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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Last Suppers #5 (two good plates)

Every so often -- perhaps more than that -- Journeyman manages to put together a perfect meal. Eleven plates come out (in general: amuse, salad, soup, fish, wildcard, fat, main, cheese, palette cleanse, dessert, "with the check"), and every single one is balanced, flavorful, and interesting. This is tricky, because those criteria are darn subjective.

Last night they were ten for eleven, stumbling only in the amuse, and only because of my ambivalence toward salmon roe (it's just a bit too salty for me, unless paired very carefully with something to take the edge off). But the rest of the meal had perfect flavors (and near-perfect presentation). (This is more exceptional given the return of a foie gras course; another dish where I often seem to be outside the target customer range.)

In this post, I'm going to talk about two plates I enjoyed and also happened to take pictures of. I can't say these were highlights of the meal only because the meal was so consistently good. But they certainly contributed to my overall enjoyment.

The Zucchini Soup

This has been on the menu for ages, and it has only gotten better over time. This iteration was delightfully spicy, and the pickled watermelon rind, blueberries, roast corn, and corn flan all complimented each-other wonderfully. In the past, the corn flan has been too large, and dominated the dish, or too cold and off-putting. But recently, it's been proportioned correctly, leaving more focus on the blueberries and the rind and the all-important interplay of their flavors. (Mind you, I only know it is correctly proportioned in hindsight, having observed that it works so much better now than it did before. And I don't rule out it becoming even more correct in the future.)

And look at it on the plate! There's wonderful color contrast, different interesting shapes, a nice bit of mystery as to where to start in (each bite is a bit different, but each bite *works*).

The Lamb

This is the same garnish set as I've seen before with the steak. Though this time the meat is lamb. Goes without saying -- but I will anyway -- that it's seared outside and pink inside. Just right; warm and tender. The garnishes all add different notes; the beans were especially fresh, and the tomatoes and clusters of mustard seed are always appreciated.

I really liked the visual impact of the big stripe of sauce. Earlier versions have had the garnishes all over the plate. This round -- possibly because the sauce has scared them -- the little morsels are snuggling together on their zuchini blanket.