A Magical Dinner

Maya 2010-2011

A few months ago, Maya told me that for her twelfth birthday, she would love to visit Spain. When I asked her why, she simply stated that she thought it would be a cool country to see – the sights, the people, the language…… the FOOD. Ah! There it was! MY Maya was back. She took a few years off from being the foodie we bragged about back in San Francisco… but friends, this was it. I saw the spark in her eyes as she talked about tapas. She was BACK!

Some of you may remember the little girl who used to go everywhere with us in San Francisco – ordering the sushi rolls and sashimi, the shellfish risotto, and the (brace yourselves) oysters on the half shell from the raw bar. She wanted the lamb when the option for chicken fingers was present, and as I stated in one of my previous posts, only “fancy mac and cheese” would do for her – none of that “K” brand stuff! ;) Yes, she made me proud. But for whatever reason (Manish blames it on moving back to the burbs) she regressed after moving back to NJ. She had issues  with “green stuff” in her pasta sauce (ie herbs!) And the more exotic the dish, the less she wanted to try it. She still loved sushi, but it was the super adulterated rolls that were intriguing her now (ie the Berkeley Heights Roll, the Basking Ridge Roll, The Philadelphia Roll… you get the point.) Sigh. Burgers, dogs, and fingers were the items that she was now excited about. And the Cassoulet, Coq au vin, and Moules frites that I attempted to entice her with were too bizarre to even fathom. Double sigh.

The Heading on Mayas Birthday Menu

Fast forward to a few months ago. I told her that Spain was pretty much out of the question (HELLO!!!??,) but perhaps we could consider doing something else? She asked if we could go to dinner…. at elements. :) She heard Manish and I talk of our experiences at elements and said she was intrigued. “Will I like it?” she asked. “No, You will love it.” I answered. And she did. She LOVED trying everything that Chef Scott Anderson put on her plate. She felt like royalty, and was truly honored to be catered to the way the entire team at elements did. She called the experience “Magical.” And it was. My baby loves elements. Oh, we are in TROUBLE! ;) See below for the details of our meal.

The team welcomed us, and we were seated in the main dining room. Maya was the first to notice the heading on the menu. “happy birthday Maya! (maybe Spain next year.) She relaxed, and let her hair down. She knew it was going to be a fun night. Maya ordered a fabulous ginger “beer” concoction crafted by Mattias, while Manish and I started with two new cocktails on the list. I had the privateer, which was made with 3 really intense and flavorful artisanal rums, while Manish had a Rum Sazerac. For the amuse bouche, we had a trio. First was a horseradish slaw with brussel sprouts. Next, a leek soup. And last, a spicy beef tartare. The perfect small bites to whet our palates. Our appetizer was a dumpling type of pasta with taleggio cheese and shaved black truffles. Maya saw her parents literally scraping our portions clean with a fork, and licking up every last bite of cheese and truffle, So she followed. And she was happy she did so ;)

First and Second Courses

The tuna tartare was spectacular, dressed with scallion, ginger, and white soy. The Buri (adult yellowfin) was served sashimi style and was so buttery and savory. I actually caught Maya closing her eyes at one point, just soaking in the awesomeness of the fish. She was so intrigued by the purple cabbage soup. Inside were chunks of pastrami… every bite was so balanced with seasoning, so colorful. This was one of her favorite dishes.

Courses 3, 4, and 5

Next was the local tilefish. This was pan seared and accompanied by caramelized endive, macadamia and coconut. The dish encompassed such an “island” flair. Fabulous combination of flavors! A foie gras course was introduced next… Maya was excited to try it, but unfortunately did not enjoy it as much as Manish and I did. The sweet and tart flavors of the fruit “tart” accompaniment provided a perfect balance to the rich and buttery torchon. Next was the pheasant. It was accompanied by a tagliatelle with a sauce made with squab liver. Maya LOVED it, and told us that she couldn’t believe that squab liver could taste so good. The 48 hour short ribs was Maya’s favorite. She is a die hard comfort food fan, and the ginger, szechuan peppercorn, and petite mushrooms didn’t sway her one bit. She remarked that it was even better with all of the sophisticated flavors. Maya had the “kit Kat” dessert while Manish and I had the cheese course.

Manish and I sampled some of the wines/beers that Justin suggested to pair with the courses. We loved the way the Chouffe Tripel paired with the short ribs. This was a match that we would have never thought of but the Belgian IPA style went perfectly – especially due to the flavors in the short ribs. Another favorite pairing was a special pour of the 2007 Dehlinger RRV Chardonnay. This was perfect with the tilefish, and those magnificent tropical flavors.

On our way home, we re-capped what our favorite dishes of the night were, and Maya summarized her evening in one word. MAGICAL. The only thing that I regret is not having my camera with me to capture some of the amazing expressions on her face throughout the evening. Next time, I guess!

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