On Tuesday I put my best purple pink dress on with my best Betsy Johnson ruffled in the back purple sweater and my red strappy sandles and made a note to myself when Ferdinand was trying to help do something to control what is my hair situation that I need a professional makeover. Or at least big curlers.
I took Jonathan out to dinner on the fly. It’s been almost twenty years and not once not one time have we made it to dinner for our anniversary. Curlers or no curlers I wanted to eat somewhere with tablecloths and waiters that just make life better and wine pairings and dessert that looks like a party on a plate and a chef that sends you home with treats for tomorrow. I saw an advertisement buried in the food section for a one night stand with Cyril Lignac at a Daniel Boulud bistro and a whole lot of good food and I bought it.
First waltz: an amuse bouche of miniature parmesan sticks with tiny pots of roasted pepper puree and another of black olive tapenade. I worried a little bit. The parmesan sticks were stale and I don’t know if Cyril knows this, but New Yorkers have been eating olive tapenade and roasted pepper at every catered event for 100 people and over since the early nineties.
Next up: a rectangular tasting plate of smoked fois gras custard with pumpkin froth, crusted littleneck clams with indian curry and green apple and a tiny square of smoked salmon with lime and coconut. Fois gras for me is all about that smooth sweet liver and mouth appeal–who has that kind of fat to dream on a regular basis? Nobody. And if you do you shouldn’t because it will kill you. So when you give it to me, don’t custard it up because it makes me think of skim milk ice cream. The salmon was too salty and the clam was leaning on the merits of butter.
Cyril had me all dressed up, hungry and ready and wasn’t showing up for our date. I could feel my shoulder turning and red strappy sandals ready to walk themselves right back to Queens.
But you know how it is and always will be. Then they show. And they smell so good and they look so good and they kiss and hug and promise everything and what can you do but fall.
The sea bass carpaccio came out on a plate polka dotted with a passion fruit dressing that made the sea bass sing. Sliced as thin as lox from Zabars with a tiny bite of pepper from Nepal and olive oil from Liguria. I started crying. It was that good. They gave me the glass of Guy Sage Pouilly fume from the Loire, and I just started crying tears. Cyril.
Next up: Brown butter Maine Lobster with potato gnocchi, lobster cream and sichuan pepper. The table went quiet. The man next to me was convinced there was cinnamon or allspice. I don’t know, could have been. Some secrets leave you too deep in to think about. There were perfect pieces of tail meat poached in butter I’m sure with a few tender pillows of gnocchi and slivers of parmesan in circles–how do you cut parmesan in circles?–all lounging in a lobster emulsion. Maybe there was tomato concasse in the emulsion, definitely cream. I wasn’t talking. I wasn’t even really thinking. I ate until there was no more.
For the main: salted butter slow cooked milk fed veal with chanterelles, peas, hyssop scented veal jus. There is a psalm that says “purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean.” It was a little bit of genius that hyssop after all that rich and velvet from the course before. There were two tiny chunks of fillet of veal on a swirl of dried pea puree, and a swivel of barely cooked dried peas over the top w/ what must have been barely born pea shoots and the tiniest chanterelle mushrooms I have ever seen. The sommelier came round with a silver pitcher of the hyssop scented veal jus and poured it into the empty circle between the veal and the swirl. It was like walking barefoot on a forest floor right after it had rained at the very end of summer. Cyril.
Dessert was crazy. Dessert was those girls that had outfits you could only dream of even after you had a job. A flag red dome on the outside, cream and cake on the inside w/ a cannelle of strawberry sorbet sitting on (stale, Cryil!!) cookie. Perfectly placed marzipan daisies and teeny weeny cubes, no bigger than a pinky nail of red jiggly gele and grassy green cakes.
And just when you thought you had to stand up or never stand up again, Cyril kept at it. Glossy chocolates and sugared jellies, tiny tarts with fresh figs that must grow on miniature trees over there in Paris and raspberry cream.
Three hours and twenty two minutes.
Beautiful waiters kissed us goodbye with boxes of macaroons made that morning.
I loved it, I loved it, I loved it.