[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: June 11, 2012]
I missed an episode of Ten Years Ago last week, so we'll have two this week. An easy matter in the blog-o-sphere.
It's an amazing ten years since I dined at Blue Hill with some people who were then high volume and influential posters at eGullet. But the week began modestly with a High Hopes Hogs pork sauage, and some home made baked beans. I've always liked my home-made beans and don't make them enough.
I lunched at Esca -- the first of a few truly bad meals which completely turned me off the place, although I know other people love it. The much touted crudo tasting was quite horrible -- raw fish doused beyond the point of reason in salt and strong-tasting oil. Then the unforgiveable, a piece of baccalà which hadn't been properly de-salted, and to add to the overall offense of the meal was splashed with balsamic vinegar. Only the sorbets - lemon and basil, campari and grapefruit - were edible.
In the evening, I had a much better time at dB Bistro Moderne, enjoying the elegant bistro food it has always served: boeuf en gelée, poule au pot aux morilles, and some cheese. A '99 Chambolle-Musigny to accompany. Then off to the Oak Room to hear the late, and much missed, Mary Cleere Haran sing Rogers and Hart, with Richard Rodney Bennett at the piano.
Enough for one evening, you might think, but I managed to hang on to the bar at Jimmy's Corner most of the night. Ouch.
After a pause for home-cooking - poulet au riseling followed by Montagnard des Vosges and cheddar - I enjoyed some even more humble bistro food at Kasimir, the long-surviving restaurant next to Manitoba's on Avenue B. The frisée, the boudin noir with mash and apples.
The dinner at Blue Hill saw Dan Barber and Mike Anthony "cooking for us" -- and indeed spending some time chatting with us, at the table and in the kitchen. Some Krug '82 put us in the right mood, but I didn't love everything. The food, in this incarnation of Blue Hill, was very restrained.
Sea bass tartare and salmon belly with smoked herring roe was a refreshing start, but then came two green courses. Green isn't my favorite color for food, and two green courses in succession I found off-putting. First, mussels in chilled asparagus soup, then braised black bass with fava beans and fresh peas. Too much seafood and veg.
The meat course was the treat of the evening: baby beef -- the meat from a young cow, but older than a veal calf -- with fingerling potatoes and oyster mushrooms. Sweet, delicate flesh. An espresso granita was a simple finish to the meal.
Barber and Anthony cooked, in my experience, with immense care and earnestness -- but I admit I've enjoyed my meals at Blue Hill more since they moved on.