

Dinner at In de Wulf is easily my favorite meal I’ve had this year. By far one of the coolest places I have ever been. Truly one of the most special and poetic dining experiences in the world. Rocky and I were sad to leave, but really excited to return for lunch a few days later.

in de wulf preserves pickles

Date of meal:  July 3, 2014

In de Wulf. Wulvestraat 1. Dranouter, Belgium  +32 57 44 55 67  www.indewulf.be

in de wulf cow skull

in de wulf

 

Hof van Cleve

hof van cleve road signLast month on our vacation across the pond, after finishing up a nice dinner in the Netherlands, Rocky and I hit the road and made a run for the border. We spent a perfect day touring around Antwerp, then drove to the town of Kruishoutem where we pounded sipped a few coffees and got changed for dinner in a parking lot. From there we went to see what Chef Peter Goossens has cooking at his restaurant Hof van Cleve.

hof van cleve gateWe showed up almost an hour early for our reservation, so we parked our hybrid outside the gates and took about a thousand photos of the adjacent field of flowers and a chicken down the road.

hof van cleve flower field

hof van cleve chickenWhen the time came, we took a seat at a table on the patio and got the party started with the suggested house aperitif and series of small bites.

hof van cleve patio

hof van cleve canapes

hof van cleve combavaCOMBAVA  mint  grapefruit.  First up, a shot of grapefruit, kaffir lime, and mint.

hof van cleve soft shell crabSOFT SHELL CRAB  lime  vadouvan.  Alongside, a squid ink chip topped with crispy soft shell crab, flavored lime zest and vadouvan spices.

hof van cleve wagyuWAGYU  sesame  parmesan.  A rolled slice of raw wagyu with parmesan cream, sesame, and radish.

hof van cleve young herringYOUNG HERRING  green apple  runner beans.  A small piece of herring accompanied by apple, potato, peppers, and beans.

hof van cleve chicken liverCHICKEN LIVER  shallot  shellfish.  A stunning plate. Fantastic langoustine tartare with a rich quenelle of chicken liver and apricot toast over chicken liver parfait. A superb combination.

hof van cleve dashi

hof van cleve dashi sea saladDASHI  sesame  sea salad.  A delightful broth with a variety of seaweeds, mussels, young clams, and baby shrimp.

While progressing through these opening snacks we were also making our game plan for the meal. I had initially asked our guy if we could be served the vegetable tasting with meat courses of his choice supplemented. He didn’t seem to like that idea too much and after a little back and forth we ended up with the veg menu with beef substituted for the final savory course. And to drink, a bottle of 2006 La Closerie by Jerome Prevost.

hof van cleve table setting

hof van cleve bread serviceBread. Stone baked with sourdough. The choices were Spelt 100%, Westmalle Trappist Rye, Olive Oil Wheat, Camp Rémy Baguette. Accompanied by Boer Haerinck farm butter, P. Bellevaire salted butter, and olive oil.

hof van cleve radish

hof van cleve radish miso quinoaRADISH  miso  quinoa  eggplant.  Radishes with horseradish, eggplant, quinoa, potato, hijiki, miso, and herb coulis. Fresh, light, vegetal. A marvelously textured compilation.

hof van cleve sucrine

hof van cleve grilled sucrineA continuation of the course. Grilled sucrine lettuce(amazing), with shiitake, quinoa and hijiki in an intensely aromatic soy and kaffir broth.

hof van cleve cauliflower

hof van cleve cauliflowerCAULIFLOWER  basil  mimolette  button mushroom.  Lovely cauliflower florets with riced cauliflower, leeks, mushrooms, a brilliant leek sauce, lightly cheesy aioli-ish mimolette, over thin crunchy toast.

hof van cleve artichoke violet

hof van cleve artichoke violetARTICHOKE ‘VIOLET’  fennel  rice ‘bomba’  cevennes onion.  Artichokes with rice, small onions, peppery watercress, and a superbly savory, lightly sweet onion sauce. A very classy and impeccably executed plate.

hof van cleve dune asparagusDUNE ASPARAGUS  morel  parsley  farm egg.  A wonderful plate of white asparagus, mushrooms, and an egg. With mushroom sauce, white asparagus gelee, parmesan tapenade, and shockingly complex leaves of sea aster.

hof van cleve beef jusA precursor to the beef plate. Beef tartare on a cracker with intensely rich and beefy bone marrow consommé.

hof van cleve selected beef

hof van cleve selected beefSELECTED BEEF  pea  bone marrow  cevennes onion.  Decadent cuts of beef with peas, onions, crispy shallots, and a natural jus.

hof van cleve pre dessertA cool, fresh, fruit-juicy pre dessert. A shot of some tangerine-ish fruit I couldn’t understand with pineapple, lime, and mint.

hof van cleve pre dessertA ‘cannoli’ consisting of a pineapple ‘shell’ filled with limoncello cream on top of olive oil bread.

hof van cleve strawberry gariguette

hof van cleve strawberrySTRAWBERRY ‘GARIGUETTE’  lemon  verbena  hammam tea.  Strawberry and rhubarb with lemon ice cream, hammam tea foam, and mint. An acid trip of a dessert.

hof van cleve chocolate boa sentencaCHOCOLATE ‘BOA SENTENÇA’ 65%  morello  beetroot  pistachio.  Chocolate ice cream, mousse, and crumble. Beets, beet cake, cherries, raspberries, pistachio compote.

CHOCOLATES AND SWEETS:

hof van cleve mignardises cartA cart full of sweet treats.

hof van cleve baba au rhum

hof van cleve rumBaba au Rhum. With Rhum J M.

hof van cleve mignardisesChocolate orange madeline. Snow balls(like light donut holes).

hof van cleve petit foursMacarons. Belgian biscuit. Eclair. Chocolate passionfruit truffle.

Quite an outstanding meal at the hands of Chef Goossens and his team. I hope to return to the idyllic Belgian countryside setting again for another round of Goossens’ stunning cuisine.

Date of visit:  July 2, 2014

Hof van Cleve. Riemegemstraat 1. Kruishoutem, Belgium. +32 9 383 58 48  www.hofvancleve.com

De Librije

Last month I had a week off from work, so Rocky and I decided to cross the pond and spend the time in Holland and Belgium. After spending some quality time exploring the canals of Amsterdam, we made our way east to Zwolle to see what Chef Jonnie Boer is cooking up at De Librije.de librije table setting

We made our way to the Zwolle city center, pulled up at the old Dominican Abbey, handed our hybrid over to the valet, then sat down at an ideal corner table in the library-turned-dining room. After some talk about the menu options, we ended up going for a mix of dishes from both the meat and vegetable tastings. We ordered up some special bubbles and got the party started.

de librije red tea

de librije red cabbage tea

First up, a ‘tea’ of red cabbage with dried apricot and cilantro. Subtle earthy start with lasting light spice.

de librije canapes

Next, a stunning spread of fish. A wonderful aquatic assortment.

de librije sole skin puffed anchovy

Crisps of sole skin with seaweed and lemon. Puffed anchovy.

de librije oysters

Oysters, cucumber and lemon verbena.

de librije razor clams

Razor clams with sea beans. Local cockles.

de librije dutch shrimp

Raw Dutch shrimp. Tiny, delicately flavored, almost gummy. A lot of fun to eat.

de librije beef tartare

The mise en place for a one bite beef tartare showed up .

de librije beef tartare hand plating

And was plated assembled on our hands.

de librije beef tartare hand plating

A variation of a dish that Boer has been serving for 20+ years. Dutch beef tartare with oyster, oyster cream, herb cream, lettuce, and puffed potato. Maybe unnecessarily novel placed on a hand, but very tasty.

de librije milk cow

de librije milk cow

de librije milk cow smoked eel

Milk cow, smoked eel, goat cheese, mushrooms and baharat. Strips of dry aged milk cow seared on hot rocks. With slices of smoked eel, braised lemon, some fantastic little mushrooms, and kick ass BBQ potato chips. Arranged on a cow’s shoulder blade with acidic sorrel leaves and dusted with mushroom powder.

de librije langoustine

de librije langoustine

de librije langoustine ceviche

Langoustine, vanilla kombucha and pickled vegetables. A ‘ceviche’ of langoustine(in lieu of the typical citrus, kombucha was used to mimic the acid level) rolled in dried bread crumbs. It was accompanied by delightful, crunchy pickles, though I preferred the langoustine better on its own.

de librije fermented bread

Fermented bread from fermented grains(I think..) and goat butter flavored with rembrandt grapes. The goat butter was tart and tangy. I preferred the bread with the butter and oil that accompanied the bread service:

de librije bread service

de librije tulip bulbs

Tulip bulbs, turmeric, black garlic and BBQ celeriac. The celeriac BBQ gelee in the base of the dish was amazing. Superbly intense and vibrant flavor. The greens, which they called lime fingers and said were untreated, had a great texture and salinity. I would have been content with half the amount of the feature. The crunchy, starchy bulbs got boringly redundant.

de librije monkfish

de librije monkfish

Monkfish, smoked haddock and vegetables in fermented cabbage juice. The monkfish was outstanding. Luscious, full flavored, and nicely balanced with the savory elements and acidic pickles in the dish.

de librije tomato

Tomato, white beans, red beetroot and orange. The disc of white bean played as a great starchy base for the onslaught of tomato and orange acidity. Radish and cress both lent some nice earthy spice to balance the sweetness. A brilliantly dynamic plate.

de librije roe deer

Roe deer, beetroot, horseradish and elderflower. An insanely tender roe deer loin with a stew of the leg. Along with light, floral elderflower and angelica yogurt. The beet and deer paired seamlessly.

de librije toasted chocolate pistachio

Toasted chocolate, pistachio and green cheese. A really swell combination. Nutty, not too sweet, with light spice from the cheese. Small crisp wafers and boozy raisins were nice additions.

de librije strawberries

de librije strawberry mint honey knotweed

Strawberries, Japanese knotweed, water mint and honey mascarpone. The berries with the honey mascarpone and a minty foamy sauce were tremendous. The dish had a lasting red curry spice just strong enough to keep it curious.

de librije four chocolate flavors

Chocolates themed after four flavors of the tongue. Bitter – coffee. Salty – hazelnut. Sweet – vanilla. Sour – passionfruit.

de librije mignardises lips

Some mignardises… A very minty chocolate pudding topped with a hard piece of cake. Caramel yuzu lips. A box of lovage chocolates.

de librije orange mascarpone ice cream

Oranges dried in an oven and made into ice cream. With mascarpone. The tart/creamy combination was really solid.

de librije edible joints

And to finish.. edible ‘joints’. Made from various herbs(mainly mint I think), oil, and white chocolate.

de librije jacquesson champagne 1989

And to drink.. a stunning bottle of 1989 Jacquesson.. or at least part of the bottle. Not too far into the meal I was told there had been an accident with my wine. I don’t know if it tipped over in the giant ice bucket or if someone poured it off for the wrong table. The guy said it was their last bottle so he couldn’t replace it, but told me they would make up for it. They presented a few options. The two I liked were to open another vintage of Jacquesson or a bottle of Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre, which I had mentioned as an option at the start of the meal. After talking with Rocky, I asked for the Raveneau. A few minutes later a bottle of Raveneau showed up, but it was Butteaux. Since three people by now had told us they were making up for losing our Champagne, we rolled with it. We had maybe half the Jacquesson and a third of the bottle of Chablis. Both bottles were charged on our check at half price. Not too great of a way to make up for a mistake.

Date of meal:  July 1, 2014

De Librije. Broerenkerkplein 13-15. Zwolle, Netherlands  +31 38 421 2083  www.restaurantdelibrije.nl

Sushi Nakazawa – Sushi Counter

After having dinner in the Sushi Nakazawa dining room two weeks ago, I decided I needed to get back to Commerce Street to have dinner at the sushi counter. So I kept an eye out for openings and secured a reservation for last Monday. I had been told that dinner at the bar is remarkably better than in the dining room(particularly with regards to the integrity of the fare). I wasn’t mislead. Though many of the fish selections and preparations bordered on identical to the week before, the difference between a piece straight from Chef Nakazawa’s hand and a piece that has been plated, sat on the pass, and walked through the room is like night and day. The temperature contrasts make all the difference.

sushi nakazawa sushi counter setting

 

sushi counter daisuke nakazawa

I met my buddy MCL out front just before dinner time and enjoyed the sunshine on a bench until the doors opened promptly at 5:00. We took our corner seats at the counter, ordered up some sake, and got the party started.

sushi nakazawa cherry salmon

Cherry Salmon. From Hokkaido. Supple richness with a good amount of wasabi spice to start off.

sushi nakazawa smoked blackmouth chinook

Smoked Blackmouth Chinook. From Washington. With some light peppery heat.

sushi nakazawa sea scallop

Sea Scallop. ‘Dancing Scallop!’ as Chef called it. From Maine. Acidic, spicy yuzu pepper contrasted nicely against the sweet flesh. Likewise, the cool scallop was great over the warm rice.

sushi nakazawa giant clam geoduck

Giant Clam. Washington geoduck. A brief torching warmed the clam and gave a bit of sweetness from the caramelized soy.

sushi nakazawa sea bream

sushi nakazawa sea bream daikon

Sea Bream. From Awaji Island. A real beauty. Subtly funky from ground daikon. A few days later at work MCL recalled this as the most impressive piece for him.

sushi nakazawa golden eye snapper

Golden Eye Snapper. Shizuoka Kinmedai. With lemon and sea salt. Tender, fatty mouthfeel.

sushi nakazawa barred knifejaw

Barred Knifejaw. Ishidai. Clean taste. Cool temperature.

sushi nakazawa horse mackerel

Horse Mackerel. Kagoshima Aji. Gracefully pure for mackerel. One of my favorite pieces again.

sushi nakazawa sardine

 

sushi nakazawa sardine

Sardine. Straight forward sardine. The taste always takes my memory back to bars in coastal Spain.

sushi nakazawa pickled mackerel

Pickled Mackerel. Aged seven days. With just enough Japanese mustard to support the fish and almost go unnoticed.

sushi nakazawa octopus

sushi nakazawa octopus

Octopus. From Kanagawa. Massaged 45 minutes.

sushi nakazawa tiger prawn

Tiger Prawn. From Madagascar. Boiled briefly. More rich than sweet tasting this time.

sushi nakazawa wild yellowtail

Wild Yellowtail. I think from Oita.

sushi nakazawa smoked bonito

Smoked Bonito. Impeccably, unmistakably smoky. But just enough so to balance well with the fish.

sushi nakazawa lean bluefin tuna

sushi nakazawa lean bluefin tuna

Lean Bluefin Tuna. From Boston. Lovely, pure flavor.

sushi nakazawa medium fatty tuna

sushi nakazawa medium fatty bluefin tuna

Soy Marinated Medium Fatty Bluefin Tuna. With Japanese mustard. A very pretty bite.

sushi nakazawa fatty bluefin tuna

sushi nakazawa fatty bluefin tuna

Fatty Bluefin Tuna. Super oily and lightly torched.

sushi nakazawa santa barbara sea urchin

Sea Urchin Santa Barbara. Hard not to like this. The uni was smooth and cool and was superb as it warmed in the mouth.

sushi nakazawa chum salmon roe

Soy Marinated Chum Salmon. A radical combination of textures and savory layers.

sushi nakazawa sea eel

sushi nakazawa sea eel

Sea Eel. A decent enough piece of eel with eel sauce.

sushi nakazawa egg omelette

sushi nakazawa tamago

Egg Omelette. Again a delightfully light, sweet, and savory egg custard.

sushi nakazawa santa barbara maine uni

Santa Barbara and Maine Sea Urchin. When we were asked if we wanted to repeat or add any bites, MCL asked for more uni. Chef Nakazawa asked us if we wanted Santa Barbara again or Maine. I said both. It was the right move I think.

sushi nakazawa yuzu sorbet berries

Yuzu Sorbet. With berries. The blackberry on the bottom was frozen solid😦

sushi nakazawa tea

Tea.

sushi nakazawa sake

sushi nakazawa sake

A couple bottles of sake for the evening.

chef daisuke nakazawa sushi

Chef Daisuke Nakazawa looking for pictures of fish to show us.

Date of meal:  March 31, 2014

Sushi Nakazawa. 23 Commerce St. NYC 212.924.2212  www.sushinakazawa.com

Blue Hill at Stone Barns for Rocky’s Birthday

To finish up our stretch of co-birthday celebrations last month, the misses and I rented a car and headed north out of the city and up to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for Rocky’s big birthday bash. Since our two-a-day there last summer, Rocky has been calling BHSB her favorite restaurant in the states and has been eager to go back. So I thought a night in a castle, a day at the spa, and dinner on the farm would be a perfect present for her.

blue hill stone barns winter

blue hill stone barns winter

Arriving on the grounds was certainly an amusing contrast between our bright, sunny, lushly green, borderline-scorching visit in July and our brisk, stark, snow-covered wintertime return.

blue hill stone barns table setting

blue hill stone barns dining room

Making our way into the restaurant, we said hello to some familiar faces and took our seats at the same corner table where we finished up last time.

blue hill stone barns winter cart

blue hill stone barns charcuterie

We got the party started with some bubbles(it was a remarkably bubbly meal) as our guy rolled up and showed off a guéridon boasting an attractive spread of pickled and fermented goodies, dried mushrooms, house made paprika, molasses, speck, and bresaola. Then began an impressive onslaught of snacks and small bites.

blue hill stone barns garden vegetables

blue hill stone barns vegetables fence

Vegetables from the garden. A colorful, flavorful lineup of fresh veggies.

blue hill stone barns ice plant lettuce

Ice lettuce. Tender, fleshy leaved succulent.

blue hill stone barns turnips

blue hill stone barns hakurei turnip

Hakurei turnips.

blue hill stone barns fighter spinach

Fighter spinach with root vegetable powder. Lightly earthy with some sweetness from the powder. Delightful leaves.

blue hill stone barns pig heart pastrami

Pig heart pastrami, last year’s asparagus, cured egg yolk. The acidic asparagus with the rich yolk complemented the salty heart nicely.

blue hill stone barns squash blossoms

Squash blossoms. From special seeds from a seed program at Cornell.

blue hill stone barns beet jerky

Beet jerky. Dried, sweet, chewy. Good stuff.

blue hill stone barns carrot plankton crackers

Crackers:  Carrot with curry and seeds. And phytoplankton with tiny shrimp.

blue hill stone barns jerusalem artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke with curry. Soft, sweet, and lightly starchy inside with rich, thick skin.

blue hill stone barns beets rice

blue hill stone barns beet sushi

Beet ‘sushi’ with sprouted grains.

blue hill stone barns potato

A potato trio.

blue hill stone barns yeasted potato

Yeasted potato. Crispy potato shell with smooth potato puree and chewy cubes of beets.

blue hill stone barns potato caviar

Marbled potato with creme fraiche and caviar. Sweet, salty, almost heavenly. A superb bite.

blue hill stone barns mussel seaweed

Tart with mussel, beer, and seaweed.

blue hill stone barns crispy kale cabbage

Kale & Cabbage. Delicately crisp and perfectly salted.

blue hill stone barns boar sausage

blue hill stone barns boar pepperoncino pickles

Boar sausage with some kick ass pickles.

blue hill stone barns whelks lardo

Whelks and lardo. Sweet, meaty sea snails.

blue hill stone barns beetfurter

Beetfurter. A playful sausage of beets and pork. With preserved tomato.

blue hill stone barns beet burger

blue hill stone barns beet burger

Tiny beet burgers. Complete with bacon and a grilled sesame crown.

blue hill stone barns pork liver chocolate

Pork liver and chocolate. Hard-hitting with a rich lingering chocolate finish.

blue hill stone barns beet cart

blue hill stone barns beet tartare

blue hill stone barns beet tartare cart

Our guy rolled up again with another guéridon. This one decked out with a variety of ingredients and service ware. He gave us a spiel about how much they love beets at Blue Hill and how they sometimes go overboard with them. As he stood at his cart mixing up a beet tartare, a few other beet items arrived.

blue hill stone barns beet borscht

Beet borscht.

blue hill stone barns borscht scallop

blue hill stone barns scallop beet borscht caviar

A large, meaty cut of scallop with caviar and borscht. The salinity of the caviar struck a good balance between the scallop and the beet. The best plate of the beet series.

blue hill stone barns beet series

blue hill stone barns beet tartare quail yolk

Beet tartare with quail egg yolk. Despite all the added spices and condiments, this was still very sweet and a burden to finish.

blue hill stone barns beet bolognese

Beet ‘bolognese’. Polenta with a meaty beet and bacon sauce.

blue hill stone barns biochar

blue hill stone barns squid celery root charcoal

blue hill stone barns biochar

blue hill stone barns cabbage quince

We were presented with examples of Blue Hill’s biochar process. Then a few items prepared with the biochar. First a pretty effing delicious, dense, dark mix of squid, celery root, and charcoal. Then a badass wedge of cabbage cooked over biochar and topped with speck alongside an uninspired quince puree.

blue hill stone barns ricotta

blue hill stone barns whole wheat brioche

blue hill stone barns ricotta brioche

In-house ricotta. Whole wheat brioche. Kale and green vegetable marmalade. Black pepper. A welcome repeat from our last visit and a wonderful combination. Rich, fatty ricotta with sweet, vegetal marmalade, spicy black pepper, and toasty, buttery brioche.

blue hill stone barns broccoli cheddar

blue hill stone barns broccoli cheddar

Broccoli & Cheddar. A perfectly tender yet firm broccoli stem with cheddar foam, seeds, and sprouts.

blue hill stone barns fighter spinach

blue hill stone barns cod head

A marvelous little bowl of fighter spinach and seaweed along with a salty, meaty cod head. Rocky didn’t do so well with this fish, so I got the majority here. It had some glutinously gelatinous highlights. The eyes were particularly chewy and tasty.

blue hill stone barns parsnip bordelais

blue hill stone barns parsnip bordelais

Bordelais – parsnip ‘steak’ topped with bone marrow, fried egg, and bordelais sauce with accompaniments of creamed spinach, caramelized onion, and cabbage ketchup. The parsnip was nice at first but got tiresome. The egg and onions were nice. The spinach was fairly bland.

blue hill stone barns bread service

Bread service:  potato onion bread, local butter, corn salt, beet salt.

blue hill stone barns venison

Halloran Farms venison with brussels sprouts, cabbage, and caraway. Some quality cuts of gamey venison. The sprouts were amazing – nutty, almost sweet – the best part of the plate.

blue hill stone barns cheese cart

blue hill stone barns cheese plate

blue hill stone barns cheese

Another service cart rolls up. This time with a giant wheel of Rupert, an aged raw cow milk cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont. Our guy shaved several strips off the wheel and served them up with quince, pumpkin seeds, and rye sourdough pretzels.

blue hill stone barns parsnip sorbet

blue hill stone barns parsnip sorbet

Parsnip sorbet with lemon and charcoal. The tart lemon rind set off the sweet parsnip.

blue hill stone barns vanilla caramel birthday cake

A vanilla caramel birthday cake for Rocky!

blue hill stone barns honey tasting

blue hill stone barns honey tasting

blue hill stone barns seasonal honey dessert

Honey expressions. Three textures of honey from three seasons. Spring honey with carrot and tarragon. Summer honey with Carolina Gold Rice. Fall honey with pistachio. Quite a tasting. The summer and fall were dynamite. Presented handsomely in stacking dishes resembling honeycomb cells.

blue hill stone barns petit fours

blue hill stone barns mignardises

blue hill stone barns sourdough biscuit berry jam

A fairly serious spread of sweet treats. Sourdough biscuits with berry jam. Apple. Dried honeycomb with chocolate, stunning. Quince pate de fruits. Crispy, sweet dried carrots. Honey truffles. Blue Hill Oreos. Arugula meringue resembling needles in a haystack.

blue hill stone barns white chocolate eggs

White chocolate eggs with candy cap mushroom. These sounded interesting but were overly sugary and fairly awful.

blue hill stone barns dried fruit

Hazelnut ‘puppy chow’. Wheat clusters. Dehydrated slices of apple. Light, melt-away carrot chips. Cookie tuiles.

As I mentioned at the top of the post, it was a remarkably bubbly meal.

blue hill stone barns michel rocourt  champagne

My buddy Charles greeted us with some Michel Rocourt Blanc de Blancs.

blue hill stone barns jerome prevost  la closerie

We followed up with La Closerie.

blue hill stone barns vouette sorbee fidele

And then Vouette & Sorbée fidèle.

Chardonnay into Pinot Meunier into Pinot Noir. The sharp, crisp Rocourt was a nice treat to begin. Then two amazing bottles from my two favorite producers of the moment. What Jérôme Prévost does with Pinot Meunier on his tiny two hectare vineyard Les Béguines in Gueux is magical. And Bertrand Gautherot’s Vouette & Sorbée wines are consistently compelling show stoppers. Some damn sexy grape juice to celebrate my little lady’s birthday.

Date of visit:  March 2, 2014

Blue Hill at Stone Barns. 630 Bedford Road. Pocantico Hills, NY  914 366 9600

www.bluehillfarm.com

 


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Beautiful morning for breakfast al fresco.

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