As The French Laundry chef de cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth prepares to hand over the reigns to his executive sous chef David Breeden, we popped in for a blowout.
Here’s what went down (and nicely, I might add):
^R: “OYSTERS AND PEARLS”
“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar.
^L: “OEUFS EN GELEE” Royal Ossetra Caviar. Brioche “Soldiers.” Lobster “Salpicon” and Scaliion Salad.
^L: SALAD OF FRENCH LAUNDRY GARDEN FENNEL Tokyo Turnips. Sour Michigan Cherries. Sicilian Pistachios and Mache.
^R: “KOULIBIAC” OF COLUMBIA RIVER STURGEON “Pomme Puree,” Nantes Carrots and Tarragon Jus.
^R: SWEET BUTTER-POACHED MAINE LOBSTER “FRICASSEE” Caraway Melba. Heirloom Beets. Melted Cabbage and Horseradish Creme Fraiche.
^L: RUSSET POTATO GNOCCHI with Shaved Black Winter Truffles.
^R: Some old bottle of wine…
^L: SALMON CREEK FARMS PORK BELLY “EN FEUILLE DE BRICK” Gamet Yam.. Brussels Sprouts. Pearson Farm Pecans. Noble Maple Syrup and Black Truffle.
^R: HERB-ROASTED ELYSIAN FIELDS FARM LAMB SADDLE Pearl Barley. Creamed Mushrooms. Petite Onions. Mizuna and Sauce “Soubise.”
^R: “BREBIS DES PYRENEES” Moroccan Olive. Piquillo Pepper Marmalade. Pine Nuts. Eggplant and Olive Oil Jam.
^L: POMEGRANATE “SODA” Jasmine Ice Cream and “Fleur de Sel” Shortbread.
^R: PASSION FRUIT “SWISS ROLL” Valrhona Chocolate Cremeux, Caramel Mousse and Banana Ice Cream.
^R: “Coffee and Doughnuts>”
What’s not to like? A wonderful experience.
On a side note: It’s nice to realize after a meal like this just what talent we have here in Dallas. Bruno Davaillon’s tasting menu at The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek is equally superb. An omakase meal from Teiichi Sakurai at Tei-An is equally sublime. Enjoy!
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.