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My Intimate Dinner with Beyoncé

Last night, I sampled the Beyoncé-themed menu at Brucie, an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn. Could this menu unlock the secrets of her psyche, her seemingly faultless marriage to Jay-Z, or be the next best thing to licking the sweat off her neck?
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US
February 15, 2014, 8:38pm

The Queen B via.

In 1966, John Lennon infamously remarked that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” resulting in death threats, protests, and public burnings of their records. But in 2014, it would be difficult to deny that Beyoncé is better known—and more commonly worshipped—than both the Messiah and the Beatles. In fact, it would be a fair bet that at least five percent of the American population believes that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are literally our monarchal rulers; after all, they kick it with Obama on the regular, get to go to Cuba just because they feel like it (what embargo?), and are the top-earning celebrity couple in an industry of grossly high-paid performers. So like many others, when I caught wind of Brooklyn eatery Brucie’s Beyoncé-themed Valentine’s Day menu, I was intrigued. A quaint, homey Italian restaurant in Carroll Gardens with a penchant for housemade pastas and meatballs, Brucie was confidently undertaking a task that seemed impossibly daunting on a holiday already weighted with stressful expectations of splendor. How could anyone successfully evoke the essence of this illustrious icon through food? There was only one way to find out.

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Even for non-Beyoncélievers (does this word exist yet?), it’s hard to believe that it was 16 years ago that this still-teenage Child of Destiny entered our cultural vernacular with the tepid “No, No, No,” not knowing that a decade and a half later she’d be on a first-name basis with the entire Western world and have caviar-laced Italian dishes created in her image. A peek at the menu revealed a balanced and diverse examination of her career arc, from her earliest days (“Buga-Bouillabaisse”) to her most recent successes like “Drunk in Love.” Miraculously, my boo agreed to join me on this edible journey through Beyoncé’s rise to glory. Could this menu unlock the secrets of her psyche or her seemingly faultless marriage to Jay-Z? Be the next best thing to licking the sweat off her neck, or reveal her Illuminati conspiracy for world domination? In the days preceding this dinner, I began to think of it as an act of taking Holy Communion in the church of Jay-Z and Beyoncé. As wafer and wine transcendentally turn into Jesus’ literal body and blood, perhaps some gold-leafed pappardelle would become actual noodle-shaped shreds of Beyoncé's precious flesh and imbue her love with Jay-Z into our hearts and bodies.

No amount of listening to “Single Ladies” could have been adequate preparation for the delightfully chaotic environment that was underway at Brucie when we arrived at 11:30 PM. If Brucie was the Church of Beyoncé, it was definitely a gospel church where all were welcome to belt and clap to the “hymnals” at full volume. Classics of Beyoncé and Jay-Z yore like “Lose My Breath,” “Check Up On It,” and “Big Pimpin” were sending people into aggressive gyrations of bliss around their dining tables. There was twerking, freaking, and everything in between, and it was evident that many diners were non-figuratively drunk in love. But this was all just an accessory to the food, which was nobly dedicated to our collective Messiah of pop. Between sips of a Tom Ford Collins (gin, rosemary, lemon, club soda) and later, an “H to the Fizzo” cocktail (Ramazzotti bitters, prosecco, and sugar), it was nearly impossible to choose what to eat, but here are some of the highlights that we experienced throughout the night of Bey.

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PINK IS THE FLAVOR
So, how literally would each dish interpret the former Ms. Fierce? We wetted our palates with this cheeky appetizer, based on Beyoncé’s cunnilingually obsessed new track “Blow” (you can probably guess what pink is the flavor of). By assigning this name to a dish comprised of raw seafood (scallop, monkfish) and rosy produce (grapefruit, beet, and radish), we get the picture. It was sensual, salty, and definitely pink.

DIVA IS A FEMALE VERSION OF A BRUSSTLA
The common Brussels sprout was elevated to diva-worthy heights through a flurry of chiffonaded mint leaves and a sneaky drizzle of honey—perhaps alluding to the “stick-up” refrained in the 2009 track that it derived its name from. Could the “mint” be a nod to the fan of Benjis that she flashes in the video? Clearly, no stone went unturned.

JAY-ZITI
It was time to get a taste of the Carter angle. Logically, this dish integrated a lot of cheddar, something that we all know that Jay possesses in unfathomable quantity. If the intent was to evoke a sense of richness, they succeeded in spades. Heaps of cheese, smoky bacon vinaigrette, and creamy sweet potato—and could the sage pistu be signifying his wisdom in the rap game?

HALO
This dish was a slam dunk. It even looked like the “Halo” video with its pale, golden tones of angel hair pasta, crisp angel food cake crumbs (which thankfully weren’t sickeningly sugary), and a flutter of black truffle accents that visually mirrored her dancing around practicing ballet or whatever in that leotard-and-tights outfit. It was delicate, filling, addictive, slightly sweet… and more than a little bit cheesy. Spot-on.

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I AM PASTA FIERCE
Remember Sasha Fierce, B's alter ego that encompassed her "fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken and … glamorous side"? Here comes I Am Pasta Fierce, the culinary embodiment. It was Sasha who gave us "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", so it seemed only fitting that this dish wore a splash of gold leaf. The jalapeño and puttanesca showed a side of B that was louder, spicier, and not afraid of being domineering.

DRUNK IN LOVE
It would have been wrong not to try a dish eponymous to her hugely popular single du jour, especially after watching her tantalizingly flay her inner thighs at the Grammys. (Also, I gravitate towards anything marinated in alcohol.) From the supple negroni-marinated beef short ribs, we conjured the boozy tenderness of her beach romp with Jay; from the accompanying beef heart salad, the beat of their love.

Brucie Dessert menu

MAGNA CARDAMOM CAKE
Like Jay-Z’s bombastic, corporate-bloated album, the Magna Cardamom cake was very sizable in both dimension and flavor. Soaked in “hot butter Navy strength rum,” it was surprisingly pungent to the point where I felt like it was almost a cocktail in and of itself, but the coolness of a generous smear of black pepper mascarpone brought it back down to earth. Although it was aggressive, I was surprised to find that eating it made me forgive Jay for mining all of that customer data for his promotion of Magna Carta Holy Grail.

TURN THAT CHERRY OUT
Although we were very tempted by the I Don’t Think You’re Ready for This Jelly Doughnut and the cleverly blood orange-laced Solange à Trois, something about the unbridled decadence of this dessert in particular called to us. As another nod to “Blow,” a cake of “turned-out” (wink, wink) Luxardo cherries rested on a smooth, luscious palette of chocolate panna cotta; espresso ganache injected it with a disciplined, frenetic energy. Beyoncé has implicated in interviews that she lost her virginity to Jay-Z; this synthesis of both innocent and dark sweets witnesses her transformation from a naîve Texan hopeful whose mother made all of her stage outfits into the full-grown sexual goddess that we recognize her as today.

Was it romantic? Oddly, yes. Despite the hordes of drunken, presumably single ladies who were dancing on furniture and belting out “Survivor” to the maximum abilities of their lung capacities, there was something unified and passionate about the affair. Plus, as one of the umpteen tables still lingering well past 3 AM, we somehow found ourselves in possession of matching his-and-hers Beyoncé underwear.

Brucie, you’ve made Beyoncélievers out of all of us. It was truly a feast fit for a king and queen B.

@jaggedlittlehil