I really liked Rick Moonen on the 2nd season of Top Chef Masters. I loved the way he took himself seriously without taking himself too seriously. He joked a lot, but made fun of himself as much as he made fun of others. He seems like a guy you could have a glass of wine with and discuss sustainable seafood.
Sidenote: I just watched Food Inc. and they didn’t talk about seafood. So, I’m not quite sure what sustainable seafood is, or why it is important.
(Because I get all my foodie info from documentaries.)
What I think I know: the fishies I ate were happy fishies and that when they died, the environment was not impacted. What I know: they were delicious. So, if sustainable seafood = happy, environmentally friendly fishes that are delicious, then I’m in.
Back to Rick & I. Now that I’m on the up and up on sustainable seafood, I’m pretty sure that we could be buddies. Especially because his menu only had three instances of red meat — this is my kind of chef! (But I get that. My husband loves red meat and is allergic to shellfish and so if there wasn’t any on the menu, I probably wouldn’t have been able to sweet talk him into going to RM Seafood.)
But I, on the other hand could have eaten everything else on the menu. And maybe now that Rick is going to be my buddy, I’ll get a chance to someday.
Since ordering everything on the menu wasn’t in the cards (oy vay, enough with cards for a while, Vegas.) I had to make my selections. It was really hard, people. But at the same time, it was pretty much a no brainer.
Decision number one: pass up the raw bar. Why? Husband can’t enjoy it, and I just don’t believe oysters should be enjoyed alone. (Ladies, anyone want to go back with me?)
If your buddy only had one shot to cook for you, then you better go with what he’s known for. This was Rick’s White Clam Chowder, and let me explain…
Simply delectable. The first thing that hits your tongue is the tang of the dill, and then in each creamy bite, you get substantial chunks of briny clams (I love a sandy bite now and then) and al dente potatoes that pop in your mouth. The dill lingers on taunting you to lick the bowl clean. Of course, I wouldn’t want to embarrass Rick that way. So I just forced my spoon to reach new depths of cleaning a bowl.
Then I let one of Rick’s staff take it away. (Incidentally, our waitress’s name was Stephanie. See, Rick knows good people to hire in his restaurant…) I’m pretty sure the only reason I relinquished my bowl is I knew what was coming next…
Let’s talk about sustainable seafood again…
A happy fish makes a happy Stephanie.
So, what was awesome about this dish? Pretty much everything.
It’s one of those dishes that sticks in your mind for days. You want more, but you can’t have more. I would have a very hard time returning to RM Seafood and not ordering this again. But, I know Rick would encourage me to try something else. Maybe he’d just bring me another little taste of…
The cavatelli itself is almost gnochi like. Only it’s not, because each pasta is like a little mini cup for the creamy lemon sauce, which dances in your mouth as you alternate between the savory crab and the rich morels.
I had never had a morel before, so I knew I would order this before I even got to RM Seafood.
Oh yes, and I was there with Mr. Quirky. Almost got a little carried away. Mr. Quirky did not have a starter. He just went straight for the gold…
He said, “It was a very good steak. Not the best, but very good.” He also thought it must have been a very happy cow. A happy cow makes a happy Mr. Quirky.
I think it’s hard to be the best at steak when you are focused on seafood. So, we cut Rick a little slack.
I tasted the wine reduction sauce on the potatoes and it was the perfect combination of creamy, savory and sweet.
See, how happy it made Mr. Quirky?
And this is the final reason why I think Rick would not only be my buddy, but he’d love Mr. Quirky too. Only a very fun spirited chef would think to take his dessert and make a tasting game out of it.If you can guess the flavor of 16 sorbets and ice creams, it’s free!
And Rick gets that, it’s obvious.
This game was a blast. I don’t want to give away too much, in case you are thinking of dropping by anytime soon. We got nine right, which isn’t bad.
Some of the flavors that stumped us were garlic, milk and buttermilk. (Stephanie told us that milk stumps a lot of people!)
I was pretty proud that I picked the pretzel ice cream, and came close but confused Thai Tea for Chai Tea.
This was among my favorite dining experiences ever. And while I know that Rick was most likely not even in Vegas that night, I’m relishing in the fact that he had a lot to do with my meal.
Rick, let me know when you want us to come back. We’re a lot of fun!