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What’s for dinner

January 18, 2013

Let’s talk for a few minutes about my culinary grandiose. Okay, seriously, let me do all the talking and you just sit back and relax and enjoy the experience vicariously. Let me first give you some personal history.

I love food. I love all kinds of food. I have professed on multiple occasions that there is nothing I won’t eat at least once. I have evidenced this when I travel. Some of my favorite food experiences have been on roadsides in third world countries. My sister and I, before we were all busied up being moms and wives traveled together quite a bit. We had one rule—don’t eat anywhere that you can eat at home. As a result we have had some interesting and truly wonderful experiences. When a predominant portion of my job was travel, I loved to travel with Lea because she has a good food radar like no one I have ever seen.

I love food TV. From the time I was little, I remember watching Julia Child and Wok with Yan and that Cajun guy that predated Emeril. I love the restaurant experience. I love the dinner experience. I think that appreciation rose to a new level while we were living in NYC and dinner was so often an event and when you could get anything you wanted in almost any venue you wanted. I have eaten at lots of Top Chef restaurants. Some even before they were Top Chefs.

Last year a new restaurant opened in Nashville—The Cat Bird Seat. Don’t ask me where the name came from. Intimate little place. The best way I have found to describe it is this: It is set up like a hibachi restaurant where the cooking is all done in the middle of a high top bar. Except this isn’t hibachi, it is fine dining. There is no menu. It is a chef’s tasting menu every night and you eat at the pleasure of the chef.

It took us about 10 months to get a reservation. The only reason it didn’t take us longer was because, turns out, we know someone. Here is how the evening went down:

Chris hired a car to drive us for the evening because the meal is offered with wine pairings for each course and we wanted to enjoy ourselves without having to worry about driving or waiting for a cab. We were picked up by a towncar and delivered to the front door of an old house. We were instructed to enter at a nondescript side door and were deposited into a little entryway that I can only describe as sensory deprivation. Up one flight of elevator and down a bright raspberry colored hallway into the dining room. Our seating was as 7:15 and the joint was about half full.

We were placed at our seats and promptly greeted with a glass of champagne and an amuse bouche. We were amused to say the least. What followed was ten courses of interesting and tantalizing food that we would not ordinarily order but was intensely satisfying if not altogether appetizing. Each was paired with a beverage carefully chosen or crafted by the resident sommelier and mixologist.

I will not recount the entire meal for you but I will summarize all ten plates in a simple word or phrase:
1. Scallop chip and hot fried chicken skin—great omen of things to come
2. KING CRAB, green tea gelee, sake cocktail, more, please.
3. Geoduck. Pronounced “GOOeyDuck”, appears obscene at best. Will definitely cross my palate again.
4. Sable fish and blood sausage—maybe doesn’t sound great but I would have eaten twice as much as they gave me—they also served me a Belgian beer. I am NOT a beer drinker.
5. Chicken breast, really? Chicken breast? Local, organic, with parsnip puree, fennel flakes, black olives and black garlic? Yes, chicken breast—souvie
6. There was something bleeding on my plate—braised veal cheeks with beets, horseradish and dill.
7. I cannot listen to the description of the “stinky French cheese” course with Radiohead crescendo-ing in the background. It can’t be done.
8. They brought me Guinness and expected me to drink it. Molasses cake made up for this flaw in their judgement.
9. Custard served in an eggshell. With Bacon. Nuff said.
10. Vanilla cake, cherry dust, pineapple gel, tiny bourbon explosions in my mouth

We toasted every course, we talked about living without cancer. We laughed, we cried. We loved, we lived.

We are half way through with January. What have you done to live this year?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 20, 2013 3:55 am

    That sounds extraordinary. Some of my favorite moments with Ryan have taken place in a restaurant while exploring new cuisine. Food is good. Especially when there’s such a reason to celebrate. 🙂

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