Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tasting at The Bread Bar

Where do I begin...last Thursday night, I was invited to an 8 course food and wine pairing dinner at The Bread Bar in Century City. The Chef featured that evening was Michael Voltaggio (will be seen on Top Chef Season 6 and just left his position as Chef de Cuisine at Bazaar to go to the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa). The wine pairings were done by the very talented David Haskell. I had the pleasure of dining with David's mother as well as a girlfriend of mine.

First Course: Artichokes "Barigoule"
The meal started out with a delicious Gosset champagne..always nice to start with a glass of bubbly! The dish consisted of artichoke, salmon belly, small crumbles of Philadelphia cheese (put in liquid nitrogen and then blended), and smoked salmon roe. Once you get a bite that has a little bit of everything, including the dollop of sauce that was strained artichoke liquid (very unique), it was quite a tasty mouthful. So many great flavors.

Second Course: Japanese Tomato Tartare This dish was served with green almonds, parmesan "overeasy" and tapenade powders. As you can see in the photos it literally looks like an overeasy egg...even oozes like one once you break into it (though instead of yolk it's yellow tomato coulis). There is an intense process to making this but I wasn't able to capture it all except that it has to sit for about 24 hours! While this dish itself didn't blow me away, the presentation was pretty awesome. White Wine Pairing: 1998 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte - Fantastic!

Third Course: Hamachi Crudo
This was a very unique dish served with smoked egg yolk, sea sponge, watermelon and wild rice. The hamachi was very fresh and was served over watermelon which looked like a piece of ahi tuna. While I liked the crunchy texture of the wild rice, it did remind me of cereal (likely not the intention of the chef). The sea sponge was quite interesting as it was made in a doshi broth (70% cold, 30% hot - has to be put in a fridge to cool otherwise will melt). Wine Pairing: Bandol Rose Domaine Tempier 2006. Loved this one!

Fourth Course: Veal Sweetbread
Served with a poached egg (you'll notice a common egg theme in many of these dishes), pea consomme (which the waiter poured into the dish at the table) and coffee-cardamon soil. I do love sweetbreads and this was a unique twist on it though the egg wasn't cooked as much as it should have been (the white part was a bit flimsy/gooey). Wine Pairing: Dios Baco Oloroso Cherry from Jerez, Spain. As I don't really drink cherry, I was pleasantly surprised.

Fifth Course: Crispy Chicken Thigh
Served with Cuttlefish, Green Garlic, Sweet and Sour Mushrooms. This was one of my favorite many great flavors and textures. This was perfectly paired with a beer called Dues Brut des Flandres (I would almost describe the consistency as that of sparkling beer).

Sixth Course: Wagyu Beef
Short rib, Saul's pastrami, tamarind, broccoli textures and horseradish "styrofoam." This dish was probably my favorite. Loved all the ingredients. It was cooked perfectly rare with very crisp and crunchy broccoli which was so delicious. The bright green on the plate was a broccoli puree. The horseradish "styrofoam" is whisked with egg white powder and then dehydrated (complicated process). Wine Pairing: Cote de Beaune Villages. This red wine paired perfectly.

On to the desserts...
Seventh Course: Miso Cake
Served with Jasmine "Rice Cream", Strawberry, Yuzu. I really enjoyed this dessert (I'll admit, I ate the whole thing!). The cream was yogurt, dried coconut and greek yogurt. Yum!
Wine pairing: N.V. Jean-Paul Brun FRV 100 (Gamay). Really nice sparkling wine.

Eighth and final course: Fool's Gold
Least favorite dish of the night. It had hazelnut praline, salty caramel, nitro coffee mousse. A bit rich for my taste.

Overall, truly a unique meal (always fun to enjoy a little molecular gastronomy), but the wine was the highlight of the evening.
Rating: 90

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