K’s birthday was in March and part of his gift was a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art while we were in New York City. That day had arrived and we met our guide, Victoria from Art Smart, who brought us through their modern art collection and filled the trip with fascinating history and stories. She also gave us an impromptu run through the rest of the museum so we’d know our way around for the rest of our day. Then she recommended we have lunch at Petrie Court Cafe and Wine Bar.
I enjoyed a spring vegetable angel hair pasta frittata and K loved his foraged mushroom and creme fraiche flatbread. Our relaxing lunch took place next to the sunny European sculpture court. It was like having lunch in Paris.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a HUGE museum and we couldn’t cover it all in one day, but we got a good sampling of what we really wanted to experience. We were exhausted from all the walking and everything we took in (centuries of art and history), but we rallied for the big evening we had ahead.
Our clever friends DLB and Baxter (who officiated our wedding) kindly gifted us a certificate to Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50 on the Lower East Side. The restaurant is modern, but comfortable and the dress code is casual, but we were dressed to the hilt because of our after-dinner plans.
Well known for playing with his food and being something of an alchemist, Dufresne’s menu definitely didn’t disappoint. A lover of liver, K started with the aerated foie gras with pickled beet, mashed plum and brioche. The plate looks like a bunch of artfully placed sponges, but the foie was rich and vaporous — the best kind of rich (and foie) in my opinion.
I started with the peekytoe crab roll with house made mini salt ‘n vinegar potato chips and celery mayonnaise. This was such a strange and interesting play on temperature. The crab roll looked like it would be hot and crispy, but it wasn’t. It didn’t seem to be fried. Tepid is such a gross word, but that’s the only word I can find to describe the outer layers, but the dense and sweet crab mixture inside was cool, but not cold. The celery mayo was a great “cool flavor” to accompany the roll.
WD-50 must have hit the jackpot on a load of celery when we were there because K also very, very much enjoyed his celery gin and tonic drink. It had a distinct, but not obnoxious, celery flavor. K has since tried to replicate this at home and it was a bit too celery and gin forward. I think the secret ingredient might be egg whites. If you’ve got any insight, it would be welcome!
The light cocktail was a good pairing with the full-bodied entrée K chose: Iberico pork neck with smoked paprika spaetzle, peach and Marcona almond. This was the richest, most flavorful and “porky” pork I’ve ever tasted and the paprika spaetzle was genius — spirited with a dancing spice.
Straying from my apparent obsession with skate, I went with the crispy Mediterranean bass with black forbidden rice, artichokes and a white chocolate-green olive sauce. The sauce originally creeped me out a little, but the salty olive-ness was nicely (and not too obviously) balanced by the sweet white chocolate. My only complaint was that there was *A LOT* of fish — one less filet would have been perfect. I absolutely loved the black sticky rice molded into rice balls — sticky crisp on the outside and sticky tender on the inside with a nutty flavor reminiscent of wild rice.
We had to skip dessert because we were short on time and going to a food-centric event, but Wylie (who we could see cooking for us in the kitchen) and staff couldn’t send us away empty-handed. Our mini desserts were frozen marshmallow cream coated in crushed Rice Krispies. Yup, frozen rice krispy treats. I never want to eat another traditional rice krispy treat again. Just … yum.
After our creative dinner at WD-50 we grabbed a cab to a nearby benefit for UNICEF I caught wind of via Twitter the week before we left. The event — dubbed Eat. Pray. Heal. Japan. — was a fundraiser for children in Japan affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Top Chef contestants Mike Isabella, Angelo Sosa, Harold Dieterle, Hung Huynh, Kevin Sbraga and Seth Caro (from the dessert show) made small bites and appearances. Ariane Duarte, Amanda Freitag, Richard Blais and more were mingling as well. An opportunity we simply couldn’t pass up.
After meeting Ariane Duarte, an absolute sweetheart who gave us the skinny on how to pounce on the food coming out of the kitchen (you’ve gotta be an aggressive New Yorker, not a polite Minnesotan, apparently) we greeted Angelo Sosa. He is very kind (and very tall, as you can see) and has an amazing attitude about life and his success.
Before we headed out, we had to grab a minute with Richard Blais to congratulate him on his well-deserved Top Chef All-Stars win. He was also very kind, but also seemed uncomfortable with the attention and out of his element. We got the feeling he’d have been more comfortable back in the kitchen instead of in the middle of an adoring crowd.
That night was truly an NYC movie night. For one glorious evening we were leading the lives of glamorous TV/movie New Yorkers getting dressed up, having an incredible dinner, being whisked off in a cab to a fabulous celebrity benefit …
Not the *real* life anyone lives, but for one night it was a very sparkly feeling!