Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Last night Mr. Cupcake brought food home from work. Why is this significant? It's not really, but the cafeteria is somewhat famous for its interesting variety. Not to mention it is all organic. I was surprised when he presented me with seared ahi tuna. Yep, that's caviar on the tuna. So strange.

Today is my birthday. I feel old, but really I'm not. I had a nice day though. I was going to make a chocolate hazelnut cake, but it seems like all the elements were fighting against me. I ended up buying the wrong kind of chocolate at Trader Joe's. I was suppose to have bittersweet chocolate but instead I bought bittersweet chocolate with nuts. Gah. Then, someone called this morning and wanted to do a phone interview at 3. I said sure why not? (I bet you didn't think I was actually looking for a job did you? I am, but I have to say, staying at home isn't a bad gig either.) Anyway, I made cupcakes instead. I didn't do any fancy pipe work because lack of time. I made dark chocolate cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting. We had some leftover vanilla beans, so I used it, and man does that stuff smell amazing. Normal vanilla extract smells good, but there's nothing like a real vanilla bean. I haven't eaten one yet. I finished around the time I had to start getting ready for dinner. They're still sitting on the counter. They look kind of boring too.

Tonight, Mr. Cupcake took me to dinner. I knew he was taking me out, but I didn't know where. He ended up picking Chez TJ in Mountain View which is described as contemporary French cuisine. There was a recommendation board at work that picked this place as the "best romantic restaurant in the South Bay". I've had French food before, but haven't really been blown away. Perhaps I'm not sophisticated enough.

Anyway, we went to the restaurant and there were two options available. The first was a four course prix fixe meal, but none of the options looked all that appetizing. The second choice was the "Chef's Special" or something like that where the chef picked 12 dishes. It was only $20 more, so we figured we'd go all out. I think Mr. Cupcake is starting to get used to my crazy picture taking ways. We were the only people in the room, so I didn't feel too self conscious about whipping out my camera and taking pictures of each course. Just, so you know, this is going to be a longggggg post.

This was the first amuse bouche. It was a puff pastry filled with marscapone cheese. It was nice. I always want marscapone cheese to taste like cream cheese, but it always reminds me of a white butter.

The second amuse bouche was an avocado flan with caviar with an oyster lasagna. The avocado was pretty good. It was just like a creamy avocado flavored flan. The oyster was gross. It was very salty which was too overwhelming.

This was oxtail and foie gras wrapped in radicchio. The three dots were a very thick balsamic vinegar. This was good. The oxtail reminded me of BBQ brisket. I guess a lot of things seem to remind me of BBQ brisket lately. We didn't really taste any foie gras, so Mr. Cupcake thinks they lied.
This is octopus with some kind of green on top. There was also hearts of palm and a citrus oil based dressing. I about died when they brought this out. I hate seeing tentacles because it seems like they should be moving. These also had rather large suction cups towards the top. It just really creeps me out. However, since we were paying for this, I felt I needed to at least try it. I managed to suffer through this one. I ate about half the octopus, but eventually had to throw in the towel. It was pretty rubbery and definitely not my favorite. I did like the hearts of palm though.

This was a carrot soup with crab and uni (sea urchin). I recall Mr. Cupcake eating uni with R. while eating sushi. R. likes uni, but his friend hated it. She described it as chewing on a wet tongue or something to that effect. She was right. This was the first time I'd had uni and it was like chewing on a slimy tongue. It doesn't seem to have that much flavor, so all you get is the texture. Fortunately, I ate it all in one bite, and will remember never to order uni when I go out for sushi. I did like the carrot soup a lot because it was like eating a liquid carrot. It was served cold and very refreshing.

Here we have foie gras and oysters wrapped in a noodle. The frothy sauce was made out of red lentils. There might have been octopus too. The waiter kept talking about the octopus for some reason, but we didn't see any. This was probably my favorite dish of the night. The foie gras was seared so it was a little bit crispy. The sauce was a nice touch, but Mr. Cupcake wasn't a fan of the froth. Mr. Cupcake also ordered the wine flight. There were only two courses that I felt the wine really married well with the food, and this was one of them. Mr. Cupcake was upset because the entire wine flight was all white wine except for one course. He said if he had known that he probably would have skipped it.

This was a ceviche. Y-U-C-K. This was the worst course out of the whole bunch. It was a poached egg on top of some kind of chopped up fish. The egg oozed into the fish and was pretty gross. It was basically an egg yolk fish soup. I couldn't eat very much of it.

Along with egg fish soup came homemade brioche. It was very buttery and light. I much preferred this over the ceviche.

I told Mr. Cupcake that I wanted some shrimps. That's right, I said shrimps! Low and behold, what comes out next is shrimp and the marshmallow of the sea: sea scallops. It came in a vanilla butter sauce with a couple of different greens. We could see and taste the vanilla. I don't really like vanilla with seafood; it just doesn't do it for me. The shrimp and sea scallops were also underwhelming.

This was my second favorite course. It was mandarins with a mandarin orange flavored sorbet. It's hard to mess up sorbet though. The mandarins were in a simple syrup type concoction. I enjoyed that as well, and my palate felt cleansed. I probably could have made this at home though.

Here we have the main course. It was duck on top of huckleberries and red cabbage. The item next to it was a duck confit with a turnip on top. This was Mr. Cupcake's favorite course. I wasn't a fan of the layer of fat on the duck. I guess that's normal though. I didn't like the huckleberries either, but the duck did taste good with the red cabbage. We both felt the confit was missing some fat. I probably should have transferred the fat layer from the slices onto the confit.

This is the smelly feet course according to Mr. Cupcake. He loathes strong cheeses like this and others like blue cheese. I'm not a big cheese fan, but I can sometimes stomach these types of cheeses. There was also a very soft date. The date went really well with the wine. It was only the second course to do so, and also the last.

Our first dessert was a caramel ice cream on top of a caramelized banana. This was very good. It's hard to mess up ice cream though. Mr. Cupcake loves bananas too, so he approved. The thing in the cup was a chocolate soup. It was thicker than hot chocolate, but you know how you get towards the end of hot chocolate and it becomes a little bit thicker because everything settled? That's what it tasted like but with a better chocolate than the Swiss Miss stuff. There was also a sweet cracker that went with it.

On the left is a lemon mousse covered in a fancy lemon rind. I think they soaked the lemon rind in a sugar syrup or something because it wasn't bitter at all and you could eat it. I didn't particularly care for it though. On the right was a white balsamic ice cream on top of a chocolate chip. The chocolate chip was hard like toffee. We didn't like it so much, but the ice cream was good. It went really well with the balsamic vinegar dots. I could have eaten more of the lemon mousse.

Finally they gave us a sugared pear and a chocolate truffle. The sugar pear was deceiving because as soon as you picked it up it felt squishy. It was weird. I debated whether or not to eat that first or second because chocolate is almost always a winner. It was good choice because the chocolate had some kick to it. There was cayenne or some similar type of pepper in there that gave it a very soft burn. The pear wouldn't have tasted right if I had eaten it second.

Our total bill was over $300 including tip. Yep, that's probably the most expensive meal I've ever eaten, and not anywhere close to the best. Mr. Cupcake and I decided we would not go back there because there are much better meals to be had. I told him about French Laundry. I'm sure it's a great meal, but I'm not sure I could appreciate it in all its glory. Maybe I could. I'd just hate spend over $200 a person and be disappointed. Maybe someone out there can convince me otherwise.

Happy birthday to me! :)

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