Saturday, May 9, 2015

we return to favorites

One place in our neighborhood that we reserved long before our return to the north for the summer was goosefoot.  A number of years back our friend Sheila had a group dinner there (not long after it opened) and we found it "brilliant" as the Brits say...LOL  We completely loved the concept of having food of the highest level of high end dining right in the neighborhood (a Michelin star was award and confirmed several times) and yet we could bring wines from our ever aging cellar. It was a match made in heaven as far as we were concerned.

Over time we went frequently and became friends with Chris and Nina (the chef owner and his then front of the house spouse - who now works both in the kitchen and up front.) They are a study in contrasts-  outgoing Brazilian Nina and shy perfectionist Chris.  He worries and she soothes.  She also is a matchmaker LOL.

In one of the early years of operation, they decided goosefoot would host a New Year's Eve dinner and invited us to be one of the lucky couples to attend.  At that dinner, because I was at the banquet facing into the restaurant and Phil was on the chair facing me, I got to watch the patrons that evening. There was one man who caught my eye.  He was smiling and obviously happy and having a good time taking photographs.  I said to Phil, there's someone we should meet - he really seems like he is having fun in life.

The next time we went to dinner there I asked Nina about the man. I knew because he was at NYE that he was a regular and so I knew she would remember him. I described him to her and told her he might be Thai because he seemed a mix of backgrounds and had a sort of Asian look - hoping that would help her remember him. She knew immediately who I was asking about.  And said she would find a way for us to meet.

We were here and gone and here and gone in our usual way and so when we finally ended up in the same place (goosefoot) at the same time, it was about eight months later.  And I used an old wine to introduce myself - quite brazenly- to our now good friend Mon.  We were celebrating our brother Steve's birthday and their group was celebrating his wife Beth's birthday, and we were dining in different rooms but we made contact. Mon and Phil exchanged contact information and a few weeks later we heard from Beth about dining with them.

The rest is history well recounted in various posts along the way.  But last night was the very first time we had all returned to goosefoot together and so we told Nina that she had been our matchmaker LOL and how great it was that we had met there.

And last night we had another beautifully prepared, carefully curated meal from our perfectionist friend Chef Chris Nugent- and you are about to follow along with the evening's wonderful menu...

here is the detailed menu from last night-

and here are the courses in all their perfectly exquisite beauty- with the wines interspersed-

an amuse of truffled white asparagus soup- YUM - I'll have a gallon to go- (and now you can buy Chris's fabulous soups in the goosefoot to-go store/wine shop right next door to the restaurant!!!)

the first wine- right on the edge of too much age- if it hadn't started out a steely minerally wine it would have probably been undrinkable-

the scallop course- Chris's eye for the detail in the plating is surpassed by none... and he has some new "china" for updated presentations of several of the courses....

here is an example of the new "plating" - here on stunning birch bark place mats the egg course now comes in its own china egg and is surrounded by fragrant greens in a sort of mini tureen to enhance the experience of the course...

the soup course - and I have to say this is often my favorite course at goosefoot- every soup Chris has ever made and served here has been fabulous!!!! from the corn to the chestnut to last night's parsnip with lentils - each has been full of flavor and extraordinarily delicious!

an Alsatian muscat which paired nicely with several of the courses-

the red wine for the heartier courses of tuna, venison and beef - this was a wine that opened up over time but never became really giving - it was the first bottle we had opened of this wine and we were not particularly impressed - good news is we don't think we have a whole case- LOL

the tuna course served with house-infused soy sauce -

the venison preparation - extremely tender and not at all gamey- really perfectly prepared!

Mon brought the Muscat (above) and also this 1990 Bordeaux which was silky smooth - 1990  was a better vintage pick than the 2000 pinot....

another fabulous course-  the beef!

a new cheese course with a superb combination of flavors and textures - and now with these glass bells - scents

because the "Brazil" dessert was coconut based I had a wonderful little smooth and crunchy combo of a hazelnut cream and cookie with hand painted chocolate to top it off!

the Brazil course with toasted coconut and various other flavors (sorry about he blurry photo which I shot, too quickly, over Phil's plate just as he was about to dive into the dessert- LOL)

the final menu course - a banana praline dessert - with hand painted chocolate -

and somehow we got into conversation with Nina and I was so distracted I didn't get a photo of the glorious new presentation of the grand finale - cape gooseberry (Peruvian ground cherry)  which is now served on an incredibly beautiful selection of burled wood planks... next time I promise to be more vigilant.

Chris finally had a break in the kitchen and so we had a chance to catch up with him as well, before heading home... his current staff is all female and so we teased him about his harem :-)

A lovely evening with friends at the place where we first crossed paths, and then met, and now return to as friends. Life is good! Really good!

Friday, May 8, 2015

next: Bistro

Last night we went to Paris- LOL - well actually we didn't, but we did go to the Bistro menu at next.
And here is what I have to say about it... I wish I had gone to Paris... because while the food was fine, it just made me "homesick" for a real Parisian bistro.  We love Paris and have been there together at least a dozen times in the last two decades - sometimes as frequently as twice in a year... so we have a lot of bistro experience.

so before we head to Fulton Market Street and the next bistro I wanted to give a shout out to one of the best bistro experiences we have had in Paris. It won't surprise you that this one was recommended by our French friends (who live in the US and rent out their Paris condo while living abroad.) A number of years back about six months after we had met we were headed to Paris and in that small world way we ended up staying directly across the street from Laure's condo...LOL.  we asked them for recommendations for places to eat and Arno sent us to a place a friend had just recommended- L'Ardoise (which is the name of the chalk board where the daily specials are written) and Phil still remembers this dish of seafood "en papillote" which actually was "en tin foil" LOL-

here is my full report from the journal of that trip-

L’Ardoise in the First Arrondisement -  It was fabulous! I started with a sizeable portion of foie gras (easily could serve two and it did.)  Phil started with mussels, scallops and prawns “en papilotte.”  Then our entrees were the cote du cochon for me and the pigeon for Phil.  We both finished with the mini pot de crèmes of chocolate and mascarpone.  Excellent lunch!  My suckling pig was fabulous and could have easily served two, and as a matter of fact pretty much did, as Phil ate about a third.

you can see the place is completely unassuming from the outside but inside the food was excellent and the staff efficient.  and sadly we frequently remark about the dearth of this style of hole-in-the-wall kind of place in America... here is the chalkboard from our trip to Lyon late last May- a classic example - 

 but I digress... LOL

When next decided to do French bistro I expected something like this and while we did get similar food - at least one of us could have actually gone to Paris and eaten a meal there for the cost of this menu once you substituted from the chalk board-- but that really doesn't address the experience.  

This is just a long standing rant I have against faux experiences that Americans are frequently willing to exchange for authentic ones, despite there not being a whole lot of money saving involved. Many years ago a friend and I were at the Disney resort called Yacht & Beach Club (it was business thing so we weren't paying the tab and this was where our meeting planner had booked things) and we calculated that the price of a week vacation at Disney World staying at one of the Disney run theme properties would cost pretty much the same as a real trip to - say Paris - versus the faux EPCOT Paris these people were substituting... seriously folks????!!!!???

But back to the meal- the staff at next could NOT be any nicer... we had a few minutes wait before our table was ready and the front desk folks gave us water and made actual conversation with us before we were seated.  here was the "chalkboard" from the entrance area...

and on the table - reservation cards - with a little story inside-

then the menu- beautiful artwork- 

they were later personalized by the little fleur-de-lis stamps (next to what you ordered)

we went "off the chalkboard" for a number of courses- 

first the amuse- and the Moncuit Champagne-

then off menu-

For the fish course we stayed with the skate- which I frequently order in Europe-

Then we both made choices off menu for the Premier Plat-

the snails came with a pull apart bread in a "sauce" of garlic and parsley--yum

and excellent Beaujolais accompanied these dishes-

Our main was reprise of the Paris 1906 menu that Phil missed due to illness that evening- so we were happy he finally got to have the famous duck! And this time it was made table-side! (our Paris 1906 visit detailed here- - in case you want to revisit the menu from the very first next rotation.)

by now I was stuffed beyond capacity and luckily the dessert was pretty light both in flavor (lemon) and amount- LOL thank God!

the leftovers were tagged in a little bag for us- 

so it was a very enjoyable evening - we had lovely folks at the table next to us- and the service was fabulous, as usual.  But, I would really rather be in Paris eating at a little place with twelve tables and wait staff who waste no time with niceties but who are true professionals... luckily we are headed out in two days to a place with even better food than Paris (don't tell the French) - Brussels, Belgium (Bruxelles) - Moules et frites here we come!!!!