In The Mood for Moody's Pop-Up Menu @ Batch Restaurant

We had a reservation for 7pm on a Tuesday night and that is all I knew. My darling man and I have a rhythm to our romance. Like a beautiful tango: he takes the lead, discovering and planning restaurant adventures, and I simply follow. It's romantic, I'll say. Everyone should have a Darling like him. I'm so very lucky.

It is a pleasure being a woman in love with a sensualist man who knows how to find a delicious meal. Instead of the word meal, perhaps the better word is experience. When we walked into Batch 8631 Restaurant, the atmosphere was elegant, relaxed and welcoming. There was a warmth about the place that made us feel right at home.

Our server, Haipha, gracious and joyful, introduced herself right away and sweetly took our drink orders. I don't usually choose white wines, but I want to expand my palate, try new things, like a Viognier. The drink menu offered LangeTwins Viognier 2009. Darling ordered a Martinez, then a Cucumber Gimlet, and a Blood & Sand. The mocktails looked intriguing as well. If I wasn't in the mood for a glass of wine I might have chosen a Nojito made with fresh mint leaves (I love fresh mint leaves), lime juice, sugar, and Sprite. A few other real cocktails looked inviting as well, such as the Apple Blossom made with Vodka, Fresh Apple, Lemon Juice, Honey, Egg White, Orange Flower Water. If I wasn't such a lush for vino, I'd have to say the Apple Blossom appealed because I just can't get enough of honey, and orange flower water always smells beautiful, the scent of it, reminding of summers running through the sprinklers in the backyard.

We nearly ordered the entire menu that night. The only dishes we didn't have on our table were three selections out of eleven, and if you count dessert, we had both the banana bread pudding and the red velvet cake. My morning spinning classes should very well become religious worship to the cycling gods and goddesses for all the butter and cream I've consumed in my life. Well, let's now add foie gras to that list.

The first arrival was the most marvelous. Forget saving the best for last. The Foie and Egg, Breakfast Style was exquisite. 63°C egg, ‘Foiellandaise’, sauteed mushrooms, foie powdered donut, coffee, mushroom ash. I know the photo makes it look wildly curious. Oh, it was magical. Remarkable. Like a grand finale played first, in a sense, a creative way to begin such a dinner. It was refreshing to experience this menu, and I was already recognizing Chef Moody as an artist of cuisine.

Chef Dan Moody came to our table just as I was in the midst of a sudden foodgasm moment--- the combination of coffee, mushroom ash, egg and Foiellandaise scooped upon a small bite of foie powdered donut sent me into a euphoric state of bliss. I had hoped to contain my pleasure, but waves and waves of delight from the coffee, the lightest cloud of foie and egg flavor, the goodness of the foie donut, all blossomed on my palate. The softest, creamiest amount of foie gras, made light somehow, without any trace of fatty heaviness. Foie gras transmuted into a flavor rather than a texture. Alchemy.

And that's when I had dreamy eyes as I looked up at Chef Dan in a glaze of soft focus, and sighed, "It's so good."

The donut was perfect for mopping up the golden egg yolk and coffee mushroom ash.

After that beginning, the dishes continued to arrive. It was apparent to the waitstaff that we needed to add to our table for two, so they pushed another table together with ours and we had a four top table to provide enough room for all of our plates! It was not so much ordering the menu out of decadence but for appreciation of the chef and his cuisine. The experience of a meal, food as art, dining together... slowly, sensuously. 

Market vegetables, carrots, arrived unadorned and tender. The Slow-Roasted Pork with Potato Gnocchi, Baby Carrots in Pork Jus. Darling was surprised that I chose the pork, but it just sounded delicious, and when you put gnocchi in front of me I can't resist. I was lured into the pork dish by potato gnocchi alone. And it was melt-in-your-mouth good. Tender and juicy and full of slow roasted flavor.

The pillowy gnocchi saturated in the pork jus, sweet carrots. Hearty, marvelous.

They were out of the sea bass so instead we had halibut. Sautéed Halibut, Vadouvan Beets, Coconut Curry Hollandaise, Fried Spinach Salad. 

The Coconut Curry Hollandaise gave the halibut an exotic nuance, and Chef Dan was fast becoming a favorite of mine. I love sauce, especially Hollandaise sauce. The Foiellandaise and the Coconut Curry Hollandaise within one dining experience was heavenly. Nestled underneath the fish were Vadouvan Beets, which enhanced the magic of the Coconut Curry Hollandaise, with the central flavor and buttery texture of the halibut seducing my senses. Vadouvan is an Indian spice blend using onions, shallots, garlic (my three favorites in most things savory that I cook at home) adding fenugreek, curry leaves, cumin, cardamom, brown mustard seeds, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, red pepper or chili flakes. Many of these spices possess aphrodisiac qualities as well as health benefits. Note: Cardamom increases circulation, improves energy levels, eases indigestion, and revitalizes sexual desire. Add that into the blend with turmeric and nutmeg and you've added some spice to your love life!  

The Vadouvan Beets really captured our attention. Subtle, seductive, velvety almost. We nearly licked the plate, if beets didn't stain our mouths that tell-tale ruby color. Speaking of ruby color, my second glass of wine was a Syrah.

Ceviche and a Cold Beer, Ceviche, Cilantro, Jalapeño, Beer Carbonated Grapes.

The grapes were the surprise. Beer carbonated grapes. It gave a fizz, which Darling compared to Pop Rocks and childhood memory brought that fizzy sensation back. But I wouldn't compare the fizz of these grapes to Pop Rocks, and I know he was teasing. When our mouths were full with a bite of grape and ceviche, it really was like having ceviche with a cold beer, minus the beach chair under a palm thatched umbrella. Reminiscent of sunny Baja California, the beach, hot sun, we took a mini-vacation during that dish. I asked Chef Dan how he did it: he injected the grapes with beer carbonation. I'm not sure exactly how it was done, but it was a sparkly explosion on my tongue, fizzy and bright like a summer day.

Vegan Tacos Are My Kind Of Thing

Collard Green Vegan Tacos. For this once-upon-a-time raw vegan girl, the arrival of this dish made me bouncy-happy and it was all about quinoa and collard greens which was some kind of deliciousness and I enthusiastically squeezed lime all over it. I was back in my element of vegetarian pleasure. This dish was a versatile addition to the menu. I was impressed by the range of the chef's repertoire, combining vegan creations with the other offerings. I loved that he would do this and thought it showed off his skills well.

Chef Dan came around again and sat with us for a little while. I asked if he wouldn't mind signing my menu. He sweetly obliged. Dan is incredibly genuine.

Dessert. Banana Bread Pudding à la Bourbon Pecan Pie. If Chef Dan Moody wasn't already appealing to the sensuality of my taste buds, then surely he was courting the Southern Belle in me with this dessert. All of my decadent years living in New Orleans were concentrated into this tasting. 

 Our two spoons delved into the sumptuous magic of this sweet goodness. I was reminded of Bananas Foster, pecan pie, pralines, bread pudding, and bourbon. Some of the moments at Galatoire's, Arnaud's, and Commander's Palace came rushing back. Taste of pralines, sipping bourbon, fragrance of florid humid nights mingling with muddy water. Whiskey sauce-laden bread pudding and its many manifestations; upon plates, in bowls. Memory of taste, smell. All the delicious and luxuriant food memories had soaked deep into my cellular consciousness, or perhaps my thighs.

That first spoonful touched my tongue and a shiver ran through me. I paused, aware of an exquisite longing for a city that I once loved. And memory returned, saturated with flavors, smells, visions. My life had become distant from that crescent city of butter and cream. I remembered the smell of rum wafting from the flambé of Bananas Foster as the waiter at Arnaud's prepared it so formally, with a flourish of his hands like a magician, the way time just seemed to stop there in that dining room. The memory of my love for the enchanted city of New Orleans emerged like a dream. That mysterious city embraced my soul, and like a loving grandmère she filled me with her sultry essence of Creole sweets and French pastries. I knew that it was connected with the taste of banana bread pudding, and with every bite I reminisced about the city I once knew as home.

Chef Dan came by yet again and delivered the Red Velvet cake, named "Red Velvet", Chocolate Cake, Cream Cheese Mousse, Beet Ice Cream. The beet ice cream was a pleasant and unique taste.

We finished our meal with tea and lingered awhile longer.

What a lovely evening and a beautiful dinner...

We looked at the Batch menu as well and decided we would try it after Chef Dan Moody's pop-up kitchen closed.

What I didn't know about Chef Dan Moody... he is also known as The RelationChef. I loved learning about this, because it felt parallel to my own beliefs about love and food, cooking and relationships. I was excited to find this out about Chef Dan via his website The RelationChef:

Chef Dan Moody (The RelationChef) is the authority on dating and relationship-related cooking advice. Formally trained in classical French cuisine, with experience in nouvelle French cuisine, Chef Dan believes that food and the act of cooking are also important ways of expressing love, showing hospitality and ultimately bringing people together.

Chef Dan launched The RelationChef based on his passion for both relationships and cooking and the undeniable connection between the two. As The RelationChef, he offers charming and thoughtful advice on everything from how to plan a successful first date dinner, to cooking a memorable and romantic meal for your 25th wedding anniversary.

I've been writing a passage for The Sensual Foodie cookbook about how Darling and I met. Chef Dan has a "Love Story" section to submit on his website HERE to Submit Your Story. I am submitting our story once I finish writing it. Here is more about Chef Dan's Love Story submissions:

When we talk to people about the show, we often find that people share their personal stories involving cooking and love. These stories are often funny, sentimental and heartwarming. To share your For the Love of Cooking stories and for an opportunity to appear on the show please submit your stories here. Whether your story is funny, embarrassing, sentimental, or heartwarming, we want to hear it. Your submission will be reviewed, and the individuals, couples, and families whose submitted stories are selected as the best stories will be invited on the show to share their story on the air with Chef Dan.

Share your stories of food and love!