As some of you may or may not know, I was headed to JOSIE yesterday with the mbf for a birthday dinner. Josie herself was kind enough to suggest on this posting board that I stop by the line and introduce myself. I am sure glad I made that post here, because I might have missed out on a wonderful evening.
We arrived and were quickly seated. Seeing that Josie was in the midst of some serious kitchen business, I decided that I would wait to say hello until a more calm moment. But I needn't have worried. As soon as we sat down, a waiter approached our table and asked if "someone" was having a special occasion. I admitted it was my birthday. He asked for my web name, which I gave, and then, with an enigmatic smile, he left. Feeling like a celebrity, I wondered exactly what I was in store for.
The food, of course, is amazing. The amuse bouche is a sliver of an incredible mushroom and gruyere tart. I started with a tart of goat cheese and cherry heirloom tomatoes--it was gorgeous, like a tartlet crust filled with rubies and topaz, and also delicious. The mbf has a special appetizer of softshell crab with romescu sauce and tomatoes. After happily tucking away our starters, the waiter appeared with two salads of endive, roquefort and roasted pears, saying they were from Josie. Grateful and astonished, we ate our salads (I don't like pear, but *this* was delicious, not too sweet, tender but firm) and Josie popped up to say hi. I was floating by then. This, I thought was how VIPs lived. I'm just a humble monkey girl, but the chowhound connection turned me into a princess.
For main courses, I had the monkfish tagine, served with curried Israeli couscous, vegetables, and cucumber raita. A bold-flavored dish that I could barely do justice to, since I was nearing the full mark after the amuse bouche, tomato tart, and endive salad. The mbf has another special, pan-seared duck with either a port or brandy sauce, sweet potato puree, roasted vegetables, and a frisee salad with grapes and blue cheese. Both of us struggled mightily to finish our main courses, but we just couldn't, so we packed what remained up to go. (Later, the cat got a slice of duck in honor of my birthday. He was beside himself.)
Blinking back tears of joy, we debated whether to get the chocolate bread pudding, blackberry crumble, or peach cobbler for dessert. The waiter suggested the blackberry crumble--I've been trying to eat more seasonally, too--and it arrived with a candle, and, written in chocolate around the edge of the plate "Happy Birthday 'Monkey-Girl.'" But the special treatment didn't end there. We were given also the trio of pot de creme as an extra treat. Everything was marvelous, not too sweet. The blackberry crumble came with vanilla bean ice cream, and the pot de creme were a revelation. I would never have ordered them on my own, but if you like intensely-flavored desserts, you must try this. They came with an orange-ganache truffle and a butter almond cookie. Between the chocolate, espresso and caramel, my favorite of the three was the caramel. I am a sucker for caramel.
And when the bill came, we saw that the endive salad and both our desserts had been comped. What a wonderful birthday gift. We thanked Josie profusely on our way out--I felt like prostrating myself at her feet--and then rolled ourselves out to the car, knowing we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So, at the risk of sounding excessive, I have to give Josie again my thanks for her phenomenal cooking and exceptional hospitality. She made an ordinary struggling novelist and daytime legal clerk feel like a celebrity, and for that I am very grateful.
Yours in chow,
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