Archive for September, 2012

Bouley Affair

Sorry guys, but we women tend to take mental comparative notes in every aspect in relation to our true love. I wish I had met you first David Bouley because you are exquisite, but I went into this dining experience unable to put Le Bernardin (LB) out of my mind as the benchmark. There is nothing negative to say about Bouley, but with Eric Ripert leading the race, Bouley came in with a photo-finish second place. Perhaps I just wouldn’t allow my labeling of LB as near-perfect to be challenged.The scent of fresh apples in the foyer of Bouley awakened my culinary senses and prepared the eyes, nose and mouth for the journey. The lounge, although nobody in it, drew in and roused my sight with a large orchid painted on the side wall and fresh orchids along the windows on the opposing wall. It’s like the snooze alarm. Now I understand. First, the smell, then the sight; it was all building up to taste, wasn’t it? The dining room felt like home – not my home, but some rich, French lady’s home. It still earned a tenth of a bonus point in the Bouley column under ambiance versus LB.

While waiting for our appetizers, the waiter presented two dishes from the chef: a tomato infusion with a dollop of ricotta at center and truffles; and an amuse bouche. He stood there holding the first bowl looking at me and said, “Your napkin.” My quiet voice spoke to me as I had an instant recollection of the French waiter at LB gracefully placing the napkin from the plate onto my lap. Food snobbish self (and one is allowed to be so at these prices) said to self: “He wants me to move my own f%*$ napkin? Aren’t I supposed to feel like a princess?” Mental pen to paper scribbled a minus tenth of a point in the service column. The house-made bread warden arrived with a cart that appeared to have imprisoned loaves of bread. We sampled five of the eight variations available.

Tomato infusion with ricotta and truffle


Forager’s Treasure of Wild Mushrooms, Sweet Garlic, Special Spices, Grilled Toro, Black Truffle Dressing

North Carolina Pink Shrimp & Cape Cod Sea Scallops, Alaska Live Dungeness Crab, Point Judith Calamari, Ocean Herbal Broth

Oh but as you can see by the photos, dish after dish racked up many tasteful points, and each one was absorbed into my digestive system from lips to stomach as slowly as humanly possible. Like the fine French art with the velvet frames on the walls, I wanted to appreciate and savor every morsel.
To do so, a ten-minute break was required before dessert so I could allow the food to somehow flatten and make room in my belly for a few more bites. A trip to the ladies room was mainly for observation: this restroom was like a royal master bedroom. I wanted to party inside the maroon-velvet walls.

“What do you recommend for dessert? They all sound good.” Waiter: “I like the chocolate soufflé and the pear tart. The rest I don’t like at all.” Yes, it came out of my mouth…”You’re not supposed to say that!” For a moment, I forgot I wasn’t Mrs. Bouley or the manager, so I followed it with laughter. The pre-dessert of blueberry sorbet challenged the little remaining space I had left, and the post-dessert of mini cookies was sadly neglected for lack of stomach space. There was barely room for the actual dessert, but I survived happily full. Upon exiting, we were handed a white bag from the hostess with “a lemon pound cake made in house”. I couldn’t think of anything that resembled food at that moment, and it seemed so inferior to everything we just ate, that I offered an insincere thank you that she probably didn’t detect. I’m usually much more appreciative, but tonight I was an epicurean princess and was pressed in my head to declare a winner over last year’s anniversary dinner at LB. My heart still belongs to Eric, but I would rendezvous with David any time.