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Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese?

taste & texture

Panini Guy May 12, 2009 07:50 AM

Had the oppt'y to get to the last of Kevin Sousa's indoor guerilla dinners on Sunday at the Salt of the Earth space (appears he'll be doing a couple of cookout/barbecues, but nothing more inside before opening as he's going to start serious build out shortly). It's a wonderful compliment to Kevin and a sad indictment of our region that he was able to do more with a barebones kitchen line than most chefs here are able to accomplish with fully outfitted kitchens.

But the main thing I noticed throughout the 5-course meal was how important texture was in each dish. Crisp asparagus with pickled morels and greens with two differently textured "dressings". Oyster, cubed bacon, crisped peas in a sunchoke vichyssoise. Creamy brie on a softshell crab sandwich. Chili rice krispies accompanying a flank steak with chimichurri... and so on.

What was most interesting to me about this was that while Kevin can do plenty of things to alter texture using his skills with emulsifiers, thickeners and other kitchen chemicals he used for Alchemy, none of that was apparent here. I was simply top-notch cooking skills, food pairing knowledge and brazen creativity. I couldn't help but notice the texture play in each dish (in addition to the amazing flavors he was able to produce).

I cannot recall another meal where textural contrasts were so prominent - and well thought out. And of course, that leaves me wondering - why not?

The whole thing was served on plastic, although it could've been newspaper and eating with hands for all I cared. It was ALL about the food.