Monday, November 12, 2012

NYC's MAS is indeed more than you could wish for (11-11-12)

After catching a Broadway show (Scandalous) and running up to Lincoln Center for the Richard Tucker Gala, I chose to forego the black tie, usually lots of fun, but not good food dinner and head back to Soho (actually Noho) where I was staying for a wonderful dinner at MAS (farmhouse) on teeny quiet Downing Street ( Mas has been around for almost a decade, but I have not been in this neighborhood for years. My grandparents used to live in the building directly across the street which fronts on Houston Street, but that was way before dining in this area became chic.
The space is small and cozy, but also cozy in the sense that the tables are less than 6 inches apart. Luckily I had some nice folks next to me who were very chatty until they left partway through my sojourn. I arrives at 920pm and stayed for 3 hours of sublime dining as I could not choose so Alphorns, my server, said, let chef take over and it's just $125 (instead of the 4 course menu for $78). Glasses of wine here tend to be pricey, at around $15-20 each, so the accompanying wine deal (not on the menu, you must ask) is the way to go for 6 or 7 wines at an additional $75.

A choice of three breads came with creamy butter; I chose the multigrain (the others were French roll and whole wheat) which had a salted crust like a pretzel that was superb. The sparkling water is Hildon from the UK which I always like and you don't see too often this side of the pond.

My first glass was a Marc Hebrart Rose Champagne which was crisp with lots of fine bubbles; I wanted a swizzle stick to reduce the gas, which made me think of my late mother, who used to carry one in her purse oh so many years ago. (I must diverge and say that the main reason for this trip to NYC was for the unveiling of my Mom's tombstone earlier the same morning; this was a fitting salute --indeed the entire day was!).
Amuse #1 was a Citrus marinated Lump Crab with Orange Creme Fraiche that was simple and pure giving our Maryland Crab great honor.
Amuse #2 was a Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese and Basil Pollen that was quite divine as well
I was told that the chef wanted to send out some extra courses (surprise!) and first came the Yellowfin TUNA a l'Occidentale, a signature dish of Mas (my neighbors clapped with joy as they had this earlier). The tuna is quickly seared and raw at the middle in a brown butter with citrus soy balsamic vinaigrette and covered with celestial Crispy Shallots.
This was served with a crispy yet slightly mineral 2010 Gerard Duplessis Chablis.

I was then informed that the tasting menu had begun and was served a plate of two perfectly filleted Grilled Portuguese Sardines with Candied Chestnuts, Chestnut Foam, Butternut Squash Confit and Mizuna. The preparation was perfection and all it made me do was want to hurry to Portugal and Spain, but that will have to wait until our trip there next August!
A Montlouis Surlow 2008 Clos Anherl Chenin Blanc was the ideal pairing, and I have to say, while not a big fan of Chenin Blanc, this was one of the best I have ever had.

St. Aubin 1er Cru was next "Les Perrieres" 2008 from Prudhon which had great minerality and was unreal with the SHRIMP & Spaghetti Squash, Marcona Almonds, Mache & Baby Cress, Horseradish Dressing (there was a gastrique, or what I forget) and some parmesan. This was one of my favorite dishes because of the flavors and the horsereadish giving just a light bite.

Terrebrune 2011 Rose from Bandol was served with another gem: Soy dusted MONKFISH with Butter Carrot Puree, Bok Choy & Chanterelles. Need I say more?

We moved to the St. Aubin Pinot Noir 2009 "Le Ban" from Catherine & Dominique Derain, and I thought it wimpy. It was paired with SWEETBREADS cooked just right, Baby Beets, Brussels Sprouts & Bacon.
The wine could not stand up to the rich organs nor the bacon, but the dish was divine.

Gigondas 2007 from Domaine de Gour de Chaute was much better and I noticed as course #5 came that a couple was seated in the far corner at 11:15pm; now that's late dining for a Sunday! Long Island DUCKLING rendered in its own fat came with Mustard Greens, Sunchoke Puree and Roasted Sunchokes. The meat was superb and I adore sunchokes as they are so in season now (at every farmer's market).

At one point during the meal a dish came and was placed down by someone other than Alphonso and the word "fennel puree" was said. Alphonso had specifically asked me my dislikes, and immediately whisked the dish away. I didn't even get to taste it. The folks at the next table said they would have eaten it :-)).
Anyway, Alphonso announced there would be extras to make up for that, not that I needed more.
A 2011 Braucol from Gaillac (a region I never heard of before) was poured and it was a big red made from Mourvedre and Grenache that was paired with Roasted Rack of Lamb, more Sunchoke Puree and Braised Cider Cabbage, which was one of the few things I did not care for all night--the cabbage that is. The lamb was again cooked just past rare and excellent.

Green apple sorbet with Seckel Pear and Milled Cider Granita was one of the most refreshing palate cleansers on record.

J. Lassalle Blanc de Blanc Champagne was poured and dessert was announced. QUINCE Confit & Quince Mascarpone Semifreddo (on a hazelnut financier crust). When cheese courses come with quince paste, I usually avoid it. This preparation was perfect (Alphonso had asked me if I wanted fruity or chocolate-y dessert) and light yet the decadent rich semifreddo was bliss.

A small plate came with a Caramel & Milk Chocolate Tart that was salted (yum) and a Mint Marshmallow that even I who am not a mint nut found refreshing.

I walked the six or so blocks back to my hotel oh so happy that I had found MAS and luckily had not indulged in too mas!