Best Single Meal in 06'
chef’s table lunch
nova scotia big eye tuna sashimi
perigord truffle, avocado, soy
nancy’s hand harvested scallops
perigord truffle confit, fava bean, tomato compote
seared foie gras w/ dehydrated foie gras powder
niman ranch pork belly
schezuan peppercorn, comice pear, cornichon
turbot two ways
one; simply roasted, two; stuffed with black truffle, jus d’homard
pineland farms prime new york steak
sting nettle veloute, cauliflower, bone marrow, sauce bordelaise
brin d’amour, thur blau, l’edel de cleron, garroxta
pear pate de fruit, membrillo, candied walnut
white chocolate lollipop
lemon-ras el hanoot, white chocolate
passion fruit gelée
litchi-shiso sorbet, basil seeds, soy milk-white chocolate, coconut soup
blood orange curd, basil espuma
Maybe it was an off night, but the Chef's Tasting Menu at Providence was my Biggest Letdown of '06. There were one or two memorable dishes, such as the sabayon with uni, but everything else fell slightly flat. The wine pairing didn't really work out well, as they didn't really complement the dishes. The main salmon dish came out overcooked and underspiced, that much I remember. I rather enjoyed the crispy salmon skin garnish a lot more than the fish itself.
In short, while all the dishes were good and nothing was terrible, I didn't feel the restaurant was deserving of all the hype. Next time I want to go out for fish, I'm going to have Hunan-style fish head.
Tasting menu at Opus:
1) Corn poppers: light, crispy little square filled with a corn soup/chowder. Lovely way to start off a meal.
2) Boccarones with honey water and salt cod fritters with cinnamon spice: The perfect blend of sweet and salty. The boccarones was fried and was about the size of a French fry, and the cinnamon spice really brought out the flavor. Fritter was crisp and light as well.
3) Soft poached egg, cream of wheat, molasses: Came in the egg shell. The yolk was a dark yellow, medium poached and not runny at all. It went perfectly with the creamy wheat and touch of molasses. This was one of my favorites of the night.
4) Tuna head, 3 ways: I’m spacing out on this dish for some reason, but it was excellent – I do remember that! I recall one tartar, and one slice of very rare tuna. I believe the other piece was the cheek, possibly. Melt-in-your-mouth delicate.
5) Duo of kodai on a skewer and beef tartar with fresh juniper: Beef tartar was a little overpowered by the potato cake it came on, but the flavors were good. Kodai was excellent.
6) Poached hamachi with bone marrow broth, fried quail egg and coriander puree: LOVED this! The marrow broth just made the dish – very unexpected.
7) Scallop pancake with caviar, crème fraiche and onion jus: Another perfect combo. The texture of the pancake was very light and fluffy – practically pure scallop with just a touch of egg, I believe. Generous scoop of caviar as well.
8) Geoduck, surf tongue clam and octopus salad: Perfect. I love octopus salad, and have tried it at many restaurants, but this is by far the best I’ve had. Citrusy, with the right amount of chew...not rubbery at all.
9) Shimaji, cucumber, rice balls: The cucumber was actually a gelee, which I wasn’t crazy about. But the shimaji was great, and the crispy rice added a nice texture to the dish.
10) Emincee spot prawn, hon shimeji tea, fine herbs: Josef himself poured the tea over the prawn “cake.” It was literally lumps of shrimp held together by...not sure, but I couldn’t taste anything but the fresh shrimp. The tea, with a hint of rice, was the absolute compliment to this dish.
11) Hoya with grilled hearts of palm, ume paste: Another favorite.
12) Parsnip soup with raspberry sorbet, Dungeness crab: I could have done without the sorbet in this wonderful dish. The soup was creamy perfection and the crab belonged in it. But the sorbet...a little too sweet for my taste. It did add a fabulous dash of color, though.
13) Butter poached shrimp with fried pork belly and English pea sauce: Shrimp poached in butter. It’s fried pork belly. Need I say more?
14) Monterey abalone with carnitas, pistachio pudding, long pepper fig jam: Again, a wonderful surprise pairing seafood with pork in this fashion.
15) John Dory with muddled concord grapes, tarragon: Enjoyed the fish, but wasn’t crazy about the concord grapes...a bit too sweet for my taste.
16) Scallop in the shell with roe, poblano cream: Was a little drunk at this point and spaced out on this dish...
17) Poached salmon with stewed heirloom tomato: Beautifully rare salmon – I do recall this one. Absolutely delicious!
18) Baby tai snapper with blood sausage, fiedo: Fine combo here, since normally I eat tai at sushi with just salt. The blood sausage was a great salty accompaniment to the tai.
19) Fluke on the bone, crushed fresh chick peas, pineapple sezchuan marmalade: I remember liking this a lot (getting fuzzy now, lots of wine at this point).
20) Homemade yuba, s.b. urchin: Again, remember liking this a lot but not much else...
21) Veal cheeks with sweetbread nuggets and corn: This stands out because I was just talking to Woo the other day about how I have never had good sweetbreads. These nuggets were juicy and crispy at the same time...I savored every morsel.
22) Buttermilk fried quail with pierogi filled with poached quail egg and blackberry gastrique: I am a sucker for poached eggs and for pierogi, so needless to say, I loved this dish..
23) Lamb with tempura bone marrow: It’s bone marrow, it’s fried. Again, what’s not to LOVE?
24) Cheese course – tome brulee, pecorino, le chevre cheddar – didn’t have this; opted for dessert instead
25) Pineapple-quince pie, tarragon anglaise with simple chocolate cake: Sweet, moist, delicious. Fabulous ending to an entirely fabulous meal.
My birthday dinner at Sona!
The whole meal lived up to the hype, though after the 5th or 6th glass of wine, the service could have fallen off the edge of the earth and I wouldn't have noticed. I was in such a food coma that I couldn't begin to tell you what we were served, only that everything was pretty damn flawless.
There was a blood sausage in there somewhere. Normally 'blood sausage' would rank highly on the list of things I wouldn't put anywhere near my mouth. Here, though, it was one of the highlights.
It was so good, I've started a savings fund to maybe make it the best meal in '07...