That’s my two-word review. I think it just about says it all.
But being the long-winded rambler that I am, I’ll give you the full-meal deal.
Dinner at Cyrus was nothing short of transcendent. There were moments during my meal when I literally shook my head in disbelief. Where did these flavors come from? How did something so wonderful wind up on my fork? If I took smaller bites, could I make each course last just a little bit longer? It was like reading a book you wished would never end.
People, one dish included a flavor I had never tasted before. I think my partner said it best: “It’s like seeing a color you never knew existed.” At that point, the only thing I could manage to write in my little notebook was “WTF?! OMG.” I was reduced to text messaging-isms, for chrissake.
But let me back up.
We started with canapés of the five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. These bite-sized wunderkind captured the essence of each taste completely, without overwhelming. Like, if an alien ever landed on Earth and asked, “What is sour?” you’d want to send him to Cyrus for his lesson. “This, Space Man, is sour,” you’d say. “This is all you need to know, here on this tiny, tiny spoon.”
After the canapés, we decided to spring for the Grand Wine Pairing, which features rare wines you normally won’t find by the glass. Crazy expensive? Yes. It was $100 bucks more (each!) than the standard wine pairing. But worth every penny. Read on and find out why.
Next, our Amuses. Mine, a Green Garlic soup. My partner’s, a Lemon Miso. Little cups of liquid joy, alongside warm, crusty slices of heaven-bread, served with salty French butter, and Goat’s Milk butter to boot. (Little goat mother, how do you do the voodoo that you do so well?)
The first course for my partner was a Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche with Pickled Daikon and Sweet Potato. My version arrived sans Scallop, but it was just as delicious supplemented with tiny bites of citrus. Both were served with freeze-dried soy sauce grated over the top. It left my mouth feeling, well, fresh somehow. Bright, maybe. Happy, for sure. And the course was perfectly paired with a 2002 Brundlmayer “Zobinger Heiligenstein Alte Reben” Riesling, from Kamptal, Austria.
On to course number two: Roasted Beets with Fritters, Mandarins, and Pistachios. (My partner had a Foie Gras dish that featured a Quail’s Egg Bulls Eye. I’m not down with the Foie, but the Bulls Eye? Re-donk-ulous.) The real magic of my dish came from the fritter. It was a sphere the size of gumball, but it packed the punch of a cannonball, taking the plate to a whole new level.
Then, the Pinot Gris pairing.
Now, I’m not a fan of white wine. In fact, most of the time, I’d rather skip wine than drink white. But this was like no Pinot Gris I’ve ever tasted. It smelled like rose water. Not like grandma’s perfume, mind you. Like real rose water. Soft and sexy. It was a 2002 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht “Clos Windsbuhl” from Alsace, France.
And y’all, we were just getting warmed up. Things got really interesting during the next course.
My partner was served Ikejime Tai, Smoked Soba Noodles and Crab in an Oolong Tea Broth. I had Matsutake Mushrooms with Chrysanthemum and Gobo in Sudachi Broth. Mine was phenomenal. (Help! I’m running out of superlatives!) The broth was a study in subtlety, with a pleasurable kick of spice at the end. But my partner’s broth? Her broth was the most sublime thing I think I’ve ever had in my mouth. (Keep the dirty jokes to yourselves, kiddies.) I can’t begin to describe it. Tangy-ish, savory-ish, sweet-ish, with a hint of vanilla in the background. Or so it seemed. Who knows what the hell they put in the stuff? The flavor was totally new to both of us. All I know is that my mouth reacted as if I had just licked the face of God.
(For the veggie sticklers out there—yes, the broth likely had some seafood in it. So sue me. Shit happens. If you’d been there, you’d have tasted it, too.)
We washed the course down with a 2006 Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet “1er Cru Clos de la Garenne” White Burgundy, and ascended another step toward enlightenment.
Next up, my Tasting of Winter Vegetables. Three perfectly executed musings on the season. But how’s this for sad? I forgot to write down what they were. One involved Chard in some kind of fried ball of deliciousness, one had a well-structured foam…uh, I can’t recall the other. I was too busy moaning with pleasure and wonder. The trio was beautiful, from the plating to the palate. Then, with a sip of 2006 Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, we were swept away yet again. It had a nose of buttered popcorn, and the pairing blew away what remained of my mind.
Can you believe all this praise? So unlike me, right? Sheesh. Still, the meal just kept getting better.
A quick Cara Cara and Kiwi popsicle to cleanse the palate, and on to the next course…
…a Poached Egg with Cauliflower Risotto and Parmesan Truffle Froth. (If every risotto tasted like this, I’d quit my bitching for sure.) Creamy doesn’t begin to describe it. And the egg—when I broke into it, the yolk seeped into the risotto like smooth R&B. Mmmm girl…we gonna do it aaaalll night long. Take another taste of that 2003 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-pape. You know you love it.
Damn, girl. You know I do.
Then, the cheese.
Oh, the cheese.
A buffalo milk cheese wrapped in fig leaves. (The flavor of fig hid in the background, then popped out—surprise!) An ash-coated goat’s milk cheese from the Loire Valley. A Portuguese cheese with a name I didn’t catch, a Green Hill Camembert, a triple cream from Normandy, and a washed-rind rind Epoisse that had to be kept under a protective glass fume hood because of its delicious funk. Add to this, Spiced Walnuts that defied gravity. (Somehow, they were crispy and light as air.) Plus paper-thin stewed apple slices and Panforte. And…and…
A glass of 1987 R. Lopez de Heredia “Vina Tondonia” Rioja Gran Riserva. Dude—wine from when I was in high school. It was orange, like the deepest shade of the setting sun. And it was divine. So divine, in fact, that we ordered two more glasses to enjoy as we finished the cheese plate. Even at an extra $38 bucks a glass, the price seemed fair. It was that good.
Since it was our anniversary, the kitchen sent out a special pre-dessert dessert course, with a very modern twist. Diminutive, wafer-thin chocolate chip cookies arrived under a dome attached to an inflated balloon. When the server released the balloon, it blew chocolate confetti over our cookies. The whole thing was served with shot glasses filled with New York Egg Creams. Now, I’m not the kind of girl to bandy about the word “delightful.” But this treat fit the bill. I giggled like a Japanese schoolgirl in a room full of puppies.
Our real desserts arrived shortly thereafter. Individually-spun dollops of Green Cardamom Ice Cream with Pineapple-Yuzu Granite, Ginger and Honey Moscato, a Blood Orange Soufflé with Champagne Anglaise, and a miniature Chocolate Cheesecake. Paired—get this—with a ’95 Chateau d’Yquem. Whether or not the Sauternes was good is sort of beside the point. (For the record, it was gorgeous.) It was kind of like having Beyonce to stop by the table, just to say hi. I was a little bit star-struck. I mean, that shit is like $400 a bottle…RETAIL. I never thought I’d get the chance to taste it.
The ice cream was of a consistency I’d never imagined before. It was more like whipped-cream’s stouter cousin, and it melted on my tongue like a whisper. The Blood Orange Soufflé was intense—so much orange flavor packed into such a tiny space. The Blood Orange’s essence remained pure somehow, like biting into an orange that happened to be made of soufflé. The only misstep of the evening was the Chocolate Cheesecake. Perhaps, at any other meal, it would have been a winner. But competition was fierce at our table, and the cheesecake just didn’t deliver. A bummer, but at that point, we were well beyond caring.
By the time the Mignardises cart rolled around, we were dying. They were all adorable, but I only asked for one. I just couldn’t put another bite in my mouth. The check arrived with a lovely card printed with our menus and two ludicrously rich brownies to take home for the next day, all boxed up to travel. Even with the weight of such a meal in my belly, I practically floated back to our hotel.
When I finally stretched out in bed—on the softest sheets known to man, thank you Hotel Healdsburg—I began to cry. It was a mixture of happiness, gratitude, and the bittersweet realization of time’s passing. There are only so many nights like this, I thought, when everything is perfect. I felt privileged, and lucky, and full, and tipsy, and warm, and safe in the arms of the love of my life.
Of course I cried.