A little disclaimer: My pictures do not do justice to the food. After the first picture I took with a flash I opted not to use it for the rest of the dining experience so as not to ruin everyone else's experience around us. I wish they would have come out a bit better, but alas, dim lighting doesn't quite work well for food pictures.
Perfectly folded napkin to begin.
The format of the restaurant is such that the menu is two pages, a Grand Menu and a Vegetarian Menu, with of a list of courses under each option. Nothing is a la carte so you experience everything that Charlie Trotter's has to offer. Brent ordered the Grand Menu and and I the Vegetarian Menu, with the intention of tasting each others offerings. We also decided to order the wine pairings to match with each course... an excellent choice! Of course, being the competitors we always are, we ranked each course and wine. In the end there was a definite winner!
Grand Menu (GM): Sashimi of Yellowfin Tuna with English Cucumber and Rashiri Kombu
At this point I was absorbing so much information I didn't write any details down from this course except that Brent won the first course. I also noted the lovely ambiance with it's classic yet modern decor. There was a large beautiful arrangement of lilies in the center of our dining room. All of the men were sharply dressed (none looking as dapper and handsome as my husband though, in my opinion). The room was mostly quiet but there was an energetic buzz as all, guests and servers, seemed excited to be there.
GM: Grilled Blue Prawn with Razor Clams, Lemohn and Salsify
Wine Pairing: Muscadet Sevre et Maine "Granite de Clisson" Marc Ollivier 2007
VM: White Asparagus with Miner's Lettuc and Blackberries
Wine Pairing: K Vinters Viognier, Columbia Valley 2009
My wine was a bit sweet but other than that, my course won! Go veggies go! Again, at this point I was still writing down all of our food since I didn't know we were going to get a lovely printed menu with our wine and food pairings (sealed nicely in a crisp white full-sized envelope) at the end of our experience. Everything was plated so perfectly it felt like we had thus far gobbled up four pieces of precious food art.
GM: Diver Sea Scallop with Preserved Shallots, Fingerling Potatoes and Parsley
Wine Pairing: Savennieres "Clos de la Coulee de Serrant" Nicolas Joly 2005
At this point I began to notice that all the wines paired with the Vegetarian Menu where quite sweet. I'm certain my palette isn't refined as "all that" but I would have preferred some drier selections. The food was perfection though. As expected, my pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and was delicious. Score: Meat 2, Veggie 2. We tied on this course as we "Mmmmd" and "Awed" with each bite.
GM: Honey Glazed Duck with Spring Garlic, Lavender, and Thyme
Wine Pairing: Nemea "Grand Cuvee" Domain Skouras 2006
VM: Oaxacan Mole with New Zealand Spinach and Roasted Cashews
Wine Pairing: Rioja "Reserva-II" Roda 1999
The wine pairing on this course, for the VM, was 1st class. It was a bio-dynamic organic wine that had a nice spicy finish. Brent's course had amazing texture! It was crunchy, velvety and perfectly salty. His wine was quite bold but "no slouch" according to Jesse. I pulled ahead by a land slide with another vote on my course. Score: Meat 2, Veggie 3.
GM: Salt-Crusted Veal Loin with Toasted Brioche, Burnt Oak and Creme Fraiche
Wine Pairing: Jaffurs "Thompson Vineyard" Petite Sirah, Santa Barbara County 2008
VM: Souffle of Japanese Eggplant with Curry Spices and Burgundy Amaranth
Wine Pairing: Errazuriz "Don Maximiano Estate" Carmenere, Aconcagua Valley 2008
As far as wine was concerned, this was the boldest wine Veggie pairing yet, head to head my wine was better. As far as the food this was mine and Brent's first experience with sweet breads. It was actually quite good! Grand menu won the round and it's now tied 3 to 3.
At this point the dining room is 1/2 full. I love the quietness and settling down of the hustle and bustle. It's a very nice transition and I remember absorbing and living in the moment; trying to make myself remember each and everything I see, here, smell and feel. Oh how I wish there was a device that could capture it all but, as I write this, weeks later, I still get a chill. Up to this point the night has been memorable and I still had no idea what was in store.
Description: Unknown. We got the same thing so by default we are at 4:4. I do remember the creamy, silken texture of this cheese with the cruncy sugar. Though I don't know what it is exacly, I feel I can still taste it's lightness and blackberry jelly rolling on my tongue.
Loved this photo. Thanks V for my lovely feather piece!
Rough, dirty napkin upon Brent's departure.
I swear, not 10 seconds later the replacement appeared from the lovely blonde working there.
Throughout the meal I loved that each dirty plate, silverware, and glassware were whisked away with precision and stealth. At the same time you felt in no way rushed. It was all like a well orchestrated dance and it wouldn't have surprised me had one of the servers performed a brisé volé through the dining room.
Brent's had a very strong curry flavor. Mine was light and lemony. Meat 4: Veg 5, and we're down to the wire!
After this course was cleared it was the exact moment I reached across and grabbed Brent's hand. I had an epiphany. This night wasn't about the money that was being spent or the very fancy dinner we were having. I realized my husband, my amazingly lovable-but-shows-it-in-weird-ways-husband, had just made the most amazing gesture in this act. He remembered, from four years ago, something I had said and how much I wanted to do it and he made it happen. So many memories came rushing to my mind. Like when he was laid off last year the next day after we buckled down and "took care of business," canceling unnecessary bills and trying to figure out how best to move forward. After that first shocking day he took care of ME. We got on the motorcycle and he took me to a place I had never been and we hiked up over the 360 bridge. It was beautiful and an amazingly tender and special moment. It's a private moment I haven't shared with many; it was actually the exact moment any doubt was cleared from my mind that this was the man for me the man I wanted marry... and it didn't cost him a dime. Now, a year later, this man is loving the fact that he has the ability to take me to a place I wanted to go. To have an experience never before possible for me. He remembered some off-handed comments of a dreamer and made it happen. He seemed so relieved when I told him I "got it". He doesn't say "I love you" all the time like I do, that isn't his style. He just saves it up for these special moments and then when I finally hear it, the message comes through so loud my breath is stolen and my heart is reminded who it belongs to.
I'm not sure how to get back to food after re-living that, but here we go.
GM: Meiwa Kumquats with Frozen Meringue & Cured Black Olives
Wine Pairing: RWC Historic Series "Boston" Bual NV
I actually ate about half my course before I remembered to take the picture... sorry Charlie. The honey comb was sogood. Brent's was sweet with olive and I wasn't sure about that one. The lemon aftertaste with tea and crunch, oh my. This crunchy honeycomb excellence elevated my score, and I pulled ahead by 2. Meat 4, Veg 6.
Now, 5 tables are left after 13. The calm was settling in before the next crescendo.
GM: Milk Chocolate-Praline Semifreddo with Pistachios & Mint
VM: Ginger Kulfi with Coffee Jelly, Ginger Snaps & Chocolate
At this point Brent got a very "serious" carmel/creme brulee wine and mine was a figgy brandy. Last official course and I won!
Meat 5: Veg 7! Victory! Hoo! Ha! Sock em in the jaw! Sweet love clearly gone at this moment as me and my team of vegetables (and chefs I suppose) reigned victorious!
We are now the last table and we go off menu to un-chartered territory.
Beautiful and delicious, though I have no notes and simply wanted to savor.
Hustle and bustle for the diner's at the Chef's table in the kitchen.
Look at that sparkling cabinet filled with spices. I would LOVE to cook here!
Everything was so clean. I looked like a brand new kitchen and I loved how orderly it all was.
Dessert Chef busy at work.
Chef, Brent, Laura, and Charlie. I had to put this picture in twice!
$38,000 bottle of wine. Enough said.
Even in the wine room there was immaculate presentation. (Grrr, why didn't I turn on my flash?)
No dust that I could see just beautiful bottles of vino!
“We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.” —Anonymous