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Last year, Babbo. This year, Butter. Am I speaking gibberish? Not quite. Each year, my honey, Hagan, and I forgo anniversary presents in exchange for an extra luscious celebration dinner. Last year, for our three year anniversary, we indulged ourselves at Mario Batali’s restaurant, Babbo, off of Washington Square Park. Although that experience warrants a post dedicated to itself, I’ll skip right to the current year and give you the dish about Alex Guarnaschelli’s restaurant, Butter!
Alex describes food the way most discuss art. Before Chef Guarnaschelli snagged her own Food Network show, The Cooking Loft, I loved hearing her skillfully shaped notes as a judge on Iron Chef America. (And I definitely look forward to hearing her commentary on FN’s new show, Chopped, this January!) So it was a total no brainer what restaurant got my vote for our special dinner.
At the New York Wine & Food Festival, I ran into Alex where my director then spilled I was thinking about Butter for my anniversary dinner. Without missing a beat, she said, “How dare you not email me. Stop being ridiculous. Email me and let me book your reservation.” I waited a week to hide a bit of my anxiousness. But when I finally did email her, Alex quickly shot back, sending well wishes and confirming the dinner reservation she made personally for us.
Alas, I did not plan for the mood lighting (aka too dark to take pictures without flash), so apologies for the “mood lit” camera phone photos!
We feasted on seared Maine sea scallops, cavatappi pasta with yellow tomato sauce and spicy lamb sausage, chanterelle ravioli, Hudson Valley duck breast, a lovely trout dish (I forget the pretty name), and a dark chocolate cake with pumpkin ice cream for dessert…
The top bite of the night? Hagan swore that the scallops were the best he’s ever had, but for me…and this may sound a bit ridiculous…but my favorite component in the whole meal was the simple, yellow tomato sauce. Sounds boring, right? Well I’ve heard before that you can judge a good chef by their soup, but there must be some truth to judging a chef by their tomato sauce. Now I’m not sure if this is the same recipe that Chef Guarnaschelli uses at Butter (I’ll try to do some investigating), but I did find this Yellow Tomato Sauce recipe of hers from The Cooking Loft — has anyone tried it?
With only 361 days to go to my next anniversary, I thought I might start taking a poll of where to go to for next year’s celeberation. Have you tried any of Food Network’s chefs’ restaurants? Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons? Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill or newly opened Burger Palace? Guy Fieri’s Johnny Garlics or Tex Wasabi’s? Neelys Barbecue? Morimoto’s Morimoto? Michael Symon’s Lola or Lolita?
Tell me about your visit!
Associate Producer, The FN Dish