Tru Love


My birthday is tomorrow and, despite a few moments of sheer panic that I’m going to be an age that I never imagined and can barely count to, I’m starting to get excited.  It helps that I have a party planned for this afternoon where specialty cocktails (St. Germain mixed with Hendricks and a splash of club soda) will be flowing and tasty appetizers and desserts will be on hand (bacon wrapped dates and mini chocolate mousse cakes anyone?).

Last year was not a big birthday–unless you consider that I have outlived Jesus, which I suppose is a milestone worth noting–but after a bittersweet year, I felt that there was never a better time to reflect on the past and celebrate all that lies ahead with a bit of decadence. 

Lucky for me, my mother is a fan of celebrations and doing things on a large scale.  I mentioned in passing that I would love to one day have dinner at the chef’s table at Tru, never imagining that it would happen within this decade.  One afternoon she announced that she had made a reservation for us to sit in the kitchen of one of Chicago’s best restaurants and experience first hand how they’ve come to win several James Beard awards.

I should pause here to say that we actually celebrated her birthday there just 6 weeks before, so the extravagance of going back within a lifetime, let alone sitting in a private room in the kitchen was a little overwhelming.  I had no idea what to expect, but you couldn’t have convinced me that it would have involved our own personal waiters (one for each of us), a valet to keep us happy between courses, a personal tour of the kitchen by Chef Tim Graham, and the ability to take as many pictures as I wanted and ask any question that came to mind.  BEST PRESENT EVER.

I’ve only ever been in one other professional kitchen and it was pure chaos from the time it opened until the minute it closed.  Tru’s kitchen on the other hand is like being in your grandmother’s kitchen–if your grandmother had a staff of 30 and every conceiveable appliance to make good food outstanding–where everything has its place, everything moves and flows in a practiced yet original way and the anticipation of what’s ahead makes you a little giddy, because you know that not only will it be prepared to perfection, but prepared with true skill and love.  

I admit to being so afraid of falling over in my fancy shoes and bringing an entire fish course down with me that I didn’t walk around as much as I should have.  But I did have the courage to talk to the pastry chef, Meg Galus, about the exploding truffles which look like regular chocolate truffles, but when you pop it in your mouth, it explodes with a lavendar flavored liquid.  I seriously wanted to curl up in her little corner of the kitchen–a seperate room stuffed from floor to ceiling with industrial sized mixers, pans and whisks–and listen to her stories of creating desserts under Gale Gand, but restrained myself.  I watched her and her sous chefs slice vanilla beans into slivers as thin as a thread (I actually gasped at one point, because one man’s finger came so close to the knife.  He didn’t even flinch.).  I also took a walk around the station where they put together the “caviar” (in quotes because it’s actually boiled milk flavored with sturgeon that’s made to look like caviar).  The sous chefs actually took tweezers to remove any errant pieces of caviar… TWEEZERS, people!

Our special room was made even more special because Chef Graham came to describe each course to us.  I was rendered completely speechless at first, but I think I must have asked at least one intelligent question, because he asked me if I was in the “industry,” which was so swoon worthy I checked for a ring on his left hand (none!). 

I wish I could describe in detail each course of our Grand Collection menu, but everything was more about a feeling than an actual taste to me.  It was as though the chefs had taken all the emotions of my previous year–happiness and joy and longing and desire and sadness and hope and love–and served them to me in a gorgeous glorious array of food in a stunning atmosphere.  I realize now that it is the last two– hope and love–that carried me through a bittersweet year that ended in me experiencing such a lovely meal at a time when I couldn’t have imagined anything so grand or magical ever happening to me. 

Which makes me think that as long as I have both of those things, anything and everything is possible…

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2 Responses to Tru Love

  1. A. Van Fleet says:

    Heather:

    You really outdid yourself with the Tru Love blog. Could you have expressed your thoughts any better? I don’t think so. Your writing is just beautiful and your experience at Tru really came though.

    Hope and Love will get you through and and I know those two emotions will get you back to Tru with your dreams fulfilled.
    A.VAN FLEET

  2. Rachel says:

    So gorgeous. Like you!

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