Monday, March 22, 2010

a self centered post: Last night's dinner

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 36 - feel wonderful about it and am happy to be ageing. My morning was spent re-cleaning the floors that were left waxy due to a mistake on my housekeeper's part of making up the wrong amount of Murphy's floor cleaner. Then we went to the Botanical Garden - where husband played with the children and I went to a lecture on sustainable urban farming - LOVED it.
Thank you husband, thank you husband, thank you husband. And thank you little children for behaving for him.
The night was starting with drama - the sitter - bless her heart - couldn't start her car - so her husband had to come and get her - she took his car to our house. Then husband's car would not start...yet he had it running not 2 hours before. It did finally start and we were 30 minutes late for our reservation. 
I bought a new gown for a wedding I'm going to in May and decided to test it out - I love it - not sure what the husband thinks:
For dinner - We went to Tapenade in La Jolla. It was quite good. The atmosphere is simple yet romantic - very French, which is not over the top as some may expect in a romantic restaurant, romantic to me is about closeness, ability to have personal service and carry on a conversation.
We started the night off with a glass of Champagne - which was refreshing - something I needed after a long day. I'm pretty sure it was Veuve Clicquot (that's what I typically drink anyways when drinking Champagne). The nose was like fresh dough - bubbles were small and did not tickle, yet rather danced on your palate - as it should. It was like a crisp apple, dash of lemon and a little bit of fresh picked haricot verts, with a hint of vanilla and the perfect amount of dryness for a gentle finish.
We had the tasting menu - because of course I wanted to eat everything I saw and just couldn't order the whole menu. 
They served baguette with tapenade - I ate a bite of the tapenade - it was good...not too olive - not too garlic - just right. Too bad I can't eat bread.
Here's what we had:
The night started with Canapes - they were some sort of seafood ravioli with tomato compote - unfortunately I'm going to slack horribly on reporting this one - since I didn't eat it - I cannot eat ravioli, but the husband gobbled them up and said they were "really good".
Next was a dreamy, creamy, smooth house made pate. I love pate - correction - I love good pate. I'm a bit like Anton Ego (Ratatouille 2007) when it comes to pate - since now I cannot eat bread - if I don't love it - I don't swallow. This was served with a lovely apple-raisin compote, lettuce sprouts (less than a teaspoon - the greenish purple really set off the tans/browns of the pate and accompaniments). A drizzle of red fruity vinaigrette, homemade walnut crisp bread, and a teaspoon of wonderful, smooth warm apple sauce that complimented the pate perfectly. Presentation was immaculate - I didn't think it right to take out the iPhone and start snapping - how gauche. 
Wine Pairing:Sauternes 
It went well with the dish - bright, bold, sweet - a little too sweet for my personal taste - however, it was well matched.
The next course was Maine Jonah Crab Salad, and Mango Salad, Lime and Coconut Emulsion. This had a very Thai flavor. The crab was firm in texture yet had a deep soft flavor, the other flavors were not over-powering and the whole dish was rather subtle and refreshing. The mango was a little tasteless under the lime. (Perhaps the wine from the first pairing was playing tricks on my tongue.)
Wine Paring: a - well - here's when it gets funny - I cannot remember for the life of me what this was - see - I'm not quite the drinker I once was and well - I fall down on the job. Needless to say it was white - citrus - and another wine that was a bit too sweet for my palate but paired well.
And we move on -  Fish du Jour, Celeriac Mousseline, Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout, Squash and Ginger Broth - this was Pacific Sea Bass - aka Corvina or California Sea bass. Bravo on the sustainability factor. Unfortunately I think it was a little bit over done. The vegetable accompaniment was spectacular. The baby brussels were absolutely amazing. Cooked to perfection - everything was just on the verge of sweet - which really compliments fish quite well - however - if the fish was left a little tiny bit underdone (therefore preserving the buttery flavor of this white fish) I would have really melted over this one.
Wine paring: I think this one was a Sauvignon Blanc - it was crisp, light citrus, springy and green, clean finish - complimented the sweetness of the vegetables and the broth, perfect match - and not too sweet - Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are really two of my favorite whites with or without food.
Our next course was a duck - Roasted Duck Breast, and Swiss Chard Cannelloni, Shitake Mushrooms, Valencia Orange Sauce. Canard - j'ai t'aime. It was cooked to perfection (rare yet a little bit of crisp texture on the outside), the orange sauce was not overpowering but complimented well and it was just as expected. The one piece that did overly excite me was the Swiss Chard Cannelloni - now - I'm NOT supposed to be eating any wheat - at all - and I could tell by looking at it that it was fresh made pasta - the kind that melts when you eat it - gives perfectly against your teeth and is what pasta should taste like. I asked the husband and he said it was "really good" - this means awesome. So I did - and this is why I probably feel like I weigh 500lbs today. It was something I'm going to have to try to make myself with no gluten - I wonder if it can be done with rice flour...I'll have to try it - just magnificent. This veggie lover thought it was simply more-ish. Perfectly cooked chard with soft cheese in a cannelloni roll about the size of a nice Robusto cigar. You see what was so good about this was that the sauce complimented the cannelloni and the mushrooms as well. 
Wine paring: Bordeaux Blend - of course - it went perfectly. Smooth and supple, fruits of the forest - go well with duck does not overpower - matched well with the orange sauce - which can be tricky.
And - of course - their signature dessert - blueberry creme brulee with red berries coulis. They lovingly wrote Happy Birthday and gave me a little candle. I must admit - the whole dish was sexy. The creme brulee itself was a little round mound of perfect custard with a delicate sugary crust (look - this is a 3-4 ingredient dish - not something that should cost a fortune or that should be served if it is screwed up - don't you hate when you order it at a restaurant and it tastes old or is curdled? or when the crust if too thick?) - so when I get one that is worth it - I love it. I don't want it swimming in berry sauce. It was. I could have liked it better with a drizzle of the sauce. It was also served with fruit - just enough to off-set the creme...but I must say - this creme wasn't heavy and didn't need too much dressing up. The blueberries added a subtle flavor and texture - but I think it would be perfect if they toned back the coulis. Let me stress here that the creme brulee itself was immaculate.
Wine paring: Muscat - I'm okay with these - it was actually less sweet than the Sauternes. It went quite well with the dessert.
the night was finished with some Minardises. Fudge Brownie with a  strawberry - which was nice and light yet had a little chocolate punch and an almond cookie that I didn't get to try (I have a whole gluten free chocolate cake with ganache and strawberries waiting for me). Husband said they were good. I trust him.

Tapenade on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

dellapina said...

Well that sounds like a fabulous birthday. Happy belated!