Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dinner at David Bouley’s private kitchen

11/20/06 - Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos asked me to a special dinner, a celebration at David Bouley’s private work kitchen downtown, to mark the upcoming opening of Evolution, Bouley’s first restaurant outside of New York, in South Beach, at the Ritz-Carlton, which is a Kanavos property.

Dinner at David Bouley’s work kitchen
. I’m not a “foodie.” (the Kanavoses are). I even cook and use cookbooks (because they work and produce results) but I’m not a foodie. I like restaurants mainly for the atmosphere, camaraderie, maybe décor, but mainly for the company, even if I’m dining alone. So I didn’t know what a work kitchen was. Quite.

It was a very rainy night. Everything and everyone
was running late. Dinner was called for 8:30 (7:30 cocktails). It’s located in an office Building in SoHo. And it’s a loft. You go up one of those old clickclack-and-screechy industrial elevators and walk out into a large space that has been partitioned off according to needs. You walk through what looks like an office area, the old wood floors, walls and ceiling freshly painted white, and then you come to The Kitchen, a very large, long loft space set up in areas. There is the sitting, with sofas, chairs, shelves lined with cookbooks, very classy audio system (for the constant music). It’s very downtown in look by which I mean state-of-the-art, laid back comfy cozy. Beyond in the center of the room is the actual kitchen. One whole wall on one side of the “kitchen” is blocks of chalkboard, covered with notes, illustrations, directions of “the work” or, I suppose, the menu.
Above: The chalkboard illustrated with the recipes for the night.

Left: David Bouley at work.

Right: First course ready to go.
The blackboard is fascinating. Your eye keeps returning to it, as if to see what you might have missed. It has the quality of Art about it, as if it were, indeed, a large piece of art. It’s very goodlooking too, kinda chic and smart. But laid back. Because the whole place is very laid back.

There must have been twenty or thirty of us.
It started with a sangria cocktail “evoluton sangria” (Fresh Pineapples ad Oranges with a Grand Marnier Sauce) in a martini glass and Danube Elderflower Champagne (Elderflower Juice and Champagne), as well as the passing of the hors d’oeuvres which were both tasty and surprising little morsels. What looks like a little cheeseball, burst in your mouth with a rich and warm truffle flavor. That kind of surprise.

The atmosphere was as good as any great restaurant because the Master Chef’s style of entertaining is relaxed and casually impeccable. The first course was already laid out, ready to be served (see photo). I went around with my handy digital trying to capture the sight of it. About nine o’clock we took our seats.

Perhaps because the space is so spacious, accommodating thirty or more people comfortably, I hadn’t realized the Mr. Bouley had a rather large staff on hand, both chefs, captains, servers so that once the meal began, the service moved as smoothly (and time appropriately) as in a five star restaurant.

Wait at the table was Organic Pink Grapefruit, Three Ways. Then Tuna Sashimi with a Julienne of Asian Pear, Garlic Chips, Kaffir Lime, Rocket Salad with a Miso Dressing and Dover Scallop Carpaccio with Marinated Elf Mushrooms. Tasmanian Mustard and Fresh Italian Truffles. Served with Tement, Sauvignon Blanc, Styria, Austria 2005.
The menu
And from there five more courses, each served with their own wine. The best? Which? Although I could have checked out the menu at the time, I didn’t. I just et (as the Brits would say) what was put before me. I was a very finicky eater throughout childhood and youth. Or rather, uneducated and limited. I eventually learned to try it (you’ll like it). And while that does not always hold, and I don’t always do, most times I do and the results are usually interesting and often delicious. Everything was wonderful on Thursday night. A man like David Bouley who was one of the founders of the world that draws the “foodies,” knows how to charm and thrill the palette.

Seven courses and I ate everything including the tuna
(which I never eat) because it all looked so good. It was never too little nor too much although by the time dessert was being presented, I was beginning to feel as if I’d had quite a bit to eat.

It was a very chatty dinner table(s). On my left was Dana Hammond Stubgen who eventually got up and rhapsodized in a toast to our host and hostess and the Master. I think she may have called it the most fabulous dinner party she’d ever been to, or something like that, because of the menu (and the guests too of course). But she was expressing what many, maybe all of us were feeling about this extraordinary dinner.

Art Basel Miami will be arriving to the newly opened doors of David Bouley’s Evolution at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach. This is a major move in the evolution, as it were, of the matter of haute (while laid back) cuisine in South Florida.
Dayssi Olarte Kanavos and Paul de Kanavos
Looking from the dining area into the kitchen
View of the library
View from the library toward the kitchen