Friday, October 26, 2007

Taste the Bounty of New York State

During the month of October about 70 of New York City’s finest restaurants celebrated the harvest and New York State’s agriculture bounty by featuring New York wines by the glass paired with special recipes and menus created with New York farm products. I enjoyed the pleasure of experiencing this a few weeks ago when I ate lunch at Brasserie Les Halles.

It was around 12:45 p.m. when I walked into the restaurant and it was crowded, of course. Typically, I’m not one who likes to dine in crowded places, but I decided to do it. The maitre’d greeted me and then walked with me towards the back of the restaurant towards a group of small, two-seater tables. My table was between two tiny two-seater tables, which were each occupied. I squeezed in between to get to the chair against the wall at my table while trying not to knock over the patrons’ water glasses. I sat down and looked around and started to feel claustrophobic. Suddenly, I realized that I did not want to sit by myself in between four strangers, particularly when the tables were so close. Quickly, I looked up at the maitre’d and said, “Actually, I think I’ll sit at the bar, instead.” I stood up and squeezed my way out from between both tables.

I walked over towards the bar where I had a choice to sit on one of five empty bar stools. The maitre’d reviewed the specials with me, highlighting that the roasted brook trout was fresh and very good. He did a very good up-sell, particularly since I am a fish person and do not need much convincing to order a fresh piece of fish.

After reviewing the entire menu, I decided I would go with the New York State featured products—both the food and the wine. I ordered the roasted brook trout with winter squash gratan and a beet reduction sauce and also a glass of the Millbrook New York State chardonnay.

The New York State chardonnay was very good--crisp, light and had a touch of a grassy sauvignon blanc taste, not an oak flavor. I sipped the wine, enjoying the spacious environment at the bar, and chatted briefly with the bartender in between her drink pouring service.

Then the food came out. The ten ounce portion of roasted trout was prepared extremely well, roasted perfectly—not dry or overcooked. The winter squash gratan and beet reduction sauce provided a perfect balance to the firm flesh of the fish. I enjoyed finishing my wine and briefly spoke with the maitre’d, thanking him for the recommendation and indicating that the food was excellent.

As I left the restaurant, it started to rain, so I ran into the closest subway entrance and started my journey home.

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