Thursday, April 14, 2011

A table in Heaven...

Leaving NYC was sort of a big deal. A big deal in my small world, in so many different ways. I have spent almost 10 years of my life in NYC, longer than any other city in my life. I feel that it was in NYC that I grew into my grown-up shoes, where the training wheels came off - the place where I came into my own. They call the first few years of your life the formative years, but they don't tell you that it takes so much longer to figure out who you are and where you will be heading in life; what makes you happy and what makes you not - and that sometimes, along the way, it hurts to figure these things out. I can't say I have figured everything out completely, but I can say that I have a much better idea than the wide-eyed, green-behind-the-ears, little girl, that moved to New York City 9 and some years ago. I have spent some amazingly happy times in NYC and some not so delightful ones. I have put some meaning and experiences behind the words "happiness comes within" and "it doesn't matter where you are or what you have but who you are with." I have met some of the most interesting, crazy, outrageous people. I have formed some incredible friendships I know will last for a lifetime and spent time with others I was lucky to share part of a journey with, theirs and mine. But most importantly, it was there that I met my very best friend, lover, and soulmate. Since SB came into my life, so many things have changed, in all the right ways. I admit all this may sound a bit cliche, but I can't help it :). Who knew that one day I would turn into this cliche of a woman, and who knew it felt so good! I'm ok with it. More than ok.

When the news came that SB got a promotion and that it would be taking us away from NYC to Chicago, we were beyond excited. Excited to uncover a new city, find a new home, see new places, eat at new restaurants, meet different people and fill our journey with new experiences together. Having said that, we both knew that we would be leaving NYC with nostalgia in our hearts. How could we not? It was the end of an era and the beginning of another. The weeks leading up to the move were filled with organizing, packing, tying up loose ends, me trying not to go crazy but most importantly, frantically trying to eat at as many restaurants possible. Restaurants that we either loved, or have been wanting to try. Naturally, we were not able to go back to all of our favorites, because we ran out of time and frankly, clothing that we could fit in. However, we were able to make it to Do Hwa for the egg battered cod, to Otto for the truffle pizza, to Freeman's for the artichoke dip, just to mention a few. YUM!!!! My mouth watered just typing that. However, to top it all off, to celebrate SB's huge accomplishment, reminisce our times in NYC, and cheers our impending move, we went to no other place but the culinary dynasty: Le Cirque. What a truly special experience that was. The food was spectacular! However, part of the experience is the history of the restaurant.

Here are a few fact about the restaurant: Le Cirque is a French restaurant, founded by and Italian man by the name of Sirio Maccioni
in 1974 and is now run by his sons. As far as I know, it is the only restaurant of its caliber that is family operated. In fact it is so special of a place that it was the subject of a documentary film named, Le Cirque: A table in Heaven. You may also previously have eaten inventions of Sirio's without even knowing it! Does "Pasta Primavera" ring a bell? But without further ado I want to share with you what we ate that night.

We started our tasting menu with beet soup, with horseradish creme. I LOVED it. It was salty, sweet, creamy and the little bit of dill gave it a fresh finish.

This escargot beignet was served with the beet soup. I never thought I would rave about escargot anything, but I am about to. THIS was simply scrumptious. It was crunchy and soft at the same time, with a hint of sesame flavor. And surprisingly, it didn't very much taste like escargot at all! Maybe that's why I liked it.

Next up was the Foie Gras, Rabbit & Bacon Terrine with Granny Smith gelee and Kabocha squash. What was great about this dish is that it had all the texture and flavor contrast that I love. The Foie Gras, Rabbit and & Bacon Terrine was salty with a bite, the Granny Smith gelee was cold and soft, the squash was hot, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. It was hot and cold, salty and sweet, soft and crunchy. YUM!!

This was the Australian King Prawn with spaghetti squash, curry, lime and ginger. This was one of my favorite parts of the meal. It was just fantastic and I wish I had 10 of these on my plate. The flavors of this dish very much reminded me of Thai food but maybe just a little more refined. It was just a cloud of Thai deliciousness. It was salty, creamy, and the curry was mild and not at all overbearing, as it can be at times, I find. I wanted to lick my plate. Seriously. SB said "simply awesome."

This was the Wild Burgundy Escargot, Gruyere Gnocchi and pickled Chanterelles. This was probably my least favorite dish out of all of them. It was a very fragrant dish and smelled fantastic. The flavors were great, I just could not get over the texture of the escargot. I just couldn't get it out of my head. I had one and let SB finish the rest. He was happy about that - he loved them.

Roasted Lamb Chop. Now, normally when I go to a restaurant, lamb isn't necessarily the first thing I pick out. For SB it often is. He loves lamb! In fact, he might have a canvas bag, at out apartment, that reads "I heart lamb" (just kidding - sort of). Anyway, according to SB, this was some of the best lamb he has EVER had. It was tender and roasted to perfection. This was without a doubt his favorite part of the meal.

Now, to my favorite part of the meal: Paupiette of Black Cod, leeks, crispy potatoes, rocca di frassinello sauce. This was simply heaven. I actually might not have the words to describe this. The fish was soft and flaky, the potatoes on the outside salty and crispy, and the sauce was beyond words. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life. In fact, I might have to kidnap the chef and chain him my kitchen. It is that amazing!

Last but not least: the desserts. The pictures are pretty enough to speak for themselves!

Chocolate soufflé

Lime Parfait meringue and winter citrus fruit

Crème Brûlée "le cirque" - Originated from the Spanish dessert Crema Catalana and means "burnt cream." According to the Maccioni's the sugar on top has to be brown sugar and must be caramelized under the broiler. As you eat this scrumptiously, finger-lickingly yummy dessert, you will uncover the recipe at the bottom of the dish. Very cute :)!

What a beautiful meal it was to conclude a beautiful journey...

Happy eating!!


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