Monday, February 14, 2011

A voluptuous Valentine's dinner at Roux on Orleans

Knowing that even the tiniest romantic gesture will make me putty in his hands, John not only bought me a gorgeous bouquet of blushing peach roses, he reserved a table at Roux on Orleans on Friday night. We would be among the first to enjoy Chef Guy Sockrider's special Aphrodisiac Valentine's Menu.

Yes, I counted this as my 73rd cheat and I am holding fast at a loss of 80 pounds. Was I a terribly insensitive girlfriend to take advantage of this outing and write a blog about it? Maybe...but I made it up to John so well that I might have even built up stock for next time.

John made early reservations so that we could take advantage of the rest of our evening together after stuffing ourselves silly. We arrived at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel and were ecstatic that we didn't have to deal with finding a parking place in the Quarter because complimentary valet is offered to those dining at Roux.

Since we were so early (the reservation was for 6:30 p.m.) we were the only diners in the restaurant. But, considering this was a romantic meal and John and I love to be silly together, we had no problem with being all alone. We felt a bit spoiled by our host and server, but it was all part and parcel of the restaurant's excellent service, so we tried to relax into being waited on hand and foot. Though odd at first, it is definitely something I could get used to and I certainly didn't hear any complaints from John.

Since we opted for the special menu, ordering was a snap and we were free to relax, sip our sparkling wine and munch on warm bread brought into the restaurant from La Louisiane; thick slices of sourdough and a lovely olive loaf.

Before we had two bites of bread, our server Rebecca brought out an amuse-bouche, a juicy Louisiana shrimp in a spicy-sweet, Thai chili sauce. I've often been told that these beginnings are intended to "awaken" the palate, but I say we should just call a tease a tease and be done with it. It's like that gentle first kiss before a full-blown make-out session!

Thankfully, we weren't taunted for very long because the courses began flowing out of the kitchen, one right after the other, with scarcely a bated breath to be had in between. Following on the heels of the shrimp, was a fresh, raw oyster on the half-shell garnished with choupique caviar that tasted like it had hopped straight out of the water onto our plates. We greedily forked the plump flesh into our mouths and slurped the delicious liquor remaining in the shell.

A steaming bowl of aromatic, Oyster Rockefeller soup arrived as soon as we could lift our spoons. We both enjoyed the creamy soup replete with spinach, scallions, plump oysters and anise-flavored Herbsaint so much that we wiped our bowls clean with the remaining hunks of sourdough bread.

Our eyes widened and our stomachs braced for impact when our main entrees arrived, a huge filet mignon served atop a pile of creamy mashed potatoes and slathered in a decadent, mushroom Madeira sauce. Plus, three huge fried oysters hovered around the edge of the plate, just in case the monstrous filet was not enough. Being diners not easily daunted by excess, John and I attacked our steaks with relish, which were cooked to a perfect medium-rare, just enough to allow a little blood to seep into the already luxurious sauce.

To our surprise (as well as our server's) John and I managed to gulp down the entire filet with only a little heavy breathing and a few drops of sweat. Since we were sated to the utmost degree, we worried just a little about how we would manage dessert, a Honeyed Baba spiked with Sailor Jerry Rum. The dessert turned out to be so airy and refreshing, there was no difficulty devouring every last bite. I had never enjoyed Baba before, but it reminded me of a Persian pastry that is an airy, fried dough bursting with the light, sweet flavor of honey.

Sighing with excessive pleasure, I commented to John how many natural aphrodisiacs were incorporated into our meal. Not only were there the obvious choices like oysters and champagne, there was also caviar, honey, raspberries, mushrooms and chilis. Though we were likely too full to feel any tingling effects from our dinner, we both still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Besides, it doesn't take much more than a heated glance or a lingering touch to get us "in the mood."

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