Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Per Se, per se!

Well, Per Se isn't French Laundry, per se, it's... Well, it IS French Laundry but with a better view and a less rustic atmosphere. It's in the Time Warner building and has a gorgeous view of the park. (Fer all yew oakies, that's New York City, in New York State and "the park" means Central Park. Oooh weee. ;) And I mean gorgeous. The waiters are fantastic and fun and, and this is the kicker, they have coffee and donuts, though I don't remember it being a semifreddo and cinnamon donut but rather a mousse. Though, truth to tell, I didn't have it the first time around, Kim did. (Let me explain, if you are an old timer, as we are, then you know that before the current two tasting menus, the French Laundry had 3 tasting menus, little, big and biggest, and you could also order a la carte, that is, off a menu. Kim tells me that there was never an a la carte option but I don't think so. I remember her ordering the "Coffee and Donuts", and it was a large cup of chocolate mousse and a cinnamon donut. However, it wasn't mousse we got this time but a semifreddo which means partly frozen, or semi-frozen. And a semifreddo is usually a frozen custard, sort of like my ice cream after it is churned and before I freeze it solid. I use so many eggs and make it like a custard that it could be called a semifreddo if I didn't call it ice cream. ;) In Italy, gelato, which means frozen, is made with milk, not cream. It may contain eggs but I don't think that that is traditional. Now, I'm sure someone will write in and say, "My family has been making gelato since the Renaissance and we use eggs", or something absurd like that. The most important thing about gelato is that you must use milk, not cream and an Italian ice cream machine, rather than an English one. The English one tumbles the ice cream, see American Iron Chef for an example of an English ice cream maker, and the Italian version stirs so there is no air in the dense ice cream. There. I hope that that clarifies things. ;)

You have to ask for the coffee and donut(s) and they give it to you. I had a VERY bad cold so Kim ate her half of the donut and coffee and I ate the other half. I remember the cup of coffee being bigger but I ain't complaining. They gave it to us for free. You see, when Claire Clark came on board, she didn't want Per Se to serve it but the kind people at Per Se made a to do, per se. So, they have it and French Laundry does not.

The menu is almost exactly the same. Or rather, it probably IS the same, since we ate at the French Laundry this winter. It was good but I had a cold, so what do I know. I had really wanted to go to Perilla but the only reservation we could get was at 9:00 and we were at the Fancy Food Show the whole day and just couldn't do it.

Yes, we stayed at the Algonquin again and had a ton of fun. I would have had more if my arm wasn't in a sling from damaging my bicep tendon and I didn't have the flu. Ouch. Not a touch of flu mind you, a full up, I want to lay down and die flu. Not that fun. And worst of all, no pictures. I forgot my little camera, though Kim remembered hers. But we didn't take any pictures. She didn't want to lug the big camera to Per Se and you can't take it into the Fancy Food Show. Boo hoo.

BTW, you have to ask for the fancy salts to get them. Oh, and they had California and French butter not California and Vermont butter. Someone was saying that the California woman has only one cow and so the butter is exclusively French Laundry. I think that was the waiter at Per Se. Good people. Food was good. I want to go back for drinks and the view. Check out December 2007 for the report on French Laundry on the InnSane blog.

Anyway, they were nice and we took a tour of the kitchen where there wasn't any cooking going on that I could see. Very bright in the kitchen and very clean. The dessert station was the first one. They also had a video hook up to the French Laundry though with a 3 hour time difference, I'm not sure what good that that does. I'd go back just for the view though next time I'll have the vegetable tasting menu to try something else. They had black truffle, shaved raw, surprising, on the vegetable menu.

The young kid who was the manager went to CIA. Nice. What a feather in this fellow's cap. They are also following in the footsteps of Charlie Trotter's in that they have a service charge. We still gave them a 20% tip or there abouts. Good service and decent grub. Sure, I'd go back but before going back, I have to go to Perilla.

Oh, by the way, with only 14-16 tables at Per Se, and also at the French Laundry, they go through 1,000 plates a night. That's right. Figure 8-9 courses times 15 tables and an average of 3 people per table, that's an easy 1,000. Also, don't forget the amuse buse and the extra plates for the chocolates and the coffee and donuts, though that's only 1 coffee and donut for 2, not one each, etc. 1,000 plates sounds like a low ball estimate. I think I liked Per Se better than French Laundry, same menu but I just LOVED the view and the decor. The decor was understated at Per Se. More like the old French Laundry than the French Laundry Disneyland of today. Ouch. Sorry, Chef Keller but the French Laundry branded lamps pushed me over the edge.

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