Finally! After eons and eons of having nothing interesting to report, I have dined well! I'm officially sending out the word: Scott Pampuch, would you like to be my new best friend? My dinner on Friday was a culinary treat. Firstly, because I have never ordered the prix fixe menu. I can never afford it! $67? I don't even own any shoes that expensive! But dinner at Corner Table, with the chef's choice four course menu is $45. I can so totally live with that. Well, barely, but this was a treat. Still, I probably would have opted for the chipper cheap chicken option if I hadn't been dining with my foodie friends, Eric and Stacy.
Our adorable waitress, in the cutest, green Gap cardigan took our request, asked if we had any dietary concerns and we were off. First, they asked if we wouldn't mind a little white wine with the first course, although we were just polishing off a bottle of Zinfandel. Oh, twist my arm! They brought us each a flute of sparkling white with a crushed, fresh strawberry in the bottom of the glass. This was followed by an amuse served in a little Chinese style spoon. The chef had finely diced fresh, green apples and topped them with a little bit of dried currant. Drizzled off to the side was a 12 year aged balsamic. I love balsamic vinegar. My cousin Duffy is an accomplished chef in Palm Springs, California. Once he gave me a taste of a hundred year balsamic. It was amazing. Better than any aged wine that I've ever tasted... Not that I've had a lot of contact with the really great, expensive wines of the world. Mine are usually in the $10-15 bottle range. We've yet to acquire a sommelier in the family.
following the amuse, we were served a palette cleanser of raspberry sorbet, topped with plump, fresh raspberries and a sprig of pristine mint. Accompanied by the wine, it was like a lively little summer patio party on my tongue.
The appetizer course was seared scallop wontons served three ways. We each were given two wontons, so we were all able to share and taste each others dish. Mine was served in an orange, curry sauce, not overtly hot, but lots of layers of spice flavor. On the side was more diced green apple (at this point I'm realizing that apples must be the fresh flavor of choice in the kitchen. I got the feeling, he was long on apples back there. But they were tasty.) Eric's were served in a creme fraiche sauce with a side of arugala and Stacy's had some kind of yellow-y sauce. I missed what the waitress had said, served with a side of bacon. I could write sonnets about my love of bacon, but I think Eric's dish was the best of the three. I was mopping up the end of his sauce, when the waitress took his plate away. That's probably for the best. I was seconds away from picking it up and licking it clean. Which would have mortified my dining companions.... It would have been worth it, though.
The next appetizer was a plate with duck confit on crostini, three cheese, more drizzeling of the balsamic and a nice olive oil. On the side was a salad of mixed greens. The three of us marveled at the salad. How was it so perfectly dressed? It tasted like a simple vinaigrette, but every single leaf was coated to perfection. And it was a perfect accompaniment to the confit, which was so rich. And so good. Finally I get the duck thing. It seems that every other time I've had duck it's too oily, or too dry and kind of gross. I had thought that I just didn't like duck. Now, I realize that prepared properly it is a culinary wonderment. There was a hint of white truffle oil in every bite. Heavenly. The cheeses were a semi firm sheep's milk with a rosemary rind, some kind of blue that our server couldn't remember the name of (must have been the end of a batch, because all we got was rind. Which was gross and the only sour note of the entire meal.) And a couple of pieces of Parmesan Reggiano.
At this point, we were counting courses and asking ourselves, next is the entree, right? I couldn't believe how much food we were getting. And all of the attention that was going in to every bite (expect the rind of the bad, blue cheese.) Our entrees were roast pork loin with three different side dishes. Eric received roasted, root vegetables and shallots. Stacy had rissotto and I had homemade fettucini dressed with just a touch of truffle oil and grated Parmesan. I loved my noodles. LOVED. And kind of pitied Eric for his little pile of healthy things, until he said he liked mine the least of the three. What? Was he nuts? So, to hell with him and his shallots. It was clear, however, that Stacy's rissotto was one for the history books. Hands down the best rissotto the three of us had ever eaten. We sent the waitress back to the kitchen three times, trying to discern what that little extra oompf of flavor was. The chef insisted that it was simply the house made vegetable stock and that was all. I'm convinced he must use some kind of fancy salt in this stock, but it seemed like it was time to stop harassing the poor waitress. The creamy rice just bloomed on the tongue. Incredible.
Dessert came in three different forms of my old friend, the green apple. I received a whole apple simply grilled and then served with two tiny scoops of malted ice cream. It was so simple and elegant and delicious. I have some sort of blocked out memory of Eric's dessert. I've asked him twice to remind me what he got and I keep forgetting. I'm sure it was very nice, though. Stacy's was again, the winner. They had taken bread and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar, grilled it and then pressed the two sticky sides together. It was topped with diced apple and a rich, creamy sauce. It was so good. I'm not a huge dessert person, but I continued to sneak bites of hers while she wasn't paying attention.
When all was said and done, our dinner had lasted three wonderful hours. Not only did we have the excitement with each dish, wondering what next would appear from the kitchen, but the pace was perfect. Between each course we were able to relax and chat. It was a great night out. As we reluctantly left our seats and put on our jackets, I saw that Stacy had a vaguely confused look on her face. I turned my head to see what she was looking at and saw one of the chef's. I'm smiled looked at her again, and we walked outside. It was only then that she realized, the kitchen staff had been waiving at her. And she looked at them like they were nuts. Way to go, Stacy! We had a good thing going and then you had to look at the artistic creator of our wondrous meal like he had a third ear growing out of his forehead!
But, at least she still gave me a ride home after the teasing I gave her. Riding with Eric was a little more adventure than I could handle. I can't wait to go back to Corner Table. That's the sort of adventure that I'm geared towards.