Occasionally I enjoy a particular dish on an evening of dining out only to return home to recreate it. Why? It might be I'm intrigued by the components of the dish or by a technique or even because I know I make it better! Well, THAT'S most certainly not gonna happen this time!
There are experiences that cannot be recreated. Nor should they be. Such was the stellar dining extravaganza that occurred at VOLT Restaurant in Frederick, Maryland with Marti, one of my closest friends and definitely my BFF. Best Foodie Friend, that is.
A year ago or so I had the pleasure of being a gastronomic traveler through the adventurous menu at VOLT. But that was for lunch and this, THIS was for dinner at the respected Table 21. Yes, the Chefs' Table featuring 21 (count 'em), TWENTY-ONE courses! I told you it was extravagant!
Just getting a reservation for the Table was a coup in itself. As Webster defines it, a coup is "A notable or successful stroke or move." Reservations for Table 21 are taken exactly 30 days before. If you wanted a reservation for March 15, you had to be quick to the phone on February 15..and we were. Success! We scored two precious spots out of only eight available seats at Table 21.
Days passed slowly, the anticipation grew, until finally there we were in Frederick almost giddily climbing the stairs to what promised to be an epicurean evening as never before. After a lovely cocktail in the small bar across the hall from our dining area, we were soon seated.
Wine pairings were ordered by some, cocktail pairings ordered by others. A choice of still or sparkling water filled our water goblets. We made small talk with two diners to our left and the two couples to our right. It felt like the quiet in the theater just before the curtain rises. The first course was served.
The meal was kind of like fireworks starting with a simple, but elegant pile of light, airy and crisp lobster chips to dip into a pool of potato, sour cream and chive oil. There was even a tiny little mound of caviar. This twist on chips and dip elicited oohs and aahs from the cozy table of eight overlooking the kitchen!
|Chips and Dip Lobster|
We progressed from cold beginnings through a mind boggling selection of exotic ingredients as each empty plate was cleared and each new course presented. Not just exotic items tickled our palates (sometimes literally). Simple, ordinary, everyday items like carrots, celery, beets or tuna became far more than I ever imagined they could be.
|Red and Golden Beets, Goat Cheese Mousse, Orange and Sherry|
The dessert courses? Like a fireworks grand finale. Contrasts of smooth and cold, crunchy and velvety, powdery and hard, sweet and tart and even bitter teased until the very end in a cacophony of sensations. Textures, temperatures and tastes exploded one after the other until the meal ended with quiet calmness. Really, we should have burst into applause. Hindsight, you know.
|Chocolate Textures and Caramel|
As the checks were distributed, so were rolled and tied copies of the night's menu along with beribboned boxes of small dessert treasures to help remember the night's delights.
By the end of the evening, strangers around a kitchen table became friends. Host, servers, chefs, bartenders and diners said warm goodbyes and even hugs were exchanged. After all, sharing food, fun, wine, laughs and eventually even friendship makes for not just a meal to remember, but a dining adventure never to forget.
* I was never made to feel "different" when substitutions were made because of the gluten issue. Frank, our warm, wonderful host, after announcing the components of each course then described to me quietly what was different on my plate. In some cases, I think I got the better dish!
*In talking with the group of four on our right, exchanging where we were from we discovered not only do they know my goddaughter and her husband, their kids play together. Yes folks, it is definitely a very small world.
*My first sweetbreads! And I LOVED them! Crispy on the outside, smooth and flavorful on the inside, accompanied by bacon, Swiss chard and parsnip - they were one of my favorite parts of the meal!
*A bright green foam described as wasabi-infused (I missed the rest of the description) was the palate tickler I referred to above. Tiny little pops exploded with surprising flavor with each bite. The "pops" were tabiko fish roe that were more like champagne bubbles than anything else I can compare them to. The yellowfin tuna, avocado mousse and jasmine rice were the perfect complement.
|See the bright green bubbly foam? Wasabi-infused Tabiko Roe!|
*Candied Buddha's Hand whipped with cream and butter - spread on the bottom of a plate with seared kampachi (fish), chives, green apple and ginger had us teasing Celeste that we were going to run off with the whole container of the butter!
*The pork belly. Oh the pork belly! No more need be said. Enjoy the pic!
|Pork Belly with Stinging Nettle (it didn't), yellowfoot Chanterelle & Pearl Onion|
*Probably the most special moment of all wasn't a moment. It lasted the entire evening. The completely professional, yet very warm and friendly service, from the moment we arrived to the moment we left, from every single member of the Volt staff family, made the night complete. Thank you Frank, Katie, Celeste and every member of the Volt family.
NOTE: My apologies for the quality of the photos. I didn't want to be "that" person with the camera and ruin the other guests experience at Table 21 so I used my phone. Thank you Volt for allowing us all to "take all the pictures you want!" Print this post