Thursday, May 15, 2008

busy with overflowing goodness

I'm going to say this again. It won't be the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I have been so freakin' busy! Busy at work, busy looking for a new place in which to cohabitate with my lady-love, busy with other general life things. Work especially has been kicking the ol' hind-end with regularity. It's the high season in the catering world--weddings, communions, graduations, etc. On one hand it's great, on the other, I'm a tired lady. But, things are good all-around. I'm still loving the job, and Barbara and I found an awesome place to live! It's so cute and perfect, and had everything (except a dishwasher...) on our wish list. We're going to be residents of the fine neighborhood of Bloomfield-ish/Lawrenceville-ish/Strip-ish/Garfield-ish soon! I'll post some pics when we get in there and set up all our stuff just exactly how we want it. And, there's room for a small garden in the back yard, and already has a compost pile going. I'm so, so, so thrilled--both about the place itself, and to live in sin with my gal. Good stuff.

I promised to tell the tale of my fantastic dinner at Eleven. Seriously. It was so good I actually wrote a fan letter (er, email) to the Executive Chef, Derek Stevens (like the nerd that I am). He wrote back a really nice note. I'm supposed to have a work meeting with him soon, and I'm kinda nervous. See, chefs and authors, (and, uh, some musicians/rock stars) are my rock stars.

Anyway, to the meal. Eleven's menu changes daily, and there's always a Chef's Tasting Menu, and a Chef's Vegetarian Tasting Menu ($45 for five courses). It's not often that you find such a thoughtfully created and prepared menu especially for vegetarians. I love food and love eating out, and always look wistfully at tasting menus that sound fantastic but are heavy on the meat. So, Barbara and I both opted for the Chef's Vegetarian Tasting Menu. I should mention also, that we have pretty different palates, but that we were both pleased as punch. It was interesting, delicious and varied. Our menu was...

amuse bouche:
pea puree with roasted red pepper and chili oil
This was a really nice taste--very fresh-tasting and very lightly spiced with the red pepper adding a slight bit of acidity and the oil adding a tiny bit of heat)

soup course:
Cauliflower Puree w/ nasturium, herb & brioche salad
This soup was a really wonderful presentation. the soup itself was rich and lovely, and the nasturium and herbs (basil and parsley, i think) looked beautiful on the top, and added a nice balance. The brioche croutons were really flavorful and just-crisp. This plate was so pretty that another diner being seated stopped in his tracks to ask us what it was. The servers also brought around some of the lovely house-made breads (I tried a sunflower one with golden raisins and also a walnut one with the entree. Both were delish).

salad course:
Three Sisters Farm Mesclun with lemon-rhubarb vinaigrette
The greens were gorgeous and tender as they only can be at the height of spring. The salad was very lightly dressed (as it should be!). The dressing was mouth-watering, and just a little bit creamy. Maybe a little yogurt as the base?

appetizer course:
Chili Relleno with Capriole goat cheese, salsa romesco, local honey, oregano
Whoa. I think that's exactly what I said when I tasted this. The presentation was stunning, and I think I've thought about that salsa romesco every single day since this dinner. It was the epitome of freshness, and the nuttiness pushed it over the top into richness and perfection. The local honey drizzle on the plate was genius. This is one of the single best plates of food I've ever eaten. For reals.

entree course:
Spring Pea Ravioli with black truffle, Parmesan cream and basil
So, I thought nothing would EVER be able to top the Chili Relleno until I tasted my first mouthful of this dish. The raviolis were tender little pillows of love, the Parmesan cream sauce was incredibly rich and velvety, the truffles added an utterly amazing level of earthiness, the basil cut through the richness and brought the freshness back into the forefront. I seriously thought about donning a ski mask, and running into the kitchen with a weapon and some huge containers and demanding the kitchen fill them up tout suite. Ah-mazing. Uh-mazing. I'm not even hungry, and my stomach growled in agreement while I was typing that.

dessert course:
So, here's the thing. The chef's dessert pairing was an Orange-Buttermilk Creamsicle house-made ice cream with lavender, white chocolate shortbread and orange salsa. But, they let us peek at the complete dessert menu, and I was overwhelmed with choices. I went with the Meyer Lemon creme brulee (and Barbara got the Molten Chocolate Cake with cashew ice cream and black pepper-cherry coulis). It was good, but not quite as tart as I like. Plus, I just wished I would've stayed with the chef's suggestion since I think the interplay between courses is one of the great things about a tasting menu. I couldn't help it, I looked at the list of desserts and couldn't think straight anymore.

But, anyhow, the service was fantastic, the food was utterly phenomenal, I had a really delicious glass of vino (2006 Chateau de la Vieille Tour Bourdeaux Blanc), a beautiful dinner companion, and a lovely evening out. It doesn't get much better than that.

Eleven on Urbanspoon

Okay. Amen. I have much more to say and many more topics I'd like to write about, but I've reached the end of my block-o-time. In the meantime, check out the E-dawg's new blog. She's a fantastic and interestingly introspective writer.



ellen said...

thanks for the shout out, and I am still drooling over that tasting menu. dang.

a hurd said...

it's hard to believe that you can rock the tasting menu for $45. good stuff!

a hurd said...

remember when you used to blog? that was fun.