Wednesday, April 23, 2008

kitchen tour: main course

The thing about tasting menus is that, well first, if you're lucky enough to have scored a reservation/expense account/significant occasion special enough to warrant a multi-course celebration - that aside of course - is that by the time you've settled in, had a drink to quell the excitement and gobbled down those first dainty and exquisite mouthfuls...well, you're worried, because despite your best intentions, you're getting full before the main course even hits.

(This is a musing of the hypothetical sort, in the vein of What would Ina do? Add cream or butter? Or both? as I clearly don't - but really wish I did - quite have the loot yet to support my dreamy dining fantasies. Until then, muse I shall...)

Whatever is a determined eater to do? As a favourite cook and mentor likes to say: "In times like this, you gotta get rich and switch."

Which is exactly what this kitchen does. The biggest, powerhouse main courses, usually served near the end of the meal, come first. Memento-style, the rest of the courses unravel backwards, going from meat to sea, then to lighter shellfish before ending with a final flurry of dessert. Imagine that!

What a relief and comfort to know that this way, you really can have your venison, foie, scallop and molten chocolate cake and eat it too.


The call is in, the hot line gears up for some action...

Just as with the multiple amuses, each of the courses are offered in two variations; this way, each pair of diners is presented with a different version of the same course. (Cool and crazy, yes. It's good to keep things interesting, isn't it?)

Braised beef, potato and leek puree, milk foam

Lids for a luxurious version of Lion's Head, a kind of braised pork meatball "hotpot". (I missed the finished dish, but you can see a more traditional version of this dish here.)

And here comes the foie course...

L, lucky man, is the guardian of those fatty lobes of (heartwarming, or stopping?) love we call foie. Check out his sweet knife, by the way.

Hot food, hot plate!
Veg cook M grabs them nice and hot from the steamer.

Plating up inside hand-spun potato rings.

The line at work...veg, meat and sauce time it out so everything comes together.

J the saucier, working it out with his trusty spoon.

Bison and foie, roasted root veg, rice tuile, cognac apple puree

Venison and foie, braised daikon, berry glaze

D, sous chef and expediter extrordinaire, does a final check before sending the plates out...

Fave D line: "It's not a football! Carry it straight! "

After that delicious assault of all things pork and foie, I too would welcome a slight breather, a quiet respite for my (hypothetically) taxed tastebuds...

Curious, I did hear the word intermezzo in the air. Up next!


  1. wow, that looks incredible! for an almost-vegetarian, i have a major weakness for foie gras... :-)

  2. i was at an awesome restaurant in boston 2 weeks ago and did the tasting...the foie course was unbelieveable (prune-stuffed gnocchi in foie/vin santo sauce with seared foie and almonds). i wish i could have gotten this kind of backstage look!

    the venison dish - i must have it.

  3. thats lucky - to be front and center - watching the action as it unfolds. lovely photos - thanks for taking us into the world.