The following is an excerpt from my (http://ulteriorepicure.wordpress.com/...) blog post about my recent visit to Vie. You can see photos from this meal on (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulterior...) on my Flickr account:
You know the gnocchi are good when the woman sitting next to you turns to her husband and says to him, “These gnocchi are nothing like yours! These are actually very good!!”
And, all this time, she thought she hated gnocchi.
To kick off my birthday weekend in Chicago, I (finally) made it out to Western Springs to experience a full meal at the hands of Paul Virant. I was first smitten by Virant at a charity dinner I attended in Chicago in 2005. Among the many lauded chefs and dishes they each cooked, his amuse bouche - a sliver of smoked sturgeon topped with fennel, pickled asparagus, and a sprig of fresh dill – was a highlight. It was served with a perfectly-cooked round of fingerling potato sauced with caviar and cream.
Wall of Wine
Since then, I vowed to make it out to Vie.
It took me three years, but I’m happy to say that I finally made it on a happy occasion: four friends and I converged and reunited (hadn’t seen each other in quite a while) on the excuse of my thirtieth birthday.
The chef was kind enough to give us a sample of his repertoire with an eight-course tasting menu paired with seven wines. The progression went like this (you can see all of the photos from this dinner on my Flickr set):
Amuse Bouche: Brandade with local San Marzano tomato jam.
1st Course: Spanish Olive Oil-Poached Blackfin Tuna (house-made morcilla sausage, Miner's lettuce, pickled peppers and smoked paprika), paired with Gramona, Cava, Gran Cuvee, 2004 (Spain)
2nd Course: Ricotta Gnocchi (pan-roasted oyster mushrooms, werp farms sorrel, sweet butter), paired with Monchof, Robert Eymael, Estate Riesling, Mosel, 2006 (Germany)
3rd Course: Pan-Seared Lemon Sole (wilted stinging nettles, roasted baby artichokes, spring garlic, chervil sauce), paired with Catena, Chardonnay, Mendoza, 2006 (Argentina)
4th Course: Spring Green Salad (house-made pancetta vinaigrette, Concord grape mostarda, preserved grapes, pine nuts, shaved Magic Mountain cheese), paired with Mas de Gourgonnier, Rose, 2006 (Les Baux de Provence).
5th Course: Pan-Fried Quail (leeks, preserved Michigan cherries, thyme, Prairie Fruits Farm fresh chevre), paired with Rutz Cellars, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Cuvee, 2006 (California).
6th Course: New Zealand Venison Combination (seared leg and house-smoked strip loin, wild rice, preserved chestnuts and blueberries, brown butter, fried sunchokes), paired with Langmeil, Blacksmith Cabernet, Barossa Valley, 2005 (Australia).
7th Course: White wine sorbet.
8th Course: Bittersweet Chocolate Marquise (pistachio creme anglaise, candied pistachios, house preserved strawberries), paired with NV Niepoort. (Ruby Porto, Portugal)
Mignardises: Coconut pate de fruit.