Friday, November 25, 2016

NYC's Ai Fiori comes out in front forever (11-23-16)

 It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to head to New York early Wednesday morning the day before Thanksgiving catch a matinee on Broadway and then head to the quiet and serene Ain
 Fiori in the Langham Hotel where Chef Michael White, one of the great chefs in New York has one of his wonderful Italian dining palaces.
 We always arrive early and the place was deserted as we sat down, but the place with filled up to about half capacity by the time we left 3 hours later. It tends to be a very quiet night for dining in New York and we really love the quiet relaxed and very high end feeling of refinement with beautiful linens and crystal and excellent service from top to bottom.

In our attempts to buy Sicilian and taste as much as we can before we go next summer we ordered a bottle of 2014 Tenuta di Fessina Etna Bianco "Erse" which had an apple and earthiness flavor that we loved.
Slim crisp grissini arrived in a glass filled with extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves and we spent some time perusing the menu.
The four course 99 dollar menu which is in a la carte choice from each category really gives you a lot of leeway and we each chose our dishes and sat back for a ride as an amuse of parsnip puree with pistachio crumble and oranges gelee arrived. The puree was excellent but  the crumble was a bit soggy and perhaps should have been put on only at the last minute before the amuse was served.
The first courses were as varied as they come with Sam ordering a Zuppa di Porri or leek and Yukon Gold potatoes soup with creme fraiche  and crispy prosciutto.   Will  opted for the Polipo alla Piastra which was octopus with sweet potato caponata, brown butter and pine nuts. My Riccio de Mare was a decadent sea urchin  panna cotta with lemon gel, creme fraiche  and caviar that absolutely was gorgeous with its tiny radishes and cucumbers curled up on top and decorating the beautiful plate. Be sure to look on Facebook for a lot of photos.
I do have to add that when I put the photo on Facebook and tried to read in the name of the dish on my phone it understood me as "search in Punta Cana" instead of sea urchin panna cotta!!
The pasta courses are probably the highlights of the meal here, and this meal was no less than any other normal one.  Samuel chose the Risotto Acquarello with brown squash, cranberry beans and Tallegio cheese. Will managed to hit the richest dish in this course with Marubin or Duck  Ravioli with foie gras butter and cherry gastrique. 
I find the pastas that have a little spice here to be the best and the Trofie Nero was amazing squid ink pasta with Ligurean crustacean ragu with seppia, scallops and spiced  Mollica or bread crumbs on top. 
We moved on to a different bottle of white wine which was very different in an earthy oaky way as it came from the Liguria it was called  Riviera Ligurie di Ponente Pigato 2013 by Laura Aschero.
 I forgot to mention that everything comes with olive oil and salted butter and I'm talking about the amazing breads such as olive baguette, rye,  pecan raisin roll, and whole wheat.  We tried  to refrain but it is virtually impossible.
Needless to say Sam had the Tagliata or prime dry aged strip loin which came with endive, potato terrine style "cacio e pepe" and bordelaise sauce.
Will  chose the Spada or extra virgin olive oil poached swordfish which came with artichokes, basil pesto and prosciutto. He declared the the dish tasty but that the fish itself was a bit on the soft side.
 I was thrilled with my Astice or butter poached Nova Scotia Lobster with delicata squash some petite onions and black trumpet mushrooms.
Sam went light for desert with Pear, Berry and Mango Passion sorbets.  Will had  the toTorta di nociole or milk chocolate mousse with hazelnut sponge, caramel and hazelnut gelato which disappeared fast, well I chose a plate of three cheeses and they were all top notch excellent:
Valencay, a soft ash rind French goat
Pleasant Ridge Reserve,  superb from raw cow from  Dodgeville Wisconsin
And Rouquefort d'Argental a raw sheep blue from Midi-Pytenees that was stinky and heavenly.
Speaking of heavenly we rolled out the door and headed home after an amazing first day of our Thanksgiving trip to New York.