Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dinner With Daniel Boulud

When Chef Daniel Boulud calls to say that he's going to be in town and invites one to dinner one would be a fool not to accept.  A top chef in the world with the James Beard and Michelin cred to prove it, we could not resist. So, we made our way to Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston's Back Bay.

We began an evening of elegant, flavorful dining with amuse bouche.  Fresh shrimp in peas. Exquisite cheese in flaky puff pastry.  Such a tease.

Our initial dish consisted of First Of The Season Green Asparagus, Crispy Hen Egg, Pickled Ramps and Baby Lettuce With Dijon Egg Dressing.  As I've written a thousand times before, quality is in the details.  That perfectly runny egg in a crispy shell, the tender yet crunchy asparagus, the hints of flavor all perfectly prepared. This was paired with an excellent Hirsch Gruner Veltliner.

Herb Ricotta Ravioli With Porcini, Fiddleheads and Nettle.  The delicate cheese flavor was wrapped in a cloud of pasta then placed in a creamy bed of mushrooms.  That little, shiny crisp of green on top.  The tastes that dance across the tongue.  Wonderful, rich, simple, small portion typical of French cuisine.

When they brought a bottle of red wine to the table for my main course I asked the server if I did, indeed, decide to go with the seafood course, after all.  Oh, yes.

Sea Bass En Papillote:  Potato-Wrapped Sea Bass, Baby Leeks and Sauce Meurette.  The couple from Vermont seated next to us, who'd become instant friends, gasped.  They had traveled all the way to dine upon hearing that Boulud would be in the kitchen tonight.  Retired from New York, their son an NBC Sports producer, they now lived for the joy of food and conversation.  My ideal retirement.

My first thought was that I could do the bed of braised leeks, the bass, maybe, possibly with a few years of practice the potato papillote but the sauce, I doubt it.  That does not mean I won't try it.  A dish Boulud became famous for way back in his La Cirque days, the red wine and port reduction was absolutely stunning, rich and salty, the ruby juice floating on the plate.

DB Beef Duo:  Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, NY Strip, Charred Ramps, Fava Beans And Orchard Morels.  My scant taste of the strip and morel mushroom was enough to prove to me that it was every bit as satisfying as my plate.

Desserts were just as good and served with a strong, pungent Brovo Amaro Liqueur, Batch 1.

Grapefruit Givré:  Sesame Halva, Rose Lokum, Grapefruit Sorbet and Caramelized Tuile.  The topping had the feel of shredded coconut on the tongue and the balance of flavors delicate, tart and sweet all at the same time.

It's nice to be placed in the hands of a master chef, especially surrounded by people never met but enjoying and appreciating every moment of the experience.

Bar Boulud
776 Boylston Street (Mandarin Oriental)
Boston, MA  02199
Telephone:  617.535.8800

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