Mom is lying on the couch, recovering. Eight-course tasting menus at Union are exquisite. If I could do high kicks, I’d compose a cheer for Ethan Stowell and his Union. I’d also add that Union’s tasting menus are an incredible value, a real steal, but that makes it sound as though I’m hawking a used car.
Nonetheless, get thyself to Union, and make haste. I am a wonderfully cheap date, so please invite me when you do so. One and a half glasses of wine (Mom finished the other half) and I have to really concentrate to get to the bathroom without leaning on the tables en route. But I am very charming, poised, and well-trained, so no one will know but you and me.
-Amuse bouche of a halved fingerling potato with lobster/crème fraîche salad and lime-infused olive oil
-Smoked Scottish salmon stacked with heirloom tomatoes and microscopic watercress leaves (so perfectly salted! Mmmm, salt!)
-Lobster soup with Dungeness crab cake (so fragrant; I moaned)
–Seared sea scallop on a bed of braised beef shortribs (the scallop was enormous, meltingly tender, and pungently scallop-y; the shortribs were chocolate-dark in an unctuous glossy glaze; together, the beef and scallop made some novel third flavor that has yet to find a name here on Earth. Beef + scallop = beefy lop, perhaps. I moaned again.)
-Muscovy duck breast on artichoke puree with aged balsamic and port reduction (slices of rare seared duck breast with a thin layer of fat that melted on the tongue, punched up with a very jammy, fruity port undertone. Encore du moaning.)
-Lancashire cheddar with raisin/hazelnut bread, balsamic frisée, and stewed fig (superlatives all around, more moaning)
-Orange-fleshed honeydew sorbet on fresh huckleberries with mint syrup (wonderfully refreshing and clean, and huckleberries taste much like I imagine wild blueberries do)
-Vanilla panna cotta with plum soup and diced nectarine (again, please)
We each had a glass of Grüner Veltliner to accompany the first four courses, and then a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. I can’t remember the vintners, if I ever knew them. The cat’s out of the bag; no one will ever take me seriously again! But I can throw around adjectives like “flinty” and “minerally” and “mushroomy” and “wet doggy” and convince any sommelier out there that I know exactly what is what. Indeed. I think that’s what the wine snobs do. Dirty wine snobs.
In other news, last night I indoctrinated Mom into the ways of larb. Mom says that “powdered galangal” sounds like a venereal disease: “Um, Doctor, I think I’ve got galangal again. It’s really powdery this time.” But if she ever wants to make larb, she’ll be getting herself some powdered galangal, and you can bet she won’t be laughing. Larb is nothing to laugh about.