Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

In which we’re kind of a big deal.

Posted: May 10th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 13 Comments »

Yesterday was my birthday. Jesse took me out to a restaurant that I’d wanted to go to for almost 6 months. It was worth the wait. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Thursday night, I made a Hot Brunette sandwich — a riff on a Kentucky Hot Brown. If any of you are from Kentucky, I fully admit that this is not a Hot Brown. Hence, the “Hot Brunette”. You will be able to order this at Two Chairs from open to close, once we get Two Chairs open.

The basic Hot Brown is toast, with sliced turkey and bechamel. You put that under the broiler until the bechamel (which has shredded parm in it) gets all browned and speckly. Then, you top the sandwich with two slices of bacon.

I decided to take this a few steps further. I started the same way, toast and turkey, and I added some sliced Heirloom (Uglyripe, for those keeping score) tomato. Then, the bechamel, and under the broiler. While they broiled, I poached 2 eggs. However, our broiler was being finicky, and I couldn’t get them to the desired level of brown-ness before the broiler shut down each time.
Anyways. Once they came out, I topped them with the poached egg, bacon and some more bechamel.

Loooook….. Preeeeety!!!

They were pretty damn good. Especially with a Brooklyn Brown beer. Yum.

Last night, Jesse took me to Butter for my birthday. I’ve wanted to go to this restaurant since I saw the head chef, Alexandra Guarnaschelli, on Iron Chef. She’s sick. She’s also an excellent judge on Iron Chef. Originally, I didn’t know that we were going there — I thought we were going to Republic, a favorite low-price restaurant of ours, and that we’d go to Butter later on sometime, when we both had a little more flow. But, Jesse decided to throw caution to the winds, and took me there.

The food was amazing. I’m not sure I can give you details of everything, because I’d like to savor the memories for as long as possible. After our expertly trained waitress helped us pick our dinners, and while we waited for our starter, we received two pieces of bread each (one cornbread, and an artisinal loaf), along with two pats of gorgeous butter. Trust me, this was a thing of beauty. No wonder they named the restaurant after it.
While eating those, a runner came by with a mushroom croquette (compliments of the chef for every table) — I’m guessing either she was trying out a new appetizer, or she was just feeling feisty and had to use up her mushroom supply. Either way — this was basically a religious experience. I dont’ know what was in there, and I’m not sure I’d even want to find out, although basically, it was a falafel with a base of mushroom instead of chickpea. Sick. SO good.
Then, our deep-fried soft-shell crabs arrived. They were also amazing, and I think there was a tempura batter involved. So delicious — I can’t believe we ordered them, frankly.

Our meals were exquisite — I had roasted duck breast with caramelized cippolini onions and a rhubarb sauce. It was amazing, and I learned that medium rare is the way to eat duck. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Jesse had roasted monkfish, with mushrooms, clams, and apples. It was also beautiful. We also split a side order of macaroni and cheese, in the spirit of research of course. It was transcendent. Lots of parmesan in the sauce. I got one perfect bite at the end, which had the crumbs, some crispy cheese, and a delicious bite of the sauce. It was perfect. She uses elbows — I use farfalle. Next time, I’ll try elbows and parm maybe.

After we surrendered to our meals (he ate all of his, I had a valiant go of mine but didn’t quite manage it.), the dessert menu came out. The waitress told me that since it was my birthday, I had to have dessert. I was sunk the second I saw the first item on the menu — raspberry beignets.

I’m a sucker for anything deep-fried, and while I detest donuts, I’ll walk over hot coals for a fresh, warm beignet or zeppole. I also ordered a french press of coffee, for $3.50. It was funny, Jesse mentioned something last Sunday which rang true I guess last night — he and I pay 3 times as much for a pound of coffee as we do for a bottle of wine. I guess that might be why last night, instead of ordering a bottle of wine, we got cocktails – which ended up being more expensive than a bottle of wine would have been. And my coffee was much less than a bottle of wine – yet somehow considering that we pay 4 dollars a bottle for wine and 12 dollars a pound for coffee, a 3.50 french press (2 and a half cups of coffee) was a way better deal in our minds than a bottle of wine. Crazy, right? When the french press arrived, I assumed that the waiter would just put it down and let me do wht I wanted with it — which is the way I like it, because I find pressing a french press to be very zen. And as every good barista knows, you bruise the coffee if you press it too fast. But this guy just jammed the french press down for me, and I swear to you, I grimmaced. I almost passed out. It was DISTRESSING. But, I managed — and decided that all the sugar at Two Chairs will be in cubes, and we will only have ONE choice of sweetener for those who are diabetic. None of this Splenda/Equal/Sweet & Low crap. ONE. You can’t eat my cooking and then put Sweet & Low in your coffee. It doesn’t work.

Anyways. The beignets were insane — the best part of a jelly doughnut, only better, and there was this vanilla cream dipping sauce that was just…. I wanted to keep eating it with a spoon. But I was so full, I had to pass up Jesse’s offer of something chocolatey from Max Brenner to end the night, which was a real shame.
The check came with two chocolates — dark chocolate with a salted butter rum caramel center. Insane. So good I looked on the website later and found you could order boxes of 12 of them. This is bad news.

Anyways, that was my amazing birthday dinner which my wonderful amazing boyfriend engineered for me. I’m not sure I’ll be able to top this for his birthday, and I’ve already seared him tuna steaks and made him steak au poivre…. what next?!

Tonight, hopefully, after I get home I’m going to try falafel again. We’ll see, and as always, I’ll keep you posted.


13 Comments on “In which we’re kind of a big deal.”

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