This is embarrassing, but I forgot that Ivy Stark is from Denver. I knew I liked her, and that we had met when we were judging a cooking competition, but I forgot the Denver connection. She reminded me last night when she came out of the kitchen, her hair in pigtails, and we talked about the food she had just cooked for me and two of her publicists at Amalia, where she is now chef.
If I remember correctly, she went to Thomas Jefferson High School. She is a brown-and-gold-wearing Spartan. Since I went to East, that theoretically makes us mortal enemies, but what are you going to do?
(It turns out I remember incorrectly; she went to Fairview in Boulder, so we are not enemies).
Ivy had been making Mexican food in New York for awhile. Her most recent two jobs were high level positions at Rosa Mexicano and Dos Caminos. But now she's doing Mediterranean in a dimly lit dining room of beautiful people at the Dream Hotel. She looked happy.
I was eating with Vanesa Vega and Chloe Mata, with whom I’d also eaten at InTent not long ago but never managed to write a blog entry about it. We talked about Colorado and my birthday plans (April 22) and sushi in Los Angeles, while ignoring New York Magazine’s Adam Platt and company, who were two tables away. It’s not polite to acknowledge restaurant reviewers in restaurants. They’re supposed to be incognito.
I also met Amalia’s general manager, who has the most excellent name of Thomas Vaucouleur de Ville d’Avray. He’s French, but was raised in the Far East — mostly Hong Kong and Singapore — and speaks Cantonese, Japanese and Tagalog (and French and English), but when he learned that I spoke Mandarin claimed that that language was too hard for him.
To that, all I can say is guojiang (which basically means “you flatter me”).
What I ate:
Arak-cured salmon with chickpeas and cabbage
duck confit-stuffed medjool dates with serrano ham, frisée, sherry and dried fig mostardo
roasted golden baby beets with smoked sea salt and truffled gaufrettes
sautéed and crispy calamari with white beans, chorizo, piquillo pepper, garlic toast and saffron broth
braised short ribs with carrot purée, tamarind, vanilla and tuscan black kale.
mussel and clam fideeau with toasted vermicelli and romanesco cauliflower
smoked Berkshire pork porterhouse with roasted apples, whole gran mustard, sunchokes and rosemary jus
sautéed baby spinach a la catalana
duck-fat fried french fries with Seville orange hollandaise
Desserts (by pastry chef John Miele, formerly of Aureole):
hazelnut and polenta tarte with praline hot fudge and ricotta gelato
Earl Grey chocolate ganache tarte with salted caramel and malted chocolate semifreddo