My body wasn't ready. On 9/6, I was co-working in San Francisco. During my morning blog rounds, this short post on Grub Street made me get my wallet out. No hesitation. Will Goldfarb was back after 5 years in Bali. I had met Will through the Experimental Cuisine Collective when I was transitioning to a career in food.
A red eye flight from California, a full work day and the most epic 7 course dinner and cocktails.
JIMMY ROOSEVELT | frozen chartreuse bubbles, cognac, sparkling wine
Our opening libation was refreshing for such a hot day. According to the Gentleman's companion, the Jimmie Roosevelt is made as follows:
Fill a big 16 oz thin crystal goblet with finely cracked ice. In the diametrical center of this frosty mass went a lump of sugar well saturated with Angostura, then 2 jiggers of good French cognac, then fill the glass with chilled champagne, finally floating on very carefully 2 tbsp of genuine green chartreuse--no pineapple, no mind sprig, no cherry garnish.
FOIE GRAS PUDDING | Pickled blueberries, sorrel, Balinese cacao nib spiced oats
I was woeful that this dish was at the beginning because it was my hands down favorite of the night. I noted the disappointed looks on everyone's faces as they stared down at their empty plates, "All gone? Already?" These fleeting bites were the right kind of smooth, crunchy, sweet and fresh. I wondered, "Why aren't these readily available in lunchbox pudding cups?"
Last week, I had the opportunity to crack open a cacao bean and eat the nibs. It was bitter and akin to coffee, nothing like the sugary confection I had known before. Here, it added an almost fruity dimension with the flakey texture of spiced oats.
VESPUCCI | Madeira, Cocchi Americano, honey vinegar
UNI TEMPURA | shiso, apple, bacon marmalade
[NOT PICTURED] NAO TRATO | Cachaca, Pedro Ximenez, Lime, Velvet Falernum
Falernum! What is that? We glanced around the table for answers and no one knew. We took turns joking that it sounded like a bone you broke, "I can't go out tonight, I fractured my falernum" or a plant akin to ficus, "I think I'll pick up a falernum for the office" or car seat material, "Yup! That is quality falernum."
The Nao Trato cocktail was very tiki with pearl ice and spicy-fruity constitution. I refer to this class of drinks as the "danger zone" because they are so easy to drink. With cachaca, I always think of capirinhas. And with the addition of falernum, a Caribbean spice syrup, the traditional Brazilian libation has skewed to the tropics. It was definitely my favorite, I drank it so fast that I didn't take a photo!
TRUFFLE TORTELLINI | ricotta, truffle puree, cured duck egg
What a comforting dish. The pasta was like a warm hug. Enough bite with not too much yield, a sauce not fragrant with truffles but with only a kiss. At first, I thought the yellow grated material on top was aged cheese like Grana Padano, but the entire table had a simultaneous "Aha!" moment when we realized it was the cured duck egg shaved onto the pasta.
KILLING TIME | tequila, Lillet, meyer lemon, cane, salt
SCALLOPS | House cured Iberico Lardo, corn, black-eyed peas, Peach BBQ sauce
MILK FED SUCKLING PIG | purple rice, chili paste, turmeric pudding, lime leaf lemongrass jus
Upon grazing my fork, ever so slightly, against the side of the pork--it fell. It was soft and appeared in slow cooked block. How did they make such uniform, clean cuts for 40 people from suckling pig? They didn't! The blocks were shredded, pressed and formed. We didn't have the crispy pork skin that I usually look forward to, but all of the elements together was pretty satisfying. I was willing to forgive.
SKOOKUL PUNCH | bonded apple brandy, navy rum, lime, orgeat, peach lambic
I knew orgeat tasted familiar! And it doesn't sound anything like what it actually is. How funny to mix lambic with mai tai type elements to make a punch, it makes sense.
Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange flower water. It was, however, originally made with a barley-almond blend. It has a pronounced almond taste and is used to flavor many cocktails, perhaps the most famous of which is the Mai Tai.
The word "orgeat" (/ɔrˈʒɑː/ or /ˈɔrdʒiːət/) is derived from the Latin hordeata "made with barley" through the French, where barley is called orge.The Spanish word horchata has the same origin, though today the two drinks have little else in common.
PEARLY GATES | gin, lime, mint, Pernod, lime foam
RASPBERRY MERINGUE | peach compote, steamed milk cake, light pine cream, tarragon, whey
I really loved this dessert. I usually only take a bite or insist on sharing the final few sweet courses but I huddled around this plate-- almost licking it. I liked the steamed milk cake the best because it reminded me of dense Filipino desserts growing up.
JERSEY QUARTER | rye whiskey, bonded apple brandy, benedictine, yellow chartreuse, punt e mes
END OF SUMMER FRUITS | warm chocolate, cinnamon bubbles, savory sablee, red wine jus
The menu at the table says "savory sablee" but the online menu said it contained blood? I'm not sure if it made it into the final dish but I wouldn't have been bothered by it either way.
All in all, a great adventure and worth the ticket price. Do not fear dining alone during these types of meals. I met some really cool people and geeked out about Settlers of Catan. Next time, I need to be a little more prepared for 7 courses and 7 cocktails. My advice is to pace yourself and don't feel pressured to finish every drink before the next course. It led to my downfall.