As some of you may already know, I entered and won a contest at Rouge Tomate Restaurant in NYC for Valentine’s Day Dinner for 2. They asked people to recount a funny Valentine story. I couldn’t decide, so I entered two:
I have a somewhat funny and a very sweet one. Funny first: I was invited to a very nice Valentine’s dinner at a lovely restaurant with live jazz. I had a delicious martini before dinner, the food was incredible. Champagne. All a woman could ask for. Somehow the conversation took a terrible turn and my companion LEFT ME AT THE TABLE ALONE! I was actually glad he left! Now I could finish my delicious dessert and champagne in total peace! Happy Valentine’s Day to ME!
Now for a sweet story: It was an unusually warm February even in the South. Nearly 70 degrees! I popped into a local deli to grab a sandwich to eat in the park and enjoy the weather. On the way out the door I ran into a guy I had met one or two times. Cute. Nice. He had a sandwich as well. I can’t remember who suggested but we ate our sandwiches together in the park in the sun. GREAT conversation! On the way out, I was driving my car just in front of him. We came to a stop sign and I jumped out of my car and ran over and handed him a Power Puff Girls Valentine with Mojo Jojo on it yelling, “YOU WILL BE MY VALENTINE!” And I gave him my phone number. We dated for 2 years after that. Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers!
Rouge Tomate very graciously chose me as their winner based on my little tales of love and loss. I am ever so grateful. In my gratitude I held my own contest VERY QUICKLY on Twitter and Facebook. I begged not to dine alone and asked my friends to write me a haiku from which I would choose a lucky soul to dine with me at Rouge Tomate. I chose the haiku from my new friend Joe who wrote:
Sweeping the ashes
Remnants of fire and drink
Scattered room to room
This came on the heels of a dinner with friends and Scotch-a-thon held the night before. I felt behoved to return the kind hospitality.
Now… on to the really good part DINNER! If you didn’t see it above, check out the menu HERE. Joe is a great gourmand like myself so we couldn’t resist to get different menu items and share it ALL!
They started us off with a lovely rosé champagne: Laherte Frères Brut and a truly MINDBLOWING set of amuse-bouches.
The order went from right to left as seen in the photo above. First came the oyster with mignonette—sweet, savory, salty, tart, creamy explosion of flavor. In the center (and this is stuff is INSANE!) is celery root panna cotta with caviar. I’m still swooning from it. The textures and flavors produced an eyes rolling back in my head “When Harry Met Sally” moment (if you know what I mean). We asked if we could just have a vat of that and forget the dinner! Last but not least was lobster with a soft cooked quail egg and uni. Yeah. You heard me. LOSING IT! I mean, if the amuse is this good, what is dinner going to be like?!
For our first courses we chose:
Sea Scallop Crudo / Green Apple / Kohlrabi / Lime / Mustard / Mint – The combination of flavor and texture here was just outstanding. The scallops literally melted in our mouths. This, combined with the crunch/citrus/spice/cool left us shaking our heads in the best possible way. Wine pairing: Riesling Burklin Wolf 2008 Wachenheimer Pfalz
Guinea Hen Black Truffle Terrine / Celery Root Rémoulade / Sweet Onion Marmalade / House-made Pickles – This might possibly be the best terrine I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve eaten a LOT of terrine. I love that stuff. The guinea hen within was perfect – moist, tender, savory. The terrine itself had flawless texture, flavor. The thin, crunchy toasts were the ideal delivery vehicle for the terrine and its accompanying marmalade and mustard. Wine pairing – Tibouren Clos Cibonne 2009 Cuvée des Vignettes – Provence AND Verdelho – Rare Wine Co. – Savannah – Portugal
our second courses were:
Hudson Valley Duck a la Plancha / Endive / Grapefruit / Rutabaga / Apple / Ginger-Foie Gras Jus – You can clearly see that the duck was cooked just right. It melted in my mouth and was on its own a delight, but combined with its surrounding elements became a sublime joy to taste. The subtle complexity of the foods here really astounds me and never ceases to please. Wine pairing – Tempranillo/grenache – Rioja Alta 2001 Viña Ardanza – Spain
Herb Crusted Atlantic Hake / Caramelized Onion / Baby Turnip / Yogurt Gribiche / Red Cabbage-Riesling Vinaigrette – This was such a pleasure to eat! The crisp of the breading, the buttery, melt in your mouth consistency of the fish, and the balance of flavors and texture added by the toppings/sides produced a childlike joy to partake of chef’s take on a childhood favorite…FISH STICKS! Wine pairing: Chardonnay Domaine de l’Arlot 2002 Nuits-St. Georges – Clos de l’Arlot Borgogne
and for dessert:
Ile Flottante / Blood Orange / Meyer Lemon / Kumquat / Grains of Paradise – This was so good I scarfed it down without snapping a pic! My favorite quality about this dessert was that it had a faint flavor of roses. The 2 meringues were divine one fluffy and one crisp with a dizzying (in the best possible way) complexity of creaminess, citrus, and floral euphoria.
Bittersweet Chocolate Sphere / Banana / Frangipane / Street Cart Almonds – We REALLY wanted a photo of this gorgeous, shimmering orb of chocolate, but they were a little too quick for our wits and poured the warm chocolate over it and melted it before our very eyes into a puddle of rich, dark chocolate, banana bliss. Did I mention rich?
Dessert wine pairing – a personal all-time favorite (nectar of the gods) – Gamay/Ploussard – Raphaël Bartucci – 2010 Bugey Cerdon
It is very important to note that I place a HUGE weight on coffee service at any restaurant. Coffee is very often the last thing I have and it should be the finishing grace of the meal and not the thing that makes me twist my face into a knot of disgust. Rouge Tomate nailed it with perfect coffee service. Kudos for seeing to every last single detail to make the meal as near to perfect as anyone can ask. MANY THANKS! And you can rest assured I will be back.
It may be notable that I did not talk much about the wines. I am saving this for a separate piece! Pascaline outdid herself with the pairings and deserves to be in the limelight! So stay tuned for the wine “episode”.