However...the challenge started today. October 1. Yesterday was September 30. Which meant my last chance for some unrestricted eats.
And I was so, so grateful that I had booked a class at Audrey Claire COOK months ago.
What better way to spend my last supper than with burgers handmade by Rob Wasserman and Michael Yeamans of Rouge? (And also of 500 degrees, which I thought opened a few months ago. Um, apparently it's been open for a year and a half. Fail.)
You better believe I started out with some bread. This was nice and crusty, with a dusting of salt on the ends and some fennel seeds baked in that I actually kind of liked. (I usually despise fennel, since I cannot stand licorice.)
As you can see, the space is fabulous - very intimate. There are sixteen seats spread around the bar, and you're only a foot away from the action at most.
It had a distinctive dinner party feel. Mike (who looks a WHOLE lot like Cliff Lee) did almost all of the hands-on work, while Rob led the show by talking through the courses and entertaining us. (By the way, sorry for the iPhone pics, but I wasn't sure if photography was going to be allowed so I didn't bother bringing the DSLR.)
First course was a tuna tartare, diced from the biggest, freshest slab of tuna I've ever seen, and tossed with a chili/soy sauce/rice vinegar dressing. It was served with salted wonton chips, some seaweed salad and an extremely pungent wasabi mayo.
The first course was paired with a light, crisp white wine - whites aren't my favorite, but this was decent. I was much happier when they started pouring a shiraz - it meant that the big guns were coming out. And I was right - we took a break between these two courses so that Mike could get our dessert (a flourless chocolate cake) in the oven.
After the miniature cakes were in the oven, he came around the table and gave a dollop of leftover raw batter to anyone who was willing to admit they wanted it. You better believe I got some, and ho.lee.shit. Five ingredients (sugar, eggs, butter, dark chocolate, heavy whipping cream) - serious bliss. I regret not taking a picture of that.
O.M.G. Naturally, they weren't about to reveal their proprietary blend of meats, but they did confirm that it was 80/20, with a mix of beef, short rib and brisket. BRISKET. Under that beautiful blanket of gruyere is a pile of perfectly caramelized onions.
Third course was a truffled gnocchi. Below is about $600 worth of food: three white truffles, sitting gracefully in a bowl of dry rice, and a gigantic pile of truffle butter.
This was easily my favorite dish of the night, and I am a serious, serious fan of red meat. The gnocchi were soft and pillowy, and the garlic oil and truffle butter combined with the shaved truffle was almost cheesy. I could have eaten a bucket of this.
A few minutes later it was time for dessert. (Cooked this time - not like the raw batter palate cleanser we had earlier in the night.)
The flourless chocolate cake was good, but not mind blowing. It stood up well to the Barbera that was flowing, and it somehow managed to be dense and fluffy at the same time.
All in all, it was a fabulous night, and the best "last supper" I could have asked for. If any of you are considering it, DEFINITELY grab a reservation at Cook. It was a great experience - definitely a little pricey ($250 for PhillyGuy and I), but we got four courses, three free-flowing wines, and an intimate, informative cooking demonstration, with recipes to bring home. Maybe not a once-a-month thing, but we'll definitely be back. AFTER the body composition challenge, anyway.
Plus, being able to indulge like that last night made it juuuuuuust a little less painful to spend most of today baking goddamn pumpkin whoopie pies. I can't eat 'em, but DAMN do they look beautiful - plenty of pictures and I'll share tomorrow.