Thursday, April 21, 2011

Best Thing I Ever Ate: Italian @ Del Posto (85 10th Ave, NY NY 10011)

Del Posto must have one hell of a dish washer because our silverware was taken and replaced (whether used or not) on all 7 courses and multiple amuse bouches.

This was the best service I have ever experienced:

- I made a mistake on OpenTable and messed up on the date - they quickly accommodated us in a packed restaurant
- One of the people in our party spilled something on the table and they responded immediately by cleaning it and putting another table cloth over the spill
- The first pouring of wine was a tableside production
- The eagle eye bus boy spotted that I touched the rib eye bone and got me an unsolicited wet napkin with a lemon/sprig of rosemary
- The piano in the background made it a soothing classy experience
- They had someone stationed outside of the restaurant to hail a cab for you (like a hotel)

We went with the 7 course meal with supplements (our main waiter called it "The Captain").  The trio of amuse bouches was a nice touch: risotto bites, a shot that resembled a short rib broth, and another delicious undistinguishable bite.  The bread came with butter and lardo (mmmm lardo).  We went with a few bottles of 2001 Brunello (2001 was an optimal year for the soil, conditions, etc - or so we were told).  Here is what we received:

- Roasted Winter Vegetables with Robiola Sformato & Truffled Hazelnuts: delicious but I always final like truffle oil is "cheating"
- Carne Cruda with Truffled Salsa, Parmigiano-Reggiano & Shaved King Oyster Mushroom: I could have eaten a bowl full of this
- Wild Striped Bass, Warm Late Harvest Radicchio Salad, Bagna CaƓda & Campari: we got the meaty tail section; it was cooked perfectly where you could taste the "fish's oil" between the meat
- Pumpkin Cappellacci with Brown Butter: amazing (worth the whole visit)
- Orecchiette with Lamb Shoulder Sausage, Crispy Morels & Minted Soybeans: the ground lamb shoulder made me want to buy a stand mixer with a meat attachment so I could make it at home
- Beef Ribeye with French Fried Potatoes, Seared Butter Lettuce & Dried Tomatoes: I never order my steak medium-rare, ever.  This was meat perfection - perfect hard crust sear
- Pineapple Coppetina: nice palette cleanser
- Tartufo al Caffe, Dark Chocolate, Sant'Eustachio Coffee, & Candied Lemon: it was ok. I wasn't impressed with the desserts.  We each got different desserts and the olive oil gelato is unique - I love the olive oil's tongue coating viscosity  
- Final 6 piece Dessert Amuse Bouche: nice touch
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hot Air Ballooning in NJ

I've already lost the debate, but I never remembered saying that I wanted to go hot air ballooning.  So you could imagine the surprise on my face when I got it as a birthday gift from my gf (I was trying to figure out if it was a gift for me or her....hmm, the plot thickens).

She scheduled it for sunrise so we had to wake up at the crack of dawn and drive out to Clinton, NJ (55-60 miles from NYC).  We got to the meeting area (a field behind the Spain Inn II restaurant) and helped set up.  They unfurled the balloon, laid it on the field, and reality set in.  Was I really going to go up thousands of feet in the air in a wicker basket, flame thrower, and balloon?  We took a few set up pictures, signed a waiver, and hurdled our way into the basket.

We were up in the air in no time and there wasn't much room in the basket for 5 people (turning around in place was not an option).  You better bring a camera along because you're going to get some nice shots of the sunrise, the morning fog in the valley, other balloons, the NYC skyline, and as far out as Pennsylvania.  People waved to us as we hovered over their house (there is a French tradition of giving a bottle of champagne if you land on someone's property).  We were up in the air for about 45 minutes to an hour, landed on a school's playing field, and were shuttled back to the starting point for mimosas and danishes.

We met the owner (Tom) after we landed and he was very nice.  He showed us his photo album of balloon festivals around the world and his travels with Malcolm Forbes.

Its definitely something to put on your bucket list. 

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