Clio pastry tasting
Just back. Four primary courses, two chef's gifts.
The primary courses:
Frozen geode of mango with freeze-dried, apricot, white beer sorbet, and lime juice gel with lime zest (by Rick Billings of Clio). Was quite good - very clean, and the beer sorbet was fantastic - but the geode slipped around a fair bit on most people's plates. The geode was pure mango puree frozen in a balloon, dropped into nitrogen to form something that did indeed look like a geode.
Chevre cheesecake with vanilla roasted pineapple, mint, walnut, and bitter coffee fudge (Pichet Ong of P*ong). Hands down my favorite dish of the night. Made with creme fraiche and cream cheese as well, rolled into logs like chevre, rolled in cookie crumbs instead of herbs, cut into wedges like you'd see in a salad. Stunning. Luscious, rich, light, amazing. Heaven.
The third course is hard to describe. Inspired by a Jackson Pollock painting called No. 14 [grey] (see http://www.momastore.org/wcsstore/MOM...). From the menu: mozzarellacustardbubblessilver, crystallineandliquidlycheeflavors / black,crystallineandliquidchocolatepudding?violets, violets / silenubemilkchocolateaerated / softchocolate / nougatlychee / caramel (by Jordan Kahn, Michael Mina Group). All of this arrayed in a manner reminiscent of pollock. The silver mozzarella custard was in places hard sheets, in others like ink from a paint pen. Visually amazing, didn't hit me in the gut like the cheesecake though. I could have eaten five servings of the cheesecake.
Fourth and final listed course was apple pi (the math symbol, by Will Goldfarb of Room 4 Dessert). A light sablee cookie with sorbet of apples tatin and vanilla ice cream and a small, lovely wedge of epoisse cheese. My second favorite dish of the night. Great balance of savory in the cookie and sweet in the rest of the dish.
After this, a champagne glass of hot chocolate and chocolate liquer. The consistency was just this side of pudding. Good stuff. Then a final little trinket of what felt like egg custard in an edible clear gel wrap. Pours of pinot (red and white) the whole night, then an overly long but still interesting panel discussion by the pastry chefs with the Globe food writer.
I'm very eager to eat at P*ong now. The chevre cheesecake was a remarkable mix of complex and simple, traditional and new, and was at the same time a challenge and utterly comforting.
All in all, $30 well spent per person. Although my glycemic index is trashed, it was a great little experience.
It was lovely. I know she's a pastry specialist, but I really kinda hoped they'd invite Joanne Chang up front too (she was in the back). I had to suppress the urge to go all fanboy on her, and ong, and goldfarb...
Billings notes he'll be on Iron Chef America in March.
In my head, it was a meeting of many of the postmodern greats. Except for Alex Stupak, formerly of Clio, now at Alinea (from what I hear).
ObFood: Loved the apricot freeze-dry testure - chewy like now'n'laters.
Yeah, I got that part. I don't have the Food Network on my cable system and need to ask my friend with satellite (or whatever its called these days). Dont want to ask him to record the whole month for me. Could wear out the relationship. I've emailed the network. No answer as of yet. I'll post it if they answer.
I also attended the pastry tasting tonight and am coming off the sugar high. :-) My take on each course:
Mango Geode - I liked, but did not love the mango geode itself - it was better once it was a bit warmer. However, I loved the white beer sorbet with the apricot puree, lime foam and freeze dried apricots. The combination of these four things made for my favorite single bite of the evening - just the right amount of sweet from the apricot, tangy from the lime and ever so slightly bitter from the sorbet. This was the offering from Clio's pastry chef - who made my favorite dessert I have ever had the one time I had dinner there involving pineapple, almond cake and several other interesting touches.
Chevre cheesecake - This was also my favorite overall dessert of the evening, although I think I might have preferred it with a tiny bit less mint. I appreciated the tang of the goat cheese in the cheesecake. He also mentioned that he did not use any eggs in the batter and a lot of beating to make the cheesecake lighter. I think this technique was quite successful. I love roasted pineapple so I thought it was a great touch.
No. 14 - This had a ton going on. I agree with wilbanks that it was visually amazing, but I think flavorwise it was a little too busy for me. I liked the textural contrasts, but a few of the pieces did not quite work together for me. For example, one had peanut butter which worked well with the chocolate caramel, but not really with the violet cake...but that was good with the more simple chocolate bite.
Apple Pi - I liked this take on apple pie with cheese. It was plated to look like an apple which I thought was a nice touch. My favorite part of this dish was the apples tatin sorbet which was nicely carmelized and tasted like the essence of apples.
The hot chocolate was good as was most of the discussion (I would agree that parts were a bit too long). I liked hearing about some of the ideas behind the desserts and the techniques they use to make them.
In summary - if this is offered again, I would definitely recommend it. Also, it makes me want to go back to Clio again for dessert! (Well, also to try P*ong as well, but that is a bit further afield.)