Here we are, back again for more goodness! We had, like, four or five people – so we pretty much ordered the menu:
^ Salumi misti – a tasting of house-made cured meats.
^ Baccala fritters with olive salad and aïoli.
^^ Baby artichoke salad with faro, arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano.
^ Seared beef tongue with roasted onions in salsa verde.
^^ Sea urchin risotto with chives. (Chef David Ugyur knows how to push my buttons.)
^ Raviolone with egg yoke, escarole and brodo Parmigiano.
^^ Potato gnocchi with caramelized cabbage, Gorgonzola and Speck.
^ Orecchiette with spicy lamb sausage, broccoli raab and ricotta salata.
^^ Veal chop with fingerlings, cippolini, guanciale and brown butter.
^ Braised rabbit leg with polenta taragna, root vegetables and Brussels sprouts.
^^ Duck breast with a porcini and foie gras peverada.
^ Hake with celery root purée, capers and celery salad. Jennifer Ugyur delighted our party with her repartee and interesting wine list.
There was Dolci, but it went so fast no pics were possible.
So how was the meal? … let's look at it through the raw lens of the iPhone:
Teiichi Sakurai has been taking my five senses on an educational journey for the last 16 years. Last night at Tei-An I graduated to the next level. This is Shirako 3 Ways:
So what is shirako, you ask? The most pleasant description is to say Cod Milt. If you don't know what milt is – don't ask. Suffice to say that it is sublime. Shirako has now surpassed Uni and Ankimo as the most amazing and unique pleasure I've yet experienced in my study of Japanese cuisine. Teiichi is pleased at my response – because now he says I have a good 4 or 5 more levels to go – so I've got that going for me!
^ Shirako Agedashi (kind of tempura style); ^ Shirako Ponzu.
^ Shirako Sauté; ^ and, meanwhile, Maria's dinner awaits her arrival.
^ Ama ebi – this is the actual traditional "Sweet Shrimp." Much smaller and more delicate than the more common, larger variety often seen in sushi bars. These literally melt on your tongue. Stunning; ^ And we also had some fun with some nice pork dropped off by new One Arts Plaza neighbor Chef John Tesar. Here, Teiichi obliged with a favorite of mine: Uni under Lardo (Pata Negra).
^ Tesar's Salt & Herb Cured, Air Dried, Texas Hog Jowl. Teiichi cut is at 90 degrees and served it ishiyaki style. Awesome.
Tei-An was recently designated one of only two restaurants in Dallas awarded 5 Stars by the Dallas Morning News (along with Chef Bruno Davaillon at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek). DMN critic Leslie Brenner has also written about her experience with shirako at Tei-Tei Robata Bar, which along with Teppo was previously owned by Sakurai-San and continues to be closely connected in passion, philosophy – and often, produce.
Here is a look at some amazing food and special moments I was lucky to experience in 2010. Much of this is a preview of posts to come. Enjoy….and eat well in 2011!
^ Baby Kusshi Oysters poached in salted Echiré Butter at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas.
^ Hummus, Peppernata & hand crafted Pita; and Avner's hot chile condiments at Nosh, Dallas.
^ Foie Gras Custard Brulée, Bing Cherries, Toasted Cocoa Nibs, Salted Brioche at Chef Shawn McClain's Sage, Las Vegas.
^ Fun with Teiichi Sakurai at Tei-An, Dallas.
^ From Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek Chef Bruno Davaillon: "Surf & Turf" – Crispy Pork Belly & Lobster Claws, Spicy Tamarind/Soy Sauce, Green Asparagus and fresh Herb Salad; and his Roasted Texas Venison - Sunchoke, Red Cabbage Apple Compote, Pear poached in Red Wine, Venison Pepper Sauce, finished with Red Berry Marmalade.
^ Fusilli with Baby Octopus and Bone Marrow at Michael White's Marea, NYC.
^ Chef Tim Byres' Boudin Balls & Brick Roux Gumbo with Smoked Chicken & Sausage; and Pork Jowl Bacon with Homemade Half Sour Cucumber Salad, Sweet Chili’s and Mustard at Smoke, Dallas.
^ By Chef John Tesar: Grilled Half Moon Bay Squid stuffed with Maya Prawn and Wild Mushrooms with Seawater Consommé; and Butter poached Lobster with Rhubarb Compote, White Balsamic Emulsion and Melted Foie Gras – from his most recent dinner at the James Beard House, NYC.
^ Delicious and beautiful art from Nobu-Dallas Executive Sushi Chef Mitsuhiro Eguchi.
^ Bo Ssäm is whole slow cooked pork shoulder. Here served with oysters, white rice, bibb lettuce, ssäm jiang (korean bbq sauce), kimchi and ginger scallion sauce, and other banchan.
^ Sashimi of stunning quality by Teiichi Sakurai at Tei-An, Dallas.
^ Eric Ripert's Egg-Caviar: Poached Pastured Egg, Osetra Caviar, Marinière Broth and English Muffin; and his Hiramasa: Seared Yellowtail King Fish,Truffle Risotto, Spring Vegetables, Black Truffle Emulsion – at Le Bernardin, NYC.
^ Nam Kao Tod – Crispy Rice with minced Sour Sausage, Green Onion, Fresh Chile, Ginger, Peanuts, Lime at Lotus of Siam, Las Vegas. ^ And a traditional plate of selected Sausages at Royal Thai, Dallas.
^ Chef John Tesar's slow roasted Whole Sweetbreads., sliced under Spicer's Greens, and atop a bed of Truffle Vinaigrette, and a warm Salad of Oyster Mushrooms and Potatoes; ^ and his Rabbit Seven Ways. Both prepared at private events.
^ Le Homard - Seared Lobster with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Asparagus, creamy aromatic sauce at L'atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas; and a surprise from Joël Robuchon Restaurant next door – Pastry Chef Kamel Guechida's "Banane," a study in taste and texture – of banana.
^ Grand Dessert Pierre Gagnaire – the dessert course for one at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, Las Vegas. Five Desserts Inspired by French Traditional Pâtisseries ~ Le Keiko, Biscuit Joconde, Raspberry Compote, Pistachio Bavaroise, Caramelized Pineapple, Citron Parfait, Lemon Parfait, Sable, Curd, Limoncello Gelée, Grapefruit Compote, Caramel Apple, Caramel Panna Cotta, Cinnamon Apple Pâté, Calvados Ice Cream, Mojito, Foam, Lime & Mint Gelée, Fresh Cucumbers, Lime Sorbet, Granite, Sugar, The Chocolate, Chocolate Cake, Ganache Onctueuse, Couli de Cassis.
A very good year.
Yep – It's great. Hype: deserved. Anticipation: rewarded. Welcome to Lucia.
^ We are greeted with warm Olives in Rosemary Olive Oil; ^ and a selection of Chef David Uygur's house-made Salumi. The standout is the ridiculously good n'duja (like the French term 'andouille' , 'n'duja' is derived from the Latin for "too insert") - a highly spiced spreadable pork sausage originating from Calabria – here spread on crostini. We had to have a second order. Learn more about n'duja here.
^ A late Friday evening found us among a nice group of like minded Dallas food types.
We decided to grab a bunch of stuff to share on our first visit:
^Seared Beef Tongue with Roasted Onions and Salsa Verde; ^ Crispy Lamb Meatballs.
^ Oyster Risotto with Parsley (Nice); ^ Potato Gnocchi with caramelized Cabbage, Taleggio and Speck.
^ Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Corona Beans and Broccoli Rabe; ^ Panna Cotta with caramelized apples and Aceto Balsamico.
The rest of this week's menu is equally tantalizing. (View the Lucia menu for the week of December 17 here.)
After two bottles of wine, my conspicuous dining companion and I rattle off numerous adjectives in praise of the food – the deft balance of fat and acid, the skillful execution – to which Jennifer U. simply responds, "Well, that's great! We hope you had a lovely time and are glad you enjoyed your meal!" Later on Chef David chats with us in some detail, but kinda humbly shrugs off the accolades. He's just cooking with integrity and procuring great ingredients. The Uygurs have created something special. A small neighborhood restaurant that cannot avoid the reality that it is important for the Dallas food scene.
^ Chef/Owner David Uygur.
It's been over a year since that last service at Ugyar's previous culinary home, Dallas favorite Lola. There has been a real dearth of excitement in restaurant openings in that time, and we've had to endure some painful closings lately. That's why there's almost a feeling of relief that Lucia is as wonderful, welcoming and satisfying as one might have hoped for. It's great already, and they are only getting started.
^Manager/Owner Jennifer Uygur at the window of her Bishop Arts District gem.
Old news by now – every local food lover was left reeling by the abrupt closure of what many considered the best restaurant in town.
Along with the continually brilliant Tei-An, York Street was always a place to take visiting food connoisseurs – and at the top of any list of recommendations to locals. I enjoyed many meals here, but lament not going more often.
Sharon's passion and respect for quality ingredients and her honest, strait-forward preparation made this little restaurant a true gem.
Here are some memories of York Street – from meals that I have previously not posted.
My Last York Street Meal:
Craaazy busy lately. While I work toward posting a ton of new items – enjoy this recent 'omakase' meal at Tei-An. Just some random weeknight. Descriptions seem superfluous. Just go to Tei-An and submit!
Teiichi never disappoints. Here are a few more morsels from another (crazy) evening:
…I know… I know… Brad at Tei-An – SHOCKER! But, it is so excellent. More variety to come.
As I occasionally do, I ducked away from the peeps and relished in a lavish multi-course tasting menu (with wine pairings), all by my lonesome – it is my only hobby, after all. I have no problem doing this from time to time – facebook keeps me company as I people watch, and I can indulge with ravenous glee – with only strangers the wiser. I've been looking forward to dinner at Marea, Michael White's Italian influenced seafood restaurant on Central Park South – and two dishes in particular. I chose to enjoy the grander of the tasting menus that are available upon request.
But first, a cocktail at the handsome and impressively stocked Egyptian onyx bar.
I sat at Table 1, with a full view of the goings on. And now the first of the dishes I covet:
^ Ricci: sea urchin, lardo, sea salt. Stunning. This sets the stage for the meal to come. Salt, fat, uni… it's a revelation. Having an intimate relationship with sea urchin roe in its many Japanese preparations, I find this dish fascinating, challenging, and remarkable. It continues to evoke meaningful discussion with the chefs that I count among my friends.
^ Ostriche: east and west coast oysters served with morellino mignonette & cucumber-lemon vinegar; and Crudo al Taglio.
^ Astice: nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil seeds. Outstanding; ^ and the Calamari: lobster and shrimp filled squid, slow cooked tomato, basil oil.
^ Risotti Mare: shrimp, lobster, scallops, rouget; ^ and the Orecchiette: spot prawns, chilies, rosemary.
And the other dish – my raison d'être. ^ The Fusilli: red wine braised octopus, bone marrow. The dish is White's play on a Surf & Turf, if you will. It's alchemy. The gelatin from the octopus binds with the liquified marrow, allowing the sauce to emulsify. Brilliant. Decadent. Perfect.
My server was excellent. When there was a slight mis-pour on the wine pairing for my requested seafood "main" course, I was asked if I'd prefer to keep the red on the table – enjoy my fish course with the appropriate pairing, and accept the meat course on the house… no need to waste that gorgeous Brunello.
Above ^ Dentice: seared atlantic snapper, blood sausage, whole roasted sunchoke, apple, chiodini mushrooms, sunchoke puree. Are you kidding? …killer. ^ and the Bistecca: grilled Creekstone Farms 50 day dry aged sirloin, bone marrow panzanella, braised romaine.
^ Gianduja: cocoa nib crema, hazelnut chocolate, fior di latte gelato; and dessert truffles.
A wonderful meal, excellent pairings – and equitably priced. Marea did not disappoint. I'll return for a full serving of the Fusilli, and that seductive Ricci to start.
What is that line about opinions…? Well everybody has one about Restaurant Week. Mine is generally of the "skip it" camp, but I give it a go once in a blue moon. Such an event occurred last Thursday, quite organically.
I was attending Mansion sommelier Michael Flynn's weekly Wine Chat (every Thursday at 6:15 sharp). My buddy, former Mansion mixologist – now bad-ass spirits ambassador Michael Martensen, brought along another spirits guy and his friend to check out the venerable Mansion Bar.
I ducked in to say hi to Chef Bruno and check out how RW was going. After a quick glance at the enticing offerings, the boys and I scored a table in the Salon (for the record I had a suit on – rabble…)
^ The Mansion's Restaurant Week menu. "We'll do the Flynn's wine pairings as well."
^ Vichyssoise amuse. Martensen and I wanted the boys to have a taste of the regular menu as well – so we ordered some starters for a pre-course:
^A kindly split order of the Shrimp Cocktail, Horseradish Panna Cotta, Tomato Syrup; ^and my fave, the Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Risotto, Meyer Lemon Dust. Mike had the brilliant King Crab Soup with Potato Capelletti (not shown).
^Michael Flynn's gracious table-side manner. Now to the RW menu: ^House-Made Salmon Gravlax with Shaved Fennel Salad.
^Watermelon Salad with Local Feta Cheese, Crispy Prosciutto and Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette.
^Braised Veal Breast, Roasted Eggplant and Natural Jus; ^Sweet Corn Ravioli with Shrimp Bolognese Sauce. Nice.
^ I took Bruno's advice and ordered the chicken: Crawfish-Stuffed Texas Chicken, Roasted Potato and Baby Spinach and Shellfish Reduction. Fantastic – beautiful and delicious.
^Chocolate Caramel Tart: Soft Caramel, Chocolate Ganache, Vanilla Ice Cream; ^Peach Sundae: Vanilla Panna Cotta, Poached Peach, Almond Crumble, Peach Ice Cream.
I am a big fan of Chef Bruno Davaillon and The Mansion, and eat here as often as I can. This meal was cleverly conceived – and executed with the same skill and nuance as any other I've enjoyed here. Nicely done.
On the news that Avner and Celeste Samuel have decided to close Aurora after seven years and regroup, it seems a good time to reflect on the exceptional experience that was and still will be Aurora until July 31, 2010.