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Photoblogging/Food Porn

April 22nd, 2008 - 10:43 am

So it wasn’t actually my birthday, but due to some weird scheduling Melissa had to make my Birthday Dinner Extravaganza a week early. I’ve hardly eaten since.

We’ll start, of course, with the amuse-bouche.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cream Butter Eggs on Brioche. Just a couple little bites, followed by lots of finger licking.


Next, we had a flight of lardo. No, I’m not kidding.

Lardo is just cured pork fat. Imagine the best parts of bacon, only you don’t have to cook it. Melissa made a simple grilled crostini with lardo, a borlengh with lardo and prosciutto, and my favorite, gnocco fritto (kind of a savory Italian fritter) with pear, sourwood honey and lardo. That last was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten — and it was a Melissa Original.

Third course: Flight of Boccalone Artisan Salumi.

Capocollo & Pancetta Piana, Roasted Garlic & a Relish of Capers, Parsley, Shallots & Parmigiano Reggiano with Grilled Crostini. Last winter, Melissa made that same relish for spreading on roasted bone marrow. But it’s plenty light and fresh enough for summer dishes, too.

Fourth course: Cheese service.

Ard├Ęche Cerises-Groseilles Preserves, Gratte Paille Cheese & Duck Confit with Toast Points. I don’t know how to describe the cheese. But if you had a Venn Diagram of sour cream and brie, it would fall somewhere in the overlap.

Fifth Course: Flight of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiano Reggiano Broth, topped with Three Ages (24, 30 & 36 months) of Parmigiano Reggiano Tortelloni filled with Swiss Chard, Ricotta, Parmigiano & Nutmeg. Let me translate. This was based on a dish Mario Batali made for Battle Parmesan on Iron Chef America. Three stuffed tortelloni, each with a different age of parm. They were served in a parmesan broth. The taste and texture differences between the cheeses was a revelation of sorts.

Sixth Course: A Caesar Salad. Sort of.

Here’s Thomas Keller’s (of the famous French Laundry restaurant) take on a Caesar salad. That’s a parmesan custard in between the lettuce and the toast point.

Seventh Course: Flight of Dry Aged Ribeye.

Pretty self-explanatory. We had a tartare, a Carpaccio a la Cipriani, and grilled with a garlic duck fat aioli. That last item was another invention of Melissa’s. She made a standard aioli (which is really just mayonnaise), but substituted the olive oil with melted duck fat. Sound amazing? It was.

And at long last, dessert.

Take some of the world’s best balsamic vinegar (the bottle Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio-Emilia on the left). Then drizzle it over three homemade ice creams. There’s a black pepper ice cream, basil ice cream, and chocolate there in the middle. Literally just a single bite of each. But by then, that was almost more than we could eat.

It was a hell of a meal.

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