I can change; I swear.

Please excuse the long break since my last post.  I don’t deserve you fine readers and if you wanted to pack your keyboard and leave my non-updating a$$, I wouldn’t blame you one bit.  But before you go, please read the post below and let me stay in your bookmarks.  Gimme one more chance; I can change. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T2X5Bc8H8U

Cati took me to Angelo’s 677 Prime for a special tasting menu for my b-day– it was a surprise.  Ain’t she sumthin’?  Some of you may be thinking, “Waitaminit, don’t they have a baby to care for?”  Don’t worry, we poked air-holes into a hat box and put the baby in there for a few hours so she couldn’t get into anything– KIDDING.  Our sweet and lovely friend Alexis watched Nina for us while we ate like kings. 

We arrived and were seated at a cozy booth near the kitchen.  We started with some cocktails– a Bushmill’s on ice for me, and a bellini for Cati.

 

How can you be sure we were at 677?  The proof is in the pudding butter.

Cati hides anything shiny lest I lunge for it and try to eat it in a tasting-menu frenzy. 

I bust out my handy wallet-pen to jot down notes.

Wine one:  Our charming and knowledgeable sommelier Mike brought us each a glass of Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2007 Sauvignon Blanc.  It was light and fruity and reminded us both of summer.  It also had a very light earthy character– more like sucking on a cool piece of marble than eating dirt (like some pinot noirs). 

Course one:  Tuna sashimi with ginger jicama-slaw, mustard oil, and thai chiles.  The fish was superb.  The jicama tasted like jicama (i.e. nothing).  This dish was very nice, but it lacked the caché we have become accustomed to from Chef Jaime Ortiz (pronounced by my wife as “hi may or TEETH”) .  The presentation was rather austere by his standards.  Then it occured to us– we weren’t even sure if he was there.  Cati didn’t specifically ask for him when she made the reservation.  Was there some second-stringer in the kitchen that night?  Neither the server, hostess, nor sommelier had mentioned his name.  He didn’t come out to kick things off like last time.  I started getting nervous.

Wine two:  2007 Tocai Friulano Ventosa Vineyards.  Cati liked this wine; me, not so much.  The bouquet was ‘tutti frutti’ -ish.  I want to like NY wines, but to be frank, I just don’t. 

Course two:  Jamon Iberico with canteloupe gelee, toasted alomonds and olive oil on a balsamic reduction.  The jamon was succulent, the melon gelee had a concentrated flavor of fresh melon; each little cube tasted like you were actually smelling a fresh melon in the market.  The almond and micro greens were a nice touch, but the haute cuisine version of “melon con jamon” stole the show. 

Note how each gelatin cube is topped with its own little chive.  Holy smokes, Chef Ortiz was there and in top form.  Any and all doubt that he wasn’t in the kitchen vanished with this dish.  To borrow some jargon from poker, I think he was just slow-playing us on the first dish. 

Wine three:  Chateau Teyssier, St-Emilion Grand Cru 2005.  A rich bold red to pair nicely with the strong flavors of this course.

Course three:  Lamb carpaccio roll with herbed goat cheese, asparagus and lemon zest, minted olive oil, tomato aioli, fried garlic.  Rocket-to-the-moon good.  There was so much going on with every bite, that I had to take notes after each taste.  I could write a master’s thesis on this plate– Tolstoy would lack the words to describe this one.  There were stages with each bite: 

  1. Citrus on the front of the tongue
  2. Then, that distinct lamb flavor with a butter kick from the rich cheese
  3. The dry tongue-desicating tart from the goat cheese
  4. The lamb flavor returns and lingers on the palate.  Reminded you to reach for your wine, but didn’t demand it.   

How could those little rolls be so big on flavor?

Wine four:  O’Reilly’s Pinot noir 2007.  The last wine (and dish) were a tough act to follow.  We liked the pinot but it seemed a bit watery and puny after the previous course.  It was like listening to the Captain and Tennille after leaving a Slayer show– yeah, just like that, actually.  ;)

Course four:  Maitake mushroom, asparagus and bacon ragout, soft poached egg yolk, and asparagus foam.  Makes you wanna lick the screen, eh?  The asparagus flavor in the foam was so strong I had to keep trying it all by itself and marveling.  I was like a hillbilly who had never seen a television and keeps asking, “Gawwwlly, how’d they do that?”  The egg was perfectly cooked and the creamy yolk went beautifully with the characteristic mushroom flavor.  The salty bacon cut through all the other flavors when it was on the fork, and I’m ok with that.  Cati thought the flavors were a bit too “breakfasty.”  I just thought,  “Mmmm; bacon.  Mmmmm.” 

Wine five:  Haan Viognier Hanenhof Vineyards (no year written in my notes; penmanship getting “loose.”)  This wine seemed a bit like a poor mans Tokaji.  Good, but a bit thin compared with heartier dessert wines.  The course was sweet as well, so I think the sweet wine on a sweet course was a bit much.  We were looking to score some insulin after this pairing. 

Course five:  Seared foie gras with spaghetti squash pancake, hedgehog mushrooms, in a spiced-plum broth.  Cati described this course as “fall in the Northeast.”  The squash was delicious and the plum-water had a touch of cinammon.  This reminded us of autumn.  The foie was decadent and gave each bite a deep savory dimension.  Indulgence, thy name is course five. 

Wine six:  Ca de Rocchi Valpolicella Montere Ripasso 2006.  Mike, the sommelier, described this as a sexy wine.  The aroma was earthy, like a jar of vitamins, and the flavors were like dry fruits. 

Course six:  Shortrib ravioli “nudi” with fresh mozzarella and parm cheeses.  Cati wasn’t too crazy about this, but I really liked the short rib, noodle, and parmesean cheese.  I mean no slight when I compare it to a beef stroganoff; I was digging it.  The flavors were indulgent yet familiar.  Like eating a hamburger made from a dry-aged tenderloin, for example.  Cati reminded me of “course three” as a benchmark, and she felt like this one fell a little short.   

Wine seven:  Robert Sinskey Merlot 2004  Tannic; delicious.  (That’s all my notes say).

Course seven:  “Course five” looks like Norwegian food compared to this sinful dish (in both flavor and presentation): filet mignon bites with bonemarrow fondue.  I’ll forego the 1000 words; have a look:

 

The rare/med-rare filet bites sat atop a lobster croquette.  This gave the dish a surf-and-turf element.  The filet bites were the perfect size for dipping in the bonemarrow fondue.   The soupbone in which the fondue was presented was sitting atop some mashed potatoes which acted as a plug to prevent the fondue from running out.  At first we thought it was a tad gimmicky, but we got over that on the first taste.  Using a miniature fondue kettle would be gimmicky, but this dish was as clever as it was delicious.  What a talented guy that Chef Ortiz is, eh?

Wine eight:  Oremus Tokaji Aszu (6 Puttonyos) 2002.  You know we love this stuff– so sweet and buttery.  Mike described it as the wine of kings. 

Course eight:  Asian pear, guava paste and St. Andres cheese with a cabernet cream.  What can I say about this?  It was every bit as delicious as it sounds (and looks).  The berries and berry reduction were tart and tannic.  I couldn’t really taste the wine in the cream, but I was well past the point of detecting subtle wine flavors after eight pours.  My maternal grandmother used to make guava cookies for us as kids, so I really liked this dessert a lot. 

Extra bonus dessert (like we needed it):  Coconut cream and banana fritter with curry chocolate sauce.   The warm banana filling tasted like fresh baked bananas, and the spicy curry sauce didn’t really kick in until the third bite (which was perfect).  I really like banana desserts so this was the perfect gift for me.   

Chef Ortiz came out and we thanked him and gabbed about our favorite dishes.  Cati and I wound the evening down recounting our dinner and chatting away over coffee.  The food, wine, and service exceeded our expectations.   

One more thing– if you have read this blog before, you know Cati and I like quality food all across the price spectrum.  Whether it’s a high-end restaurant or a highway rest-stop, we know when we find something we like.  So we were wondering, is there a Captial District eatery that you think we are missing?  Have you ever thought, “Why haven’t they mentioned XX yet?” or, “I bet they would really like XX.”?  Well speak up, if we get enough comments for the same place, we’ll go and blog about it.

4 Responses to “I can change; I swear.”

  1. jess says:

    The iberico ham looks delicious. Have you read “Pig Perfect”?

  2. alex|dimitri says:

    No, I haven’t, but I’ll look into it. It sounds delicious, er, interesting.

  3. Gina says:

    As I’ve mentioned before, you’ll need to try Terrapin in Rhinebeck (for dinner), but I know there was someplace else I’ve suggested (other than the Italian digs in the Neck), but at the moment I just can’t remember. I’ll post once I do…

  4. Kathleen says:

    More New York wines for ME!
    Glad you had fun!
    Kathleen