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Friday, January 22, 2010

Victoria & Albert's Chefs Table - Grand Floridian (2007)

I managed to snag ressies for Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert's!  There is only one table available per night.  I was sooo happy!  Catwoman and I are huge foodies and I knew this would be a special treat.  When you check in, you let them know you are there for Chefs Table.  They send your server to escort you through the dining room and into to the kitchen.  The server then announces that a guest is coming through to alert the staff.

Jack & Sherry were our servers and they are also a married couple.  Once you go through the kitchen, you find there is a dining room “set”.  The dining room is a paneled “room” that exists like a shoe box was set on its side across from the kitchen.  So you have 3 paneled walls, a table, sideboard and one wall is open into the kitchen.  A low wrought iron fence separates you from the kitchen.  You are told that the only rule is that you can not leave the table alone.  You must alert your server to escort you through the kitchen.  So if you are going to the ladies room, they take you through the kitchen and restaurant then wait for you at the podium.  When you return, they return you to your seat.

Here is a view of our table from my chair:

The dome covers the butter, there is salt with a spoon above it and my glass of champagne.  Yes we did have all the wine pairings and we tried but sadly had to leave some wine behind.  That killed me.

This is what you would see if you left the table for the little boys/girls room and returned:

I sat at the chair farthest away, Catwoman at the closest chair.  You can see that we still have 2 wines.  This was at the end of the meal.  I know I polished off the sweet wine (amber colored) before we left.

If you were sitting at the table and then turned to your left, you would see the sideboard.  The exit to the kitchen it to the right of the picture:

Your server has the extra glasses, condiments, etc here.

So we are seated and once the rules are explained by Jack, we are served our amouse bouche.

Top Left: Deviled Quail Egg with Iranian Osetra Caviar – the little dots are crème fraiche with a chive.  The best way to eat this is just to drag it through the crème and eat it.  A quail egg is small and does not taste very different from a chicken egg.  The white is a little firmer and the yolk is a little sharper.

Top Right: Seared Raw Yellow Fin Tuna with Hijiki Salad.  The tuna is sitting on a slab of pink salt.  I cut it in half, made sure it sat full on the salt rock, then drug it through the soy/light Cajun dots and had some of the greens on the fork as well.  Excellent!  The tuna was tender and just melted in your mouth.  The light salt with the slight tang from the sauce was just perfect.

Bottom Left: Lobster Sausage.  A piece of poached lobster with a small amount of binder.  Delicate but flavorful.  You can get this on your fork in one bite.

Bottom Right: Lobster Bisque.  Just sip out of the cup.  So creamy and smooth with full lobster flavor.

These small bites set the stage for things to come.  The wine for the Amuse Bouche was Heidsieck Monopole “Blue Top” Brut Champagne NV (no vintage)

So now we are off to the first course.  Chef Scott brought us his “star” dish.  It was featured on the cover of a food magazine.  He gave me a copy of the magazine.  He was very proud.  He talked to us for a bit about his kitchen and his food.  The kitchen was so spotless you could eat off the floor.

Seared Colorado Buffalo Tenderloin, Braised Fennel, Radishes and Satsuma Tangerine Vinaigrette with Cantina Del Taburno Falanghina, Campania 2005
The buffalo was tender, juicy and not the least bit gamey.  The citrus tang paired with the salt from the meat and the sharpness of the vege was perfect.

Now this next dish was not on the menu.  It was an extra little thing that Chef Scott put together for us.

King Crab Leg with citrus cream sauce, asparagus salad and crab cake with spring greens and lime reduction
Ooo, the crab was soooo sweet and paired with the citrus, the tender (but not mushy) asparagus, the crab cake was near all crab with very little filler and the acid from the lime paired with in marvelously.  The wine (which I didn’t have written down) was light but full bodied.

Now we started talking with Joe.  He was chopping something brown on the board directly across from us.  Then he dumped pounds and pounds of butter into a HUGE kitchenaid mixer that had to stand on the floor instead of the counter due to its size.  Then it hit me.  The brown bits he was adding to the butter was TRUFFLES!  I can’t even wrap my head around home much money those truffles cost.  Catwoman got up to look and the truffle butter looked like chocolate chip cookie batter.  The truffles were that noticeable.

Washington State Salmon with Mustard Greens, Sauce Soubise, and Ramp Pesto with Pere & Fils Christian Moreau Chablis 2004
The salmon was soft with a crunch from a bit of skin and the creamy sauce.  Just wonderful.  Not cooked too much so that it was dry.  We still had lots of room for our next course.

Poulet Rouge (Red Chicken) with Wild Mushroom Ragout and truffled Egg with Toad Hall Pinot Noir Dijon Clones, Carneros 2003
This is a red chicken with a wild mushroom selection on top.  The earthiness of the mushrooms with the full flavor of the red chicken (the flesh is white but the skin is red as are the chickens feathers).  They are from France.  However the BEST bit thus far in this amazing dinner was the egg!  It was like a light egg soufflé but not as puffy and more creamy with truffles inside a cleaned egg shell.  It was AMAZING!

Now at this point, Catwoman calls Racer X who happens to be in Vegas right now eating a truffle and ham pizza over at the Venician.  We know we still had better food. 

At this point I had to take a trip to the Ladies so I was escorted out and I hoped that they didn’t start the next course without me.  After washing hands and pocketing a wee soap it’s back for the next course.

Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin and Pork Belly with Florida Corn and Cherry Jus with Domain Vencent Guradin Santenay 1er Cru “la Maladiere” 2004
The pork was juicy, earthy and sweet with the cherry.  It was hearty but not overpowering.  The selections have all been so stellar there has just not been a bad one in site.

We now start talking to Carrie who has Fois Gras and egg cup prep.  I love fois gras so much but since it is so expensive I’ve been afraid to buy some since I thought I would mess up.  She gives us some tips as she is cutting the block of fois gras on how to cook it, not to overcook it, etc. and is washing out the egg shells for the mousse.  She was soooo helpful and a little chatting with us didn’t slow her down a bit.

Pen Roasted Foie Gras and Fuji Apple Tart with Mostarda de Cremona with Royal Tokaji Azsu 5 Puttonyos Mad Tokaj-Hegyalia 2000
OMYGOD!  I have died and gone to heaven.  For me heaven is filled with oysters and Fois Gras.  I LOVE THIS STUFF!  I can eat it every day.  I’d be as big as a house but I wouldn’t care because in heaven you can eat whatever you want and not gain any weight.  It is so creamy and lovely and rich and the bit of char with the  sweet apple.  I am hard pressed to name this of the truffle egg mousse the best.

Next is the “Missing Man” – I guess we sucked this down so fast that I didn’t get a picture or the picture didn’t turn out or, face it, I was too drunk to think about taking a picture.  My writing is getting big and sloppy at this point.  I do make a remark after another trip to the Ladies that there was a woman in the next stall, doing her business and talking on the cell phone saying something about “it’s so slow”.  Ummm, it’s a leisurely relaxed meal!  Honestly people, on phone etiquette, I really don’t want to listen to you piddle in the background while I am talking to you.  HANG UP YOU COW!.  OK, on to the next dish.  It was:

Japanese “Wagyu” Strip Loin (This is Kobe Beef) and Beef Short Ribs with Cauliflower Puree with Sarget de Gruaud-LaRose, Saint Julian 2003

”Wagyu” is the type of cow used to make Kobe beef.  You can only call it Kobe if it comes from Wagyu cows in Japan using Kobe methods.  If you import cows (which is hard to do) and make your own Kobe you have to call it Wagyu.  Just like Champagne technically is ONLY made from champagne grapes grown in the champagne region of France.  Everything else is Sparkling Wine but we call it champagne anyway.  I have don a lot of reading on Kobe/Wagyu beef and Kobe experts have even liked the flavor of this better.  It is still hella expensive and I will say was just WONDERFUL!  The “crack” when you bit into it with the thin char of fat, the creamy texture, the juicy beef bloody goodness, mmmmm.  BTW – if you like your meat burned, skip this because I doubt any self-respecting chef will ruin a piece of pricey meat for you to cook it into shoe leather.  This was meant to be served medium rare.  If you don’t like that, they will gladly serve you something else.  It’s like people that want to put soda in their 20 year old scotch.  I want to kick them with my pointy Princess shoe but that is another story.

Here is a selection of wine that we still had at the end of the meal.  I know we aren’t there yet but this is still what we had to finish.

Here is the cheese course.  I like cheese but I admit I am more a bland ‘Merican cheese kinda girl.  Jack, Swiss, Brie, basic cheese, nothing that smells like feet.  The cheeses listed were Comte Saint Antoine, Pierre Robert, Fog Lights Stuffed Pear and Flixer. I am also allergic to Blue Cheese so those are omitted from the menu.  I will refer to the internet for descriptions of these cheeses

Comte Saint Antoine – (This is the thick hard looking yellow cheese) Comté is made from the raw milk of red and white Montbeliard cows in the Jura Mountains of France in Franche-Comté. Small, cooperative dairies known as "fruitières” produce the cheese year-round; our Comté Fort Saint Antoine is hand-picked and aged for more than 15 months. Comté is one of the most popular cheeses in France, and it is claimed that there are more than 83 distinct flavors in Comté, including apricot, chocolate, butter, cream, and grilled bread. Our Fort Saint Antoine has a rich, buttery flavor with hints of hazelnuts and pineapple. Comté is a wonderful pair for a wide variety of wine styles

Pierre Robert – (this reminds me of really creamy brie.  No feet here.  Nearest US taste is Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese) Pierre Robert is a decadent triple-crème-style cheese from Seine-et-Marne. When Robert Rouzaire and his friend Pierre began to tire of their Brillat-Savarin, inspiration struck. They began aging the same triple-crème longer in their caves, enabling it to further develop its flavor and become even more meltingly rich in texture. They named their new success Pierre-Robert, for obvious reasons. With a whimsical boulder ("Pierre" means rock) adorning its snow-white rind, Pierre-Robert appeals to anyone craving pure and utter decadence. Buttery, smooth, and mild, this cheese ought to be eaten spread on bread or even graham crackers. Pair this cheese with Champage, Muscat, or a hearty Stout. One piece weighs approximately 1 Pound.

Fog Lights is a local (CA) and earthy, ash covered goat cheese.  The dark circle was a fig that had the cheese inside.

Flixer - (FLICK-ser – this one was so good I ate it like a piggy and it is not in the picture): Flixer is a very rare and delicious cheese is made by only one cheesemaker in Switzerland. It has chestnut and savory flavors that melt into a creamy aftertaste

COFFEE.  I usually don’t drink coffee because (a) I like coffee but it doesn’t like me and (b) I really don’t want the mean coffee monkey on my back, beating me on the head with foot long cocoa beans each morning with renewed vigor.  A slave to a monkey and a bean lest my head ache, my mouth dry up and I get all jittery.  Sounds like withdrawl from crack thank you very much and I will pass. However in this case I have probably downed at least 1 ¼ bottles of wine all on my own so I need some caffine to get me stumbling to the bus awake.  Then there will be a ton of water I need to drink as well.

I was hoping for the cool coffee science experiment type bong that they use in the dining room but here it was just never ending cups and an assortment of sugar.

There were lumps of white sugar, lumps of brown as well as Nutrasweet in the blue and Splenda in the yellow.  No pink sweet and low.  I used Splenda.  Less calories.  LOLOLOLOLOLOL – OK wipe your eyes.  I know, it’s like rolling into Ghirardelli’s, ordering the Earthquake sundae and a diet coke.  I mock those people so feel free to mock away.  The gravy boat in the background was the soufflé sauce.  More on that later.

Miniature Chocolate Pyramid with strawberries and toffee cookie, Hawaiian Kona Coffee Souffle, and Orange Chocolate Napoleon with Cockburns 10 year old Tawny Porto.

Now my tastes have changed since I was little and I am not really a huge chocolate person.  The chocolate pyramid was dusted with cocoa powder.  Crisp on the outside, smooth on the inside.  I liked it but Catwoman polished it off since it was way too much chocolate for me.  The Kona Coffee Souffle was really remarkable.  Souffles are solid on the outside and gooey on the inside.  When served it is split open and a a sauce is poured in.  It is served on the side so you can control the amount.  I don’t recall what the sauce was and I was too bloated or drunk or both to write it down.  Needless to say, it was wonderful and I finished it.  The last was thin sheets of dark chocolate with orange chocolate mousse between the layers with an orange sauce.  I am weird but I really don’t like the chocolate/orange flavor combo.  Maybe it was a medicine flashback to childhood (the reason I can’t eat cherry lifesavers anymore.  They remind me too much of sucrets.)  I ate some.  It was nice but gave most of it to Catwoman.

Just let me say that I went to BevMo today and got a bottle of this port.  I am drinking it now.  It’s still really yummy.

Grand Marnier Souffle with Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream
This was a second dessert that was brought out to Catwoman.  Actually it went to me first but I gave it to her telling them that while I am sure it is amazing I just don’t prefer those particular flavor combos.  Catwoman said is was amazingly lovely and it did come with a chocolate bourbon sauce.

This was my second dessert.  Ummm, I have no idea why the picture is at this angle.  I will blame it on a large amount of alcohol. 

Raspberry Mousse with raspberry sorbet and white chocolate pyramid with mango chutney.  This was more my speed.  Chocolate with raspberry is great and the fact that there is more fruit than chocolate is even better.  The mousse was light, creamy and not overly sweet or cloying.  It was wrapped with a ribbon of chocolate and accompanied by a cookie and the tart sorbet.  I assure you that is not corn on the plate, it is pieces of mango in a sauce next to a wee pyramid of white chocolate (which really isn’t chocolate at all.  White “chocolate” is a confection and has no cocoa in it.), a little edible gold leaf and an edible violet.  Yes I ate the flower and would have eaten it even if I wasn’t drunk.

This meal was pricey.  Really pricey.  I believe near $200 a person without tip pricey.  HOWEVER, it is the best food in the park.  One of the best restaurants in the nation and Catwoman and I have eaten at quite a few including Masa’s, Nobu, Chez Paniesse and The French Laundry to name a few so we know our gourmet food.  This was top drawer.  Chef Scott is on of the culinary Gods of our time.  I saved money separate just for this experience and it was worth every cent.  If you are adventurous, enjoy the best food and wine and want a wonderful, special dining experience – this is it.  There is nothing better.  This is why when I grade other restaurants in the park, I don’t use V&A as a means of comparison in grading.  It would throw the curve.  I always consider it an A+ in its own little Universe, able to compete with the best there is nationwide.

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