Earlier this spring, Howard and I, accompanied by Elba residents Bill and Lucine Kaufmann, sat down to a special dinner. We were ready for delectable fare and we got it.
It was prepared in the home of two chefs, Kristine Gallop and Ronnie Odessa, who live in Batavia and share a lifelong passion for food. Together these “foodies” have created a new “adventure dining” enterprise called Tapas.242.
You choose from their elaborate menu. They prepare the food using the freshest ingredients in your kitchen, serve it and attend to your table, clean up everything and bid adieu.
On the night we tried Tapas.242, the chefs wore clean, crisp black chef jackets and hats and greeted us cordially. They were gracious and the table was beautifully set. The atmosphere was casual, modern and relaxing.
We had chosen our menu days before. We supped by soft light, enhanced by candles, with the distinctive vocals of Dean Martin for music.
Our first treat was an appetizer of small, red-orange peppadews stuffed with lemon-infused cream cheese. Divine.
“Oh, these are so good,” Lucine said, who daintily cut hers in two while I plopped the whole thing in my mouth, indulgent creature that I am.
Our soup of choice was crab and shrimp sherry bisque. We were served bowls containing a neat mound of seafood, then Kristine went around the table and gingerly poured scalded cream bisque over them. You could taste each ingredient. Howard loves seafood bisque and this one pleased him greatly.
Then we had a simple salad of cucumber and onion with a subtle sour cream vinaigrette. Our main course was chicken in roasted red pepper cream sauce with toast points. It appealed to all the senses.
All the while, the chefs came and went, from kitchen to dining room. They spoke quietly, worked efficiently, were pleasant and unobtrusive.
Dessert was a cold, smooth creme brulee, with the wisp of sugar crust created table side by chef Ronnie.
There were no leftovers.
“I love it when people enjoy my cooking,” Kristine said. “It gives me a lot of pleasure.”
The 42-year-old entrepreneur (owner of The Spa at Artemus on Main Street) has always enjoyed cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. Ronnie, 38, was a chef at a pizzeria. Clearly, they relish what they do and it is evident in their attention to taste, freshness, detail and stylish presentation.
“They say that you enjoy food with your eyes first,” says Kristine, who also devours books and magazines about cuisine – its finer points and its evolution.
A big part of her delight comes from scanning cookbooks, testing recipes and, of course, tinkering with the alchemy of spices.
“Vanilla beans in the store are sooo expensive,” she says afterward. “I found this place online where I can get them in bulk much cheaper.”
She shows me a new bottle of truffle oil and a container of delicate saffron threads. This kind of stuff is exciting for her and it shows.
Ronnie admits that she's had a big influence on his thinking about food.
Before, he says didn’t take the time to really appreciate the nuances of taste and the subtle textures, etc., which make dining different from eating. Now he does.
Believe it or not, this new mindset has helped him lose almost 30 pounds in about a year, without doing anything different – except being mindful of what he’s eating and all the sensory input that goes with it.
I guess you could say he’s eating consciously, more interested in the overall experience than merely extinguishing his appetite. That sounds plausible, because there’s nothing on the menu to suggest “dieting.”
Here’s a sampling of some other offerings.
An appetizer of carpaccio tenderloin with mixed greens & truffle oil. Orzo lemon chicken soup. A salad of arugula with blackened carrots & goat cheese. A main course of panko-encrusted, ricotta-stuffed pork with bing cherry sauce or perhaps catfish wrapped in wilted romaine.
Tapas.242 works like this. After viewing the menu days before your reservation, you select one kind of appetizer, soup, salad and main course to be shared by all. Just as you would serve guests in your home.
You provide the beverages. Desserts are available upon request. And if there’s something you would like that’s not on the menu, just ask, and they will try to accommodate you.
We brought some California pinot noir and Dr. Frank Konstantin Frank's gewurztraminer. "And a good time was had by all!"
“Tasting boards” are also available, each typically serves four. For example, the olive board -- with stuffed olives, cream cheese stuffed peppadews, Portuguese toast point and olive tapenade. Total price for this board is $20.
There are three price points in each category (appetizer, soup, salad, main course) and you can choose among them, say a less expensive appetizer, but a more expensive entrée, if you wish.
For the soup, if you’d like to sample all three options, you order “flights,” within a given price-point, which are 2-ounce servings of each three (per person).
Pricing, per person, ranges from: $6 to $12 for appetizers; $4 to $8 for soups (flights are extra); $4 to $9 for salads; and $18 to $26 for main courses.
By the time we were ready to go, the table had been cleared, the dishes, pots and pans washed. And off we went quite satisfied, with Dean still crooning away… “that’s amore…”
To find out more about the moveable feast that is Tapas.242, and/or to book a dinner party, call Kristine at 356-0729 or Ronnie at 356-5195.