Aldea, NYC 2

December 10, 2013

When Linda and I went to Aldea in July, 2010, we were quite disappointed, but it continues to get good reviews and ratings so Blair and I decided to go on a last minute reservation on November 5, 2013.

At our request, we were seated at the counter facing directly into the kitchen. This provided great cooking theater thoughout our meal. We could usually identify our upcoming dishes being prepared and plated.
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To start things off we ordered glasses of Mont Marcal Brut Reserva Cava. The menu included interesting à la carte selections, but we decided to order the “Goa” Chef’s Tasting Menu. This menu, named after Portugal’s former colony in India, included many ingredients and flavors from both countries. To go with it we ordered a bottle of 2007 Quinta de la Rosa, Reserva.
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This red wine from the Douro region of Portugal is made with Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional & Touriga Franca grapes.  The first is simply the Portuguese name for Tempranillo; the other two are typically Portuguese; the latter is a major grape for port wine.  Quinta de la Rosa is full-bodied with plenty of fruit and tannin, but it had a bit of age and after a little while in a decanter it was very drinkable. It went well with most of the courses and coated the mouth. It was so rich we drank it slowly and had plenty still to drink when we arrived at the cheese course.

The menu started with a good selection of
PETISCOS
Frozen caipirinhas
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Fun.

Beet “flowers” with goat cheese and lime zest
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The slice of beet had been prepared so that it was quite chewy, with the beet flavor concentrated. The creamy, slightly acidic, cheese was a perfect flavor and texture combination.

A quail egg pickled in beet juice.
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Pretty, but nothing special. 

An Island Creek oyster, a hot bacalhau croquette on aïoli, green mussel soup with coconut fennel foam.
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The oyster was very good; fortunately I still had some cava to go with it. The two other petiscos were perfectly executed.

***

KNOLL KREST FARM EGG
bacalhau, black olive, potato.
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The eggshell had been refilled with eggs scrambled with salt cod and black olives. It was topped with very crisp little potato shards. The dish was good, but too salty from its added ingredients.

***

EGGPLANT
charcoal grilled, coconut vinegar, garlic, cilantro
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Grilled eggplant rounds were topped with coconut vinegar foam which was surprisingly mild and let the eggplant flavor come through. 

***

SHRIMP “CURRY”
tamarind, coriander, basmati rice
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Two high quality shrimp were flavored with a mild, aromatic curry broth. There were two little mango cubes to increase the exotic, tropical effect. Spoonsful of basmati rice could be added to help enjoy the broth. Excellent.

***

LITTLENECK CLAMS
linguiça, kokum fruit, cumin
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Pork and clams is a classic Portuguese dish. In this version the clams dominate, flavored by a traditional, spicy Portuguese sausage and an exotic south Indian fruit. Very good.

***

PORK BELLY
peekytoe crab, charred potato, pickled cauliflower, shellfish sauce
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The pork belly had been slow-braised for eighteen hours and then seared briefly, which didn’t give it the char we like so much in pork belly. The mushy crab sauce on top was a version of the pork and seafood combination we like, but was simply an okay example. 

***

ZIMBRO CHEESE
sheep’s milk (Portugal), wheat cracker, strawberry preserves
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Nice.

***

PRE-DESSERT
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Strawberry panna cotta, lemon raspberry sorbet, lime zest. 

***

WARM CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TARTE
espelette pepper sabayon, chocolate streusel, almond ice cream
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This eclectic dessert was well planned and well executed. 

The mignardises were almond financières and a pineapple jelly.
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We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. I think we were  in luck to have come upon the “Goa” menu, which allowed the chef to be creative with interesting ingredients and flavors. He is obviously talented. The service was always efficient and friendly. The pace was right and the noise level at the counter was low.  

http://aldearestaurant.com/  

To see our meal at Aldea in July, 2010, click here.

 

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