Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Revelling in Café Boulud

I'm a simple man - I like to eat. I refuse to vacation in places without a food culture because, well, you can lie on a beach for a week anywhere, but eating a properly cooked foie gras chaud? Not so much. I have a hideous disgust for people who take photos of each course before they eat - please, it's tacky and disrespectful. No one gives a shit because really, it's not about the food. You posting all these photos up is all about how much taste you have, yes, I'm so mature and cultured, look at my fabulous wining and dining hobby. Keep that nonsense at home, please don't bring it into a restaurant. Not a proper one anyways. And despite what you might think, all-inclusive resort food is shit.

Fate was on my side - the Michelin Guide was just released for New York City on October 6, a few days before I arrived. And my reservation? For Café Boulud, part of Daniel Boulud's empire of restaurants and owner of one beautiful, shiny Michelin star. Lovely. Got dressed; burgundy dinner jacket, slacks, silk handkerchief . . . yes, DF was ready to eat.

On the Upper East Side, the dining room is elegant, certainly with a polished, upscale feel completely unbefitting what the name implies. Very French, in that luxe, calme et volupté manner. Handed over to Gavin Kaysen, the menu combines seasonal ingredients and classic French country cuisine, with a surprising international section on the menu . . . undecided how I feel about that, sitting in a Frenchman's restaurant.

I went straight for the seared foie gras to start. Served with what seems like poached pear, it is, in a word, exquisite. Wow. Also began with a butternut squash soup (silky like nothing else), and a velouté of mushrooms (intensely earthy). Next, on to a pan-seared venison, cooked perfectly medium-rare and utterly, utterly delicious. Served with shaved truffle, this was a dream. Vermont rabbit was so inspiring, perfect in flavour and texture. Cooked a few ways - ribs were seared and loin was cooked as a Wellington. I learned what proper rabbit meat can taste like - so light, so fragrant, like eating the most amazingly perfumed, silky meat. Pan-seared flounder was cooked perfectly as well, flaking right onto the fork.

What an amazing meal. Perfectly cooked, seasoned, and presented food, the chef clearly respects the ingredients - everything's in season, with all the elements are in balance. The wine I ordered, coming up. Service was professional, very slick. I lucked out - the next table was having the truffles course - the most amazing white truffles, shaved over a simple pasta. As it hit the heat and the oils were released, a stunningly rich, earthy aroma came wafting over - I stopped eating for a minute to lose myself. Amazing

Might not hold as importance in North America, but yes, I'm convinced more than ever that earning a Michelin star means something. Will be coming back, hungry for more.

DF

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