Sunday, June 26, 2011

Living High

I am a woman who is living “high on the hog” this week. I am not sure after researching this phrase that living high on the hog is exactly accurate, but I will explain. So far this week I have eaten at Eddie Merlot, last night at my favorite Le Petite France and tonight is a present yet unwrapped!

I am in healthcare and dinner at Eddie Merlots was an educational invitation, but two rules apply. My mother told me several things when I was young, one of which was “any free education would be worth the time and effort involved”. To have dinner at a fine dining establishment made the learning even better. And I did learn, I walked away with enough information to explore opportunities to improve our care as well as a question answered. That said, I mostly want to talk about the gastronomic experience. As at most gastro-educational events the menu was already mostly selected, but we did get to choose our meat, even my vegetarian friend Megan was in a good place because she will eat fish and salmon was offered. The meal started out rather like communion with bread and wine. To some that may sound sacrilegious, however Carrie Newcomer has taught me through song that the “Holy is in the everyday”. But this bread was not ordinary, it was awesome crunchy, soft inside delicious bread and the Malbec that was offered was reasonable on the nose, nice on the palate and finished well. Already I am a happy girl and I am in a grateful place with my creator. We were offered a Caesar salad and as Caesar salads go it was good. Not even close to the worst I have had, and well worth the caloric ingestion. Calories, to me are like money, do I want to spend these calories on this food, or could I spend them better somewhere else? I ordered the filet and in spite of the notice that we would get it cooked medium, the wait staff saw to it that I got mine rare. Grateful that I did not have to mourn another piece of ruined steak, I relished its tenderness. There was none of my usual bernaise to accompany the steak, but wait, the flavor stood beautifully all by itself! That lovely piece of succulent meat was accompanied by garlic potatoes and broccoli, they were good, but for me only a side note. Dessert was a Creme Brulee, which was liquid velvet. I make creme brulee, I eat creme brulee, this creme brulee ranked right up there with mine. There are things we humans do well, and we really know it even if we don’t admit it. Well, One of the many things I do well, is creme brulee, so I believe I know a good one when it slides down my throat like this one did. It was another moment of heaven!

Last night did not begin well. We live in Indianapolis and my favorite restaurant is in Cincinnatti. I make no attempts to hide me proclivity for all things French, and since we have nothing close to a french Bistro, Brasserie or Restaurant in Indianapolis, I make semi regular trips to La Petite France in Cincinnatti for the pleasure of eating a few bites of the best French food I have yet to discover in the midwest.

Yesterdays event was a wine tasting and was a experience well earned, let’s say for several reasons and leave it at that! We got off with just enough time however because of the reluctance of the government of Shelby County, Indiana, to repair a bridge we have to take the long way to my parents now to drop off Lucy my 5 pound Yorkie. So we ran into traffic on the south side of town and then again after getting back onto I 74 to head to CIncinnatti. By this time I am one seething mass of humanity. Jodi said the quiet, was very loud, and I believe her because it was a battle field in my mind as we drove 5 miles per hour down the interstate. Of course, in both events it was only because people don’t behave in traffic and merge when they know that there is a single lane coming! Finally I calmed my poor “about to be deprived self” enough to call the restaurant and explain our dilemma. They told us to come on, they would not hold the meal up, but they would keep our food ready. By the time we got there I was ready to enjoy the offered wine! The Finca El Origen, Torrentes from Argentina was a flowery, fruity crisp gift of the cusp of calm, it was just the beginning. We have been seated with other folks in the past and it was not surprise to be led to two seats at a table of six this time. We sat with two lovely couples, of which the women had both been friends for over 20 years. They were great company and we laughed and laughed. Between, good food, wine, companionship and the laughter how could one not loose the “loud quiet” of my mind?

I own a copy of the movie Julie Julia, not ever having the experience of Beurre Blanc, I could not relate to Julia Child’s rapture over it. As my own orgasmic response began to build, I was bewildered at it. Just kidding, the Sauteed shrimp with Sherry Beurre Blanc was fabulous. The beurre blanc was creamy, nutty and I not only ate it with my shrimp, but I also stooped so low as to clean my plate with bread. I did not want to miss a single molecule of it! The Lapostolle “Cuvee Alexander” Chardonnay from Chile was ok, others at the table liked it better than I. That said I still become enraptured over a good buttery oaky chard, which I understand is passe, but not for me! This Chardonnay carried none of the qualities that I like, but rather a clean crisp flavor which left me rather flat. But since we arrived late I was still sipping the Torrontes with my shrimp and it went well!

Next came yet another heavenly moment in the way of a utterly fabulous nose on the Montgras, Carmenere from Chile. It was served in a small balloon glass. As it approached my nose I knew I was in for a treat, and it rode and ended as well as it began! The spinach salad had peaches, proscuitto, chevre and a warm bacon vinaigrette. Not my favorite salad I have ever had at Le Petite France, but I didn’t care I was still rolling in the sensation of the Carmenere!

Not to be outdone the Antu “Ninquen”, Syrah from Chili also took my breath away via nose! It was a big wine that also finished well, but did not overpower the sauce of the Provencale Short ribs that were draped over creamy parmesan polenta. This tasty dish full of olives short ribs and a tomatoey sauce was accompanied by asparagus, which my dining companion enjoyed thoroughly, but I was mired in the sinfully delicious taste of the polenta, provencale ribs and wine.

Dessert was summer peach clafoutis accompanied by Yellow-Tail, Moscato, Australia. The the peach married well with the Moscato and it was a delightful finish to a stunning experience! All in all an evening that I said was “fornicated” and I was stick in traffic at the beginning of our trip, turned into a memorable evening.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Not feeling blue after eating at the Indigo Duck

I have wanted to try the Indigo Duck since it opened last winter. Right across from the court house in Franklin it is a very miniscule restaurant that, to my surprise, according to an article I found in the Metromix seats 60 people. With only one other good restaurant in Franklin, I felt like I was in a larger city. The atmosphere is handsome but not masculine and the entire time we sat at our table I coveted the copper pans hanging at the hostess counter. The menu is creative without being radical. The server brought an amuse bouche which, while I forget the ingredients, were a tiny scoops of potato salad and cole slaw, but to name them trivializes them. They were both delicious and interesting. The requisite bread was covered with a bit of rock salt and shallots. My dining companion generously gave me the “soft bottom” of the bread and took the “old hard crunchy” part. This ruse made me chuckle inside as she had the tastiest portion! To call the lettuce in the house salad, lettuce, seems too mundane. Crunchy, crenelated greens helped the orange basil dressing cling to the lettuce rather than swim in it. This delicious lettuce was accompanied in the bowl by sun flower seeds, grape tomatoes, dried cranberries, and large carrot shavings. My dining companion and I both felt that it might have been salted and possibly did not need that addition, the flavor could have stood alone. My opinion, though, is that it was well worth the $6.00 price tag. For my main I choose, of course, the Maple Spiced Duck Breast, which was priced at $20.00. I like my meat rare, but duck seems so poultry like. So, I ordered my mine medium rare, and it was perfect. Laying on a bed of Apricot Shallot marmalade, which had just a teensy bite to it, the duck breast made my tongue sing. Never a eggplant fan, I was delighted by the crisp delicate accompaniment of eggplant fries. A chard virgin, I was also enchanted by the Sauteed rainbow chard, which worked well with the delicate innocence of the eggplant. Since I was driving, I enjoyed this repast with a Malbec, priced at $7.00 a glass. The desert menu did not overpower the lure of a local Ritters, so we anted up and indulged in desert there.

I like to experience my food, not shovel it in, and my only grumble is that I felt rushed through my meal. In a meal that had so many flavors rolling across my tongue I wanted to take the time to thoroughly enjoy it. The Indigo Duck is a up for a rerun my my book and I give it a 8/10.