Turning 32 on the East Coast with Daniel Boulud
Apologies for the extreme delay and leaving you with very little to read! As many of you know (those who follow me on Twitter, in any case), I departed for the west coast in mid-October. I was unexpectedly delayed there when Hurricane Sandy struck, and was only able to come back a few days ago. I hope you are all well and mostly unaffected by the storm… my heart goes out to those who were more affected than I was.
I am back now, and will attempt to get back on schedule somehow, and return to making your tummies rumble! First order of business: my birthday. I believe in themes for my birthday, something to tie together all the lovely celebrations. One year I did Michelin stars, another year I did fried chicken… and this year, I chose Daniel Boulud as the chef to usher in 32. My nearest and dearest knew that I would be gone for my birthday this year, so they made sure to take me out before I left. Here are the best bites, along with abbreviated notes on my meals!
First up, the incomparable FBMers (along with friends of FBM), organized by the lovely Hungry of Tasty Eating, took me to dbgb kitchen & bar. It was a fun evening of drinking, eating, and chatting. I will say the service was incredibly odd, and I foolishly saw fish & chips on the menu and ordered it even knowing it wouldn’t be good (it never is, and that’s not what you order at a place famed for sausage!)… and the dessert was really, really weird. So I’m going to just show you what I had as an appetizer: bone marrow, topped with house cured bits of pastrami and caviar, served with toast points. As good as you can expect: meat butter spread on toast. I greedily ate all of this and let someone else who’d ordered the same offer theirs around to everyone… hahaha.
Thank you again to my darling friends for dinner – extra special thanks to Hungry for organizing it!
Shortly after, my BFF/LTS took me to Boulud Sud for a fabulous dinner. While nearly every course was fantastic (with a few minor missteps along the way), the two that stood out for me were definitely the sea urchin and crab tartine, pictured above… seaweed rye toast topped with large chunks of crab, a bit of uni (sea urchin), a green olive, and a bit of lemon cream. The crunchy toast with the meaty crab, the briny urchin, along with a tang from the olive and the citrus bite of the lemon cream just combined for some perfect bites. I really enjoyed this course, and I am proud to say that I was there for LTS’s first experience with uni. Om nom nom.
(Other stand out dishes were the lamb flatbread, which tasted like street meat atop really good bread – and I mean that in a really great way, not derogatory at all, and my artichoke, fennel and celery salad was quite delicious as well.)
But the real reason I’d so desperately wanted to visit Boulud Sud: lemon saffron linguini with seppia, bottarga and dandelion. I first saw this tweeted a few months ago and have dreamed about it for a while; I love bottarga passionately, and seppia (cuttlefish) is pretty high up there as well. (Bottarga is cod roe baked into flat crisps that can be shaved into dishes and lends a really great umami, oceany taste to things, and when shaved chunkily, is a great texture as well.) I didn’t care for the dandelion necessarily – a little bitter touch to balance, I understand, but those bites were dominated by the bitterness. The bottarga definitely made its presence known – an issue I’ve had in other dishes that list bottarga as an ingredient – which was great. My major complaint about this dish would just be the lack of textures; the pasta – clearly made in-house – was on the soft side, as fresh pasta tends to be, and I could have used some sort of crunch to balance the softness. Maybe bread crumbs or pine nuts? Other than that, though, the lemon was pleasant in its subtlety, and the overall dish was very tasty. I was not disappointed, in any case!
Thank you to my BFF for the delicious meal and excellent conversation, per usual!
Last but certainly not least, brunch at db bistro moderne, courtesy of my twin aka Dessert Zombie. We went a little crazy with the ordering, but in the end, only a teeny bit of one dish had to be taken home. Bread basket, salads, prix fixe menu, pretty much anything I thought looked interesting… I am spoiled by my twin! The above: Maine lobster salad, with romaine & frisee, hearts of palm, mango, avocado and pesto dressing. Super yum!
Crispy duck confit also made an appearance; easily the best duck confit I’ve ever had, as in the past, I’ve had it very sticky, a bit dried out, and just not tasty. This had super crispy skin, which gave way to reveal super tender, moist and delicious duck meat. Wonderful!
Once again, service was weird – it seemed to be a trend at all three places (though I’ve certainly had excellent service at db establishments in the past!) – but the food was overall very tasty. The bread basket was fantastic – we inhaled it! – and the fries were great too. Hardly a bad bite in the bunch!
Deepest gratitude to my twin, the Dessert Zombie, for a great brunch before he jumped on the train to get on a plane!
A HUGE thanks to all my friends who helped make my East Coast birthday special. You guys make me all tingly inside!
Stay tuned for how I celebrated my birthday on the West Coast!