Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Musings ...

It was another whirl-wind weekend in Diva land ... and none of it was spent in my kitchen.

On Friday night we took in a magnificent performance of Terry Riley's "In C" at Carnegie Hall. Written in 1964, "In C" is one of the most influential and interesting pieces of modern classical music ever written. I lack the expertise to properly offer tribute to it here, but I can tell you it was one of the greatest musical performances I've ever seen.

Saturday night, we once again had the pleasure of dining at eighty one, a local modern American restaurant who's kitchen is commanded by Chef Ed Brown. Eighty One was recently awarded a Michelin Star and it is well deserved. The seasonal menu celebrates the best of both locally grown and global ingredients, from small, artisinal farms and fisheries, etc.

Sadly, the Diva was dining sans camera that night ... we were hosting one of the husband's clients and while I was dying to blog the meal ... well, it might have seemed odd. So ... no pictures. Boo. Next time - and there will be a next time. Unlike last weekend's dining disappointments, this meal was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

While eighty one is known for their attention to seafood ... I am not. I began the meal with the most luscious early pea and ramp risotto. It was spectacular. Seductive, creamy, redolent with the subtle oniony flavor of fresh ramps and bursting with crisp-tender peas, it was so good I had to stop myself from licking the plate. Needless to say, I chose the slow-roasted chicken as my second course and, happily, it came a top a bed of perfectly cooked chickpeas and wilted greens that had been cleverly spiked with a hint of harissa. Wow. The spicy harissa was a brilliant and altogether welcome addition - turning what could have been an ordinary dish into something quite extraordinary.

My dining companions did indeed sample the seafood wares and I'm told the dishes were magnificent. The husband began the meal with tuna carpacchio , garnished with a delicate little nicoise salad that included a gorgeous quail egg. The plate was a thing of beauty. He followed with the golden snapper, garnished with morels, gnocchi and ice spinach ... whatever that is?! He, too, almost licked the plate.

Desserts at eighty one are not to be missed. I still remember the sweet corn ice cream I had there at the end of last summer - and my bittersweet chocolate mousse on Saturday night was equally memorable. It arrived paired with a caramel cashew pot de creme that was topped with dark chocolate sorbet. A more stunning combination I cannot imagine. The flavors were so delicate, so perfectly balanced, and the texture so light and creamy, it was like nothing I've ever tasted. I would order this again and again, were it not for the fact that eighty one's menu changes often. I should probably book another table now before this amazing dessert disappears.

If you find yourself on the upper west side of Manhattan and desirous of an exquisite meal in a beautifully appointed setting, I highly recommend a visit to eighty one. It is an extraordinary restaurant.

So there you have a brief, sadly picture-less, re-cap of my weekend. Lovely indeed, yet utterly devoid of my own culinary creations. Happily, I'm about to remedy that this very minute. Away to the kitchen I must flee ... so I'll have something to post tomorrow! ;)

On the menu this week: savory chicken burgers and an exploration of Mark Bittman's curried cauliflower flat bread. Stay tuned!

So, what did you eat this weekend? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetit!


Tangled Noodle said...

Thanks for the dinner review! I hope we will find ourselves in NYC to try eighty-one ourselves (but promise that you'll take pix on your next visit).

Nothing terribly exciting this weekend, meal-wise: I was studying for an exam (took it this morning) so I wasn't very motivated to cook. Mainly leftovers and some BLTs - poor Mr. Noodle. I'll have to make it up to him. Can't wait to see your new creations!

Tracy said...

You are one busy lady, Diva! Sounds like a good weekend though. I didn't do much cooking this weekend either. Saturday my husband and I had lunch at Mee Noodle Shop on 9th Ave and 53rd St with some friends from Philly then for dinner we went to our favorite Halal cart at 53rd St and 6th Ave. We stood in line for 45 minutes but it was worth it. Sunday, my husband made brunch and I made a simple dinner of quesadillas. Ole!

Anonymous said...

Woooow. My mouth is dropped. Sweet Corn ice cream? I never would have thought that sounds good, but I'm sure it does since you recommend it. Now I want to try it!! :) I wish I lived closer to this restaurant. It sounds incredible! :)

My weekend was spent painting my tail off... I always have a hard time finding the right skin tone. Haha... Ok, that was dumb.

pixelgal said...

In a word, leftovers! And some chicken prepared by a deli and baked by me which wasn't half bad but too salty. Oh, and some good ol' burgers on the grill for that hot day we had complete with the unofficial opening of the potato salad season. All in all much more pedestrian fare than my Diva. Diva Bro was at El Faro in NYC on Sunday you may have heard for their ever wonderful paella and as usual it didn't disappoint.
Glad you had a fun weekend.

Anonymous said...

Your dinner at eighty-one sounds good especially those desserts!

The Wino said...

After reading about your dinner, I forgot what I ate this weekend...So sad that you will have to go back and take pictures!;-) Oh now I remember, I had some pork loin that was cooked in Maple syrup and cheesy grits on the side...New restaurant, I will blog it eventually!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tangled Noodle - I hope you find yourself in NYC too ... if so, let me know! Does Mr. Noodle cook?

Tracy - wow, you ate well this weekend too! I'm amazed to hear of the line for the Halal cart ... must be very good.

Kimizzy - the corn ice cream was insanely good. It was served along side some kind of blueberry crisp and the combo was heavenly! So excited about your painting!

Pixelgal - I guess the crazy weather called for relaxing Papa Diva's strict potato salad rules, huh? LOL Did not know that Bro was in NYC but glad to hear the meal was a winner. I made burger too ... you'll see them tomorrow. :)

5 Star - I thought about you while writing this up ... I think you'd really enjoy 81. :)

The Wino - OMG, I have been craving good grits in the worst way! So much better that they were cheese grits. Yum! Can't wait to read about it. Yay.

stephchows said...

Sounds like an amazing meal!! I've totally busted out with a camera while eating and gotten weird looks lol. We need to get a stealth low light camera for situations like this :D

words...words...words... said...

Wow, that sounds like a great meal!

I feel the urge to immediately set about duplicating sweet corn ice cream. I feel like it could be the centerpiece of a spectacular Mexican dessert, maybe with some bunuelos and a dash of chocolate.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Steph - you're right, a good low-light camera would be awesome. I was recently asked to stop taking pictures in one restaurant ... have been a bit gun-shy ever since. :(

words words words - OMG, you must, *must* make the sweet corn ice cream to go with bunuelos! What a fabulous idea! If you do ... I'm going to need more than a seven word post about it too. LOL ;)

deb said...

Ah my weekend food pales in comparison to yours but I did have a wonderful tuna steak in a brandy cream sauce - it was very fresh and very good. Sunday was good ole southern barbecue - we had out of town visitors and went there.