Minibar at Cafe Atlantico
Three letters: WOW!
Followed quickly by intense jealousy that I have no equivalent in Los Angeles. I recently visited a friend in DC, and our one blowout meal was at Cafe Atlantico's minibar (near the Chinatown/Galleria Place Metro). We'd never experienced molecular gastronomy in any form, and Minibar's 35 course extravaganza was definitely more like jumping into a pool cannonball style rather than dipping one's toes in for a feel.
It's impossible to sum up the range of emotions we experienced throughout the meal: surprise, delight, amusement, anticipation, awe, occassional self-satisfaction when we could decipher what the chefs were doing, and a lot of "mmmm-ing."
About the food my friend had this to say: "Imagine familiar flavors, but the BEST of that flavor you've ever tasted. The best corn, the best clam, the best beef, etc." I will add that these familiar ingredients were deconstructed and reconstructed so as to be sometimes visually unrecognizeable. "Guacamole," for example, was a tube of tomato sorbet rolled up in thin slices of avocado. "New" New England clam chowder included two raw clams, a bed of potato puree, dollops of creamy mousse, and micro garnishes. You begin to see what I mean.
Favorites were hard to identify, but some of mine included:
-Mojito! This was a feat of engineering. A ping pong ball sized ball of carbonated mojito and fresh mint pieces, encased in a light shell of agar agar gelatin. When I put it in my mouth it exploded like the world's tiniest water balloon.
-Cornbread: a pillow of airy dough topped with corn flavored mousse and tiny pieces of toasted polenta
-a plastic pipette filled with pina colada, with chunks of pineapple and candied ginger speared on the thin tube of the pipette.
-cotton candy ball rolled in matcha powder
I would have done the wine pairing if I'd had a fellow wine lover, but two and a half glasses in two hours is too much for me (lightweight, I know). But the Gruet (blanc de noirs?) we had was lovely, and paired well with everything.
Photos and full report: http://www.chezpei.com/2007/09/miniba...