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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Two-Day Holiday

Sunday, February 13th, was David's birthday. I came home, late, Saturday night with a cookie plate and cheesecake from work with which we celebrated the very beginning of what was to be a very festive weekend...

cherry jubilee cheesecake & double chocolate, sugar, lady finger, sponge cake,
macaroon, madeline, apricot rugelach & chocolate chip cookies

Being too late to pick up any wine, I picked up a few bottles of Stella Artois on my way home, but David refused to drink beer with cookies and, instead, gave me an early valentine: a bottle of Lillet. I shook the Lillet over ice and we both had Lillet martinis to complement our late-night sweets!

The Lady Lillet

The following morning, I woke up early, (while David slept in) and headed downtown to East of Eighth to set the place cards for David's surprise birthday brunch. There were eleven, in total, with David at the head of the table and I at the center. (I think I did a nice job of the arrangement) I bought a round of drinks for the early birds while we waited for the guest of honor to arrive.

Being a Sunday, most of us opted for the prix-fixe brunch which includes: one bloody mary or mimosa; coffee or tea; and freshly baked breads and muffins... for $14.95. (your second cocktail is half-price) To my neighbors, I recommended the farmer's omelet with potatoes, Brie, bacon and sautéed onions; but, having had it many times before, I decided to try something new and decided upon crab cake benedict. I've had a taste of their "classic" benedict before (you have the choice of classic, guacamole, florentine, crab cake or salmon) and wasn't impressed, but being a big fan of crab cakes, I thought I'd give the crab cake benedict a try. My dish arrived and the crab cake reminded me more of a latke than a crab cake, but nonetheless, the perfectly poached eggs and the densely flavored hollandaise sauce saved the dish...

All our guests seemed to be pleased with their dishes and we all lingered over another mimosa or two before heading elsewhere for a few more celebratory cocktails.

David and I had until about seven o'clock before we had to part ways and head off for surprise number two: Ronald K. Brown's Evidence dance company at Joyce Theater. The performance was great, and much more than I'd expected, and left me breathing heavily throughout most of the performance (an idiosyncrasy of mine, whenever I'm highly excited about something).

Lillet-cava cocktails garnished with sweet oranges

Valetine's Day (evening) began with "Lillet-cava cocktails," garnished with oranges. Also, on the (surprise) menu were chocolates from Mondel--another valentine from David to me.

my favorite marzipan dark chocolates with coconut

A couple of Lillet-cava cocktails later, David and I headed downtown on the 1 train for surprise of the weekend number three: dinner, for two, at Benoit. The dining room was happily filled; yet, the attentively efficient maître d' whisked us right unto our table. As always, the atmosphere and setting of the dining room charmed me and as I commented on this, David pointed out the light fixtures which he was admiring.

lovely lights at Benoit

We began our dinner with a wonderfully cold bottle of blanc de blanc champagne (David's pick) and from Chef Phillipe Bertineau's Valentine's prix-fixe menu: celery root salad with black truffle and tuna tartare with caviar; steamed loup de mer and filet mignon aux poivres; and opéra chocolate cake and "our baba" baba au rhum!

celery root salad with shaved black truffle

David and I enjoyed all the dishes; my favorites were celery root salad and loup de mer while David's comments leaned toward the filet mignon which was "perfectly cooked." Although the baba au rhum was not included on the prix-fixe menu, "the chef is going to do the baba." I was so happy... After dinner, David and I ended the evening with wine and a cheese plate at Mandarin Oriental's thirty-fifth floor bar, overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park South.

tasty bubbly and snacks at Mandarin Oriental

... a nice and quiet ending for a two-day holiday indeed!
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