NEW YORK, NY
Midtown Manhattan can be cold and corporate with its high rises housing the financial institutions amongst other corporate entities. A central place for the career focused and hardworking people of my home. Given that, the location of a fine dining institution here can seem a little bit odd. Certainly, it can be said that this restaurant can participate is the grand scheme of business meetings and after work drinks but its ambience does not evoke an environment made for such. A stone’s throw from the corner of 55th street and park avenue is where you will find Aquavit, a Scandinavian restaurant seeking to give you an escape from the very nature of the area and of its location.
The entry way is darkened and sleek but not pitch black evoking a calm and yet exciting welcome to the restaurant. This leads to the dining room which is an entrance to the left of the entry way. This space is equally calm, chic with a quiet elegance about it. I was seated by the window overlooking 55th street, a view of high-rise office buildings, so certainly not something that one would desire but something about the space made the outside and all its mental and hounding noise disappear. It was certainly not the calmness of sitting by the window overlooking the ocean as I experienced in Fortaleza de Guincho in Portugal, but it worked for where I was and what I needed at that moment. The reason for the selection was that this is a place that I had visited years before though so to be honest, the view was not quite the surprise, but was more a welcome back to the magical transformative experience that they were about to provide. Besides, this was one of my first fine dining experiences when I really did not know what I was doing so revisiting past missteps certainly was one to look forward to and correct.
I apologize that I did not capture the photos of all the amuse bouche but there were three in total. Cheating a bit on my memory, I glanced at my menu and I see a mention of a fourth item made of plum, lingonberry and lemon thyme. My memory fails me here so that might have been an introductory beverage but do not quote me on that. The first of the starters that I do remember was a croustade filled with morel mushroom cream, a smoked trout roe, fennel pollen and crispy black trumpet mushrooms. I love mushrooms so a dish including the ingredient with two different kinds of mushrooms and prepared two ways is a sure win with me. The trout roe was a normal addition to the plate and not quite the standout, it was a fresh though and provided memories of being out on the water, fishing and waiting for a bite from surrounding fish. The winner on this flavor was the morel mushroom cream. I love morels for their deep earth flavor so combining that grounded flavor with a light and rich cream is a combination that pulls the two flavors to a central point and consequently tugs at my heart. The balance could very easily have been missed here but chef achieved just the right point with not too much of any item in the mixture. The croustade shell itself is where I had hoped for more by way of butter. Butter is a weakness of mine so if I am eating any sort of pastry, it must be at the forefront. In this case, however, it was resigned to the background and this certainly peaked my curiosity as to why that approach was taken. In any case, I moved on to the next piece.
The next was a sunchoke tartlet with a blue cheese povoire and pickled pear. I do not need to mention that blue cheese is a very strong cheese in flavor and sometimes in scent as well. It was no different here as the preparation as a filling did not reduce its potency or intensity in any manner. What did give this bite dimension though was the pickled pear. The sweetness of the pear was the highlight though only a touch of it could be tasted. It was quite surprising to me that something so small could have such a transformative effect on such a small bite. I figured that it must have been the pickling that gave it that push of liveliness. The only thing that I wish was different here was the tartlet shell. I wish it had been a little crunchier. It was not soft but somehow I just did not get the satisfaction of the sound of biting into a tartlet as I normally would. In any case, for the most part, this dish satisfied my senses of sight, taste and sound. A wonderful bite.
The final snack was the malt crisp filled with razor clam and topped with seaweed gelee. I loved the presentation on this piece as it took the shape of a cut wooden log. This brought memories of late nights in the cabin by the fire place stoking for more heat. It made me curious to see if this bite was to embody that feeling. Unfortunately, that was not the experience I had with this plate. You should know that this piece truly is one bite as it crumbled and fell in my lap, filling and all, when I bit into only a half of it. I was quite embarrassed by this but I was provided a new napkin fairly quickly to replace the mess that I had made. Another memory and misstep for the books… Ah! It was with this that I mused upon the welcoming and personable service that was exemplified by the restaurant. That said, this dish did satisfy my desire for crunch as the surrounding crisp was almost wafer like and what I did taste of the razor clam was the sweetness that paired perfectly with the slight salt of the seaweed gelee.
Now time for the main judgement section for me, the bread. There was an unlimited supply of bread throughout the meal including sourdough, rye and foccacia. I love the presentation of the butter as two mounds drawing from flat to a mound in two different directions for each type of butter. The presentation has not changed from the years before when I initially visited except this time, I had two variations. One was brown butter and the other was cultured butter with smoked sea salt. For the brown butter, it appeared to be at the middle grade of brown-brown butter, that is, at the middle tier when the butter is prepared to pair nicely with pasta. I tasted this butter with the sourdough and it was delightful but not something particularly special. The cause of this was possibly because the sourdough was not warm and this is a personal preference of mine when eating sourdough in particular. What did differentiate the sourdough in this case was the dusting of flour atop it which still did not do much for flavor but was nice for my eyes to see. I was told to try the Danish rye as it was the best of the bread offerings but I was hesitant for three reasons. One was that I was about to experience a twelve course dinner, two was my low carb diet and three was the fact that I am generally not a fan of rye. I was able to eliminate my concerns on the low-carb and twelve courses, since I decided to have just a bite of each of two breads and with regards to rye, well, I have to be adventurous every once in a while. Given the strong recommendation, I decided to try a piece of the rye and the first thing that I noticed was that it was warm. This is made the piece a big winner in my book already without even a taste yet. In addition to the warmth, there were nutty granules interspersed throughout the bread piece giving it an earthy and grounded flavor in addition to the added texture crunch that I seemed to have been craving from much of the meal so far. Finally, I enjoyed the piece with brown butter and this had a transformative effect from the taste of the butter with the sourdough. It was as though the complexities of the nuts and rye were enhanced with the richness of the butter. I should note that I did also try the cultured butter with both breads and while it was tasty, the brown butter with rye combination was the clear winner here… and I ate it all. Just one piece though.
This next dish was the osetra caviar plate. It was golden osetra caviar with poached egg, creme fraiche povoire, brown butter sauvignon and crispy sunchokes. Let me start with the obvious. It is beautiful. It is a magnificent sight to behold. A generous portion of caviar atop a poached egg hidden beneath a creme fraiche mixture. All this surrounded by a ring of sunchoke crisps. I had to take a moment to admire its beauty and whet my appetite further by “eating” the dish with my eyes. Magnificent. Now on to the taste. Let me start off by saying that this dish is divine when all elements are mixed together and eaten as one. The same way you would enjoy a yogurt parfait with chia seeds. That said, as I taste everything individually before I get to the total mix, here are my notes. The sunchoke… is not crisp. It was almost a mind game that chef was playing with this dinner so far i.e. tease your eyes with the expectation of texture but then not provide it. I wonder if that was intentional. Moving on. The osetra, though it was bold as I would expect, it was not at the level of most that I have had, an example would be the osetra that I get from Petrossian. Since there was no way to taste the egg without the cream, I tasted that next and as to be expected, full cream decadence on full fat yolk is the dangerous and expected flavor. With this combination, I added the caviar and I felt that it was the right choice for the osetra to not be bolder than it was. The richness of the egg cream combination with the caviar brought it to life. No doubt that that taste would have been overwhelming if there was competition of added salt in the mix. The brown butter was the final element that I mixed in and it was this ingredient that brought in the salt that the caviar lacked. So you can see here that the play on the strength on different ingredients was brought to culmination in this one dish. I wonder where chef got the caviar and if there was a tasting of a selection of options before this one was selected. I would certainly love to be a part of that tasting experience.
As I waited for my next dish, I looked about the dining room and it was as beautiful as I remember. Tall leather backed chairs placed around round tables for half of the dining room space. These tables did not have table cloths. For the other half of the room there were normal chairs also seated around round tables but these with table cloths. All tables in the space placed beneath a softly dramatic ceiling dotted with wired lighting fixtures with droplets. This made them resemble chandeliers but not quite as grand. Each table had small pots of thankfully real and beautifully arranged flowers. In case you cannot tell, I am definitely still miffed at Daniel for giving me fake flowers. There was also a table at the entry way where some of the staff resided with a grand and tall flower arrangement. If I recall correctly, the sommelier and other servers congregated here for drinks to be brought to the table. The service is also very welcoming and not at all stiff which you do find in some restaurants. Now that I think about it, the era of stiff fine dining restaurants is mostly over. I have not really encountered one of note in recent times. Anyway, that is just a little musing from me to you.
The next dish is the oyster and seaweed dish. It is west coast kumamoto oyster with mussel custard, tomato water, cucumbers and pickled seaweed. And yes before you point it out, I forgot to take a photo. It tells you how excited I was to eat it! Let me see if I can describe it thoroughly enough so you can imagine how it looked. No. I cannot do it because I do not remember what it looked like either. Again, I am sorry. I promise to do better but sometimes my love and passion for food get the better of me especially when a desirable plate that plays with color and simple and familiar ingredients and… I am just making excuses here in hope that you forgive me. Anyway, on to the taste. I love west coast oysters because they are generally smaller and less intimidating for me to consume. Some people love the larger and brinier oyster that you generally find in the east but I definitely love the small and delicate flavors of the west, though I live in the east and always will. Does that make me a traitor? Sorry, I am rambling again. The kumamoto was more reserved than I am used to, almost hidden rather than gently flavored. However, paired with the cucumber which was almost sweet, I was surprised by the wining combination. There was the mussel custard as well but in truth it did not bring much to the plate by way of taste but mostly of texture. It was a gentle bounce of two playfully soft seafood bites i.e. they both require some chewing but are not of dense form which would require intense effort. The cucumber of course was the main contributor of texture here. I will mention that I was saddened by the handling of the seaweed on this dish. Seaweed is so versatile and it has a distinctly unique flavor that can be picked up in any dish that it is included in. However, it was barely apparent here and I could not figure out why. It would certainly have brought a different direction in the experience of the dish so I was left a little confused by that.
Thin sliced long island sea bass with a green tomato and strawberry vinaigrette served with English peas and pea tendrils. The first thing I noticed here was that, I was given a fork and no spoon for this dish. Given there was broth on the plate, I wondered if it was a mistake that I had not been provided with a spoon. Regardless, I plunged ahead making a mental note to ask for one and write about it. Alas, it was not a mistake to not provide a spoon and it was the right decision as the broth was salty. It was very intense to taste alone almost to the point of unappealing due to its salt. Considering this initial taste, I decided to forgo tasting all the other ingredients individually and to skip right on to the collective experience. This was broth but had been thickened in some manner so that it coated the fish without issue and no multiple sliding required through it to get enough to adhere to the fish so as to get enough for an optimal taste experience. I love chilean sea bass and I figured Long Island sea bass should ideally be no different. There was no flavor on the fish making the broth ABSOLUTELY necessary for this bite. I have never had sea bass in sushi preparation so maybe it is different from when poached or grilled or pan-seared but I certainly did not expect it to have no taste. To be clear, the combination was phenomal, the lack of flavor but addition of texture by the medium firm fish with the salt of the broth was a magnificent combination. I have never had green strawberries but I expected them to be bitter given that I generally do not find regular red strawberries to be particularly sweet. I may have been eating strawberries from the wrong providers but I figured Whole Foods, farmer’s market and farm collectives could not all be collectively wrong on their equally not sweet tastes. All said and done, the strawberries were not bitter, they were not anything to me really as I actually had no idea what they were until I looked at the menu again as a reminder. Generally, I love playing games of guess the ingredient and preparation while I eat but I really had to give up here as I had no idea. There was nothing in my repertoire that I could parallel it to which would give me a hint. Well… I guess I have a new ingredient that I have to cook with and explore.
I loved the next dish as it was king crab and morel mushrooms prepared two ways. I am one of those weird people that is not a fan of crab so I always look at it as a challenge to the chef to see if they can prepare it in a manner that I enjoy. Chef did just that. Not once. But twice. The first dish was a king crab salad with kohlrabi, buttermilk foam and miners lettuce. A huge nod goes to chef’s skill at perfecting color placements on a plate. Wild colors of orange, gold and all manners of green are your welcome to this plate. It was a little hard to eat the dish with just a fork as I was trying to get all elements on one fork. Before that though I tasted each ingredient individually starting with the greens which were bitter. The cream foam was light in body and taste which was unexpected. The body obviously was expected but the lightened flavor came as a surprised. The crab, though you cannot see it, was shredded and was a decent portion all stacked in the center of the plate. The foam was not the only cream on the plate, there was another creamy and rich dressing that I cannot remember but it tamed the bitterness of the greens while not overwhelming the freshness of the crab. The dressing tasted almost exactly like the salad / coleslaw dressing that you would get from a store but without that, “I’ve been sitting here for months taste”. While I ate this plate, I dug around for the mushrooms thinking that they were somewhere on the plate. I was excited to taste them given my earlier heavenly experience with chef’s preparation of mushrooms in the starters. However, they were not in this dish but instead made their entrance on the second preparation.
The next plate was a seared Norwegian king crab with a mushroom brioche, braised oxtail and raw mushrooms. My first thought was that this is quite a bold chef to think they can carry off red meat and seafood on the same plate. I know you can see that combination in a paella (not classic) for instance but that is somewhat of an exception given the mixed base of the rice. In this case, you have two different proteins prepared individually to pair with each other agreeably. The oxtail was warm shredded and crisp where it had been seared in the pan but still juicy and melt in your mouth tender from the initial braising. The crab had been poached in butter and this melded perfectly with the meat enhancing its own mild fat flavors. I have always had trouble describing the fat composition of oxtail because it has such a unique taste as a beef on its own in the first place. The mushroom brioche had gotten soggy which would normally be a mark against the preparation but between the textures of the crab and oxtail, the sogginess actually worked quite well as an added textural element. There were cippollini onions on the plate which are generally sweet but these had a bit of a tang to them. I think that they may have been brined in vinegar shortly to give it that extra bite as in my experience that is not customary to the vegetable. The one thing that I would mention is that I wish this was served on a flat plate as instead it was in a bowl. I wanted a flat plate, because I wanted to be able to scrape my cutlery against the plate but alas that was not meant to be. And no, I did not use bread instead… though I was tempted to.
For the next plate, I was given a complimentary 2005 Pinot noir rose which I was told would pair nicely with the plate. It did. This was the foie gras torchon from the Hudson Valley with red currants, grilled cream and toasted almond oil. The cream itself is not grilled but pushed through a charcoal medium to give it the grilled flavor. I would have been floored if they had found someway otherwise to actually grill cream. They mentioned that they do the same for ice creams and some other desserts that they have on the menu at times. This is something that they do to continually play around with bold flavors primarily smoke and grilled flavors. The foie gras is just about standard to the palate but not as decadent as one would expect. If I were to compare it to the satisfaction that you would get out of a drink, it tasted almost as though you were sipping on a mild coffee. This is where the red currant comes in as it had been transformed to be very intense in flavor. This flavor thereby contributed significantly to the overall boldness of the plate. The currant is sharp in its presence on the plate but not overly sweet. Considering, red currants are generally mildly sweet, I was surprised and welcomed this transformation. When, eating all the elements together, you have a play of sweet but not overly so from the currant, smoke from the cream, mildly rich foie and all of this ends with a punch from the currant. The final dominating taste was the currant as is to be expected as it had a slow residing effect as time passed by. Of note should be that I do not know if it was the currant that may have been just a little sharp for me. I mention that as the dish kept on going down the wrong pipe in my throat multiple times. Finally, I should mention that the sweetness of the pinot noir was greatly accentuated by the plate as a whole but which did not overwhelm in its sweet contributions to the plate. One last note on this plate, it was served in a bowl which not surprisingly was not conducive to eating every last morsel on the plate. You would think that would not be the case but I guess with the somewhat utilitarian silverware at times, that made it harder to finish.
The next plate was the turbot with white asparagus. More specifically, this was a grilled Spanish turbot with white asparagus from Provence, glazed with Meyer lemon and served with a smoked hollandaise sauce and roe. This was another dish that had a bold flavor profile at the very least because of the lemon that brightens any dish that it is placed upon. The hollandaise sauce, the main contributor of flavor to the plate, was unapologetically thick and rich. I mean, that is what you get when you mix egg yolks and butter. The lightening agent here in the sauce was lemon again I believe. It would make sense given the lemon atop the fish which would bring a cohesive relationship between the two ingredients. I was not a fan of the roe. You know when you eat sushi that is not quite fresh and it just tastes like raw fish versus the divine complexities of flavor that you get with sushi-grade fish? Well, that was the experience here. That is not to say that the roe was not fresh but instead that any other tastes were muted by that overwhelming flavor. I think roe on the plate is a good idea and could definitely work but just not using the current selection. The asparagus was crisp and if memory serves me correctly was lightly seared in a pan to the point where it is not quite cooked and not soft either. It struck just the right balance. Finally, the fish was firm but with the lemon atop it, that was really all I could taste. It was not bad but I would have preferred to be able to taste the fish a bit more. All the items individually, save for the roe, tasted great and consequently, this made me look forward to the taste to be enjoyed with everything combined together. All together, each fork was a refreshing bite brought on as to be expected from the lemon on the fish and in the hollandaise. Interestingly, I had not noticed the difference in firmness of the fish versus the asparagus but this was made clear with the combined fork. Actually, I preferred the firmness of the asparagus over that of the fish quite a bit. I tried the roe with a full fork, hoping that somehow the combination of ingredients would tamper down the unappetizing taste but that did not happen. I just could not enjoy it so I left it on the plate. On the asparagus were some fresh herbs and I remember that the most present of them was dill. All in all, this was a good plate, but maybe a little less lemon and a change in roe selection would make it better.
The bold flavor choice on the next dish was smoke again but this time with the addition of charred elements. Smoke is definitely chef’s go to choice for enlivening the flavors on a plate. This was the duck breast with charred fava beans, grilled spring onions and charred romaine lettuce. The interesting thing was that the menu said ramps but during the presentation of the dish, I was told they were spring onions. They are synonymous to each other so while I was a little bit confused, I figured that the taste of the recipe was not that diversified from if the ramps were used in place. What struck me on this plate really was the beautiful collection of colors and also the butter used but I will tell you about in a moment. Back to the colors, it is a plate of pink and many gradients of green. The certainly reminded me of the spring before and made me long for spring to come. The pink was sourced from the seared duck breast that had been cooked to medium temperature with crispy skin as is to be expected. The addition of note on the skin of the duck breast was that it had a mild sweetness to it. I wonder what was used as a marinade to achieve that. Then there was the bright and lively green from fava beans that acted as an attractive pick me up with every glance. There was also the still lightly colored and yet darker than normal charred iceberg. I have grilled iceberg in my kitchen before but while it charred in areas, it never darkened overall. Obviously this piqued my curiosity as to what happened here. As mentioned the use of butter was another reason for my enjoyment of this dish. This was used to cook the ramps… they were grilled and butter soaked. Grilling naturally brings out a mouth encompassing full flavor in the mouth and so does butter but in a different variation. The combination of the two ingredients equally filling my taste buds and the addition of the smoke element on the plate, was certainly a combination of bold tastes to enjoy. In the end, this plate could be defined as simple and yet deceiving. When your eyes feast upon it, it looks light and gentle and welcoming but when you taste it…. Well, I already explained what happens above.
Beef with asparagus, grilled royal trumpet mushrooms, potato porcini puree finished with smoked barley sauce. I found the most interesting sounding item on the list to be the smoked barley sauce. How a grain could be transformed to a sauce with the added element of smoke was quite appealing to me. I figured that chef had used the same approach as with earlier with the grilled cream. So something along the lines of a cream blend of cooked barley and then given the smoke treatment. Alas on taste, while good, it was not memorable. All I remember mostly was the taste of smoke for the sauce. Maybe in this case smoke should have been omitted as it overshadowed the expected flavor of the barley. This was also another plate with multiple preparations of the same but different ingredients. As was the case, earlier it was mushrooms but in this case, it was porcini and black trumpet mushrooms as opposed to morels in the amuse bouche. The taste of porcini is not one that immediately comes to mind so I could not readily prepare my mind for what to expect… and in truth, I do not remember what I did taste. Now what did standout to me was the black trumpet preparation in this case. It must have been soaked in a sweet marinade as that is what was highlighted on my palate and it was quite different from what was presented earlier. This was a good taste on the plate but the problem was the wine that it was paired with. I had a Mencia grape-based wine and this interestingly enough turned sweet into bitter and not in a pleasant manner. The beef was cooked adequately but there was not enough marbling in my opinion. I would have liked a fattier cut of meat with these mushrooms. I remember this to be a tasty plate but for some odd reason, I did not take enough notes to describe it to you. This may have been due to the fact that I was incredibly full at this point and had to take a break halfway through the plate in order to finish it.
Sheep’s milk cheese from upstate New York with sorghum puff. There was also port ice cream with a sorghum syrup and dusted with fennel pollen. Sheep’s milk in my experience is typically sweet and soft in flavor with a creamy texture but that is not what I experienced here. The texture was as is to be expected but the cheese was salty. I was really excited when I tasted that as I wanted to try it then with the sweet port wine ice cream. A sort of way to recreate the sweet in the cheese but as provided from a different ingredient. The presentation is another one I quite loved. The little white and brown mound placed in the center of the slate gray plate with dots of green dust on puffs and white flower petals. Enchanting. Surrounding the cheese is a casing of the puffed sorghum which looks deceivingly like popcorn. Obviously given this deception, my mind processed that it was about to taste crunchy popcorn but instead got puffy sorghum. Not to matter, it was still delicious and I do enjoy being surprised by these games. It keeps every dish in a meal interesting by playing guessing games. Atop this cocoon is the port wine ice cream which had the perfect softness to it. I will not give it the silky qualifier as I recently had table-side ice cream made with liquid nitrogen at Ristorante Mistral in Bellagio, Como which redefined for me what ice cream should feel and taste like. That ice cream was perfection in every way but I digress and will tell you all about it in a later post. Generally, I steer clear of ice cream except when in these restaurants as I find them too sweet which gives me an instant headache. Even when I see it on the menu at fine dining institutions, I approach the dish with hesitation. That was the only point of concern for me with the ice cream i.e. would the sweetness of the port wine intensify the sweetness of the cream? Would additional sugar be added to give it the sweet that defines what a dessert should be? Thankfully the answer to both those questions was no. There was only a natural and unabrasive level of sweet in this dish that did not appear to be sourced from any unnatural additives. No headache here… thankfully.
Pre-dessert is a strawberry and rhubarb parfait sandwiched between two black cardamom cookies. I am not the biggest fan of cardamom so from the outset, I was not expecting to like this dish… and I did not. I do want to be very clear here though, this was the case only because of my personal dislike of the spice. The dessert itself had all the right elements to it. It was very cold and almost frozen to the touch. This I could tell before even unwrapping from its simple gold wrapper and placement on bean shaped pieces. As it was described as a parfait and also because I was still enjoying the ice cream from the prior dish, I expected a similarly soft texture. In this case, it was icey. This might have been intentional given the firmness of the cookie. A soft filling would have been quite messy to eat with a dish that was to be finished in several bites. That kind of mess should be reserved for walking around in the summer heat with an ice cream sandwich as you walk down the street in an effort to cool off. The one thing that I did like though was that the cookies were buttery and crunchy. They were unfortunately just off-putting for me in the end due to the spice.
And finally we come to what was introduced as chef’s signature dessert when placed in front of me. This was the Arctic Bird’s nest which was a honey twill as the nest, scoop of blueberry sorbet, three goat cheese parfait eggs, white chocolate, milk chocolate, yogurt snow, chocolate twigs, mixed berries and more if you can imagine it. Too many items on one plate = I will not like it. Too much sugar on one plate = instant headache = I will not like it. Final Assessment: I did not like it and neither did I finish it. I stopped after a few bites given the headache that rushed to the forefront. NOW, if you have a sweet tooth and no negative reactions to sugar, then this is most definitely the dessert for you. For me, it was not appealing to the eye on initial viewing but later, taking a step back and looking at it for what it was supposed to be i.e. a bird’s nest, you have to admire the craftsmanship.
The petit fours approach was unique, remarkable and truly enjoyable to me. The same way different variations of bread are provided at a restaurant, so was the case with the petit fours. These was a tray full options that I believe were about ten (10) in number. I settled on shortbreads, a sesame crisp and a coconut mound. My selection of only three landed me with a comment of the goodness of my self-restraint. In truth, I was just too full at that point and I was weary of more sugar given the onset headache that was starting from the nest. The petit fours were served with a better than average espresso which I must note. It was not as good as espresso’s that I have had in Italy for instance but still quite good. A quick summary on my selections, the shortbread was good and tasted to standard though it had an interesting after taste. It was not a bad taste, just interesting and different. The roasted coconut mound was heavenly as was the sesame crisp. The crisp could almost not be tasted due to the very present sesame but I really have no complaints there, since I sprinkle sesame on everything.
With that, we come to the end of my very enjoyable meal with Aquavit and I certainly think it is a restaurant to give a try. As for me, I have plenty more a restaurant to visit but they certainly have given me a few new memories to take away. Salut.