EPIC FOOD TRIP
Still in a bit of a food comma, but will try to describe these past few days with some clarity for you. First, a little background story. Over my lifetime I've had the privilege of eating at some of the best properties around the world, but one of the last french culinary bastion my dear departed wife and I wanted to try was Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze's Le Bernardin in Manhattan. Sadly we never were able to make it there and it was a big void in my life for the past 8 years until this past week. I've planned this dinner over the past 3 years and finally felt it was time. A few of you know how passionate I am on just about everything, but going to LB was an emotional life marker for me. More about that later...
I decided that my trip down should include a few more destinations. So a few days before LB, I took my friends to an old haunt of mine called Gennero's on 94th street and Amsterdam avenue. To be remembered from 10 years ago by the staff and GM was truly heartwarming. They wouldn't let me order and had brought in some special cover items that blew us away. It was a great way to start this Epic journey.
So that was day#1 and it was crazy!!! Day#2 was quite. I went to the local deli and had the quintessential NY breakfast "to go" ( I skipped the bagel as I thought it would've landed hard on me so early in the morning ) so I went for the bacon, cheese, 2 fried eggs on a roll salt/pepper ketchup and coffee with the local paper in hand.. LOL.. I know I know.. LOL... I took my friend who I was staying with out to dinner that night. We always go to UVA Rossa in Malvern NY ( a must go if you are anywhere near there OMG!! ) but heard that they had just opened a sister location Pomodorino Rosso in Malvern NY, so we had to go.. one week after their soft opening and we got in! Great location, casual and family orientated, approachable good tasting food. Nice bar program. We went a bit late and me being the "old fart" in the group, the noise level was a bit much for me. I met the co-owner Carol Cesone who was super nice and was very gracious. We both sat down and talked shop for awhile. Going to go back to try out their pizzas on my next trip down!! and she might come up to eat at The8Top? Which would be so cool!!
On day #3 I was listening to <Beyond The Plate> Andrew Kaplin's podcast episode about the Shake Shack and Executive Chef Mark Rosati while hanging out. I found it so interesting it made me seek out a Shake Shack near me.. and so I went.. I must say they do have their act together. I was given a buzzer to signal me the moment the burger was ready, insuring that I was eating a FRESH burger and fries! I went with the original trying not to put too much other stuff on it in order to get the true flavor.. I have to say that on first bite, it was cooked to perfection, taste was on point, special sauce, fresh crisp tomato and lettuce was a pleasant surprise.. However, it's very generic in its construction. At the end of the day it's a fast food burger. It is super fresh, which does separate it from the rest of the fast food burger joints. Had to try it! I will say their Black and White shake was thick and yummy.. went home to get ready to go to Mecca!
And now.. <<INSERT D-E-E-P BREATH HERE>> Le Bernardin , Ladies and Gentleman, I was overwhelmed simply by walking through the glass doors. I was greeted at the podium in french, guessing it was my name, but they somehow knew who I was?? Don't ask me how that happened. That only happened to me once before at my all time favorite hotel in Hawaii called The Halekulani, where we used to stay for two nights after our stay in Kauai at our timeshare. It was a glorious 3 weeks of pure bliss. OK, I digress, back to LB...I had an 8:30 two top. Natalie, my former paramedic partner of 7 years and I sat down and the journey began. Two glasses of champagne were poured and a handwritten note placed into my hand. I was a bit confused, but opened it up and to my utter astonishment it was from my two dearest friends here in Keeseville, who sent us the champagne. They knew the significance of this dinner for me and wrote words that truly touched my heart. I was a total mess!
After composing myself, the two (2) Chef's Tasting menus began. Natalie got her vegetarian Chef's Tasting menu and I had my normal Chef's Tasting menu. This was a great way to get 18, yes, thats right, I said 18!!!! dishes in front of us it was so cool. Heather, our waitress was amazing, professional, and extremely knowledgeable about each dish's construction and profile that was placed in front of us. She was a gem and was enjoying us enjoying each bite. Our SOMM, Sarah started to pour us our 2013 Dönnhoff Hernannshöhle Riesling. It was so good we opted to drink that all night with Sarah blessing, as it was the perfect pairing for 90% of our dishes. We also got some dessert pairings at the end.
Being the #26th in the world and 3 star Michelin along with multiple accolades the hype was front and center. Each dish that came out was better than the last..
The two amuse bouche towers came out on a rotating carousel, warm, cold, sashimi, gelatined pockets of pure heaven.
Caviar Tartare - Hamachi-Osetra Caviar Tartare; Sea Lettuce, Smoked Dashi Gelée
Artichoke - Warm Artichoke Panaché; Vegetable Risotto, Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Asparagus- Poached Asparagus, Spring Garlic-Parsley Emulsion
Langoustine - Seared Langoustine; Foie Gras Crouton, Balsamic-Truffle Vinaigrette
Perigord Truffle - Black Truffle Tagliatelle
Scallop - Barely Cooked Scallop; Sea Beans, Bonito Butter Sauce
Bouillabaisse - Slowly Cooked Mediterranean Vegetable Medley Anise-Saffron Infused Broth
Halibut - Poached Halibut; Radish Medley, Daikon-Ginger Dashi
Curry - Cauliflower Couscous, Romanesco, Okra, Seasonal Vegetables, Madras Curry Stew
Dover Sole - Sautéed Dover Sole; Lemon-Potato Mousseline, Shallot Emulsion
Morel - Himalayan Morel-Spring Pea-Fava Bean Casserole
Hawaiian Walu-Japanese Wagyu - Grilled Walu and Seared Wagyu; Tomato Summer Roll, Spiced Red Wine Sauce
Tomato - Tomato Confit, Strawberry Granité, Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream
Yogurt - Smoked Yogurt, Maple-Macerated Blueberries, Graham Crackers
Coffee Caramel Crémeux, Roasted Almond Mousse, Bourbon Froth / wine pairing : Pineau de Charentes, Vieux Fût #12, Paul-Marie & Fils, Cognac, France
Rhubarb - Rhubarb Marmalade, Mascarpone Crémeux, Limoncello Sorbet / wine pairing: Ice Wine, Liliac, Transylvania, Romania 2016
And although the Petite Four are not considered a "course" they were five of the most delicious bites !!
This was, by far, the best meal of my life. With each course I blown away. This is such a anomaly in my culinary experience. I've been to some great locations and get wowed here and there but NEVER with each and every dish ( dont forget it was 18 dishes!!!!! ) my mind simply couldn't comprehend it. What I enjoyed was the simplicity, the clarity and quality of every ingredient that was presented. Yes at this level of cooking one does expect the BEST.. but its truly a rare to crush every bite. There were so many moments during this three and half hour meal that i had to stop and collect myself as i was a bit emotional. The mere fact that I was here, that I was immersed in this level of cooking, that i was with another person that enjoyed this level of culinary delight as much as I did was insane. I know Linda was smiling from ear to ear watching me be overwhelmed by each bite. It was an EPIC food trip that I will never forget!