seity1 was interested in going right off, and the other night it occurred to me to see if angelah217 and underwear_gnome wanted to come. Seemed like a good opportunity to meet them before Eric heads back to Texas. They thought so, too, and I'm really glad we got to hang out while Eric was in town! The four of us were at a table with a couple of Cornell alumni who live in Valhalla (near NYC) but vacation in Ithaca when they can. The conversations certainly ranged far and wide!
It was also interesting to see who else was there who I knew. Sean and Amy O'Brien from Willow were there, not surprisingly. I was very amused to see Katie, the waitress formerly from Bistro Q and more recently from Maxie's, there with an exact look-alike! She's either a twin or a sister with very similar looks; Katie said she was visiting from Boston. Kevin, one of the owners of Wownet Cafe, was also there, and I have a vague feeling I'm forgetting someone else I spotted.
Much like the tasting dinners at Willow, there were several small courses. It would have been nice to have more of some of them (Denise offered me the rest of her soup), but I certainly don't feel like I'm still hungry! The first course was a very tasty "two-tone" tomato soup, a thick tomato bisque with lots of tarragon in it, and a scoop of tomato sorbet, or something to that effect. The second was a puff pastry with delicious fresh goat cheese, chard, and a mushroom cream sauce drizzled around it. The "main course" was a roasted, stuffed pepper with corn and beans, which somehow had a caramelized, sweet crust, along with wild rice and sauteed chunks of local "patty pan" squash. Dessert was cherry cheesecake, in a cylinder of white chocolate. The cherries on top were in sauce, but they certainly weren't canned cherry pie filling! They were probably freshly brandied.
Each course had its own wine accompanying it from the winery; I admit I've never found their wines to be all that stellar, but the just-bottled 2003 semi-dry riesling was very impressive. I had a glass of that when we arrived, and it was also served with the soup. The Quintessence, their cabernet blend, worked very well with the roasted pepper, but I didn't care for the cabernet franc.
Sadly, Chris and his girlfriend are leaving town. They bought a house in Florida and will be moving in just ten days. I asked Chris to let me know when he gets his restaurant career off the ground down there, so I can send people his way! (He'll be in West Palm Beach.) Tonight's other cook, Eric, will probably be taking over the series. I'll look forward to getting info from them now that I'm on their mailing list. Willow is probably getting back into their chef's tasting dinners at the end of September.