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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Last Suppers #2 (with pictures)

Boredom is a dangerous thing. Isn't it said that idle hands often turn to the devil's work? Isn't it said that boredom is the mother of invention? (Actually, maybe only I say that second one.)
Regardless, today I'd had just about enough of staring at the walls of my apartment (...and the furniture, of which I'm building 3D models in some hope it will somehow help with arranging my new apartment). And, recalling that the menu at Journeyman was pretty good last time -- and that (when I ran into him yesterday) Tse Wei told me that they were changing out two dishes, the pig and the fluke -- I decided to head over despite it being a bit sooner than my customary week-ish between visits.
As I suspected based on his stricken look when I came in today, though, the fluke hasn't been changed out yet. Not that that matters, with the carrot dish being as good as it is.

So what did I have today?

First soda - apricot, ginger, fenugreek. The apricot shrub is so good, and the ginger keeps it interesting. I have no idea what the fenugreek adds.

Amuse - nasturtium soup with crab. Very good, I like the crab here better than the watermelon in the vegetarian version.

Tomato - see last post for a description; always good. I recalled today that it maybe used to have a smoked cherry tomato in it, and that it no longer does. (Perhaps that was only in the spring salad? Hmm. So many good dishes.)

Soup - see last post for a description. Then imagine that, but even better. This soup stood without the watermelon rind. The portion of corn flan was reduced, which also helped to focus on the soup's excellent flavor.

Carrot and hazelnut - one of my new favorite flavors. This version had a cute little "yoghurt cup" made from the carrot ribbon. This brought more yoghurt onto the plate, and into the overall flavor (and was nice looking, too). A good dish that was even better this time.

Second Soda - coffee, blackberry, (...many more ingredients...), bitters. Many visits ago, Andrew prepared for me a soda that included coffee. I decided to ask Catherine to revisit that (terrible) decision and give it a try. What she came up with tastes like the best cup of coffee you've ever had. All those complexities (fruity notes, interesting body, good finish)? Turns out you can fake those by just adding stuff from your collection of shrubs and syrups. Was it a good soda? Hard to say. Was it an interesting experience? Definitely.

Oysters and clams - this dish is great, with a clever plating. One oyster sits atop a sheet of gel, surrounded by watermelon chunks that have been lightly kitchen torched. Below the gel lurks another oyster and several clams. The oysters are unseasoned, the clams are dressed with citrus. The watermelon chunks have dill flowers atop them.
Everything in this dish tastes spectacular. I used to say that I hadn't met an oyster I didn't like. I can't say that any more, but these oysters weren't involved in that experience. The citrus on the clams is a great flavor, possibly my favorite preparation of clam.
And everything is working together. The sweetness of the watermelon plays with the acidity from the clam and the salt from the oyster. But the single most interesting thing in this dish is how the watermelon plays off the flavor of the dill flower. It's a really good, totally unexpected flavor combination.

Duck breast - I asked for a variant preparation of duck breast or cucumber (their call). The duck breast is normally served over mole and surrounded with sliced raw and whole cooked radishes. I ended up with duck breast surrounded with mezcal-soaked watermelon and a little bit of ground-cherry compote.

Steak - correctly cooked, good meat, with excellent accompaniments: tomatoes with mustard seed, zucchini cooked just right (not limp, not raw), green beans. And beautifully presented -- little cubes of meat atop the zuchini, beans arching overhead like some architect's form-over-function daydream, tomatoes and their clusters of mustard seeds outside in the courtyard; inevitable public art.

Cheese - nice soft cheese. The bread today was English muffins, so much of the finely crystallized wildflower honey that came with the cheese got loaded onto those. As did some of the cheese.

Cleanse - same chokecherry/black locust sorbet/oxsalis as last time. So well balanced, I really hope this sticks around for a while.

Dessert - same roasted peach as last time. There was a whipped-cream-like preparation of ricotta which I think was new. Added some nice lightness and textural balance to the dish.

With the check - tomato pate de fruit has run out, unfortunately (raspberry instead). The caramel was shiro plum flavored. This batch of macarons has not been as good as some of the previous batches.