Monday, October 18, 2010

MOMA and Daniel

This was taken on Tuesday when Dex tried to fill my eyes with the Gug, The Frick, and Met and MOMA, only to discover the Musuem of Modern Art was closed that day. So we went back on Wed. This was my 2nd trip to MOMA. Dex had taken me to it when I was in NYC in 2005. The first four flours were filled with so much bad art I couldn't believe it. I haven't seen so much hideous art in one place since I spent 3 weeks in Italy in 2002. I really wanted to get out of there before its anti-aesthetic began to shrivel my eyes, but finally on the 5th floor, oh, they do know what good art is! I'm astonished. Indeed, the 5th floor of MOMA has as much good art in it as the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, my favourite museum of much the same thing. So when Dex brought me back here I was more than a little dubious. My fears were in vain.
Dex's membership allowed us to preview two new shows that I actually enjoyed. Maybe they hid all the hideous art that day, knowing I was coming. I remember seeing the Rockefeller room 5 years ago, filled with garbage as were all the rooms in flours 1-4, and thinking the Rockefellers could afford to buy Vermeers; don't they know the difference?
The reason I haven't enclosed any images from MOMA is that their website is rather threatening about such things.
Dex pointed out that the vast Monets needed vast galleries to view appropriately, not the narrow gallery where they could be found. Well, any Monet is better than no Monet.
Each of these are reasons by themselves to visit NYC: The Vermeers, Le Bernardin, Daniel, the 5th floor at MOMA. The only other city I know of with this many treasures would be Paris and in NYC my miniscule French is Not a Problem!
After steeping in good art, we went back to Dex's neighbourhood and had some tapas. OK, not Spain quality but I was hungry and they weren't bad at all. Then Doc and Lili came over to Dex's to pick my up and take me to Daniel. The Spotted Pig post I posted yesterday was actually a meal consumed on Saturday afternoon and MOMA/Daniel were both savoured on Wednesday.
And speaking of savouring:

Daniel Boulud is doing something right.

I left Per Se feeling like Jacob Marley, covered in chains. I left Daniel feeling like Scrooge played by Alistair Sim, discovering he's not dead, doing somersaults.
What made Daniel's food so good? Perhaps it is the realization of his desire to create another world. As the Firesign Theatre seek to create another world where people could go to escape the bad ones they were in.
Doc Technical, Lili and I were welcomed into Daniel as if we were truly welcome. Intriguing cocktails appeared:a champagne mojito for Doc, a kir royale for Lili and a my tie, something that would never appear around my neck but did my throat much good.
For amuses as you can see on the vid, variations on cauliflour. Actually I remember liking the curry thing less that I said on the vid, curry never being a good idea, and the salmon thing, at least it wasn't as fishy as the bouche that did not amuse at le B. But the shrimp. Ok, that's as good as the artichoke cornonet at Per Se. That's world's best restaurant caliber food.
There are so many things on this menu we want to eat, Doc told one of the servers who insisted we'd be happy with just the 3 courses. I wanted to try the heirloom tomatoes, which Doc ended up with, but I'd had langoustine's only once, at a seafood restaurant called Lobs in Florence in 2002, and as I'm particularly fond of both prawns and lobsters, their crustacean cousin called to me, see what Daniel could do.
I had a bite of Doc's tomatoes. I didn't spend enough time savouring the bite to say anything interesting about it. Were I to come here again, that's what I'd order. On the other paw, the langoustines were....
Corn and Corn foam? Almost as far back as people have been growing food, and the latest culinary iteration in one meal. What struck me was how the corn entered the middle ground of the langoustine's taste, and took it over like Aragorn took over Middle Earth. Daniel had become king of the middle earth of the palate. This is no small feat. While other chefs contend for the edges and usually fall off, Daniel takes the langoustine back to where it lives, and brings us along on a sea of satiation.
Followed with a Duo of Beef: Black Angus Short Ribs with Stewed Lentils, Carmelized Salsify, Wagyu Terderloing, Red Wine Glazed Pearl Onions, Carrot Confit, Sauce Bordelaise.

Salsify seems to be the ingredient I can most count on encountering at this level of NY restaurants and I'm always delighted with it. The Wagyu, when thinly sliced and melded with the vegies and sauce, was immaculate. The short ribs? Uh, no. A woman who was serving and offering advice had suggested either a French or a California wine pairing, explaining what each would do for the beef. She picked just the right wine for the Wagyu, but the short ribs were just too heavy. Another server appeared and, seeing I wasn't finishing the ribs, explained how long the beef had been braised in wine for. I'd seen a video of this on Daniel's website awhile ago. I knew Daniel was Mr. Meat from his famous hamburger; that's why I went for the Duo of Beef. But it was too heavy to continue. Loved the Wagyu and the vegies though. Next time I'm here, I'll check out what Daniel does with fish.

Desert floated me back up into the stratosphere I'd been in up to the short ribs. Champagne helped. This is food and service you'd expect from elves.


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