Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another post from my reason for living...

You big sweetie. You posted my last note, and I'm sure you haven't even thought about how to describe the Enoteca San Marcos debacle, so here it is from my side of the table.
First off, the disengenuous charm of the Venetian indoor canal, with the poncy shops and faux everything, including elegance. Appalling tourists from all over Europe. You were right, there are more Eurpoeans there than anywhere else on the Las Veas Strip. Better dressed than their Minnesotan counterparts, but equal in bad manners.
We sat overlooking the piazza and stage. Kevin (or Scott, it was one or the other) was a distinctive waiter in that he had more aftershave than personality. Fresh-faced, towheaded with sad teeth, he looked about 17 but was really 28. He spoke with the patronizing authority of a sous chef only without a speck of credibility. I found myself wanting to order something he didn't like just because he lacked even the appearance of judgement. Pleasant enough, if you weren't allergic to the scent. Probably an Italian designer fragrance.
Never mind that, or the busboy who bought himself an iPhone only to have to return it when his mother bought him a Blackberry, what matters is the cheese. First course, they brought a beautiful trio of condiment jars and spooned out our servings of whole cherries in brandy, sliced apricots in white wine with chilies, and truffled honey. Then came the cheeses.
My oh my. First, a young fresh goat cheese, the 2 month aged Coach Triple Cream. Then the rightly called "King of Cheeses", Parmigiano Reggiano, a cow's milk cheese aged 21 months. Lastly, the magnificent Rosso di Langhe, a brine washed cow and sheep's milk cheese from Piemonte, fully aged and perfectly pungent, providing a crescendo of cheesy goodness.
Downhill from there. The nondescript escarole and walnut salad with pecorino. The Fritti Grande, which looked so good on the menu was just fried stuff with too much rosemary oil. Risotto balls, stuffed zucchini flowers, pizza dough fingers, seafood, and the fried mozzarella and anchovy sandwich that you called a "fish doughnut". At least the sandwich tasted good, and not like rosemary oil.
Escape from there, quickly. Because our final stop of the trip was the best of all. Bouchon Bakery, hidden next to the theater which inexplicably houses "Phantom of the Opera". There we each had that little miracle, it tastes like a fresh Parisian croissant opened up and filled with a blob of Chicago-style cheesecake (more caky than New York cheesecake and not as sweet, just right) and topped with two slips of sugared lemon rind--- which they absurdly call a "cheese danish". Your pot de creme infused with wild mint and covered in milk chocolate was just as epiphanically good. So much so that I once again find myself grateful that the most delectable pastry and sweets we have locally aren't anywhere near that standard. Our health and safety would be at risk otherwise.
Ciao bello, thanks for posting.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bouchon in Las Vegas

I had wanted to do a post about the wonderful time that my dearly beloved and I had at Bouchon restaurant in Las Vegas. I was feeling lazy and hadn't yet posted when I received this email from my reason for living. She did such a great job, that I decided just to post it.

Just reminding you about a few details from Vegas, you know, for the Blog. Be sure to tell them about the table, that it was big enough for six with a curving banquette and overlooked the Italian garden. (this is just the Bouchon meal at the Venetian, the rest isn't important) And the waiter spells his name Krxstv. Such a nice boy. 6 months away from his Master's in engineering when he gave it up and moved to the desert to become a happy career waiter. He endeared himself when he kept a straight face when we didn't order booze or wine. Do you remember what town in Poland he was from? I should know that.
Not that you forgot, but the first dish (after the gorgeous bread and little jar of pistachios) was the homemade gravlax, salmon cured in lemon juice and honey for 36 hours. Lemon confit, cranberry pain perdu (savory bread pudding) and salmon skin cracklings. Finished with a whisper of rosemary oil, nothing like the Enoteca San Marcos meal--- but I digress. I'm only discussing Bouchon here.
Kristof (to spell it phonetically) really hooked us up with the second course, the salmon rillettes. I told you, this should be subtitled the Salmon Diaries. Or you can make a Salman Rushdie pun, I won't, I'm on strike. A 2 /1 ratio of fresh to smoked salmon, poached in Pernod with egg yolk, shallots and creme fraiche, then covered with clarified butter and sealed in a mason jar. The under-waiter scooped the butter off in one elegant swoop and we got the jar with those marvellous toasts, which must have been a skinny baguette sliced in half-inch increments then toasted on a grill and brushed with butter. Kristof brought us that extra little tower of toasts that no one else in sight got. A lovely boy, did I say that yet?
My truite aux amandes, your leg of lamb. Yours was roasted, then served with a sous vide fennel bulb, butternut squash puree (also sous vide) and french prunes poached in Pernod. The sauce was made from the lamb drippings.
But the dessert... If you post anything, you must tell them how Kristof wouldn't let us see the dessert menu. He was disappointed when I refused chocolate, but your little bitter chocolate bouchons with valrhona sauce and vanilla bean ice cream did you just fine. (And I don't think he would've been embarassed that you had a chunk of vanilla bean still in your ice cream, you should've let me say something) And my pot de creme was better than your chocolate. Egg nog infused, and those little cookies that were crispy to the tooth then disappeared in an effusion of butter and spice. Even the espresso was exquisite, no grounds at all and a perfect crema on top.
When you post, be sure to get in the details, like the flaming gas lamps over the brocade carpet and Italianate molding and 17th century-esque wallpaper in the hall we walked through to get to the restaurant. The deliciousness is in the details.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

NaNoWriMo - Mission Accomplished

Wow, one month later and I've finished writing a novel. I finished "Oskiri, Master Criminal" on Nov. 30th at 5:42 p.m.. The sad part is that the title has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I'd started with an idea to create a 'making the hero' story about a small time forger that becomes the leader of a group of criminals that steal some huge whatever. In the end, though, I wrote a story about a guy that travels through time to steal a time travel ship so that, in the future, he can travel back in time with the ship and steal a time travel ship so that, in the future, he can travel back in time with the ship and steal a time travel ship so that, in the future, he can...

I think you get the idea. It's a lousy plot and the story has tons of problems, but it didn't turn out to be as horrible as I was expecting. There are a lot of great moments in there that really work. National Novel Writing Month turned out to be a really great experience for me.