Birthday Dinner - The Chef's Table at L'espalier

I had the best dinner of my life last night. I dined in the kitchen at L'espalier, at the Chef's Table. What an experience - definitely the best way to celebrate a couple of birthdays!

It was really cool to see everything behind the scenes, and to see the people who make such awesome food.

One of the first small items to come out were these amazing, delicate strawberry champagne macaroons. This melted in my mouth; it was so neat!

I ordered a cider made in Maine, which was very tasty. Shortly after that arrived, the next small dish showed up: a Bergamot spritzer with Earl Grey foam. Wow.

The next two small plates were pretty delicious as well. First, an apple chip with apple jelly, paired with a dehydrated corn cluster. The jelly was very intensely apple-flavored! The second set of small bites was a Mornay cheese eclair, a mini ham and cheese sandwich, and a pumpkin financier.

L'espalier's delicious breads were brought out next, and I realized that I may like pretzel bread more than pretzels; very tasty.

The first "official" course was Laherte Freres "Tradition" Brut from Champagne paired with Apple Street Farm egg and Siberian Sturgeon caviar. Wicked good.

The next course paired 2011 Gruner Veltliner, Fx Pichler, Loibner Franenweingarten with warm Wellfleet oysters and faux gnocchi, samphire, and vermouth. Amazing.

The next course was excellent: 2009 Savigny, Les-Beaune, Bize paired with butter poached Casco Bay lobster with sugar pumpkin mousse, Maine mussels, hearts of palm and red curry puree. My friend, Brenda, is allergic to lobster, so check out the gorgeous (and presumably delicious) replacement dish they created!

The lobster was followed by a 2009 Kiralyudvar, Tokaji Furmint, Sec from Hungary paired with Nantucket Bay scallops with confit Berkshire pork jowl, little clams, native pine and roasted garlic. It's starting to feel repetitive to keep saying how good everything was, but, well, it was awesome!

The next dish paired Mas Amiel, 15 year Prestige, Maury, with roasted Hudson Valley foie gras with compressed pineapple, citrus cake, fennel and macadamia nut.

And then a palate cleanser! White wine and lemon granite with crimson berry gel and creme Chantilly ice cream, as good as you can imagine. Also - note all the AAA Five Diamond Restaurant awards.

The next course was a 2009 Domaine Faiveley "Clos des Myglands" Premier Cru, Mercurey, from Burgundy, paired with sole with pine nuts, mandarin orange, and lemon curd. Gorgeous, and the fish basically melted in my mouth.

Following the sole was squab, slow poached and roasted with black truffle-turnip "risotto", pear puree, fresh juniper, and foie gras jus, paired with 2005 Lopez de Heredia, "Vina Cubillo" from Rioja.

The next course was a 2009 Mauritson Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley paired with Cassoulet du Languedoc with roasted lamb loin and herb sausage, and Maine yellow eye pea and black garlic. So good.

The next-to-last course was the Grand Fromage. The first cheese is La Tur, from Piedmont, Italy. It's made from cow, sheep, and goat's milk, and it was very creamy. The second cheese is Payoyo, a mixed goat and sheep's milk cheese from Cadiz, Spain.

The third cheese was Cloud 9, a cow's milk cheese from Woodcock Farm in Weston, Vermont. This was one of my favorite cheeses last night. The fourth cheese is a sheep's milk cheese, Ben Nevis, from Bonnieview Farm in South Albany, Vermont.

The next cheese was Taleggio Riserva, a cow's milk cheese from Lombardia, Italy, followed by the deliciously nutty Scharf Maxx, a Swiss cow's milk cheese.

The last two cheeses were both cow's milk cheeses: Blu al Vin Santo, from Piedmonte, Italy, a great cheese I had at last month's Cheese Tuesday dinner, and Bayley Hazen, an awesome blue cheese I first had at a O.N.C.E. dinner a few years ago. Bayley Hazen is made by Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont.

Next was a wonderful palate cleanser of St. Germaine sorbet, yogurt cake, and lime sphere, followed by birthday cake!

The final course was a Grand Dessert Tasting. The first dish is a mint chocolate souffle with red currant ice cream, and the second dish is a mushroom parfait with cardamom mascarpone ice cream.

The last two desserts were Ants on a Log with white rum ice cream and Bananas Foster with caramel creme and vanilla ice cream. Yum.

To finish the evening, a little bowl of delicious treats accompanied the giving of gifts! I wasn't expecting this at all, and I have to say it again: thank you, everyone at L'espalier, for these awesome gifts! They are definitely appreciated, and it was a wonderful way to end a dinner I'll never forget.


  1. Very impressive. What a way to spend your birthday!

  2. Thanks for posting this Janna,

    Your beautiful photos bring it all back!

    Every bite was remarkable and SO delicious. The only thing I'd add is that it was also great to talk to the people who make such awesome food. It's great to have faces and voices to put with the food I'll be eating next time! They were charming guys and it was really fun when they came over.

    My thanks too, to everyone at L'Espalier who made it such an unforgettable and special night.

  3. Oh, what an exquisite foodie experience and what exquisite pictures! You captured the essence of the moment!


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