Monday, April 15, 2013
One Enchanted Evening....
It was early evening, the sun was glowing soft and glittering thorough the greenery of the famed New York Palace courtyard. Walking through the iron gates, transported to another time where elegance and beauty were intrinsic elements to living, a lifestyle I had thought was long lost to our culture. It was like the universe had decided on this night, that it was going to restore my faith in all the things that I hold dear.
Entering the Madison Room took my breath away, the vaulted ceilings and marble reliefs in the gently lit room gave an air of sophistication unmatched by any room in New York. I spotted my companion halfway down the bar, Hendricks’s martini in hand when he caught site of me. Champagne was ordered and arrived, while conversation danced between us. The cocktail hour: as it should be.
A taxi whisked us away, pulling up to the grand glass entrance to Le Cirque or as Joe would say, the temple of the culinary world. Through the revolving door and into one of New York’s most iconic institutions we knew that this night was to be special, but I don’t think either of us realized what it meant to have a romantic evening at Le Cirque.
We sat side by side in a banquette looking out into the dining room with its softly draped ceiling reminiscent of the big top, catching glimpses of the kitchen in the center mirror. The monkeys looked down on us from their perch high above and whimsical sketches of circus animals were interspersed between the mirrors that circled the room. Sipping our cocktails we took in the scene but slowly the room faded away and it seemed like it was just us in this perfect moment.
An asparagus amuse bouche arrived, just a bite to tantalize the palate the portended of greatness to come. We had both ordered the Le Cirque Classics tasting menu with wine pairings that started with the Craig Hopson created Wild Burgundy Escargot with Gruyere Gnocchi and Bottarga. The gnocchi were so perfect, just delicate little puffs of air and the escargot wonderful paired with a bright beautiful sancerre. I love when a first course starts this way, simple, enticing…not too much of statement but a statement in and of itself in its’ delicacy and refinement.
The flavors got bolder and more pronounced with our second courses, me with the Daniel Boulud Lobster Risotto with vialone nano rice and he with the Christophe Bellanca Foie Gras Ravioli cabbage marmalade. I have to say that I couldn’t resist trying his and I’m so glad that I did; the earthiness was close to heaven. It was just ridiculously well done.
I think I audibly gasped when my next course arrived. I had been talking about this dish that I had long ago, that I knew had come of the menu but sometimes it was served, but I couldn’t remember what it was called. I just knew that it was the most beautiful fish wrapped in paper-thin potatoes that were crisp and brown to perfection…why it didn’t occur to me that the dish I had ordered could be the very one, I don’t know perhaps I was lost in the moment and not thinking entirely about food that evening. But there it was landing ever so gently in front of me, the Daniel Boulud Paupiette of Black Bass leeks, potatoes and rocca di frassinello sauce. It was masterfully sublime. I have no other words. The Alain Sialhac Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with pommes dauphin was equally magnificent, and the St.Emilion that it was paired with was just sensational…in fact I kind of coveted it a little, which of course led to my ordering it with the cheese course
Yes, we added a cheese course….because well shouldn’t cheese be a part of great dinner like this. It’s just the right way to live. So out came our cheese, a lovely selection of five from soft & oozy to bold, firm and blue. Then it happened, I had a food moment right there in Le Cirque, you know the ones that happen for me every so often where I encounter something that will stay with me on my palate for the rest of my life...yes, I had a full on eyes rolling back in the head food moment. It was the truffled honey to drizzle atop the blue. Oh my word, the truffle was so clear and strong against the sweetness of the honey and the pungency of the blue. It was spectacular.
We thought to finish with Dieter Schorner‘s crème brulee, that was again nothing short of perfection. It arrived with beautiful petits four and caramels that simply made me smile. There really is nothing like French patisserie; when it is as well done as it is here it one of the highest arts. As well sipped our dessert wine, our night was coming to an end, but the wonderful staff surprised us with another dessert, a refreshing plate of strawberries, glaces and meringues with just a hint of basil somewhere on the plate. It was so different, so fresh and bright on the palate. One final surprise though, a little gift for me a little red box with 2 little drawers; in each drawer a hand crafted truffle.
Our night was so full of romance, elegance and opulence. I have to give Le Cirque a nod because they knew that this night was special for us, and they gave us the most extraordinary evening. I talk a lot about creating a culture of excellence and elevating hospitality to an art form, well I will forever cite this as the benchmark of that standard. My sincerest thanks, gratitude and appreciation to them for creating a magical moment in time for us.
Returning to the Palace we capped off the night with a Macallan at the Madison Bar. Quiet elegance had taken over the room and we were basking in the glow of a most perfect evening. I guess good things really do come to those that wait and the universe, that fickle mistress of mine, has decided it was due time give me this most beautiful gift… a life richly lived, surrounded in love..