Ten Tables California Wine Dinner (July 25th)
As a sort of farewell to Boston, my girlfriend and I are attending the California-themed wine dinner at Ten Tables in JP on Tuesday. We are moving to Pittsburgh in August.
We have never been to the restaurant before, and I am wondering what to expect. I know that the four-course menu with wine pairings is predetermined, so there won't be much choosing, but I was wonding if there was anything particular we ought to do to maximize the experience. Any table better than the others? Any of the staff worth chatting up? Anything to get particularly excited about beforehand?
We had a fantastic time. It was one of the best restaurant experiences of my life. It's not that the food was transcendent (though it was excellent), but rather that the feeling of the place was so wonderful. We had a long conversation with Chef Punch about everything from how hard it is to cook solo to his obsession with knife sharpening. He even convinced us to comeback for a regular night next week!
Here's what he served:
Green salad with first (cherry) tomatoes of the season, almonds, and little purple basil leaves. Not the most exciting starter out there, but it was very well executed and the produce was exceptional. This was served with a viognier from the Central Valley (McManis vineyards, I think), which was a revelation to me. I am very inexperienced when if comes to wine, but I LOVED this glass. I could actually taste several different fruits in it (pear, guava, etc...), which is something I've never really been able to do.
A sort of deconstructed salade nicoise (though it was not so labeled on the menu), consisting of green beans, lightly cooked fresh tuna bits, a half hard-boiled egg seasoned with espellette and sea salt, olives, tomato, and fried caper berries. This was served with a Rose that escapes my memory.
Pan roasted pork loin, round summer squash, cumin-y coriander-y eggplant puree, old balsamic (or was it a balsamic reduction?). The pork was some of the tenderest I've ever had and (thankfully) cooked less than on often sees. Chef Punch said it was one of the best shipments of poke he's ever received (from the Berkshires, I think). Puree was so light and airy that I asked him how it was made. Turns out he used a Vitamix. This was served with a Russian River pinot that was nice enough but not memorable for me.
Strawberry shortcake. This preparation was completely traditional, and Punch actually said to us at one point "This dessert is totally not me. I have no idea why I made it." Still it was a very good rendition. Served with Scharffenberger Brut, which was actually just as delicious as the some of the French stuff I've had.
Chocolate terrine with sea salt and Thai basic ice cream. After his comment about the shortcake, Punch decided to give us something for dessert that was more "him". The ice cream was intensely herby with no bitterness at all. Wonderful. A very thoughtful dessert. Delicious and sophisticated. A few extra pours of Scharffenberger didn't hurt the experience either.
All in all we had a blast. After two and a half hours we felt as if we had made friends with the restaurant and with the people running it. Can't wait to go back.