On Sunday, I was thrilled to be able to meet two dear friends and clients in NYC who are here to sing at the Met tonight. I chose MAREA as the food there has always been so good, and our family loved dinner several months ago at it's sister Ai Fiori downtown.
It's been several years since my first time in Marea, and while formal and stiff, it is an excellent place to dine near Columbus Circle/Lincoln Center & Broadway.
I arrived early amidst the 0 degree wind chills and settled in with a traditional classic & spicy Bloody Mary made with Belvedere Vodka.
They do a $47 tow course fixed price brunch and while this seems high, the food is top quality and they are Relais et Chateaux!
I started with an awesome ZUPPA-Mushroom Brodo (broth) with Poached Egg, Sunchoke & Hen of the Woods. I loved this dish as it was hot and satisfying with such a strong broth that was ideal on this day, then the poached egg that oozed into it was so perfectly brunchlike as to transform the dish.
One of my guests had a delicious INSALATA of winter greens, pomegranates, gorgonzola and walnuts and the other chose a beautiful SEPPIA, Cuttlefish Tagliattelle with Soffrito Crudo and Bottarga di Mugine (mullet eggs).
A glass of superb Vermintino "Boboli" Collie di Luna 2011 from Giacomelli in Liguria arrived for my meal and it was ideal with the brood but even better with my main course-Strozzapretti, those awesome priest-hat shaped pastas I adore but here in a rich decadent creamy sauce with Crab, Sea Urchin & Basil, topped with crunchy bread crumbs for a little crunch. OMG!
Caramelle were superb goat cheese ravioli with arugula, an amazing sour cherry flavor and pistachios, while the CAPESANTE were huge seared scallops with Cider Braised Pork Cheek, Apple, Celery & Pine.
We had time for dessert and two of us chose cheese while the other went for a creamy Panna Cotta Fior di Latte with Green Apple & Roasted Pineapple Sorbetto.
My cheeses were a superb VBC Cremont from Vermont goat & cow that was creamy and rich and served with marinated red currants, a mediocre Consider Bardwell Pawlett (raw cow) with also not too exciting quince jelly and a yummy Bellweather Farm San Andreas raw sheep with a date paste.
I should have switched that Pawlett for the Casatica Buffalo from Italy that my guest chose.
Last came yummy Chocolate Almond Financiers that were tasty & crunchy and had a gold leaf on top.
Here is where things started to sour. We had asked for coffees after dessert and they never showed. I asked three or four times, and also requested the bill as I had a 3pm curtain and it was now 230pm. The coffee had not shown by 240pm, so I cancelled mine and paid very fast and ran out; I made my show with 4 minutes to spare as I grabbed a cab right outside. They did take the three coffees off the bill, but I never had time to enjoy mine.
Other than that, this brunch was a big boost on a cold day.