|by Blair Fraipont|
|The Temperature Is Rising at Celsius!
On one of the first semi-gelid days of early November my guest Chef Janelle and I entered the warm and colorful environs of Celsius on Wilmington Avenue. Seated at a luxuriously circular divan, where a collection of pictures, paintings, and tchotchkes surrounded and delighted us, the only thing that seemed to be missing was extra friends and loved ones to share the experience. The sounds of classic Sarah Vaughan playing in the background created an elegant mood in the room, and even before the server approached, I felt sheltered from the cold and excited to let Celsius divulge its gourmet secrets with us.
Our server was as gracious as could be and was helpful in our search for the appropriate commencing point. Tonight, two of the soup specials piqued our interests. Being an avid mushroom gourmand, Janelle chose the cream of mushroom soup. Unintentionally, yet as if perfectly timed, when this soup arrived, opera music played from the sound system andapropos to the timingthe soup was almost regal in its display and worthy for that of nobility. It was wonderful and spicy, with drops of green truffle oil making delicate patterns on the soup's surface. There was a subtle Pernod flavoring that turned out to be patis liquor, which gave this soup its crowning touch.
Not to be diminished, my onion soup with cream sauce was unlike any soup of this kind that I have had before. Utilizing five different onions (six if you count garlic) this masterful soup was adorned with oval croutons and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The sensation that I experienced while dining on this delight was unutterable joy. The texture held a heavenly balance, the flavor was neither too sweet nor overly salty and to top it off the soup was loaded with onionsonions that were dead set on conquering the earth (that or the palate of every lover of food that dared to devour it).
Being so pleased by the soups, Janelle and I decided to split the Coconut Battered Shrimp as an appetizer. A couple of moments later Mary Jo arrived with two large skewers with a generous portion of golden joy on a sleek black china plate. The shrimp were golden and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The coconut, which usually can be quite cloying when over employed with a dish like this, instead gave a subtle touch of flavor to the dish. We were informed that the shrimp had been butterflied so that they were evenly cooked. This was apparent and this labored process proved more than successful. Accompanied by mango citrus sauce the coconut battered shrimp was edible excellence!
For dinner I chose the Sesame Encrusted Rare Ahi Tuna with jasmine rice and green curry sauce. Janelle chose the pasta special with spinach sauce, shrimp and basil. When these two entrees arrived they were leaving behind them a trail of olfactory delight. Placed in front of us they were two models of perfection: the Ahi Tuna dish had a symmetry unlike any dish I'd seen in a long time; both dishes had carrot garnishes that honestly, one does not come across that often. The unbelievable dexterity of Celsius's kitchen was only the tip of the iceberg, for if we were entrapped by the visual presentation we were to be ensnared by what we were about to eat.
The rare Ahi Tuna was a heavenly pink color; the sesame seeds gave just the right crisp texture and flavoring to the tuna. The green curry sauce held a delicate balance between sweet and spicy, awakening the senses in a most beautifully nascent way. The plate was also festooned with crisp zucchini and asparagus, which rested beside the hill of steaming jasmine rice. A bite of the tender tuna with a swipe of the curry sauce was truly a moment in the Valhalla of dining experiences. Janelle's pasta dish was fettuccini and shrimp seated regally in a pool of basil and spinach sauce. The latter held a creamy consistency that was balanced by the mint aroma of the basil. The shrimp much like the appetizers before them were juicy and tender; each bite was sensational!
If dinner was amazing then the desserts went a step above amazing. The smooth and creamy Thai Style Rice Pudding was topped with a caramelized banana fritter dipped in chocolate. This delicacy was coupled with the Mango and Strawberry Charlotte Cake, and soaked with fruit syrup much like a French savarin cake. The fruit layers atop the syrup were moist yet light and demure. Janelle remarked that she, "could not say enough" and that these were some of the most impressive deserts she has had in a long time.
This extraordinary coda to one of the most memorable meals of the season was a testament to the artistic powers that be at Celsius. One cannot escape the artistry, passion, skill and creativity that go into every morsel of food that they make and present. Do your palate a favor and treat it well. Visit Celsius and allow them to alter and titillate your senses.
Celsius, 50-C Wilmington Avenue, is open year-round. Call 302-227-5767 for reservations.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 15 November 23, 2005