Thursday, July 30, 2009

Birthday Bouchon

Thomas Keller is the man. So are my two fabulous colleagues (and friends) who surprised me with not one, but TWO boxes of assorted Bouchon Bakery treats when I arrived at work on my special day. And no, contrary to what a partner asked me, this is not the big 3-0.

The tasting party took place in my office at 2:15 pm (between my 1-2 pm video conference with awkward to have to attempt to adjust your very short skirt when you realize it is showing a bit much to the wider audience...and a 2:45 meeting where I was told that I should time my (very far in the future) pregnancies so that I give birth in June and am back at work by the start of the 4th financial quarter). The attendance was only the three of us because the rest of the office is a bunch of vultures. The items sampled were as follows:

* A "forget about it" (to be pronounced as if you are a cast member on The Sopranos) - it looks like a chocolate coated Oreo cookie but wait, inside is crispy puffed rice covered in a layer of caramel!

* A "TKO" - the Bouchon Bakery standout (besides the Bouchon, of course) - this really is an Oreo reinvented (word on the street is that Keller loves the old school Nabisco variety)...chocolate sable dough with a white chocolate ganache cream.

* A "Nutter Butter" - Are you sensing a theme here? Two soft, yummy peanut butter cookies with light peanut butter filling. It tasted like the real thing, but better.

* A "Bouchon Ho Ho" - No, that is not what the boys at work call me. This looks exactly like its name, but has a lovely foil wrapper and ingredients a step above the boxed variety.

* A "the best thing they serve" - Apparently the salesperson did not know the name. This slightly disturbing log looks kinda like a napoleon covered in chocolate, but when you cut in, it is thin pastry layers surrounding a liquor flavored chocolate mousse!

Now, I can't even attempt to pick a clear winner, but my vote is leaning toward the Nutter Butter. The other members of the tasting committee felt that the chocolate that shall not be named took the literal cake though. Fortunately for me, that is not the end of my birthday baked good extravaganza. In addition to the taste test candidates, the Mary Poppins bag of bakery boxes also includes a fruit tart (I can vouch for the perfection of a runaway raspberry and blackberry), a red velvet cupcake, another TKO, a double chocolate cookie, a chocolate walnut cookie and a chocolate tart!

While this does sound like enough to last me about 12 hours, I might be forced to freeze one or two...I may be 28, but I think I'm a little young to have to wear a mu-mu.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Del Posto Delicious

Yeah, it has been awhile, and this post has nothing about cupcakes!

So anyway, "she of many hats" Gael Greene (you may have watched her on a show I despise called Top Chef much for anonymous restaurant critics), recently analyzed her experience with the super secret $35 four course menu at Del Posto's Enoteca. And people think I am harsh! Never one to be outdone, I put on my high heels and a lovely black dress and hoofed it through a humid NYC night to experience the Del Posto magic on the cheap.

My date kept me waiting, which gave me a chance to chat with my charming and incredibly knowledgeable server, Daniel. What a treat. I also got checked out by the toolish finance types at the next table. Score one for the self esteem! Daniel asked me what kind of wine I usually enjoy and brought me a perfect glass of white that had me tipsy before the (very substantial and yummy...and served with a side of whipped lard) bread basket arrived.

Course #1.
My companion enjoyed the OUT OF THIS WORLD Calamari. Wow. It melted in my mouth and was the best item of the night. My appetizer, the broccoli rabe and mozzarella was also outstanding...not too much garlic, which had been my fear. I would have liked to take it home and try it heated up just to mix things up, but I finished it instead.

Course #2.
Now, when you get the $35 prix fixe (instead of the $52) the table chooses one type of pasta course instead of each person requesting the item of their choice. We had the Oreccheiette with Lamb Neck Sausage. I thought I was in the mood for more of a tomato sauce based course, but let me tell you, those little buttons of pasta were amazing.

Course #3.
Ok, apparently the secret is out about the halibut...the prix fixe people don't receive fillets of fish but receive a plate beautifully dressed and covered with pieces of fish about the size of a saltine cracker. The reason (in case you were wondering) is that the head and tail are used to make up the entree course for the proletariat. Being that I embrace my public school roots, and I am also cheap, I have no problem with a little fish head fillet, which was nicely complimented by a light mustard sauce and greens. The duck was also enjoyed at my table, and could not have been more perfect. The red wine that Daniel suggested topped it all off.

Course #4.
I am a girl that loves sweets, so it is always hard for me to narrow down the choices on a dessert menu, especially when they are all as impressive as Del Posto's. I went with a ricotta cheesecake with toasted pine nuts baked in the top and a macerated strawberry topping. It was an amazing cross between cheesecake and pound cake that would make any Italian grandmother's heart skip a beat. When we couldn't decide between the olive oil roasted dates and the chocolate wonderfulness (that they top with liquor), Daniel brought us a little of both! While my date might have wondered if I would leave him for Daniel, he certainly didn't mind the dessert buffet that arrived at our table.

In closing, this is a prix fixe that puts restaurant week to shame 365 days of the year...And upon departure, truffles in a little Del Posto box!
Just what I needed to get me through a long afternoon of loving the law.