Thursday, March 20, 2014

1844 House and Abbocato: Restaurants Extraordinaire

March 19th and another 6" of new snow outside.  Winter in New England is often long.  This year though it has also been cold.
Back in January, I built an oven near Potsdam, New York (See Sub-zero Oven post).  Shortly after, my wife and I flew to Costa Rica (last post).
These two restaurants, one in a town that was minus 41F in January and one in a place that averaged 80F in mid February, were both extraordinary experiences.  They were so far beyond good that I would go out of my way by many miles (3000) to eat there again. 

 Culinary team Brian & Jenny Walker opened the 1844 House in May of 2006 and have since made it a landmark of dining in the north country.

Check out this killer 'first flavor' dish.

Yellow Fin Tuna (GF)   $12
Picture of 'Yellow Fin Tuna'
A sampling of three preparations.
Sesame seared on a crisp wonton with spicy cucumber 

sambal, tartare style with pickled ginger and soy, 
five spice seared skewers with hoisin bbq glaze.

Picture of 'Rosemary-Garlic Roast Rack of Lamb'
Rosemary-Garlic Roast Rack of Lamb (GF)   $29

Cabernet demi-glace, creamy mashed potatoes, market fresh vegetables.

Yeah, it's that good.

On the night I was there, I spoke with Brian Walker, the chef of that evening.  He, as many great chefs are, is always trying new flavors.  Although there are favorites at 1844, he is enthusiastic about introducing his guests to new dishes, ones he and his co-chef and wife Jenny devise.

Despite the bone-chilling temperatures outside, the consistent quality and beauty given to every part of the dinner made winter disappear.

All of desserts exceed expectations with surprise flavors tucked into each one.

Nearing the last day of our time in Costa Rica, we drove to Abbocato because ALL the reviews were five stars!  We found the restaurant in a palatial building on the property of Hacienda Del Mar, a quietly growing resort above Golfo Papagayo (go to link:
This is another restaurant in which the chefs working together is integral to the perfection of the dishes.  Paola Villalobos Pinzon welcomed us warmly and together with Andrea Fiorentin suggested the tasting menu (Wow!). 
When two great chefs combine their talents and agree to serve only dishes both of them deem perfect, the dining experience is unparalleled.  As we were the last to leave that night, we had some moments to talk with Andrea and Paola.  They shared their enthusiasm for what they do and their plans for the future of Abbocato. 

The world of fine food is a tightrope walk.  
These two chef teams, 3000 miles apart, have perfect balance.

Thanks to Brian and Jenny...and to Paola and Andrea! 

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