Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Andrzejewski-Gedra Tasting Meal


Several weeks ago Doug and I went to a tasting dinner at Mike A's (soon to be Bourbon & Butter) which was created by the combined powers of Mike Andrzejewski with Steve and Ellen Gedra (Black Sheep).  It was a ten course dinner each paired with a cocktail or wine.  There were many things in this meal that I had never eaten before (blood risotto, squid ink, urchin and lamb testicles to name a few) so that plus the experimental feel of each dish made for a really enjoyable experience.


I really enjoy tasting-style meals where the chef is able to push his creative boundaries.  It's so much fun to experience new ingredients, flavors and textures and because they tend to be more expensive, I become more critical about the food on my plate.  At this seating, I had some distinct favorite dishes that seemed to come together beautifully while others, though technically impressive and playful, may have felt a little over-complicated or lacking a balanced flavor.  We were served so much food that I was full already half way through the meal, though somehow I persevered through to the delicious end.

Lamb Testicle Tacos
lamb fries, fresh pressed tortilla, summer salsa
The lamb fries were really tender and moist, like a braised meat.  Although they had some seasoning to them, the flavor wasn't enough to stand out against the cilantro and the strong flavor of the homemade corn tortilla.  The salsa too, though deliciously sweet and acidic on its own, got somewhat lost next to the tortilla which itself was crispy around the edges and soft and pliable in the center (a model of perfection for the soft shell taco). 

Fresh Atlantic Sea Urchin
bacon froth, tomato sheet, nasturtium
There were so many textural elements on this plate.  The tomato sheet and the consistency of the urchin, both very soft on their own, paired fantastically with that delicious crunchy bacon and the little cous-cous like grits. There was also a powdery mushroom-flavored component and an aioli-like sauce that brought a lot of flavor to each bite.  There were a lot of components on this plate, and many that I couldn't exactly pinpoint, but I thought the flavor and mouthfeel of each bite was really exciting.  Can we use the term mouthfeel when referring to food? or is that only wine?

Lobster Roe Pasta
crabmeat, intense lemon, fine herbs
When it was set in front of me, my first thought was how unfortunately thick the pasta looked but when I took my first bite, I was more than happy with how well cooked it was.  Yes, the pasta was on the thick side, but not to the dish's detriment.  It was consistently al dente through the entire thickness of the noodle and to be able to serve such perfect pasta for a seating of 50+ patrons was really impressive.  Each bite also tasted surprisingly light in my mouth.  I don't know what the white sauce was, something like a whipped marscapone or sour cream but the description wasn't kidding with 'intense lemon'.  It was a very pronounced flavor and, for me, somewhat masked the light flavors of the lobster and crab.

Pork and Shrimp Crepinette
vietnamese caramel, lime, chili
This pork and shrimp meatball (a combination, it turns out, I may not be overly fond of) was served over something like an onion jam.  The sauce was sweet with some heat from those pretty sliced hot peppers. 

Blood Risotto
dried fruits, bay, thyme
There was a lot of weight to this risotto in my mouth (and my rapidly filling stomach).  The sweetness of the cherries in the risotto was really lovely and combined with the salty, sort of crispy/chewy, meaty tentacle made for an interestingly satisfying bite.  There was a crispy fried strip that also combined for good bites, but we couldn't figure out what it was.  There's an air of excitement for me when eating something when I don't know what it is and our table was enjoying trying to pinpoint the various elements in our dishes.  But I would have preferred to find out what the unknown elements were after the dish was cleared and unfortunately our server was markedly unable to answer the majority of questions our table had about the food. 

Beef Tongue
rye jus, onion, pierogi, weck
Lightly resting on this plate was a delicate crispy lettuce chip, like a kale chip but more peppery like arugula. I would never have thought to 'chip' my greens before adding them to a sandwich but this really tasted fantastic!  The tongue was tender and both its consistency and flavor held up well against the thick roll.  The jus on the plate was salty and flavored with caraway and I mopped up every last drop of it with my bread.  I bet the potato pierogi would have tasted really good with the arugula chip too, but I had already housed the chip along with my sandwich before I even noticed the pierogi on my plate.

Black Scallops
sepia ink, peas, anise, vermouth
As you may already know, I am a huge lover of scallops.  I love twists on scallops and I love trying new flavor profiles (sweet, acid, spice, etc) and seeing how they compliment the flavor and consistency of the scallop.  This twist, though, was a totally unique experience for me and I know I'll have a hard time putting it into words.  For me, the ink made the scallop more umami.  Although not exactly the same, I want to compare it to when you eat peanut butter and you kind of have to suck the peanut butter off the roof of your mouth.  In a way, it sort of sat on my tongue after I had swallowed and that was completely unusual from any other experience I've had with a scallop.  Now I'm totally wondering how a scallop would pair with a peanut sauce...  As for the other elements on the dish, the grapefruit (?) rind might have been pickled which combined with the sepia scallop gave a bitterness to the dish that the very sweet pea puree couldn't balance.

Roast Baby Goat
garlic, black vinegar, vegetables
The meat on my plate and on others at my table was overcooked and tough but had it been on that night, this would have been a yummy dish.  It was simple, yellow beans, red and golden roasted beets and an aromatic clove of roasted garlic with a red pepper oil like Chinese pepper sauce but not as quite as spicy.  Doug said the red pepper oil was very common in China and he really enjoyed having it on the plate.

Bing Cherry Pound Cake
homemade cherry ice cream, polenta marcona crumble
What a beautiful way to end the meal.  Not overly sweet or heavy, this was kind of exactly what my mouth wanted.  Somehow the cake was firm but soft and with all that melting ice cream on top there was no sogginess at all.  Honestly, I think it was made by magic.  The flavor of the pound cake really came through and complimented the cherry ice cream.  The crumble on top added some almond flavor and a little crispy texture.  At this point of the meal, I was actually bursting with fullness and well past unbuttoning the top button.  Still, I did everything but lick the plate.  

Lies, I did lick the plate.  

13 comments:

  1. wow! you are an adventurous eater. I am impressed with your excitement in trying these things.

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