For a couple of foodies, sharing a multi-course tasting menu is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion. Eating a slew of small dishes minimizes the risk that one mediocre offering will dampen the mood. And it's kind of sexy to ooh and aah over each course with someone who's having the same deliriously delicious experience at the same time.
But around here, very few restaurants offer them. Sure there's the 3-course prix-fixe option at a bunch of places, but that's different. I'm talking 6+ courses, each one made up of just a couple bites of tantalizing food. The only ones I've been able to find are at Hemingway's, Hen of the Wood and Christophe's on the Green. Michael's on the Hill doesn't appear to have one, but there is a note that they're happy to accommodate "special desires."
As my second anniversary approached, I thought it would be really nice to have a tasting dinner, but couldn't stray far outside of the Burlington area. So, I decided to start calling area chefs to see if any were willing to do a special occasion menu. Luckily, the first chef I spoke with, Patrick Grangien of Café Shelburne, said yes right away. And of course, I asked about the tasting and made the reservation without disclosing my secret identity as "Food Girl." I use my husband's name when I make reservations so chefs don't know who I am...it's the only way to make it fair.
The food was excellent. Everything was cooked perfectly, sauces were mouthwatering, there was a lot of variety and the portions were just right. Here's a run-down of the courses.
1) Escargots with prosciutto, Parmesan and garlic butter topped with tiny toast rounds.
2) House-smoked salmon with veggie egg rolls, balsamic reduction
3) Creamy gazpacho topped with zucchini and shrimp
4) Blood sausage ravioli in a Bordelaise sauce with caramelized onions
5) Striped bass with red pepper sauce, snow peas and carrots
6) Duck breast with potato gratin and hedgehog mushrooms, demi-glace
7) Artisan Cheese Plate
8) Currant sorbet
9) Floating island topped with toasted almonds and caramel in a vanilla sauce, garnished with blueberries
10) Apple tart with caramel ice cream
I was particularly enchanted by the creamy gazpacho, the duck and the currant sorbet, which was the creamiest, richest sorbet I've ever had, but like I said, everything was delicious.
I wonder if there are more chefs out there willing to do tastings...