at Blue Hill.
koogs had asked me to save the evening of July 31st for my surprise birthday present and told me to dress nice -- which is good because normally i look like i just rolled out of bed and thought that my pyjama pants could double as evening wear.
but since she asked i put on a nice top, skirt and -- wait for it -- shoes! i met her at the West 4th St. stop on the F at 6:45 pm and we began to walk and she said "i know that you like a good meal and i know that you can't afford to treat yourself these days so i thought i'd treat you to the chef's tasting menu at my favorite restaurant in the city" and then there we were. standing at the door of Blue Hill which I had been wanting to go to for ages. and there i was -- about to walk in.
i was very very excited. ordering was easy -- the tasting menu (which changes every day) and a glass of pinot blanc which was an absurdly delicious wine whatever it was.
i didn't take any pictures -- i was trying to be well behaved -- dadgo's response to that? he "thought he raised me right so what's with this well-behaved crap?" fair enough -- it will never happen again.
here was the meal:
amuse-bouche (because every mouth deserves amusement and yes i know how that sounds): a warmed cherry tomato with salt and a garlic cracker. how can that be special? if it's the single ripest and freshest tomato you've ever put in your mouth and a light wafer with a punch of garlic striking you first only to melt away leaving a phantom sweetness behind.
appetizer: grilled country bread with arugula salt. i don't even know how to describe this but it was literally a taste i have never experienced before in my life.
salad: i think this was our favorite. a tomato salad with cucumbers and grilled peaches and apricots topped with a tomato sorbet and cucumber foam. basically this salad was summer in a bowl -- light, crisp and cold with the warm smokiness of grilling. i also think this dish sums up everything this place is about. homegrown, yet accessible ingredients combined and used in ways that surprise you. so yes, tomato sorbet and cucumber foam is fancy but you can grill a peach on your own and i suggest you do -- throw it with some fresh heirloom tomatoes and i bet you'll like it.
fish: halibut steak with zucchini flowers and a caper vinaigrette -- 'nuff said. the next time you have a piece of fish that was very likely caught that day call me and let's discuss.
meat: at first i was all "chicken? that's rogray's fave. what about some lamb or crazy pork thang? what about something involving marrow? i mean, LET'S DO THIS!" well i now love chicken. but this barely resembled chicken. the meat was moist and the taste was complex and dark. it was as if they cross bred a duck and a chicken -- and i mean that. it would be called a dicken? a chuck? or perhaps the awesomest meat ever. and the chicken was served with a summer bean medley so if you think you hate lima beans i suggest going to here to change your opinion.
dessert #1 (oh yeah, there were 2 desserts. what?) blueberry compote with fromage blanc ice cream and granola. i don't think we spoke to each other during this course. we were too busy.
dessert #2: steamed cheesecake with an apricot glaze. see how they did that? apricot in the salad to apricot in the final course -- full circle. and this was the best presentation hands down -- served in little mason jars which the cheesecake was cooked in. i bet you are wondering about the steamed part -- i had some reservations but not anymore -- it made the cheesecake light yet dense -- i don't know how it just did.
and then the petit closer at the end of it all: toasted coconut crusted marshmallows. why not?
this was one of the best meals i have ever had in my life. each bite was a new experience -- no dish was unfamiliar yet each bit was a complete surprise. koogs said it best -- this is the kind of meal that you don't devour because it's so delicious -- you savor it. this is what going out should be like -- not in terms of price -- who can afford this every day? but in terms of experince. the ingredients weren't just respected -- they were exalted. everything put in front of you was meant to excite, delight and comfort you.
this was an amazingly lavish and decadent gift and i felt so spoiled and loved -- it was really great and i can't thank koogs enough for treating me to such a wonderful birthday dinner.
some day i'll return the favor. she can order whatever she wants off of the value at mcdonald's. it's on me. just kidding -- how about the chef's tasting menu at chez shaygo? it'll be the best popcorn you've ever had. . .