Monday, June 13, 2011

Cyrus/Flag Day 2011

three years ago a friend and i had a conversation about one day having the meal of our lives at The French Laundry. a couple days later upon curiosity, Helen looked up reservations for FL and lucky for us, someone must have canceled. she found an opening for the following saturday.  now, if you don't know the French Laundry, then just know that at one time it was known as the best restaurant in the US, they generally accept reservations two months before the date and it costs $270/person for a nine course meal. so we gathered a couple of other foodies and went to TFL. while dining on the meal of our lives, we somehow realized that it was also Flag Day 2009. from that day forth we decided to make it an annual thing to dine on pretentious food on Flag Day.

this year we wanted to go to Cyrus. this restaurant holds two Michelin stars and is located in the quaint town of Healdsburg. i have never heard a negative thing about Cyrus so it was the perfect option for Flag Day 2011. we made reservations months in advance, which lead to months of anticipation. as anticipation increases, so does the amount of hype i have for a place. this is concerning because i end up anticipating perfection and if the experience isn't perfection, then i am underwhelmed. i'm happy to say that Cyrus lived up to all of my made up hype.

Marjie and i all happy to start the experience.

Kim, Doris and Helen, equally excited.

the meal started off with a three tier platter with canapes. there were five tastings and each represented one of the different tastes, salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami.

bitter: radish with who knows what. i can't remember. 
salty: clam with a chorizo powder.

sweet: again, i can't remember. but this had a very thin containing layer and once you put it in your mouth it bursts with a sweet liquid of some sort. it was a pretty entertaining spoonful. 
sour: citrus tart. i dig. 

umami: broth that had a very mushroomy taste. 

next we were served the amuse bouche of compressed peaches and onion puree. i didn't think it would work but it definitely did. a refreshing start to our meal. it also helped the cleanse the palate between the canapes and the main event.

two types of salt, a cow butter and a goat butter. the goat butter was surprisingly awesome. and the cow butter was intensely rich in a good way.

an assortment of possibly the best breads i've had in my life. incredibly buttery brioche, the nuttiest multigrain, the most perfectly crisp and moist chive biscuit, cute little sourdoughs, the most amazingly garlicy bread there ever was, and my absolute favorite, a feta olive bread that was soooo flaky and buttery. heavenly.

as i've stated in this blog before, Kim and i share our food so that we can taste as much as possible. for every course where an option was offered, we each chose the opposite so that we could have it all. 

first course:

corn and bacon tomago dofu with pickled okra: the dehydrated corn and bacon added a nice texture to the sweet tofu. the okra was a tad slimy as okra always is, and the kale in the little pouch was biter in a good way. i can't say i loved this dish. lucky for me i got to taste a second first course...

sea scallop with watermelon and coriander broth: refreshing and light.

second course:

glazed gulf shrimp with banana blossoms and coconut milk froth: thoroughly enjoyed this dish. although it looks a bit phallic, don't you think? including the milk froth. haha!! 

seared foie gras with morels and fava beans: the texture of the foie gras was perfect matched with the fava beans and morels tortellini. i love morels. they are a funny looking awesome mushroom. the sauce that accompanied this dish was aaaaamazing with the brioche bread.

third course:

sea bass with artichokes in sake lees, pea sprouts and dashi: a very well cooked piece of fish. but what stood out was the broth. it had a super lightness to it but provided a perfect enhancement of flavor to the fish.

fourth course:

miso poached chicken with spring onions and maitake: the chicken must have been cooked sous vide because it was evenly cooked throughout and had an almost velvety texture, if that makes any sense. the maitake was roasted to perfection. the flavors were strong and the lightly crisp portions added a great texture. this mushroom made me do a little happy dance in my seat. no joke.

we were given a little guava and gingerale popsicle as a palate cleanser.

fifth course:

lamb roulade with farro and pickled ramps: a nice dish. it didn't blow me away. the lamb was a little less tender than i thought it would be, but they wrapped it in a nice thin layer of crispy fat of some sort that was good!

beef short rib with mung bean sprouts and cherry tomato confit: SO good!! really tender and perfect. the little tomato confit bursts in your mouth with the most flavorful tomato i've ever had.

sixth course:

cheese course!! we got to choose three cheeses to try. Kim and i shared and got to try six!! all were very good.

along with the cheese came these things to pair them with.

two kinds of bread along with lavash.

hazelnut and date bread and an apricot (?) sauce.

some kind of gelee.

seventh course:

vanilla bean fontainbleau with rhubarb, hibiscus and lime, and yogurt streusel: surprisingly my favorite dish of the day! this was refreshing yet substantial. it was light, sweet, tart, creamy and texturally appealing. it was by far the best thing i ate that day. my heart stopped for a moment eating that.

eighth course:

milk chocolate peanut butter bar with honeycomb parfait: the peanut butter bar was rich and creamy. the chocolate ice cream and peanuts added texture. but the star of this dish was the honeycomb parfait. it had some form of whipped creamy stuff with pieces of honeycomb and chocolate ganache. 

plum wine cake with strawberry: cake with a bruleed top, shaved strawberry shortcake and plum wine. i didn't particularly like this dish because i don't like alcohol and i could definitely taste it in the dish.

after eight courses, you'd think it was the end and everybody could leave happy with their tummies smiling. but no, no. Cyrus won't have you end with just that. they brought out a cart with even more goodies. mignardises:

rum and coke lollipops, coconut and almond macaroons, chocolate with a salted caramel filling, toffee and chocolate with almonds on a saltine cracker, calamansi chews, rich truffles, meringue kisses, tangerine gelees and pudding.

we each took one of everything to go but we had to eat the pudding there.

chocolate pudding with coconut panna cotta and chocolate covered rice crisps. awesome.

my box of treats to-go. including a chocolate walnut brownie that was meant for the following day.

again, you would think that this was the end of Cyrus experience. but no!! they brought out one last little surprise for all of us! fresh fried doughnuts!!!

bourbon and maple glazed doughnuts!

 one tiny little warm last bite to send us off into the best food coma.

then they presented us with the menu for the day.

Doris, Kim, me, Marjie and Helen. 

 so that was our awesome Cyrus experience. it not only met all of my expectations, it blew my away! in fact quite honestly, it was almost as good as my experience at The French Laundry, only it was half the price! i would recommend Cyrus for anybody that appreciates quality food and the fine dining experience.

although Cyrus was the main event for the day, we couldn't make a trip out to Healdsburg without stopping for food finds elsewhere as well. early in the morning i called ahead to The Model Bakery in Napa to have them reserve some of their famous english muffins known to all by the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate, in which celebrity chef Michael Chiarello claimed them to be the best english muffins in the world. i had tried to get my hands on those enlgish muffins on three separate visits to Napa to no avail. this day i wanted to make sure that we were going to get them and we did!!

the next day i ate one toasted with a little bit of butter and it was absolutely the best english muffin i've ever had to date. some people say it's greasy but i say it's buttery. i want more now!!

then we headed to Bouchon Bakery to pick up some french macaroons.

the amazing strawberry rhubarb, espresso and pistachio. unfortunately they sat in my car while we were at Cyrus and the fillings melted a bit altering the texture of the middle. oh well, they still taste effing fantastic.

last, we went to The Downtown Bakery and Creamery to get the famous donut muffin seen on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
donut muffin. NOT the best thing i ever ate. it was actually really dense and dry. a throwaway item in my opinion.

i love Flag Day!!! this annual day is almost better than any holiday in my eyes!!! we've already decided that next years Flag Day will be at Meadowood in Napa!!!! let the anticipation begin!!!

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