Anna’s Foodie Reviews

November 22, 2006

California Cafe at MOA

Filed under: 3 Stars,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 2:19 pm

Tom and I took our four kids to the Mall Of America on Monday night and decided to give the California Cafe a try. I have eaten there before, but we have never brought the kids. This is the kind of place that has low lights, white table cloths and food on the menu that is a bit foreign to children. The kids are now older and have grown past the mac n’ cheese on the kids menu, so we went in.

The California Cafe is a chain restaurant that caters to the business person or group of people who want to enjoy a “California” style meal with good California wine. Fish and chicken prepared with lots of vegetables are the main attraction on the menu. Tom and Gabrielle ordered the salmon with a grapefruit glaze and Victoria had the braised short-ribs.  Tom and I both thought her choice was the best. The meat was very tender and just the right amount of seasoning, as not to be overpowering in flavor. Tom started with the Sesame Ahi and he really enjoyed it. There was a sauce with it, and he said it was good, although he would always take wasabi and soy sauce above anything else offered.

The kids, who have always been calimari fans, started with a plate of calimari and rock shrimp. These were great! They were perfectly done, not overcooked and dry or chewy. Very good.

For Tommy and Elizabeth we ordered off the kid’s menus. The kids menu is a very good deal. It offerers a bento box, where the child picks items off of 4 lists. Tommy had BBQ ribs, french fries, fruit, and salad along with a drink and a homemade ice cream sandwich, all for $6.90. The sandwich was made from two large homemade chocolate chip cookies with creamy vanilla ice cream inside. We ordered the grilled cheese and fries for Elizabeth. Of course, she ate none of them. Victoria ate her Cesar Salad and said it was great. There are crayons and paper to keep them busy. Even though this isn’t the place you would expect to take kids, they treat them very well.

I enjoyed the squash soup, which was truly wonderful, top off with sunflower seeds for a nice little crunch. For dinner, I order the special, Hawaiian Waahoo, a firmer light flavored fish from the Pacific. It was served with rice and julienned vegetables. The fish was overdone for my taste. Fish should be moist and tender, this was neither. Note to self: never order Hawaiian fish if you can’t hear the ukelle playing.

The best part of our visit was the staff. We had a server, Jan, who was training a young man named Doyle. We usually avoid sit down restaurants with Elizabeth, unless she requests them. This night, we bribed her with a trip to Sam Goody, and she was behaving relatively well. She did try a few of her tricks, just to make it interesting. She stared off by trying to re-name Doyle, George, which Doyle mis-took to think that her name was George. After Jan called her “young man” we strightened it all out and they were great with her, never making us feel like would needed to apologize for her behavior. We were able to enjoy a family dinner out, with plenty of conversation and laughs, and never had too worry about what Elizabeth was doing that might be inapproriate.

I am sure we  gave Jan and Doyle a few things to go home and tell their families about. No one ever forgets meeting Elizabeth.

If your looking for a place to take a break from the mad holiday shopping crowds at the Mall of America, give the California Cafe a try and have a glass of great California wine. I suggest the Coppola.

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November 20, 2006

Eating like a movie star in Paris, or our meal at Le Grand Colbert

Filed under: 3 Stars,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 12:45 pm

Saturday night, after the most amazing day at Montmartre and visiting Sacre-Coeur, we met with our friends Rick and Brenda Tulka. Rick and Brenda are native New Yorkers, who decided to give Paris a try over ten years ago and never looked back. I can understand their love for this incredible city, and why they have made it their home. Tom and Rick had e-mailed back and forth and Rick arranged reservations for our dinner. It wasn’t until that morning that Tom remembered that we were going to the “restaurant from that movie, the Nicholson one” Of course I knew that he meant Something’s Gotta Give. I loved that movie and even thought about looking the restaurant up myself to make reservations. I am admittedly a star-struck, fan person. I love going places I’ve read about in books and magazines or have seen in movies. I was thrilled to be visiting Diane Keaton’s character’s favorite restaurant in Paris. And I knew I would order the chicken.

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Le Grand Colbert

Le Grand Colbert is a little off the beaten path and Rick and Brenda took us on our first Metro ride and through some back streets and gardens around the Louvre, and by the Palais Royal. Quite a hike in heels. This is a true French Bistro. The decor is very early 1900’s with high ceilings, frosted glass panels, dark wood, brass,… and lots of old play bills from local theaters. It was very much like the movie, although a little less formal and much more crowded. We were shown a table that was next to the bar and slightly in the walk space. We felt a little squeezed in. The staff was very busy, but pleasant enough. Thankfully for us, Brenda speaks French wonderfully and was able to help us through the menu. I saw only one Poulet (Chicken) on the menu. It was poached in a red wine and served with Pomme Frit (French Fries).

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chicken in red wine

In the movie, Diane Keaton’s character talks about the best roast chicken ever. This wasn’t it. Even though it was baked in the sauce, the chicken was quite dry and there was not a lot of flavor. The fresh parsley was very nice with fresh bursts of flavor. I wish my French was more than “Please” and “Thank You”, I would have asked for the Roast chicken. I recently watched the movie again, and that chicken did look very good.

I did enjoy my appetizer, goat cheese in a puff pastry with salad and beets. It was fresh and flavorful. Tom had the foie gras pate and he shared with Rick and Brenda. They all loved it. Rick and Brenda split a plate of escargot. They enjoyed them.

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Yummy!

Tom and Brenda ordered the lamb chops and they were so good. The best taste was the au gratin potatoes that came with their chops. They were creamy with great French cheeses, with a strong presence of Guryee. Tom is very good at sharing and I ate a good portion of them.

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Lamp Chops

We all had the classic Creme Brulee for dessert and it was a wonderful way to top off a great evening with wonderful friends. This was our second trip to Paris and the second time that Rick and Brenda had gone out of their way to guide us through their city and make us feel welcome. We shared a delicious meal and a great bottle of French wine, what more could you wish for?

I would recommend Le Grand Colbert to anyone looking for a classic French Bistro with a fun story to go with the meal. Order what sounds good to you, skip the chicken and pretend you are a Hollywood Star. Everyone should feel like a Hollywood star in Paris! 

November 16, 2006

Return to Taillevent

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 9:25 pm

Have you ever had one of those meals where everything was so amazingly perfect that you were afraid to go back to the restaurant for fear that the follow up could only disappoint? I have to say that I had some of this trepidation about going back to the Taillevent in Paris. This restaurant is on the top of every list that rates dining in Paris and has always been at the top of Tom’s and mine. I am very happy to report that there was no disappointment in our meal on our first night in the City of Lights.

We arrived in Paris on Friday around 11:00 am. After checking into the Hotel de Crillion, we had a light lunch at a near by cafe. Although the waiter spoke English, and we did the American “point” to the item that we wanted on the menu, our order arrived completely wrong. Oh well, we were hungry and tired and ate what they brought us. We returned to the hotel to take a “small nap”, only to awake after 3 hours! Never expect to do any sight seeing on your first day, sleep is what is needed. We took the rest of the afternoon to unpack and get cleaned up. Relaxed and refreshed, we were ready to return to the Creme de la Creme of French dining.

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Tom and I at Taillevent in Paris

Taillevent Restaurant is located just off the Champs Elysees, in the shadow of the Arc De Triomphe. On our first visit, we dined in an upstairs dining room that was very intimate and elegant. This visit we were on the main floor, which was more cosmopolitan and great for people watching. We started off with a champagne toast. I love real French Champagne, It seems to have thousands more bubbles than sparkling wine. To tempt our palates, the chef, Alain Soliveres, sent out wonderful Gruyere cheese puffs. Little mouthfuls of light pastry baked with wonderful cheese. This was a delightful start. Next came the Amuse Bouch, a small demi cup of cream of artichoke soup with foie gras that was made into little crispy bites, almost like a foie gras bacon. Each bite was a small burst of flavor. Our appetites were piqued and we were ready to continue on our dining adventure.

Tom and I choose the Menu Degustation with a wine pairings. There were two different choices, and we went with the one that had foie gras for Tom. It wasn’t the traditional foie gras, but rather Creme Brulee de Foie Gras de Canard Feves de Tonka. What all that means is that the duck liver was creamed and prepared in the manner of Creme Brulee. Like it’s name sake, it had sugar and a touch of cinnamon caramelized on top and was accompanied by tart apple sticks and a small crust of bread. The texture was so smooth, and the flavor so rich, I could only eat a few bites. The taste of the Foie Gras was very much the main sensation and the caramel sweet on top served in the capacity that a baked pear or apple would with a traditional preparation. Tom not only ate all of his, but most of mine as well! We talked with the sommelier, Marco Pelletier, before dinner and he paired this dish with Cream Sherry Bodegas Lustau. This Spanish Sherry was creamy and sweet without being too syrupy.

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Creme brulee de foie gras de canard
Feves de Tonka

What came next could safely be called the favorite thing I ate in Paris and one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Epeautre du pays de Sault en risotto Cuisses de grenouille dorees. A wide riotto with the most amazing flavors, accompanied by sauteed frog legs. Oh My God! The tiny frog legs were like perfect scallops, on tooth picks, but with such a delicate flavor. No, It doesn’t taste like chicken. The meat just seemed to melt in your mouth. I get chills just thinking about it.

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Epeautre du pays de Sault en Rissotto
Cuisses de grenouille dorees

The next course was a thin crispy red snapper served on a creamy potato mixture. There was a crispy wafer on the top to add a bit of crunch. It was light in flavor and there were sauces decorating the plate that added nicely to it. Rouget-barbet poele Brandade de merlu et aioli was paired with the same wine we had for the risotto, Meursault “Les Narvaux” 1999 Domain Michelot. This is a white Burgandy that is full bodied and nutty tasting, yet very smooth on the finish. Very lovely.

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Rouget-barbet poele
Brandade de merlu et aioli

This tasting menu had a bit of a Mediterranean feel to it. This was very true of the next dish especially. Selle d’agneau princier rotie Jus u piment d’Espelette,very roughly translated is saddle of lamb with a pepper sauce. What I found it to be was lamb stuffed with red peppers in a pepper sauce with artichokes, olive tapenade and potato dumplings. I think Tom and I both agreed that this dish, although quite good, it was not our favorite. It was a very salty dish and there were hidden bites that were very fatty, and not flavorful. Tom thought the potato things were too doughy tasting, but I was ok with them. In saying that it wasn’t our favorite, I don’t mean that it was bad, just out of all the wonderful things that we ate that night, something had to come in at the bottom, and this was it. We paired it with a red Mondot de Troplong 2001 St. Emillion Grand Cru. It complimented it nicely with the rich flavors of deep currant, plum, and spices.

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Selle d’agneau princier rotie
Jus au piment d’Espelette

The dry finish of the wine went well with our cheese course. Chevre frais Tapenade et mesclum; a creamy herbed goat cheese with a olive tapenade covered cracker and some mixed greens. I enjoy goat cheese and the tart flavor that it brings. This was very nice.

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Chevre Frais
Tapenade et mesclum

On to dessert… Euf-neige aux agrumes and Fondant au chocolat et au caramel. In the martini glass was a citrus compote with meringue followed by a plate of petit fores, and topped off with a chocolate and caramel mousse fondant. We ended our incredible meal at Taillevent with a glass of Cognac Fine Champagne Taillevent, their private label cognac.

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Euf-neige aux agrumes,
Fondant au choclat et au caramel

I am so happy to be able to say that our meal did not disappoint and that the wonderful memories of our first visit were added to with such a magnifique repas. C’est bon!

November 5, 2006

Dining in Paris

Filed under: General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 11:59 am

Bonjour! I am a very spoiled woman.  Actually, I like to refer to it not as being spoiled, rather being well taken care of. My wonderful husband takes very good care of me. Three years ago, for our 15th anniversary, we went to Paris for an amazingly romantic week. It was our first visit, and let me just say, Paris doesn’t disappoint. It is everything you would imagine and more. I love to research all of our trips to make sure we get to see as many of the sights as possible, and of course, plan out our meals at the most fabulous restaurants.

Tom picked our hotel, the Hotel de Crillon. Years ago, he drew a comic book for Marvel Comics called the Coneheads, based on the SNL skit. Being that the Coneheads were “from  France”, one of the stories had them going back to Paris and they stayed at the Crillon. Tom had to draw the hotel and promised to take me there someday. He always keeps his promises.

Before we left, Tom wrote to fellow Mad artist Rick Tulka for advise on our visit. Rick and his wonderful wife Brenda had moved from New York years before and had such great suggestions. They even offered their services as our guides while we were there. Being that neither Tom of I speak the language, it was so comforting knowing that we had someone there that we could ask for help if we needed it. Rick and Brenda took us to an art exhibit featuring the work of Edouard Vuillard at the Grand Palais and than to dinner at their favorite restaurant, Chez Francoise. It was here that I had duck pate for the first time.

I have two beautiful scrapbooks filled with all of our pictures of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre- Dame, and our trip to Monet’s Garden in Giverny, and Van Gogh’s Auvers. It was such an incredible experience, I loved every second of it. And, of course, the restaurants were truly amazing. 

Here is a quick overview of some of the restaurants that we visited. We dined at Le Cafe’ Marley on our first night. It is in the courtyard of the Louvre, overlooking the pyramids. I remember a coconut shrimp soup and champagne. A perfect start. We had lunch on the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower at Altitude 95. I had French Onion Soup and French Bread. It is so much better in it’s native setting. The next night, after a day at the Louvre we ate at Maxim’s. I was so excited because the movie Gigi is one of my very favorite movies. In Gigi, set in the early 1900’s Paris, all the beautiful people dine at Maxim’s. I remember the duck and Tom had the flaming Crepes. Being the scrapbooker that I am, I took pictures of everything and the wait staff played along by bringing out a fire extinguisher to pose for their picture with the crepe. Tom is also very romantic, and he tipped the piano player to play our song and we danced while everyone whispered about us being on our honeymoon.

One of the nights we dined at our hotel at Les Ambassadeurs, so named because our hotel is next to the United States Embassy. This was the kind of restaurant were they bring your food covered on a silver platter and uncover it at the same time with a flourish. The most formal place I have ever dined. We enjoyed the tasting menu.

One night our concierge suggested a bisto near the Eifel Tower. La Fontaine De Mars was so good I had the most delicious chicken I had ever had. It was “French Country”

The dining highlight of our trip was the world famous Tallevent Restaurant. We contacted our concierge about two weeks before we arrived and by some miracle, we got a table. The Foie Gras, which Tom quickly decided was the most incredible thing he had ever eaten, was the size of a fist. This was our last night and a perfect way to end our trip.

Over the course of the week we tried so many new foods and dined at side walk cafes and the best restaurants in the city. We had Pigeon, Duck, Rabbit, and the butteriest croissants on the planet. We were invited to Rick and Brenda’s for dinner one night and it was the best time we had.

I can’t recall everything we ate , I just know there wasn’t anything that I didn’t like. Everything tastes wonderful paired with French champagne.

This year it was our 18th annivarsary and my 40th birthay. Tom surprised me with a trip to Paris for a long weekend. We leave on Thursday night and have reservations at the Taillevent for Friday night. This time I will take pictures and notes and I should have three amazing meals to write about. Adieu!

November 2, 2006

Babbo -New York City

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 9:57 pm

This year my Mother’s Day present was a trip to New York City to see three amazing authors read from their books at Radio City Music Hall. This was the such a perfect gift because it encompassed so many of my favorite things. First, New York City! I love this place and go back as often as I can find an excuse. On this trip, we brought our three youngest kids with and were able to show them so many things that make New York City one of a kind. We saw Mama Mia! on Broadway and toured the city on a double-decker bus. The highlight of the trip was to hear Stephen King, John Irving, and J K Rowling read from their creative masterpieces. John Irving has always been a favorite of mine, and he read from my favorite book, A Prayer For Owen Meany. Tom’s favorite author has always been Stephen King, and as a family, J K Rowling and Harry Potter have given so much joy to all of us. What an amazing night!

Now, being that this is a food review, I can’t ignore the incredible restaurants that New York City has to offer. I mean, if you’re lucky enough to be there, you might as well go for it. This trip, we had four nights to fill with great dinners. Before we left Minnesota, I made reservations at Tavern on the Green, and Babbo. This blog will be about Babbo.

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Victoria, Gabrielle, Tommy, and I love the food network, and Iron Chef America in particular, so it was an easy choice to visit Mario Batali’s Babbo Restorante Enoteca. We went on a Monday, when Broadway is dark, so that we didn’t have to worry about time restraints.

The kids at Babbo

The restaurant is a charming old carriage house turned into a stylish duplex in Greenwich Village. We were at the center table on the second floor, a great place to see and be seen. We were very noticeable when Tommy’s water spilled, and then again when the waiter spilled a glass, and when he finally informed us that our table was haunted, after Tom’s fork seemed to fly out of his hand! What a great story to share when we get home…great food and a poltergeist. With each incident, the wait staff moved in quickly and took care to return everything to it’s proper order. I don’t think that the other diners around us were even aware of our little mishaps.

 Babbo offers a chef’s tasting menu, but only if the whole table indulges. This was a disappointment for Tom and I, we really love to do tasting menus, but a lot of the food on the menu was so different than anything the kids had ever tried before, so we didn’t want to make the whole table do it. Instead, we ordered many different things from the very exciting menu and shared. I was so proud of my kids, they really were willing to try new things, and different tastes.

Victoria and the Octopus
Victoria shares her Octopus

For the antipasti, the kids tried Grilled Octopus with “Borlotti Marinati” and Spicy Limoncello Vinagrette. Gabrielle couldn’t get past the tentacles, but Victoria loved it and ate almost the whole plate. I had the wonderful assortment, Three Goat Cheese Truffles with Pepronata.I used all the crisps that they paired with it and then moved on to the amazing bread basket. I love goat cheese, and each of these truffles was rolled into a different herb. Simple, but so great. Tom and I had a Chianti that the server was right to recommend. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what it was, but we enjoyed it. One thing is for sure, it was Italian, for they only serve Italian wine at Babbo. Tom had the Proscutto San Daniele “Riserva” with Black Pepper “Frett’unta”. By the time I got a chance to ask if he liked it, it was gone. I think he liked it.

Tommy
Tommy

Our main courses were also varied and we all shared and changed plates with each other. I love a family that shares. I had the most wonderful thing on the menu, so I won! The Garganelli with “Funghi Trifolati”was amazing. Long, thin ribbons of perfect aldente pasta in an rich and creamy mushroom sauce. Even the kids, who don’t particularly like mushrooms were stealing bites. Tom enjoyed his Gnocchi with Braised Oxtail, at least as much as Gabrielle and Victoria left for him. Luckily Gabrielle’s Fettuccine with House-made Pancetta, Artichokes, Lemon and Hot Chilies was also to his liking. The pasta sauce was fresh and light, although a bit too salty for Gabrielle’s palate. Victoria and Tommy both had Pappardelle Bolognese. A nice, fresh tomato sauce over homemade pasta. I thought it was wonderful.

My kids are never ones to turn down dessert, and Gabrielle reminded me what she and Victoria ordered and how much they liked it. They each had an Assortment of Galati and Sorbetti. Six different flavors, Chocolate, Strawberry, Peach, Coconut, Raspberry, and Pomegranate. They let me have the coconut. Yummy! I can’t honestly remember what or if I order my own dessert. It would have been chocolate something if I had. I’m pretty obvious when it comes to ending a great meal.

Tom and Me
Tom and Me

I am so happy to be able to say that Mario and Babbo did not disappoint. It was such a wonderful addition to our great New York trip. Now that we are back, I love it when the kids tell people we dined at Babbo. Many people look at them and say, “that’s so nice”, but every once in a while, someone says “Wow, I’ve always wanted to eat at Mario’s place.” Then we share an order of smiles all the way around.

Victoria & Albert’s- Orlando, FL

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 1:17 am

OK, here we go! I felt that for my first review I should just go for it and tackle the most unbelievable meal I have ever had.

Every year Tom and I take our four kids to Walt Disney World and live on amusement park burgers and fries. Orlando was the last place that we ever expected to have a memorable food event. Thank goodness, three years ago, our wonderful friends, Barbie and Keelan Parham, knowing our penchant for fine dining, took us to Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Hotel on Disney property. In the past two years we have had such great meals in their elegant dining room. Each table has two servers, Victoria and Albert!, and a harpist to accompany the meal. We have always had the wine pairings with the menu, (the sommelier is a genius!) and together we have grown in our enjoyment of gastronomy. I believe that the first time Barbie had foie gras was at V&A’s and now she is addicted! Always an amazing event and I will break down each visit at another time. For now, I want to talk about an event 6 months in the making.

On April 19th of this year, Barbie and Keelan woke up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning and using three different phones, were the first ones to call for reservations to the hottest table in town. Victoria and Albert’s Chef table in the kitchen can be booked 6 months in advance and only one seating a night is available. They scored the table for us, and the wait was well worth it.

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A champange toast

On October 19th, we left the kids at the condo with Tom’s mom, who had joined us for this trip. At 6:00, we were shown into the kitchen of Chef de Cuisine, Scott Hunnel. We started our journey with a champagne toast with the chef. I love champagne and sparkling wines of all kinds, and the Heidsieck Monopole “Blue Top” Brut Champagne was a delightful start.

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Chef Scott Hunnel

What followed was a 9 course tasting menu and wine pairings that never let up or disappointed.

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The Amuse Bouche

The Amuse Bouche, that at any other dining experience is a small bite to tempt the palate, was many small bites that tempted our imaginations. Blue Fin Tuna on a Salt Plate with Ohio Tomatoes, Smoked Salmon Roulade and Deviled Quail Egg with Iranian Osetra Caviar, and A Vanilla Skewered Crab Sphere. This array of treats was perfectly paired with the Champagne. Each was a perfect bite of the finest ingredients.

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The first course

The first course was duck prepared two different ways. We enjoyed Long Island Duck with Tuscan Melon, Grains of Paradise and Minus Eight Vinegar. The thin slices of duck where paired with crisp melon and rye crisps. The second preparation was like a duck panceta assembled over micogreens. This course was paired with Von Buhl Maria Schneider “Jazz” Riesling, Pfalz 2005.

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Tempura Crab

For the second course, they divided up the ladies from the gentlemen. Barbie and I had Tempura Crab Stuffed Squash Blossom with Violette Moustarde. This was not a tiny bite, but rather a very large portion of a tempura crab cake with tempura vegetables. We paired this with Chateau Sancerre, Loire 2004. I was already very full, but couldn’t wait for the next round.

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So good! John Dory fish

Tom and Keelan enjoyed a wonderful piece of fish with asparagus in an amazing sauce. I am lucky to be married to a man who knows how to share. I enjoyed his selection even more than mine. Their John Dory “Amandine” with Green and White Asparagus, Beurre Noisette was paired with Prosper Maufoux Vire-Clesse Chardonnay, Macon 2005.

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The girl’s quail

The third course was again split between the sexes. Barbie and I had quail done two different ways. The delicate leg was baked into a puff pastry and the tender slices of quail breast were arranged on turnip kraut. A fig jam was a lovely accompaniment. Our Quail with Black Fig Jam and Turnip Kraut was paired with a wonderful and light Morgan “Twelve Clones” Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands 2004.

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The boy’s mushroom heaven

The guys had what was my favorite taste of the night. Colorado Lamb with Wild Mushroom Ragout, Porcini Pasta and Truffle Foam, was amazing. I love anything that combines pasta and mushrooms, but this was heavenly. Tom, who is not a mushroom fan, was reluctant to share, but because he loves me, saved me an extra bite of the pasta. The truffle foam was in an egg and this amazing custard with truffles on top. Oh, and the lamb was perfect. Paired with LA Baronne Rougr “Montagne d’ Alaric”, Corbieres 2002, this was most assuredly my favorite taste of the evening.

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Chef Scott’s pork, pork, pork

Boys and girls were back on the same plate when our wonderful wait staff brought out the fourth course and Chef Scott introduced what he called pork, pork, and more pork. The plate was dressed with a wonderful, fresh corn cake with whole kernels, pork belly in a delicious sweet sauce and three slices of pork tenderloin. Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin and Belly with Florida Corn and Cipollini Onions was matched with Perea Cruz Reserva Carmenere, Maipo Valley 2002, a wonderful big red from Chili.

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Foie Gras

Next came what Tom and Barbie had been waiting for. The fifth course was Pan Roasted Foie Gras and Fuji Apple Tart with Mostarda di Cremona, perfectly accompanied by Royal Tokaji Azsu 5 Puttonyos, Mad Tokaj-Hegyalja 2000. On the food network’s Iron Chef America, I heard the term food-gasim used to try to describe the sheer joy brought on by the perfect bite of food. Tom and Barbie reached this simultaneously as they took their first bite. The foie gras was done to perfection and balanced with the sweetness of the apples in the tart. Being that I love my husband, I saved my last bite for him to savor. The wine, from Hungary, was a perfectly sweet dessert wine, and a natural pairing to the delicacy.

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Kobe Beef

By now, on to the sixth course, we were truly reaching the limit of what a human could consume. Unlike most tasting menus, where you get one perfect taste of each item, we were rewarded with full servings of these masterpieces. Seared Australian “Kobe” Beef Tenderloin with Short Ribs was all that you would think of when you here about world famous Kobe Beef. The slices were perfectly rare on a red wine reduction and the short ribs were placed on creamy potatoes. This was served with a big, bold Chateau Cantermle, Haut Medoc 2000 from France. So Smooth!

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The cheese, please

Are we done yet? No! Onto the cheese course. Five cheeses to sample including Comte Saint Antoine, Roomano, a Baked Min Pear with Gorgonzola, and a Fog Lights Blue. They were accompanied by figs, nuts, and even Tupelo Honey. I think this is the point that I lost feeling in my legs.

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The first dessert course

The first of two dessert courses had a trio of chocolate. All are signature Victoria and Albert’s desserts in miniature versions. Miniature Chocolate Pyramid, Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Soufflé, and Orange Chocolate Napoleon. Unfortunately, there was no wine pairing with the cheese and dessert courses, and we didn’t know to save some from the last course. A sweet dessert wine would have been the perfect way to cap off the meal.

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Tom prepares to dig in to the Creme Brulee

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The banana gateau

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Grand Marnier Soufflé

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Keelan’s dessert

At the end of our adventure came a full sized dessert serving. We each had our own, and no one could come close to finishing. Tom and the perfect Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, which he immediately trades with me for a Caramelized Banana Gateau, because I am not a fan of Bananas. Erich Herbitschek is the pastry chef that mad all of the wonderful sweets the ended our evening. Barbie and Keelan shared a Grand Marnier Soufflé, and a poached pear stuffed with ice cream and a meringue cookie of some sort. I was too full to even try them.

At the end of the meal, the ladies are always presented with a perfect, long stemmed red rose, and your menu is beautifully printed out for you to keep. As we left the cozy nook of Victoria and Albert’s kitchen, we knew that we had experienced a truly once in a lifetime event. I would recommend that a cab be taken home, not just because of the wine pairing, but also due to the food induced coma that one tends to fall into after 3 hours of eating amazing course after amazing course. I think I can speak for all of us when I say this is a meal we will never forget.

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Our dining partners, Keelan and Barbie Parham!

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