Date: February 6, 2012
Cuisine: Elfin Fantasy Food
Summary: A feast for for Elrond’s table
For some reason it took me a year to get back to Red Medicine, even though I very much enjoyed my previous visits. Anyway, as it’s the new year and my partner in Foodie crime Erick is back in town, and having a birthday, we made it 2012’s first official Foodie Club meeting.
Red Medicine technically has a $35 dollar corkage (except no corkage on Fri and Sat), but they nicely allowed us their original policy of waiving a corkage for every bottle of their wine we bought. This ended up being 2 and 2, theirs being this excellent JJ Prum Kabinett (a fav of mine). Parker 91: “Extremely bright in aroma as well as palate impression, the Prums’ 2008 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett is dominated by lemon and grapefruit, with village typical cherry and cassis manifesting themselves as an invigorating chew of fruit skin that is delightfully complimented by estate-typical impingement of CO2. Lush yet light, this finishes with not only blazing brightness but a cress-like pungency and strikingly intense salinity and suggestions of wet stone, making your palate stand to attention, wide awake! Plan on following it for a couple of decades, although, unlike many Joh. Jos. Prum wines, I find it (and many of the estate’s 2008s) downright irresistible already.”
“FOIE GRAS / mousse, tete de cochon, beet, kohlrabi, chicory, croissant.” First, let’s not some of the unique elements of this cuisine, what we came to call “dollop and dust” was just as present as last year. But this time the vegetal/natural/flower thing is out of control. Every seemed like that crazy forest elemental from Hellboy 2 had snuck into the kitchen. This one has difficult to get all the flavors in one bite. What I had was good, but I had the feeling that if I had gotten a more substantive chunk it would have been better (we were splitting 5 ways and it was difficult).
“RABBIT / five flavor berry, pandan custard, roots, tubers, black currant, sesame leaf.” There are 2-3 rabbit loins hidden under the foliage. Again very tasty, but hard to get all the elements in the mouth, particularly with they very long and fluffy leaves.
“DUNGENESS CRAB / passion fruit, brown butter, black garlic, vietnamese crepe, hearts of palm.” Besides being wrapped in another fairy wreath, this is one giant ravioli but it was darn good. Really good. I just wish I had more than one bite.
“HEIRLOOM BLACK CARROTS / guava, winter kale, dulse, young walnut, tamarind.” Legolas, sir, have you seen the Ent? He was last observed heading into the kitchen! Seriously, while this dish was actually very tasty it looks like the forest floor!
“HEIRLOOM RICE PORRIDGE / egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter + SANTA BARBARA RED UNI.” This frightened me slightly, looking as it does a lot like congee (Chinese rice porridge). But we stirred it up and it turned out to taste incredible, like a fantastic creamy uni risotto!
After two bottles of the Kabinet, we decided to go red (the Auslese on the left we had later for dessert) with the meat. Parker gives this lesser known Bordeaux 91 points. “A fully mature, elegant 1990 with an exceptionally flowery, berry, white chocolate, and smoky oak-scented nose, this fleshy, mid-weight La Lagune exhibits a velvety texture and no hard edges. It is an endearing wine that needs to be drunk over the next 5-6 years.”
Then the riesling: Parker 93-94. “A Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese offers an impressive combination of white raisin-studded apple jelly, mango, caramel, honey, and vanilla in a creamy textural context, with a remarkable, parallel, and somehow perfectly-integrated sense of fresh apple and pear juiciness that guarantees a finish of genuine refreshment, enhanced by near-weightless buoyancy. This is quite thrilling to savor even now, but deserves at least a dozen years’ cellaring and is likely to perform well three decades or more hence.”
“WAGYU BEEF / creme fraiche, garlic chive, cashew, lovage, charred cucumber.” Some tasty beef, although not as fatty as one might expect. The creme went very nicely, although again I felt like a rabbit with all those big leaves sticking out of my mouth.
“MAITAKE MUSHROOMS / cauliflower, snake beans, bacon x.o., walnut.” Sauron’s curse! Someone stole Elrond’s crown! But seriously this was a difficult dish to cut as the wreath of beans snaked around. But it was worth it as it was surprisingly tasty. Perhaps because of the bacon.
Overall, I was pretty surprised to find out how far the chef’s cuisine had evolved (see the older meals), and in such an unexpected vegetal direction. Lords of the forest, this was some unique stuff. The flavors were a bit more understated and far less Vietnamese than a year ago. Ultimately odder, but certainly more unique. Still, although every dish was successful in some way, and many were fantastic. They just pursue a unique visual and textural vision. Despite basically ordering the entire menu it was pretty light too.
All in all, unique and playful, but we could have used a little more light in the forest, it was so dark we could hardly appreciate the masterpieces. On a technical note this was the first night that I used my Canon 5D Mark II with a little table top tripod. I found that I still needed to use the flash otherwise (the restaurant being VERY dark) I needed like a 3s shutter time. The tripod was a tad awkward and I’m glad it was only us foodies at the table, but the pictures did turn out very well. I ended up gong full manual and stopping down to about 7, setting a 1/15 (quarter second) exposure and just relying on the flash to fill.