Monday, April 28, 2008

Gourmet Super Saturday

The ‘Thursday’ in Thursday Club lost a little bit more relevance this week when a bunch of fortuitous events aligned to enable a gaggle of TC regulars to meet at Teddy’s crib for what was advertised as Gourmet Super Saturday. For the downright miserly contribution of just $30, the Brooklyn Braiser put together a calorie-tastic menu of decadence for those fortunate enough to be either single or free from Macy’s duty for the day. The royal menu read…

Whipped Duck Egg Custard with Truffle, Chive Chip
Panache of Sea Scallop & Calamares, Caviar, Tobiko, Sauce ‘Nero’
Lasagne of Lobster, Sauce ‘Americaine’
Risotto of Wild Squab, Duck Confit, Shaved Goose Foie Gras
Crispy Confit Belly, Apple Gelée, Colman’s Mustard Sauce
Chocolate Tart, Rum & Raisin Ice Cream

Now clearly such a menu requires a great amount of prep and hence Teddy spent his Friday night in the confines of his kitchen. The rest of us, however, continued about our regular Friday night missions of drinking our own body weight in ale (or Appletini’s in Adam’s case) and therefore arrived at the meal with a little less enthusiasm about the forthcoming booze and food fest than our host which really ate at him throughout the afternoon…especially when the Boogie’s now traditional twatnap became epidemic. But I guess it is important to note that this is always going to happen for a Saturday gathering (Teddy, tell me you wouldn’t do the same?!) and, on the plus side, we were all fairly wasted again after just a few glasses of plonk…happy days.

So we started with the obligatory speed-smoking and some bubbly (a great Cava that Adamski picked up for just $10…if he could post the brand then that would be useful) before moving onto an aperitif of Negroni. I think it had Gin, Red Vermouth and Campari in and whilst my mouth was enjoying the taste, my throat and belly weren’t of the same opinion but luckily (especially for Mike who was sat opposite me) my mouth won the battle and it stayed where I seem to put most things…in my belly.

Course one was a dish made famous by The French Laundry and Per Se’s Thomas Keller (considered by many to be the most talented chef on these shores, if not in the world…if there is such a thing) – Duck Egg Custard with Truffle and Chive Chip. Just one spoon full of this set the tone for what was to be an outstanding meal. The canary yellow, slightly warm custard was both smooth and luxurious and the not-so-subtle addition of the truffle oil was a real bit of food heaven with every bite. The chive chips provided some contrasting texture and were beautifully executed but they were really only The Pips with the custard taking the Gladys Knight role. My favourite course of the meal but there was some pretty stiff competition to follow.

Course two combined beautifully fresh scallops (compared to a recently showered Ariel’s undercarriage) topped with a touch of caviar with the petite tentacles of some calamari all swimming in a lake of Sauce Nero. Now despite looking like the aftermath of an oil tanker run aground, the squid-ink based sauce was a real delight with a nice balance between the inevitable fishiness and the aromatics in the sauce (shallots etc). The only downside to the dish was the dye effect from the squid-ink based sauce which left us looking like we’d just stumbled out of a Cure concert. Two dishes down and two home-runs.

The nice part of having this on a Saturday was that we were in no rush so proceedings so far had taken up the best part of three hours and we were still only 40% through the meal. The wine was taking a hammering and Mike was good enough to keep us up to date with the number of sheets to the wind he was at all stages (for the record, he finished 6 sheets to the wind). Next up was the Lobster Lasagne. Three sheets of pasta no bigger than a tennis ball were separated and surrounded by succulent chunks of freshly poached female lobster (Teddy wanted the eggs – what a man does in the confines of his own home is his business) and covered with a gruyere based béchamel which was then topped with Sauce Americaine made from the lobster stock. Just the picture tells you how damn good this dish was. Seriously, take a good look at it. You want to bite into it, don’t you? You want to lick the screen. Come closer and smell me. You’ve been bad haven’t you? Sorry, I got a bit off track there.

So, 4 hours in, 5000 calories down, half a pack of smokes each and easily enough booze to prevent legal driving for another 24 hours…and we’re still only half way through. Next came the dangerous course as there was basically an unlimited amount of fois gras to ‘shave’ and top our dishes with. Yes, you read that right – an UNLIMITED amount of fois gras…makes your breadsticks and salad offer at Olive Garden not seem so fucking special now eh? Now for me this was a mistake as I am undeniably greedy and I am sure that I had about 1/4 lb of the stuff but I was fascinated at the way that the frozen shards quickly melted into my beautifully pink roasted squab (which almost had a subtle liver-like flavour that surprised me) and wonderfully creamy risotto (with a nice amount of bite to the Arborio). A great dish but a meal in it’s own right and I think this one did the most damage to us as it was followed by a round of twatnaps. Furthermore, when I was awake and feeling rather nasty at 4am, this was the first dish that crossed my mind – not the gallons of booze weirdly. Not that it wasn’t a fantastic dish (because it clearly was) but it’s a bit like getting sucked off at a funeral – pleasurable in it’s own right but there’s a time and a place for that sort of thing.

OK, the end is in sight now – at least that is what I kept telling myself. Teddy is still slaving away and his complaints about the unappreciative audience (the majority of whom are asleep) are becoming more vocal with comments like “I’m not doing this again”. Still, out comes another humdinger of a course to send us all both a little deeper into food coma and a little closer to food heaven. The pork belly was perhaps not as crispy as it could have been but the firework display coming from the pan made it obvious that there was a good deal of moisture in the pork and fry-master Adam had a job containing the truffle-infused tater-tits (they were larger, rounder and more pleasurable to nibble on than their commercial cousins, hence their name) but the dish came together nicely when bathed in the mustard and tarragon sauce. This represented the last of the savoury dishes and, whilst I’m not tarragon’s biggest fan, it was subtle enough in the sauce to make the whole thing pleasant. This was probably my least favourite dish but this is only really because of the vast comparative strength of the rest of the menu and if I went out to dinner and paid $20 for this dish alone then I would by no means feel aggrieved.

Dessert was a rich dark chocolate tart accompanied by home-made rum & raisin ice-cream and a molten blob of raisin caramel that set to a fantastically gooey lump that was a real treat to eat (and continue to discover in my molars for the remainder of the evening and eat all over again). A strong finish (accompanied with a fruity little dessert wine) to an exceptional meal and not a Fererro Roche in sight. Great execution from the big guy – bravo.

Fortified with some coffee, we then went on to ruin Jessica’s birthday party and then a few of us went on to ruin some people’s night in Manhattan. Really a rather splendid and productive way to spend a Saturday if you ask me…


Mykonos said...

Brilliant review...and such great pictures!

Teddy said...

Would I have done the same? What, and spoil the fun? Probably not.

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