Anytime I think up a dish, a mental image accompanies the concept. Sometimes the finished dish is just like the mental picture, but this happens very infrequently. Most of the time, the actual dish lacks the severity and architecture that it has in my brain. On very rare occasions, the finished dish exceeds the virtual one and I am elated. In the past month, this happened twice.
The first dish was called “an absurdity of beets and carrots”. In it, we presented these two vegetables in myriad forms: dried, fried, juiced, roasted, pureed, as a sorbet… you get the idea. This dish was great fun, a terrific challenge and (most importantly) delicious.
The picture is terrible, all bright light and bad perspective, but you can still follow along. From left to right: carrot sorbet on beet powder with a chiogga beet chip; carrot juice and aquavit shot with beet foam; a gold medal of beet with a pickled beet chain; beet swiss cheese; slow roasted heirloom carrots on a puree of beets, carrots, ancho chili, cumin and caraway; crispy carrot pudding on a carrot top and chervil puree; dehydrated beet on carrot powder with a fried beet green; chiogga beet leather filled with goat cheese…. phew!
The second dish that eclipsed my mind’s eye was for a wine dinner with Oregon producer Argyle. The components of the dish included turnips from our roof, cooked in duck fat and sherry vinegar caramel; a pork belly braised in pinot noir with star anise; black rice that was cooked, fried and ground; and mango fruit leather wrapped around foie gras mousse. I love that this dish looks a bit like a Chinese character. Also, the textural contrast is an important aspect to its success. The rice powder has a wonderful crunch, the belly provides a winey complement in an unctuous package, the turnips bring a light bitter funk and snap and the rich foie mousse is supported and extended by the chewy mango leather. The diners, and especially Rollin Soles, the winemaker, were delighted with the pairing.