Monday, November 9, 2009

Ideas in Food Dinner

Last Monday was great. I had no school the next day (staff development day?), the Phillies won their game, and I dined at Blackfish for the Ideas in Food Dinner. Though I love no school as much as the next guy, and I am an ardent Phillies phan, the dinner was undoubtedly the highlight of my marvelous Monday. It was a deliciously whimsical meal, and though I do have a few critiques, the meal was overall exciting and evoked new taste sensations.
Smoked Pumpkin Ice Cream with Wild Char Roe, Cranberry, Brittle Walnuts.
- I was really excited when I heard that they would be making pumpkin ice cream. Unfortunately however, the ice cream didn't really taste much like pumpkin. The flavor was overwhelmed by the smoke and by the char. The cranberry however, did a good job of cutting through the smoke and the salty roe to make it overall a good tasting dish.
Potato Chip Soup, Crab, Tartar Sauce.
- This may have been my favorite course, and though I'm not really sure I got the "potato chip" sensation, I couldn't just have one [spoonful]. It was luscious and creamy and the soft crab just melded with the soup very well.
Apple-Cheddar risotto with bacon.
-I thought the flavors in this risotto were spot on--the apples, which were slightly cooked were a porkfect foil to the bacon and there's really no other way to describe the risotto than cheesylicious--however the rice was slightly undercooked and I thought the risotto wasn't as creamy and emulsified as I'm accustomed to. But then again, it was cheesylicious, and that by itself made the dish delicious.
Scallop with chestnut fettuccine, kale (I think) and buttermilk biscuit broth.
- Scallop was perfectly cooked and the chestnut fettuccine were my favorite component of the whole dinner. The buttermilk biscuit broth didn't really taste like anything, and it really didn't add to nor take away from this dish.
Beef Cheek Bourguignon, "onion soup," mashed potatoes.
--This dish was very solid and tasted delicious, however at an Ideas in Food dinner, I expect something new and exciting. I've had these flavors together plenty of times and while they will probably never get old to me, they weren't what I wanted when I signed up for Ideas in Food. Also, some of my carrots were al dente.
Powdered Pierre Robert, pistachio gremolata, white chocolate sheets, bourbon cherries
-- I talked to a bunch of chefs at Lacroix who also had this dish and this was their favorite. They thought it was definitely the most well-balanced dish. I disagreed. I thought the cheese was awesome by itself, and I thought everything tasted awesome together, yet with everything else, I couldn't really taste the cheese.
This was my least favorite dish. I really got no sense of a fluffernutter. The foam tasted like air and the peanut custard was unsubstantial and didn't have a real strong flavor either.

Perhaps I complain too much, but as a chef at Lacroix pointed out to me, these really aren't complaints, they're critiques of some minor flaws in an overall outstanding meal. And indeed, it was great, largely because of its ingenuity. When I go out to eat, I want something that either I couldn't do or wouldn't think of at home. The majority of this meal satisfied both. My economics teacher would disagree, but I definitely consider this meal a wise investment.


Padma Sundara said...

Well-written, review, Nick, and yes, it was an outstanding meal with a few misses that didn't distract much from the overall meal.

Btw, the scallops came with chopped swiss chard, iirc.

We enjoyed sitting near you and discussing the food as it came out.

I've finally had a chance to catch up on your blog, and the whole section about school lunches is fantastic - funny and interesting.

Keep up the good work! I'm sure my husband will add a comment later.

Art and Appetite said...

The dishes looks great!

The pumpkin with roe sounds divine. I've always been a fan of sweet and salty.

Tags said...

I think your economics teacher would say that money spent augmenting your expertise in your chosen field is money wisely invested.

Also, I liked your showing the contrast between "complain" and "critique." This distinction too often escapes the more thin-skinned among us.

Tim said...

Hey, it was great meeting you last week. As my wife said above, we really enjoyed talking with you throughout the meal and getting your take on everything.

I totally agree that the chestnut tortellini was the best single bite of the night, but I also really enjoyed the ice cream, the risotto and the cheese course. The rest of it was solidly delicious.

James said...

Looks (& sounds) stunning.

It would be interesting for you to taste exactly the same in 5 years time & see what you thought.

That's some awesome cheese course.

The beef cheeks made me think of doing tongue in cheek - as in ox tongue. Could be good. Have to try the chestnut fettucine too.