When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

17 January 2006

Memories of past repasts

Over at Pencil Roving, Carrie daydreams about a beautiful meal we ate a couple of summers ago at Babbo, in the context of pointing her readers to some useful tips about how to be treated well in restaurants: How to eat out like a pro.

I thought that it might be amusing to retrieve, through the magic of the Internets, the review I posted of the Summer 2004 Babbo tasting menu at the Chowhound site. (I Googled "Babbo Chowhound enrevanche" and it was, unsurprisingly, the first hit.)

Subject: Late-summer tasting menu at Babbo (long)
Name: enrevanche
Posted: September 06, 2004 at 12:57:19


We did the traditional tasting menu, with wine pairings. It was a three-hour extravaganza, and at roughly $150 per person (tax and tip included) worth every penny.

I took careful notes for y'all. :-)

Seven courses, seven wines. A salad, two pastas, a meat, a cheese course and two desserts. Needless to say, we rolled ourselves home and are nursing a mild hangover this morning. Je ne regrette rien.

First course: Citrus-cured King Salmon with Shaved Fennel and Horseradish (wine: Roero Arneis "San Michele," Deltetto 2002)

This was a beautiful, thin-sliced piece of salmon, very bright and lemony flavor, served with what amounted to fennel cole-slaw, which was very refreshing. There were tiny slivers of fresh horseradish on the salmon, which added interesting flavor notes without being overpowering.

The wine was a crisp, dry white with definite citrusy overtones, matching the cold salmon nicely.

Second course: Pappardelle with Chanterelles and Thyme (wine: Valtellina Superiore Inferno "Mazer," Nino Negri 2001)

A plate of gorgeous, perfectly cooked broad ribbon pasta, with meaty chanterelle mushrooms and fresh thyme. A lavish coating of creamy butter and a few generous gratings of pecorino romano to finish the dish.

The wine was a big, spicy red.

Third course: Duck Tortelli with "Sugo Finto" (wine: Salento Rosso "Armecolo," Castel di Salve 2003)

Three big tortellis stuffed with duck meat, dressed with "sugo finto," a tomato sauce cooked with pancetta, imparting a delightful smoky flavor.

The wine was a young, fresh and bright flavorful red.

Fourth course: Barbecued Lamb Loin with "Caviale di Melanzane" (wine: Brunello di Montalcino, Visconti 1998)

Okay, this dish was so good it almost killed us. Five slices of fork- tender rare grilled lamb, on a bed of "eggplant caviar" and cherry tomatoes. At this point I wanted to cancel the tasting menu and order the kitchen to just bring me a big platter of this. The lamb... the lamb... I think they marinated it in liquid cocaine. Oh my god. One of those dishes that goes straight to the pleasure center of the brain.

The wine: another lovely red, but more subtle and nuanced and kind of tannic; beautiful with rare grilled meat.

Cheese course: Coach Farms' goat cheese with Fennel Honey (wine: Franciacorta Brut, Contadi Castaldi NV)

Proof that sometimes the simplest dishes are best. This was just a nice wedge of creamy goat cheese, drizzed with raw honey which had been infused with fennel seeds, served with a couple of little crostini.

The wine was dry, white, sparkling and delicate, and cut right through the stickiness/gooiness of the cheese and fennel honey.

I am going to make a small dish of fennel honey this very afternoon. Wow, what a flavor combo.

First dessert: Cannoli with Vanilla Yogurt and Fresh Raspberries (wine: Brachetto d'Acqui, Braida 2003)

Just your basic little cannoli, cunningly filled with whipped vanilla yogurt rather than sweetened ricotta, and fresh raspberries.

The wine was a sweet, fruity, sparkling red, with heavy berry overtones, almost a raspberry soda. It was practically a dessert in itself.

Second dessert: Sampler platter - chocolate hazelnut cake, panna cotta, assorted gelato (wine: Graham's 10-year-old Tawny Porto)

Beautiful, rich, moist, dense chocolate cake; custardy pannacotta, lovely gelatos. My wife doesn't like port very much (I love it, but she finds it "medicinal") but pronounced this particular glass of port just fine.

A good time was had by all. Whew.
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