Sunday, June 20, 2010

First Impressions

New kid in a strange town, and I'm loving it. Friday night I moved in to my apartment in Madison. Ive got a small, 1 room apartment, but its all i really need.

My parents helped me get settled, and we decided it would be cool to eat at L'Etoile, the restaurant where I'll be cooking for the next 5 months. The restaurant itself is on the second story of this incredibly charming building right on the capitol square in downtown madison. It seats about forty guests at the time, but the minute you walk in you feel like you're the only ones in the room. Its a special place and it makes me kind of sad that the restaurant is moving to a bigger location a block away. But a bigger kitchen and more customers will be nice.

We were seated and as we placed our orders, I decided to introduce myself to the waiter as "Mike, the kid who starts work in the kitchen on Monday." The waiter immediately smiled and said "Oh so YOU'RE the intern!" After I ordered my appetizer: "chevre and spring garlic agnolotti with cherry tomatoes and veal meatballs", and main course: "pan seared pheasant with aged sheepsmilk cheese and beet gratin and bok choy" I saw our waiter pointing me out to different members of the front of the house staff. Before I knew it several members of the staff were introducing themselves to me and welcoming me to the team.

The amuse bouche was incredible. Crushed strawberries macerated in some sort of liquor with buttermilk bleu cheese a toasted brioche. My starter was incredible, and the main course was even better. The skin on the pheasant was amazing. I dont usually like beets, but these were perfect.

Honestly, the best part of the meal was dessert... being in wisconsin we ordered a cheese plate comprised of five of the best local cheeses, the Bleu Mont Dairy raw milk bandaged cheddar and the billy's midget goat cheese were my favorites. We also shared two desserts. The first was a waffle topped with strawberries macerated in maple syrup with "Sassy Cow" ice cream. I love anything with maple syrup so this was a great choice. But the dish that stole the show was our "Sticky Toffee Pudding". It was sponge cake, soaked in bourbon and baked in a ramekin with butter and brown sugar, topped with Buttermilk Ice Cream. The single best dessert I've ever put in my mouth.

Then, Chef Tory came out of the kitchen, and walked to the table. I was in a seat somewhat pinned up against the wall, so in an akward attempt to stand up and shake his hand I almost knocked over the table... would have been a great way to start. He talked to my family and I and really seemed excited to have me back in the kitchen. I know this was the right place for me. I honestly couldn't picture myself anywhere but in Madison, Cooking at L'Etoile. So much soul coming out of that kitchen. First day tomorrow. More to come.


1 comment:

  1. Wow - that was almost poetic. Who knew you were such a writer? Can't believe I'm just now getting around to reading this - but you've got me hooked!