Friday, August 8, 2014

Surprise! Will You Still Feed Me . . . ?

The evening before my 64th birthday, I innocently arrived at Aldea, one of our favorite New York restaurants, to meet another couple for dinner. But J had a surprise in store for me: four couples of our dearest friends arrayed around a table adjacent to the restaurant's open kitchen. Sharing a wonderful eight-course tasting menu with really close friends -- well, it doesn't really get better than this.

Here's the menu, including the wine pairings that accompanied each course.

Special birthday menu
I am not yet able to drink alcohol so a special non-alcoholic beverage was paired with each course just for me. Some of these were quite sensational.

Non-alcoholic drinks
In addition to the excellent food, the hospitality we received was noteworthy. We were permitted to mingle with the chef and staff in the open kitchen, an opportunity too good to pass up.

Bobby Jay in the kitchen
Here are some highlights from the meal.

Soft egg with bacalhau, black olive, potato
Cucumber and wild strawberry salad, cucumber juice, smoked sardines, yogurt
Foie gras with port-poached and pickled cherries
Wild striped bass, bok choy, caperberries, smoked trout roe, corn nage
Duck breast, grilled wax beans, peaches, cherries
The food didn't just look good. It was carefully constructed with very subtle accents created by adding tiny amounts of interesting flavor "bombs," like house-smoked sardines and trout roe and lemon thyme. And the pickled cherries, which turned up twice, with the foie gras and the duck breast: sublime. The menu was well-balanced, with perfect portion sizes, and not too heavy; we were all sated but without feeling that we had overdone it.

Even on a normal night, Aldea is an excellent restaurant, with innovative Portuguese-inspired food served in a refined but unpretentious atmosphere. But on my birthday night it was truly special!

Bobby Jay

1 comment:

Amanda said...

What a fabulous restaurant and truly amazing food! Happy birthday!