Archive for September, 2010

The Remainder of the Ride…

Posted in Dinners, Food, Pairings, Wine on September 29th, 2010 by nita – Be the first to comment

Greetings! Let me start by continuing my online journey of my gastronomic week, or shall I say, MONTH!?

Eggs Benedict

Next stop was WD-50. Stop THREE of my gastronomic week 2010. The first time I dined at the acclaimed Wylie restaurant, I was rather unimpressed. Perhaps I was fearful to detach myself from my traditional culinary roots? I don’t know… But I was determined to 1) have a completely different experience and 2) meet Wylie. :) Plus, a good friend was insisting I give this place just one more try.

Cuttlefish with cashews

Drum roll… a different experience it was! The courses were flavorful, and full of texture and complexity.  We, as a table, shared two orders of the eggs benedict, which consisted of deep fried hollandaise sauce, the thinnest pieces of Canadian bacon you’ll ever see,  and creatively prepared egg yolks. Nothing healthy about it, but it was delicious! I went with the cuttlefish appetizer with cashew and rootbeer. Heavenly – and the cashews added such amazing texture.

Aerated Foie Gras

Others at the table that day raved about the aerated foie gras. Divine. Light as cotton candy, with the decadence of the rich delicacy. For my main course, I decided on the scallop dish – accompanied by chicken fried lentils (crispy and yummy,) radish, and lychee. Innovative and creative flavors blended into one unique and delicious dish. We had the Margaine Brut Rose with our appetizers and then moved to a magnum of an incredible Riesling that I can’t for the life of me remember – can any of my dining companions refresh my memory? A perfect pairing for my scallops! And yes, Wylie was there. I was a tad star struck and got all googly as he whisked by me at one point to get what seemed to be a glass of water from the bar. Mission accomplished. :)

And then there was STOP NUMBER FOUR. Literally, at this point, I felt as though I needed to do a cleanse diet in between all of my extravagant dinners. This time, we celebrated a friend’s birthday and introduced them to our favorite restaurant in the state… yep. elements in Princeton… Again! The chefs paired some fabulous courses to the wines that we chose for the evening… 2006 Albert Grivault Meursault, 2002 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia, and 1999 Terrebrune Bandol Rouge. Manish and I both agreed that this was our all time favorite dining experience at elements (trumping my last post) which proves to me that the staff here are always aiming to grow and surprise you more with each visit! A peak into what we feasted upon… no pictures of the food but trust me when I say that each and every plate was an artistic masterpiece, showcasing the colors and flavors of the season and of course the amazing talentsof Chef Scott Anderson and Chef Joe Sparratta.

~The amuse bouche trio: Beet Salad; fresh Tomato soup with fennel salad; Broccoli soup
(The guys enjoyed the Maple Loch Cocktail with this and the gals enjoyed the 20th century cocktail – Mattias at the bar is a genius!)
~Super sweet cherry tomato salad with fresh feta cheese and basil
~Local peach salad; red quinoa; fleur vert; black garlic; poppy seed sponge cake – as uniquely amazing and satisfying as the last time!
~Tuna belly and hamachi sashimi with pear and jicama – So fresh and clean, with the perfect balance of fruit and acidity.
~Geoduck with herb risotto, clam juice, saffron, and fried artichokes – Last time I had geoduck was at dim sum. I liked elements’ version much better – perfectly cooked, so tender!
~Seared scallops with romesco sauce
~Turbot with mustarda greens – I’m a sucker for a good hearty green :)
~Hazelnut tortellini with shaved truffles, parmesan crisp, pecans, and garlic chips – Truly Decadent!
~Seared foie gras with pear and maple syrup – As though the word “decadent” should have an even richer meaning :)
~Veal sweetbreads and caramelized sunchokes
~Smoked duck with fingerling potatoes and haricot verts – Amazing pairing with the 99 Bandol!
~Pre-dessert was the Bacon and Eggs – something I think I would order EVERY time I go!

Pre Dessert

That marked the end to my gastronomic MONTH. Stay tuned to my October musings – I look forward to sharing! Cheers!!

2nd Stop – elements in Princeton

Posted in Dinners, Pairings, Wine on September 23rd, 2010 by nita – Be the first to comment

The Thursday that followed my birthday was a true treat. I was given the opportunity to attend a wine dinner that 56 Degree Wine, in conjunction with importer extraordinaire Olivier Daubresse, hosted.  It was the most educational, inspirational, and phenomenal wine dinner that I have ever experienced.

The geniuses at elements in Princeton, Chefs Scott Anderson and Joe Sparatta, created a unique and ridiculously mouth-watering menu to pair with each flight of wine. Yes, I said flights. Olivier had the foresight to set aside some older vintages of all of the wines that were showcased so that one day, we could all enjoy a lovely event like this, comparing young vintages to ones that had more bottle age! The wines that were paired were all white Burgundy, 4 different producers from 4 different regions.

This dinner ranks in my top 5 dining experiences of all time, and the credit goes to the incredible staff at elements, and the hosts for organizing. I also believe that I had the best seat in the house – sitting in between Joe (wine director at 56) and Olivier (importer) and across from Chris (owner of 56.) The conversations were educational and inspiring. A thorough review of this event was done by Chris Cree, Master of Wine, owner of 56 Degree Wine, my boss and mentor, oh the list goes on. His blog post says it all, so I will just link to his here

An incredible evening, the perfect birthday gift!

Gastronomic Week 2010… First Stop: Origin Thai III

Posted in Dinners, Family, Wine on September 12th, 2010 by nita – Be the first to comment

September… I LOVE this time of year. It’s as though the Weather God knows to crisp up the air as soon as Labor Day hits. Cool mornings give way to sun drenched days, and the evenings that follow demand pleasant “after dinner” walks outside.

Being a September “baby” also helps support my adoration for this month. I grew up with parents that made a big deal over my birthday. So, needless to say, it is always one of my most favorite days of the year.  While most people my age like to FORGET about their birthdays, I like to celebrate – with FOOD – preferably, for more than one day. This year, even though the people around me will not realize it, I will be celebrating ALL WEEK! I’ll post as I “experience.”

Thai Disney PhotoBoard

First Stop, Origin Thai III in Basking Ridge. French inspired Thai food. How much better can it get!? With the prodding of Maya, Manish made “early birthday” reservations for the four of us last night. We like to go to the Basking Ridge location because it’s convenient, close, and the newest one out of the three locations. The girls feel like they are going out to a “fancy restaurant,” and we have the added benefit of bringing our own wine! Here is what we consumed…

Shrimp and Crab Spring Rolls with a Basil Sauce – Crispy outer shell encased a delicate seafood medley filling. Dipped into the sweet Basil sauce, this was HEAVENLY!
Lemongrass Steamed Mussels – A “go-to” dish EVERY time we as a family visit Origin Thai. We all love mussels. The only thing this dish was missing was the bread to sop up the broth!!!
Crispy Whole Snapper with Tamarind, Chili, Garlic, Sweet Shallot Sauce
– RIDICULOUSLY flavorful. The fish was so delicate (despite the cooking technique) and the sweet and spicy sauce was perfectly balanced. YUM.
Wild Boar with Chili, Thai Basil, Shitake, and Bok Choy – Extremely flavorful, and soooo savory. Would have licked the plate clean if they didn’t take it away as soon as they did! The only negative was that some of the boar pieces was “more cooked (ie tougher) than others. Didn’t really take away from the dish… just an observation.

For dessert, Maya insisted we order the warm chocolate cake and Kayla went for the Banana Crepe. And, the 2006 Donnhoff Felsenturmchen Riesling Spatlese that I was gifted a year ago made for the perfect accompaniment to most of the dishes above!

Cheers! And stay tuned for my next stop!