Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Boulud Sud: Daniel Boulud’s Med-Inspired Cuisine

Boulud Sud is celebrity chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud’s vibrant Mediterranean-inspired restaurant featuring flavours that travel the entire Mediterranean region from the shores of Southern France to the coast of North Africa and beyond. There's an emphasis on grilled fish and lamb as well as an abundance of fresh vegetables on English executive chef Aaron Chambers menu sections entitled 'De La Mer', 'Du Jardin' and 'De La Ferme', with sharable plates, appetizers and entrées available in each category. The mid-century modern interiors, including a sleek bar and spacious lounge, are decorated in tones of sunflower yellow and slate grey. The light filled space is framed by floor to ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings, pear wood paneling and lovely terrazzo floors, as well as works by famed artist Vik Muniz. The restaurant, with an entrance on West 64th, is just steps from Manhattan’s Lincoln Center and is adjacent to Bar Boulud and Épicerie Boulud.

Daniel Boulud at Boulud Sud

Executive Chef Aaron Chambers at Boulud Sud

The warm inviting interior of Boulud Sud

We began our Boulud Sud Mediterranée evening at the elegant wrap-around bar for a smart cocktail before meeting up with friends for dinner. Perched on comfortable chrome and velvet bar stools and with a menu of classic cocktails from which to choose, we selected a spring-like 'From the Field' with honey comb and lavender infused gin and lemon garnished with a sprig of died lavender, and a classic Hendricks Gin Martini which was presented with a razor-thin wave of cucumber. Almost on cue, as were finishing our cocktails, our hosts arrived and we were seated at a beautiful table next to the windows overlooking 64th Street. 

Our charming bartender making my cousin's Lavender Gin cocktail

'From the Field', a Lavender Gin Cocktail with dried lavender garnish 

Hendricks Gin Martini with shaved cucumber garnish

As we perused the menu, a silver platter of impossibly warm, fresh and squishy focaccia and roti bread arrived to whet our appetite. It would have been very easy to order another platter and spoil our appetite — we didn't. Having heard about Daniel Boulud's amazingly delicious Lemon Saffron Linguini with razor clams and shaved bottarga, I knew that it was going to be on the list of must-trys, along with another 'De La Mer' selection. Each of our fish entrées were spectacular. Not only were they beautifully presented, but were also exquisitely prepared and punctuated with the most delightful and unexpected flavours. One of the best meals we would enjoy while in NYC, the dessert we ordered, a Gianduja Mousse with Chocolate-Caramel Ganache, Candied Cocao Nibs and Fior di Latte Gelato, was an architectural and culinary triumph. Not even that many calories when you share in with five people! 

Roti-style flatbread and herbed focaccia bread brushed with olive oil

Lemon-Saffron Linguini with seppia, shaved bottarga and dandelion

Kale and Beet Salad with Medjool dates, labneh and Berbere spiced walnuts

Daurade à la Plancha with almonds, Romesco sauce and arugula

Couscous Crusted Halibut with ramps, spring carrots and Za’atar nage

Whole Grilled Branzino for two, filleted and presented with a side of seasonal Spring vegetables

Braised Berkshire Pork Cheek with speck, parsley and Meyer lemon gremolata

Gianduja Mousse with Chocolate-Caramel Ganache, Candied Cocao Nibs
and Fior di Latte Gelato — one dessert and five spoons!

Harira Soup
Serves 8
Recipe courtesy Daniel Boulud

1 lb uncooked lamb merguez sausage
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
.13g saffron powder
2 quarts unsalted chicken stock
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
3/4 cup dry French green lentils
3 1/2 oz roasted wheat vermicelli noodles, broken into bite-size pieces
2 cups cilantro leaves
2 cups parsley leaves
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 lemons, each cut in 8 wedges, seeded
Salt and finely ground white pepper

Remove sausages from their casings and roll them into approximately 1/2-inch diameter meatballs. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add meatballs and sear on all sides until brown. Remove the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels and reserve, covered, in the refrigerator. 

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the carrot, onion, fennel, and garlic to the sausage-meatball fat. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add tomato and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. Add the spices and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add stock and chickpeas, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add lentils and continue to simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until chickpeas and lentils are tender. Add the vermicelli noodles and reserved meatballs, and continue to cook on low until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. 

Rinse and dry cilantro and parsley leaves, and chop half of each. Stir the chopped cilantro, chopped parsley, and half the scallions into the soup. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Divide soup among 8 bowls, and top with cilantro and parsley leaves and remaining scallions. Serve with lemon wedges.

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