I've been telling everyone about the absolutely incredible birthday meal I had at Park Avenue Cafe here in New York City. The knee-weakening menu included Burke's famous "pastrami" salmon; a morel flan served with eggshells nestled in eggcups; basil-rubbed rack of lamb with oven-dried tomato ravioli; Camembert fondue with truffle essence; and a dazzling array of desserts. He likes to use Hudson Valley Camembert, a blend of sheep's and cow's milk. It is available by mail order from the cheesemaker, Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Old Chatham, New York , tel. (888)743-3760.
- add 4 ounces camembert cheese
- add crusty raisin bread
- add walnuts
- add 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
- add 1 1/2 teaspoons truffle butter or 1 teaspoon white truffle oil (*available at some specialty food shops)
- add grapes
- add 1 cup heavy cream
- add 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
- add 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- add fresh pears
- In a 1-quart heavy saucepan cook shallot in unsalted butter, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Add cream and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to about 2/3 cup.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in truffle butter or oil until incorporated.
- Season sauce with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives.
- Cut Camembert into 4 pieces and arrange on 4 plates.
- Divide warm sauce among plates, spooning it on either side of cheese.
- Arrange pear slices, grapes, and walnuts around cheese and serve bread on the side.