It’s been one week since my epic meal at WD-50, and I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting my recap! RIGHT?!?!?!
Here’s the picture I took the second I got there and uploaded to Instagram (follow me!). It’s also the only picture I took because I wanted to enjoy my meal and be 110% present while I was eating, meaning I didn’t want my phone involved, so I’m just going to illustrate the majority of this recap with pictures of fossas.
They’re adorable, from Madagascar, and honestly- I just feel like they’re not really getting their due on the internet.
Immediately after I took the picture of the sign I started crying a little bit, and Matt yelled at me to stop because I was embarrassing him. I suck it up, we take our seats, and that’s when I realize that it’s almost like they psychically KNEW I was coming, because I was given the one seat in the house that is a direct sightline to fish station, which is the station Wylie Dufrense works. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s working the line on my birthday.
That’s when I start tearing up the second time. The 25 minutes I spent working on my eye makeup to create a “sexy and smoldering look” to seduce my husband was completely for naught, as now I look like a pathetic raccoon. And nobody wants to make sweet, sweet love to a pathetic raccoon. Fortunately, I had the food to make love to- AND I DID.
Matt and my employees chipped in so we could go with the full-on tasting menu, which was like a billion courses (or ten or something- I don’t remember). They were all so brilliant that, yes, I fully embarrassed myself in front of the staff, and more than likely made every single person in that dining room tremendously uncomfortable. And I can live with that.
Whether the other people in the restaurant can live with it is another story entirely.
I spend the entire evening just staring at Wylie like a lunatic, and then every so often he’d peek out of the kitchen and I’d look at the ceiling or a fork or anything else so it totally wouldn’t look like I was staring at him. I understand how incredibly stupid this sounds - I’ve met lots of famous chefs, become friendly with some, and even count some even more well known than Wylie as fans. But you need to remember that even though I make “cupcakes”, I’m a classically trained former-restaurant chef who was drawn into the business (and pastry) because deep down inside I am a GIGANTIC nerd who likes learning new things every day. Wylie has been my idol for 9 long years. He’s my Elvis. I mean, this is the man who turned mayonnaise into a cube and then deep fried it! How can you read the phrase “deep fried mayonnaise” and NOT be shaken to the very core of your being!!!
Back to the food.
I won’t go into endless detail about every single course, because it’s going to get super repetitive super fast, and there’s only so many graphic euphemisms you can put into a restaurant recap before it becomes grounds for a restraining order. But we desperately need to talk about this:
This was the Serious Eats pic I posted last week, with the description of “I don’t know what it is”. And now I do: Amaro soaked duck egg yolk on top of chicken confit and English pea puree, wrapped in ribbons of sous-vide carrot, garnished with little orbs of cooked carrot rolled in pea powder.
Got all that?
Now OBVIOUSLY it was so delicious that I am now pregnant with it’s child. But what made this so good that I need to point it out was the texture: the carrots are cooked just barely soft enough that they retain enough shape to caress your tongue and wrap around it, while the yolk and chicken slowly melt to create a warm suppleness that coats your mouth.
In layman’s terms: IT FELT LIKE I WAS MAKING OUT WITH A CHICKEN POT PIE.
You may not feel like you have ever needed to make out with a pot pie, but trust me, you are SO wrong. I urge each and every one of you, even if you aren’t game for the complete tasting, to at least go to the bar at WD-50 and experience what it’s like to be mildly sexually accosted by cooked chicken.
Then at the very end of the meal, the manager Chris (who was one of the best I’ve ever seen working the floor) comes to say that he’s arranged for us to go on a tour of the kitchen. And I immediately try to find a way out of it, because I am terrified of meeting Wylie Dufrense.
As many of you who have met me know, I am not a shy person. I’m very much the girl reflected in my tweets and on this blog- except I use a f***ton more four letter words in person. I can talk to anybody, broach any topic- I’ve hung out with John McCain, the Fonz, and Alton Brown on different occasions, and never once have I been nervous about possibly projectile vomiting on them. But there I stood at the edge of the WD-50 kitchen, my stomach filled with the food I’ve waiting 9 years to eat, flipping over and over and over again. I shake hands with the pastry chef and realize that he looks like he’s 18 freaking years old, and try to keep reminding myself that I’m the grown-up in the room and I’m a respected chef with a book deal and tv appearances and the whole shebang AND I’M THIRTY-TWO YEARS OLD, and yet I feel like I’m a little girl, totally insignificant, and know nothing.
Finally there’s a break in service, and I am waved over to meet Wylie Dufrense…..and that’s where my memory goes black. I choked. I don’t remember anything, because I had to use all my energy not to burst out crying in front of everyone in that room. I finally come to about 20 minutes later while crossing Allen street, with Matt asking me what happened to me and why I wasn’t my normal, gregarious, idiot self.
That’s when it all hits me. Not just my love of Wylie. Not just the fact that I’ve eaten the best meal of my life. The fact that for seven years my husband on various occasions has saved up to bring me to WD-50, and every time something had happened- like the time my grandmother died days before my birthday, or the wedding anniversary where Atticus had the lung infection and ended up in the pediatric ICU, or the many, many years where we were sacrificing everything to build this business and were barely putting food on the table- much less eating food from one of the fanciest restaurants in New York.
It all came out standing in the drizzle in the middle of Allen Street- waves upon waves of uncontrollable sobs. And again that night as I held Matt in my arms and played with his hair as he slept. Food can be a lot more than just “food”, you know? It’s knowing that it can create moments like that one that makes me fall in love with my job all over again.
I met my hero- even if I made an ass out of myself and possibly scared him with my creepy staring. I went to bed that night next to the greatest man in the entire world. And I made out with a chicken pot pie. It was the best birthday of my life.
PS- Wylie, if you ever read this, I am SO much cooler than I came off that night- I promise. Though you’ll probably never get to see it because I’m spending all my time choking back tears and trying not to puke on you. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Now lets get to flavors so you can all enjoy your Wednesday. They may not be made with liquid nitrogen, freeze dried potatoes or sous vide salsify- but as long as they put a smile on your face, we’ve done our job.
Clockwise from front: Strawberry Shortcake, Hot Sundae, S’Mores, Duckie
Strawberry Shortcake: Vanilla cake, strawberry syrup, mascarpone buttercream, strawberry compote, cake crumbs
Hot Sundae: Chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream, hot fudge sauce, maraschino cherry
S’Mores: Chocolate cake, speculoos pudding, toasted marshmallow buttercream, ganache, graham crumbs
Duckie: Peanut cake, peanut butter pudding, marshmallow buttercream, roasted peanuts