Saturday, January 01, 2005

A Restaurant for the New Year!

A fragrant bowl of garlic soup

And a Bonne Année to all! And with that wish, may I present you with my secret weapon for restoring one's soul after a night of carousing: Mecklenburg Gardens' Garlic Soup.

Once upon a time, back in the mid-1980s, there existed a heavenly restaurant in Cincinnati called Mecklenburg Gardens. Founded in 1865, by a German immigrant named Louis Mecklenburg, it went through several incarnations along its path to being revivified by the members of an ashram, who purchased it and restored the building to its former glory, complete with its old grape-vine covered biergarten. Under the ashram's management and Rob Fogel as chef, Mecklenburg's initiated its splendid and unique New's Year's Eve Reveillon celebrations and was awarded the Mobil Four Star Award for Excellence in Fine Dining along the way. This Garlic Soup, there made with roasted vegetable stock, was one of the restaurant's most famous dishes:

Mecklenburg Gardens' Garlic Soup

2 cups beef stock
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of fresh or dried thyme
1 egg
Slice of toasted bread
Grated Gruyere cheese
Chopped parsley

Bring beef stock to a boil. Add garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and thyme. Slip in egg, unbeaten. When white begins to set, pour soup into oven-proof bowl. Cover top of bowl with the bread and cover with cheese. Place under broiler till cheese is melted with a brown crust. Garnish with parsley and serve. Makes 1 generous serving.