September 14, 2021

Gone in 60 minutes

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Champagne Krug is doing their annual ingredient pairing, and this year they have chosen the onion.  After being anti-social during the pandemic, I was most surprised to receive an invitation from PR8 for the event surrounding the launch of Krug x Onion.  For all the crap I've given PR8, I gotta be thankful that he has always been very, very accommodating when it comes to these types of events.  He knows exactly who I wouldn't want to be caught dead next to, and generally makes sure that those people are never in my presence.

So it was suggested that I join this particular tour this evening, even though I would be missing the chance to visit some of my favorite chefs. I was ever so grateful that I was in the company of one of the few people in this clique who I could actually have meaningful conversations with... without wanting to choke the person or rip off his/her head.

The first of our two stops tonight was MONO. I've grown to become a big fan of Ricardo Chaneton's over the last few years, and these days an evening out at MONO is always fun... especially towards the end when the playlist changes from jazz to disco - at least when I'm in the house. I was kinda looking forward to that tonight.

We scanned the QR code in front of us to find out the menu for the evening, and I was pretty shocked to find not one, not two, but FIVE dishes listed. WTF? The format of these events used to showcase one dish per chef/restaurant, so I was expecting to get two dishes by the end of the tour and head off to Mickey D's to finish off the evening. Looks like that plan just went out the window...

Krug Grande Cuvée, 169ème édition, ID 120003 - good ripeness on the palate, with lovely toasty notes on the nose.

Of course, we actually got even more food when this avocado and lobster arepa showed up before anything else... Very creamy, very delish.

Alaskan king crab causa / jicama / Imperial caviar - the crab leg was, of course, beautiful with its sweetness and flavors of the ocean. The aji amarillo in the causa adds just a little heat along with the acidity, and the wafer-thin slice of raw jicama was compressed with marigold leaves as well as vinaigrette of rocoto and Kalamata olives - giving the root a lovely fragrance as well as refreshing and sweet flavors.

Quinoa sourdough / Eva Aguilera 100% Arbequina olive oil - the delicious signature sourdough, and the mother is now 744 days old. Amazingly, my friend and I did not finish the wonderful olive oil in our dish, as each of us only took in one quarter of the sourdough. We knew there was a lot of food coming our way.

Roscoff onion / Paris button mushroom / black sesame condiment - we finally get to the pièce de résistance. The beautiful Roscoff onion was roasted then braised with mushroom jus, and topped with a cream made of French banana shallots, chives, cider vinegar, and sherry vinegar - with thin wafers of button mushrooms on top. Ricardo took inspiration from the classic "chaud-froid" with a play on temperatures. Paired with a mix of black sesame, balsamic, and olive oil on the side, which delivered very lovely flavors.

I loved the acidity in the cream, which was very light and fluffy. The onion was just beautiful with the caramelized sugar. Yum.

Racan pigeon / oca / mole - a very familiar dish to me by now. The pigeon was roasted and the breast removed, but it seemed barely cooked with that amazingly soft texture. I didn't mind that one bit. Beautiful on its own, even better with the house mole.

The leg was seasoned with sofrito, and the spices - the cumin really stood out - were just awesome. The leg was just so, soooo tasty. If I could have just one thing on a skewer, this could very well be it. We also had half a piece of oca covered in a kiwicha sauce and topped with oxalis leaves.

Our homemade chocolate / rosemary / Tonda Iblea olive oil - another dish I know well, with the housemade chocolate working so well with the rosemary ice cream and the olive oil. I was pretty full, but I couldn't resist finishing this... especially with the crunchy lattice on top.

Alfajores - always, always happy to see this, and take it with the mate cocido.

Pâté de fruit

Our 60 minutes for the first stop were up, and we quickly packed up and left. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get my disco fix in, but I understand that 7:30 p.m. was just a liiiiiittle too early for that. Next time, then...

We arrived at Louise and, to be honest, I wasn't the least bit hungry. In fact, I didn't think I could put any more food in my stomach. But the cool evening air was pretty comfy, gently stroking my face as I tried to settle into my seat.  I wish it could have also rubbed my stomach a little to help me with digestion...

Krug Grande Cuvée, 169ème édition, ID 120006 - nice, bigger toasty nose.

Just like at our first stop, we were getting a couple of extras. Thankfully Chef Franckelie Laloum chose to take it easy on us, knowing that we had just gone through a stuffing.

Variation de tomates anciennes, pêches, sorbet basilic - the combination of tomatoes, tomato water gélée, peaches, basil sorbet, and basil was certainly cold and refreshing, and perhaps aided in reviving my nonexistent appetite.  The acidity certainly didn't hurt.

L'oignon des Cévennes légèrement fumé, moules "Morisseau" et couteaux, émulsion au Comté 24 mois - thankfully we got to the main event much quicker here. We thought it was interesting that the Cévennes onion was stuffed with some mussels, which gave it a somewhat creamy center. There were slices of razor clams on top of the onion, which were themselves garnished with tiny squares of croûtons. The Comté foam was, thankfully, not too heavy. A lovely dish for sure, but I wish it hadn't been my 9th course of the evening...

Pavlova mangue et fruit de la passion, glace à la vanille de Tahiti - this has Julien Royer all over it. I just looooove the tropical fruit flavors together with the fantastic Tahitian vanilla. It really does make a difference which vanilla you choose.

Canelé - we all protested that we could eat no more, but when this shows up in front of you... Very, very good. Love the small size and the hard, crunchy exterior.,

It was now some two hours after we started our tour, and I really could eat no more. I strolled (or was it rolled?) down the hill to catch a ride home, hoping that the few hundred steps or so would aid in my digestion.

P.S. While I am grateful for this kind invitation, I promptly messaged PR8 to complain about the chefs' attempts to try to kill us with food. Let's hope this doesn't happen in the future...

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