Alain Passard of L'Arpège at Manresa
*Spoiler* The Early Spring Garden Menu
Because other readers will undoubtedly be attending tonight's and tomorrow's sittings, I am not going to say too much about last night's dinner at Manresa. Alain Passard of L'Arpège in Paris joined David Kinch in his Los Gatos kitchen where together they created a special Spring tasting menu highlighting many of the vegetables grown in the Manresa kitchen garden at Love Apple Farm. Those of you who won't be attending can click on the menu to enlarge and see what we indulged in.
Because Fred doesn't eat fish or seafood and the set menu would have been wasted on him, I joined my friend Amanda Berne, Food Editor at Ten Speed Press instead. Dining with a local Food celebrity like Amanda has its advantages: I was seated next to, and enjoyed conversations with Harold McGee and also had the pleasure of meeting the owner of soon-to-open in San Francisco Le Sanctuaire. He is a fascinating guy, as was his friend, a snappily-dressed young Chef who is working on a new San Francisco restaurant project that sounds extremely interesting. My lips are sealed for now. Alain Passard, himself, was almost a feature at our table by the end of the evening - I think he developed a crush on my rather gorgeous dining companion.
Elsewhere the client list read like a Food Bloggers Who's Who too, with sightings not only of the 'Lady of Manresa House', the inimitable Pim, but Fatemeh, Joy and NS too.
From the menu, the Consommé of osetra caviar was one of my favourite tastes of the evening which was paired for us with a sake by wine director Jeff Bareilles. It was served with a light seaweed brioche and a thick slab of the most wonderful butter ever seen on this side of the Atlantic. Hand churned by Soyoung Scanlan of Adante Dairy, it was a rare treat. To say we were eating it in cheese-like proportions wouldn't be an understatement.
The dish that really blew me away was the Lotte, moutarde onctueuse d'Orléans, pomme de terre fumée au bois de hêtre. The wine pairing arrived first - a 2000 Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Clavoillon, Domain Leflaive. I took a sniff and a sip before surprising even myself by unconsciously declaring "smoky bacon!". The tender monkfish, balanced on a splash of mustard sauce was coupled with a small finger potato that looked and smelled like a fat little frankfurter sausage. Despite its unexpected countenance and curious aroma the mingling of all these elements resulted in a well balanced and pleasurable course.
Transparency Report: Both Amanda and I personally know Manresa's Chef David Kinch.
This was a second time visit to Manresa. Read my previous report here.