My Dream Progressive Meal

This week hasn’t been a great eating one. I have been working, eating crappy takeout, and sleeping off midday Christmas booze.\

This weekend will likely be more of the same.

BUT…if I were going to have one blowout meal today…one super fabulous meal, from start to finish, each with a favorite dish from an NYC restaurant…this is the one that I would choose:

Cocktail:

Tomato and basil from Slightly Oliver

 This drink, with basil infused gin, tomato water, Reduction of tangerine and lime, and habanero bitters is vegetal and crisp – ideal for whetting the appetite for the meal to come. Light, herbal, with a slight kick from the bitters and a note of sweetness from the tangerine, it is like a subtle Bloody Mary – the best one I have had in NYC. If you like Bloody Marys, get this. 

Bread Basket:

Here is a shot of the BEST thing in the assorted bread basket: The mozzarella, salami and basil filled stromboli. Zesty, meaty, garlicky salami collided with soft and stretchy tufts of bread and creamy mozzarella. Dipping that bread in the accompanying tangy caponata could be an entire meal.

Soup:

 Oyster Pan Roast with Uni Crostini from The John Dory
Cream. The alcoholic tang of sherry. Sweet butter. Plump oysters, just warmed through, their natural sugars caramelizing on the outside, contrasting with the salty, oceanic juices that flowed freely when they were bit. Thin as a soup but richer than a stew – no vegetables or flour to get in the way. Just the lush cream, the biting sherry and those deep, briny ousters. The crispy crostini was generously layered with fillets of sweet and salty uni, redolent of the sea and with an iron-y taste not unlike liver. Crisp bread, creamy uni, and rich stew…truly the ideal soup.

Salad:

 Sugarsnap Pea Salad with Parmesan Dressing and Herbs from ABC Kitchen
This salad is unexpected on every level. Crunchy, slightly bitter endive matched perfectly with the peas that were-true to their name-sugary sweet. Licorice-y chervil adds another layer of the flavor with the light vinaigrette that is surprisingly pungent. Not salty, but with a punchy and almost meaty flavor. It adds depth and rounds out this light and vibrant salad.
Fish:
 Piri-Piri Shrimp with Avocado, Jicama and Myer Lemon Vinaigrette from Junoon
These plump, moist shrimp are coated in a fiery, tart, sweet sauce that was so addictive, I would bet my life that there is crack cocaine in there. The flavors were well balanced – burning first at the front of my lips, then a bit sweet on the tongue, then a clear high note that had to be vinegar…I won’t pretend to know how this was made. I will just tell you that if you have any inclination towards powerful, high octane food, this is a must get.
Meat:

Original DB Burger – Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short RibsFoie Gras and Black Truffle, Served on a Parmesan Bun with  Pommes Soufflées at DB Bistro

I had my doubts about this burger. How could a burger this overloaded with ingredients retain its integrity as a burger? Furthermore, how could a burger with this many tastes manage to respect all of its fine ingredients. This was going to be a disaster, I was sure of it.

I was so, so wrong.

The first thing I said when I tasted this was “I felt like I have never eaten beef before.” This was SO beefy, with its double hit of medium rare ground sirloin, rosy and robust in taste with the tender shortribs. The short ribs were not stringy or gamy, but cooked until the flavor was mellow and deep against the vibrant ground beef. The bun was soft and squishy, but did not deteriorate from the copious meaty juices. The taste of truffle was delicate but ever-present, savory and heady next to the sweet madeira in the short ribs. The piece de resistance was, of course, the sizable disc of foie gras, melting and rich. It swam in my mouth, almost dancing, the sweet, buttery component of the dish. I still don’t know how these ingredients all worked so well together – even describing it seems like overload – but the taste is one that I will never forget.

Cheese:

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Cheese plate from Asiate

And a rather mammoth one, at that! This dessert easily feeds 2 people as a light meal and comes loaded with hard, soft, stinky, delicate, gooey, and tangy cheeses. Add to that the excellent house baked raisin nut bread, some salted nuts, and a whole orchard of fruit and..well…

You’re in business.

Dessert:

Caramelized banana ice cream tower with hazelnut shell and toasted marshmallow sauce from Blue Water Grill

This makes bananas foster look like Laffy Taffy. That’s how divine and purely banana-y this ice cream tastes. It tastes clean and almost floral with soft bananas interspersed in the airy ice cream. It is drizzled with bittersweet chocolate sauce and crowned with sticky, sweet marshmallow cream. Possibly the most delicious part of the dessert is its fragile hazelnut tower. Crisp, sugary, and buttery, tasting like a gigantic Florentine cookie. This dessert might have made my dad stab my sister with a fork for the last bite.