I was in New York last week and enjoyed the ultimate dining experience at two of my favorite restaurants in the world.
My eldest son Ben was in town mid-week so we went across the road to Bouley. David Bouley is American born and French trained. He pretty much learned his trade in the kitchens of the greats (Vergé, Bocuse, Robuchon, and one of my favorites, the Swiss Freddy Girardet).
I first came across David in 1985 when he opened the amazing three star Montrachet and quickly after that he opened his own restaurant. I've been going there ever since.
Bouley is a two star Michelin refuge of all things pure, elegant and simple. Probably one of the most romantic restaurants in New York, but also one of the most powerful. George Thomas runs the place skillfully and intimately. Many ingredients are grown on David's farm upstate and shipped down to the restaurant daily. The entrance of the restaurant is full of hundreds of apples and the intensity of the aroma takes you immediately into the fields of nature.
Three days later I was in Mario Batali's flagship restaurant, Babbo (reminiscent of being in the middle of the Italian countryside). The menu is interesting, creative and mouth-watering. Choosing is difficult when you want it all; for example, duck egg with truffles, calf brains pasta, incredible tender grilled octopus…and marvelous Brunellos (carefully chosen by expert sommelier Mark McKenzie, and all supervised by one of the top maitre d's in town, John Mainieri).
Living well is the best revenge, as George Herbert once said. Or as Sally Bowles put it in Cabaret, "Divine decadence darling!"