Wednesday, April 21, 2010

eatMOSAIC: palate-pleasing pixels

eatMOSAIC (418 North Country Road, St. James, NY)

One of the most unexpected, yet gratifying and rewarding aspects of writing so many blog posts about the delicious food at my fingertips in New York City has been the connection I have made with some of the site's devoted followers, new friends who are excited to read about my culinary adventures, and even better yet, eager to share their own dining secrets with me.

When Jennifer and Eric, a ridiculously hilarious and beautiful couple I met through Travis Barr (Sunday Morning Mimosa) asked if I would be interested and willing to take a train into Long Island to dine with them at one of their favorite spots, I quickly jumped at the offer.  I obviously love food.  I love getting to know new people.  But when given the opportunity to share a favorite meal with someone and hear the unique anecdotes behind it, I get to know them in an intimately personal way that I find fascinating and refreshing.

The New York secret Jennifer and Eric shared with me tonight was well worth the train ride on the Long Island Rail Road, and a journey I will (hopefully) make again and again.

Following Jennifer's advice, Travis and I took the LIRR into Babylon for an afternoon in Argyle Park.  After a day of swan watching and tree climbing over the lake, Jennifer and Eric drove us a few miles into the town of St. James to enjoy an extraordinary chef's tasting menu at eatMosaic.

Though they had made a reservation for the four of us, I am absolutely baffled that the gorgeous, autumnal striped dining room remained empty during our three hour culinary tour, with the exception of one other couple.  If eatMosaic were any closer, you would find me here on a semi-regular basis.  I feel confident that no where in Manhattan or close proximity could you enjoy a five-course tasting of such excellent dishes for a mere $54 per person (they do offer a la carte selections, as well).

The genius of eatMosaic lies in the youthful enthusiasm of chef Jonathan Contes.  While you may recognize him from his appearance on the season finale of Chopped!, this young kitchen wizard was far more successful during our meal.  With apron and a Mets cap, he greeted us shortly after we were seated to interview each of us about our likes and dislikes, any food allergies, and to give an overview of what we would be enjoying.

As the menu is based entirely on what's available that day from local proprietors and markets, eatMosaic offers no printed food menu.  The dishes change daily depending on the chef's inspiration.

After determining the five courses he would be preparing impromptu given the feedback of our quartet of eager diners, Chef Jonathan disappeared into the kitchen to begin, while our waiter served each of us a different piece of warm bread.  Eric and I both enjoyed a loaf of the particularly delicious pretzel bread,  accompanied by a side of beer mustard.

I sipped on the Eliot Spritzer, a cocktail of white wine, cranberry, almond, orange, and soda.

Jennifer and Travis won the award for best cocktail selection with the sparkling strawberry-lavendar sangria.

Eric enjoyed a classic Grey Goose martini, with a bold skewer that challenged the superstition that cocktail olives should be served in odd numbers.

The first course was a minted cucumber gazpacho with scallop crudo, edamame, and pickled honeydew melon.  I rarely enjoy a cold soup, but this gazpacho was a phenomenal spring dish that made me extremely excited to taste the next course.

Next, we enjoyed a unilaterally roasted tilefish (searing the fish only on the skin so that the remainder is moist and near-sashimi) with a fennel potato salad, andouille sausage, on a bed of papaya grapefruit salsa with a brushing of ramp mustard.

I will fall asleep dreaming about my favorite dish of the evening, balsamic blueberry glazed turkey meatballs with golden beet parmesan couscous, toasted almond rolled goat cheese, with sage sprigs.

Our penultimate course was a grilled beef ribeye on a podium of feta bruschetta, a bed of delicately wilted spinach, with roasted garlic white bean hummus, and red grapes, capers, and dill.

Bringing the meal full circle, we rounded out the evening with a final chilled soup of kiwi berry with a spoon of whipped ricotta cheese and honey nut ganache.

What's not to love about a good old fashioned homemade chipwich?

At the conclusion of what resulted in an absolutely exquisite and unique meal, Chef Jonathan delivered us a round of moscatel, and joined us as we reveled in the laughter of such wonderful company.  

Though you may not be able to dine with the lovely cast of comedians we enjoyed this evening, it's well worth a train ride, zipcar, or rental to experience such whimsical dishes.  Regardless, trust me... if someone you know offers to show you their favorite New York "secret" jump at the chance.  Thank you for sharing such a perfect meal, Jennifer and Eric, from the bottom of my stomach.

Mosaic on Urbanspoon

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