Friday, April 23, 2010
Monday night, I dined at Daniel.
I had the opportunity to do so since I had met the pastry chef, Mark Fiorentino, at a fundraiser that we held in Denver, in 2007. He did a live cooking demonstration at our one event.
I met him before the event and then I think I thanked him, afterwards. It was an emotional night for me. We held the fundraiser on the one year anniversary of Brian's death. I was reliving what had happened a year ago, dealing with my family/friends who didn't know what to say to me, but were extremely supportive; and, apprehensive about the speech that I had to give. Meeting Mark was thrown in the mix and a passing moment.
When I chose to go to New York, I e-mailed Mark. I wanted to thank him, in person, for his contribution to our successful night and since he was a food guy, I wanted to pick his brain about restaurants.
He responded and we agreed that we would try to get together while I was in the city. Last Saturday, he called me and said that he would unavailable on Monday night, but I could dine at Daniel or any of their restaurants, if I was so inclined.
I wanted to dine at Daniel.
Fortunately, it was close to my hotel. I could walk there and cab it back if I felt unsafe. I napped in the afternoon since I was unable to sleep on the flight. Refreshed, I walked up Madison until 65th St. There it was--Daniel, the flagship of Daniel Boulud. I returned to the hotel by walking up Park and I liked the energy on Park. Whereever I walked, I was always surrounded by people. The streets were never empty.
I showered and trekked, in heels, back to Daniel. That was difficult. I rarely wear heels, but I felt the occasion called for it.
I walk into Daniel and am greeted by Daniel, himself. I sit at the bar and he offers me a cocktail. I am in awe, of him, and how this played out. I mean, I hoped to meet him, but wasn't expecting it. There he was and he was gracious. He chose their specialty drink, a white cosmo with an orchid ice cube, to keep it cool. I mentioned that I was from Denver and had met Mark at a fundraiser in Denver.
I looked at the menu. They had a 3, 6, or 8 course chef's tasting menu. I chose the 3 course so that I would be able to to dine at other establishments while in NY.
The meal was exceptional. Three courses became six and I ordered a bottle of red zin from Sonoma. I am a sucker for nostalgia. While in college, I drank Ridge, frequently, and since it was an option at Daniel, it seemed like the natural choice.
Jamie, the bartender, asked me--You aren't in a hurry, right?
I chose the sea urchin and black sea bass. Course #3 would be about the dessert. I wanted to check out one of Mark's creations.
The night of decadence commenced. They brought an amuse bouche which centered on water cress. Everything was asthetically pleasing and colorful.
Next, a crab cocktail with spice was placed in front of me. It was small and just the right amount of kick.
Afterwards, I was asked to choose between 6 breads. I love kalamata olive bread and so that was my first selection.
I was a solo diner and I watched several couples begin at the bar and head over to their dining area. I wanted to have some interaction with people and so I chose the bar. There were two female bartenders. One was super attentive to me and the other seemed standoffish.
My dining experience continued and lasted 3 hours. I tried a veloute with watercress, all pre course tasting menu. My first selection had been the sea urchin with meyer lemon and tapioca. It was beautiful and the flavors melted together. I was intrigued by the lemon factor. That inspired the choice.
I was offered more bread. About to decline, Jamie reminded me that Mark, my friend, made all of the bread for Daniel's 5 restaurants in NY. I opted for the garlic bread. It was amazing. It literally melted in my mouth and I could have filled up on that alone.
The black seabass arrived with a potato puree and celery root puree. I loved it.
Mark was about to depart for the evening and so he gave me a tour of the kitchen and building.
For dessert, I chose the cranberry lychee dessert and coffee. Prior to that choice, they brought me chocolate and beignets. My god! I was so full and so thankful for the amazing meal.
It definitely was one of the most exceptional meals/experiences in my life. Not to mention, it was comped. I have wonderful friends. I am still in awe over the entire meal at Daniel--meeting him, the food, service, tour, etc...absolutely fantastic! Plus, it was so close to my hotel that I welcomed the walk back to walk off some of the food. My first night in New York was a complete success. I invited Mark and his wife to Denver. I hope they take me up on it. I would love to take them out to dinner.
Daniel was a treat and I feel blessed for my friends and my decision to go to New York.