The Gentleman Gourmand

sharing the best food around

Category: Grand Adventures! (Page 1 of 2)

Kellerville: Certainly not an ad hoc Review

It has taken me almost five months to write this post.  Reasons for this delay would have varied depending on when you asked me.  I might have cited the craziness of spring break and finishing senior year.  I could have attributed it to the outrageousness of the days and nights surrounding the event (what happens in vegas…), or I might have complained about our bathroom ceiling collapsing or my vigorous programming training.

I am now ready to tell you about my experience in Kellerville.  This is an area of our fine country that is known to outsiders as “Yountville,” California.  Being, of course, just down the rue from Napa, Kellerville is the statistical mode of Thomas Keller’s restaurant locations.  Including the now infamous French Laundry and Bouchon bakery, he ups the ante with Ad Hoc; the physical manifestation of his almost-temporary-potentially-future-burger joint (but not really).  Ad Hoc features a set, daily rotating menu of Keller-quality food served all-you-can-eat family style.

First of all, I would like to say that I had a wonderful experience in Kellerville.  From spotting the French Laundry (wait, was that it…? I don’t think that was it…) to the joyful surprise of running up to the door to check the days menu at Ad Hoc, it was a magical experience.  Only a month or so previously I had a chance to meet Chef Keller himself, and had the profound experience of cooking with him in the BU SHA kitchen.  One of the first dishes I was truly proud of as a teenage cook was a FL cookbook-inspired parmesan tuile filled with whipped chive goat cheese.

When we located the French Laundry on our drive through town, I jumped out of the car like a giddy kid.  I took pictures of the now-famous herb garden and I even think I ran inside for a moment just to see the place.  I may have dreamed this up.  I’ll have to check with my accomplices.


Once I was done spying (how many people do this outside TFL?  I wish they had a webcam.  I bet it’s lots.), we headed down the street to Ad Hoc.


It was the evening before my twenty second birthday. The constantly amazing Brooke had arranged the reservations through two of her lovely friends.  I sincerely appreciate the effort made on my behalf from all of y’all.  From Boston to Cali, your willingness to help knows no bounds.

We were seated in sunny, comfortable dining room to salivate over our menus and select our wine (served in lowball glasses).  Everyone seemed to be having a good time.  From the staff in their dickies shirts to the diners chowing down, the entire restaurant buzzed with a relaxed giddiness.  Jake and I both had our cameras out, competing in a discreet food photography competition.


There are no choices at Ad Hoc, other than beverages.




As for the food: the highlight of the evening was the polenta, which I believe they said they made with buttermilk.  The chicken was flawlessly executed, as was the shrimp, and there was more than enough food to go around.





That’s all I have to say about the food.  Full disclosure is that I have a hard time looking at these food photographs.  For whatever reason, two hours or so after leaving the restaurant, I became more ill than I have in a decade and my memory of the specific food items is tarnished.  There is no telling what made me sick, I just know that it’s hard for my body not to be averse to lookin at the consumed (and then un-consumed) food.

For a more descriptive and non-tragic experience of the dining phenomenon that is Ad Hoc, I would like to refer you to an old buddy of mine, the Amateur Gourmet.  Adam (AG) used to live in Atlanta when I was living it Italy, and we both started our blogs around the same time.  He’s now an internationally renowned food blogger.  Check him out:

As for my continued review – here is what I want to say:

Ad Hoc has all the markings of a perfect restaurant.  It casually basks in the backyard of the best chef in the country, provides diners with no choices in the menu, and allows its employees to exchange formality and stiff attire for knowledge and grace.  Ad hoc is less of a restaurant than a public house.  You acknowledge that you need to be fed, relax in the comfortable environment and feel at home with the laid back but professional and attentive staff.

Having no choice in what you eat is exactly as liberating as being able to choose anything in the world to eat.  As long as the food is cooked and served with finesse, it doesn’t matter what it is.  Thomas Keller has built an empire of cooks and staff that can execute at a level of obsession that has been completely abandoned by every chain, company and catering hall in the country.

When you walk into Ad Hoc, or any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, you know exactly where you are.  You have come hungry and it would sincerely be impossible to leave less than satisfied.  This feeling is the magic of the chef.  You aren’t just feeling welcome, you are feeling the combined efforts of hundreds of people, all of whom were led by the vision of chef Keller.

The simple concept of preparing and delivering nourishment has become a multibillion dollar industry, one in which corporations increasingly try to drive each other out with more “Xtreme” or “flavor-blasted” food products.  It used to be taken for granted that you could find a local diner, or a mom-and-pop Italian joint.  Nowadays people are terrified of a menu that doesn’t include Chicken Caesar Salad.  Restaurants, like Ad Hoc, will slowly change this.

Want to do your part?  Watch this video after the jump:

French-style oysters from a w0nderful Russian fish-purchaser

So after grabbing pickup from Dok Bua (best Thai in boston, amazingly 100 yards from my apartment) Lara and I stopped into Wulf’s fish market looking to buy some oysters.

While there, we were lucky enough to converse with a wonderful Russian woman who was having a fish mongered for her.

She offered us a recommendation for our oysters that turned out to be one of the most wonderful flavor/texture/experience combinations I have ever enjoyed.  She made sure that we were 21 first (it was all sort of hush-hush, really), and told us about this:


Could this oyster be more perfect?

5 oz fresh (good quality) horseradish
2 oz heinz katchup
2 oz organic ketchup
1 oz rancho gordo hot sauce
1 oz worchestershire
salt and pepper to taste

1 freshly shucked oyster *minimal hand-stabbing*

topped with lemon juice and ice cold grey goose.


serve with a pacifico beer:
mixed with 1 oz rancho gordo hot sauce
                      1 oz worchestershire
                        2 oz lime juice
                          salted rim

have a wonderful day.


Anti-Valentines Evening at Eastern Standard (aka…where do you work?)

Yesterday was Valentines day.  To those of you who had a wonderful evening of swooning, gazing into someones eyes, and nibbling on chocolates — here’s what I have to say to you:


You missed out on the second annual, rock-your-face-off ANTI-Valentines party at Eastern Standard.

Allow me to set the scene for you.

Boston, Feb 14th: 5AM — Snow becomes hail.  1 PM — Hail becomes rain.  9 PM — Rain becomes ice (a half inch on everything).  10:30 PM — ES party begins.

Upon entering from the patio (in order to collect email addresses for a seemingly non-existent "raffle," and allow the once-a-year bouncer to get a good look at you), you are directed inside past three of the four bars of the night.  To your right, the wine bar.  Straight ahead, the punch bar, and to the left, a mini-cocktail bar.  Every table and chair in the restaurant is missing, and people are everywhere.  The private dining room is suspiciously napkined-off (later discovered to be a Twister! room) and servers are circling with 50’s-style TV dinner food consisting of tripe sloppy joes, fish sticks and chili fries.  Twenty dollars bought you five (5! 1+1+1+1+1) drinks!  People are everywhere, and the live band (another rarity — featuring for-one-song-only — Jackson!) is in full swing.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest.


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Breakfast of Champions!

As usual, right after half an hour of strecthing, my morning jog and two hour meditation, I ease my way into the day by tucking into a bit of sevruga caviar on toast points with farm-fresh chicken eggs.


I round off my routine with a game of chess and a long walk on the beach….

….and by around two I’m ready to start my day.

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East Coast Grill; Hell Night



Review coming….after lunch.

The Full Vermonty

I now belong to BU’s best club:  The Freedom Van Riders.

This last weekend, we took a van and cruised all over Vermont in search of food, drink, and debauchery.   (There might have also been some petty political-sign theftage…but hey, it comes with the club)  You can check out all the pictures in the photo album, and there will be some food reviews comin up soon.  Right now I’m gettin some midterm-related-work done.

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Hide & Go Seek + Dogs + Shotguns = exactlywhat?

Today I woke up at 4:50 AM. On purpose. I was going to go hunting with Oscar today. At least, that’s what I thought I was doing. Lets rewind.

On Monday I had lunch with the whole family (Luca, Donatalla and all of Donatella’s family). Luca and I ended up at Oscars house watching a video about how he goes hunting and uses dogs to point out the birds. It was pretty cool, and he offered to take me with him. It ended up that he was going today, and I went with him.

What I ended up doing was not what I expected. If you don’t like seeing guns, dead animals, or gratituous nudity (just kidding, or am I?), then please, don’t feel like you have to read the post.

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Wine bars are awesome. Where else can you hang out, drink some wine, munch on some delicious tidbits of food, and pay just about nothing? Wine bars in Italy, that’s where!

I had my first glass of prosecco today, and I greatly enjoyed it. With it came delicous olives, and some tasty baked goods.

How much for my king sized snack?

No more than 3 Euro, of course.


I am a little kid, take 3

So today, after getting a little silly doing wine tastings around Montefalco, we noticed signs for a town called “Bastardo.”

I, of course, had to go check it out.

The town sucked, but I got a great picture of the sign. Notice the banished “bastardo,” purposely pointed out by the helpful sign.


Fashion Update #1

So recently, Cate has been assisting me in re-designing my wardrobe. She helped me with an excellent purchase of a Banana Republic shirt while we were in Key West.


More recently, she was key in my purchase of two excellent Lacoste shirts while we were in Rome. The obvious color choices? Lime green and pink.

I *heart* Cate. Nobody tell her that people usually pay for a fashion consultant. K?

Another important purchase that I made in Rome was the best pair of sunglasses I have ever bought. I must have tried on close to a hundred pairs over the days I was with Cate, and none of them even came close to the pair I finally found.

It was the last day before I left for Sorrento, and I desperately was searching for a pair, ANY pair. We ended up finding the coolest optometrist in the entire world. There was a huge fountain in the main room (both the room and the fountain were entirely marble.) Anyway, I grabbed a pair by impulse and said “Well, how about something a little different.” The look on her face was priceless; it looked like she had just met a new, hotter me. At least, that’s what I imagined.


Suffice to say, I liked them.

We also tried on hats. (Didn’t purchase, don’t worry. I saw that face.)


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