1 anniversary, 2 great meals

This weekend Erin and I celebrated our anniversary with a few culinary related adventures.  Saturday afternoon we saw Ratatouille which was really good.  It’s not often that I say “Honey, let’s go see a kids movie” – hell, I never say that.  But since it’s about a rat who wants to be a cook it seemed appropriate.

Saturday evening we enjoyed a meal at North Pond Cafe where Bruce Sherman is the chef.  For the past couple of years we’ve eaten at Charlie Trotter’s but wanted to change that this year.  After what seemed like months of deliberation (also in the running were Moto, Schwa, Naha, Everest, One Sixtyblue. . .) we finally settled upon North Pond.  We were not disappointed.

We easily settled upon their seasonal tasting menu with the wine pairing.  I ended up switching the dessert out for a chilled poached Michigan peach, ginger ale gelee, sweet corn ice cream, ginger snap (I can’t recall what Erin had for dessert).  The cost for this switch was $3 which we were advised of up front.

The amuse bouche was a terrine of goat cheese, some form of a berry coulis and toasted pumpernickel.  The terrine was nice and creamy, very refreshing, considering we had walked the mile and a half or so to the restaurant.  Next was the fluke and cucumber dish which was really light and summery with really nice use of salt to finish the dish.  I’m assuming he uses a fleur de sel for the crunch.  All of the courses in fact were salted really well, kind of a weird thing to notice and compliment someone for, but it’s true.

Next was a zucchini blossom filled with a shrimp mousseline which was delicious.  I could have had 20 of these and paid.  Next, the crab and pasta dish came with what the menu states is a lobster broth but which was really a lobster consomme.  Without a doubt this was the best course, one of those where your eyes pop out of your head.  The canteloupe was an inspired choice of garnish for the consomme.

The beef dish was notable for the addition of foie gras to make it a trio of proteins (tenderloin, short rib & foie gras).  I love the fact that the ban on foie gras in Chicago just gets ignored.  In reality it doesn’t even matter if the ban is repealed; hell, that might take away just a wee little bit of the enjoyment of consuming it.

After the last protein we were brought an anise sorbet which was ungodly overpowering.  Only 2-3 spoonfulls of this could be consumed – I’m not sure this was the effect they’re aiming for.

The servers did initially screw up our dessert and brought out the one on the menu instead of the ones we had ordered.  This was corrected pretty quickly though; the ice cream portion of it was actually really good though I did taste the chocolate fondant cake and was happy to know I’d made the correct decision – way too rich for my liking.

Overall it was a really good meal.  We never felt rushed and were quite surpised to realize that we’d been there for 3 and a half hours when we were walking out.

Yesterday we made dinner at home which consisted of the photographed items above.  The scallop recipe is something from Epicurious – the best part about it is the corn coulis. The foie gras recipe is from Foie Gras: A Passion by Michael Ginor who happens to own Hudson Valley Foie Gras.  The recipe I used for the most part was by Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington.  The blackberry sauce was amazing and would go just as well with seared duck breast or even beef tenderloin.  The polenta cake is really a cake of grits (not too  different) and was extremely creamy, if you’re into that sort of thing.  Because of the cheese in it I had a hard time flipping it when I was browning the outside because the cheese was melting a little too much.

The duck confit and frisee salad recipe is from Tony Bourdain’s appearance on A Chef’s Story. For the duck confit I actually used Thomas Keller’s recipe from Bouchon which calls for a green salt that’s made from kosher salt, thyme, bay leaf and parsley.

Overall we had a great anniversary.  We’ll have to start the nomination and deliberation for next year soon.

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