01 June 2012

Montana in a New York Brownstone

A gourmet club in Chicago made the mistake of inviting me to dinner as a prospective member. 44 men, black tie, eight courses and a lot of different wine glasses. A brief reception before dinner and most talk was about food. If you think this was the perfect setting for pretentious restaurant criticism and foodie banter -- you'd be right.

Seated eight to a table, we started with foie gras and a Hungarian Tokay Aszu. "So, what do you think?" the club president asked the table. The first answer came from his immediate right, "The foi gras... a tad undone and I would have preferred a Sauternes." Comments continued orderly, persnickety and counter clockwise. Seated to the president's left - I was last. The president, my nephew-in-law, turns to me, "John, what do you think of the pairing?" "It tastes like pu$$y," I said. And despite the laughter...

-- I was never invited back.

Last week, I was invited to dinner at the James Beard House. I kept my mouth shut -- unless I was putting something in it -- and this time it wouldn't be my foot. I sat at a table of ten and while there was a critic, oddly enough a Midwesterner, everyone seemed happy and grateful to be there.

Chef Andy Blanton of Cafe Kandahar in Whitefish, MT balanced an erudite menu of Oyster & Brie soup with his own cured bacon against a mind blowing Elk tenderloin with pink peppercorns and huckleberrys in an ice wine reduction with ramps and sweet potato flan. Somewhere between the soup and the elk were a lotta glasses and seven courses in all. Wines were from the Walla Walla Valley in Washington.

There's a wonderful ease about the James Beard House. Not at all stuffy. In fact, a little thread bare and worn but so comfortable in that NYC brownstone kind of way. Perfect for a Montana chef to do his thing. Perfect for an earthy comment? I'll never know. I want to be invited back.

Membership details to the James Beard House, a true bargain in NYC, are available here. You can check out Andy's place here.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious. It's better to lose a friend, or in this case a dinner club invite, than a chance at a wisecrack.


Alice Olive said...

Good lord. Can't believe you said that (in Chicago). Like your strategy this time around.

The View from The Back said...

Wow! I would suggest that instead you simply nod thoughtfully or look slightly upward while rubbing your chin as if to have a wistful moment....this is one time I'd keep the tomfoolery to a minimum to get in on some of that action.

randall said...

Ha. Love it. They must have $h!t their collective pants when you said that, but sometimes you just have to take the proverbial starch out of the collective collar.

I'll quote my swim team bus driver from 11th grade. "If it smells like fish it's a dish, if it smells like cologne leave it alone."

KSB said...

Cafe Kandahar? Any color on the name? The free flowing booze and the fact that the event was mixed company leads me to believe this was not an authentic "Evening in Afghanistan" themed night. Perhaps the chef did a tour with the Army or Marines in Kandahar?

Unclelooney said...

I have a tendency to fart.
So shoot me.

Jeff P. said...

eh... looks like a gaggle of douche bags to me.

Robbie said...

If I recall, the response from my distinguished cardiologist friend was "do you prefer sauternes or Tokay with your pu$$y" ?

tintin said...

Alice & The View- It was an all boy's night out so I felt I was in line. Sadly, I've never shaken my vulgar, enlisted man origins.

KSB- Something to do with the skiing in MT and the similarity to Kandahar.

Uncle Looney- Nice to hear from you again. Even your farts are welcome here.

Jeff - You need to lose your officer affectations.

Robbie- Who said, "I wonder if our wives say, 'Hey, this tastes like dick?'"

H said...

The restaurant is at the top of a mountain, Whitefish Mountain. That is the Kandahar link, but a stretch all the same.

I am with Jeff P. And maybe, just maybe, that group of Chicago men had never tasted p$%(y.

M.Lane said...

Trad, I fell over laughing at this one. It is just SO you.

Anyhow, I am joining the James Beard. It is SO me.

Thanks for the great story.

Almost time for a Dark and Stormy?


GSV JR said...

huh, weird. most of the elk i've had, while being undercooked, does indeed taste like pussy.

Rich Fader said...

Begging the question...has Tin told the current or any prior Golf Foxtrot she tastes like foie gras and Tokay?