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Look! I'm a food blogger! - Qualified Perceptions
Look! I'm a food blogger!
harrock and I went to Bondir for dinner. He was thinking "hmm, let's do something tonight" and I ended up wresting the plan into "let us go have a fancy dinner" because they had a table open. And, my gosh, it was amazing. (I declare it to have been a victory dinner.) Jerry was very brave and ate almost everything, even the oyster. I don't normally take pictures of my food, but this was the best dinner I've had in quite a while.

(Wow! Hey! They have a daily changing menu and they still have it posted on their web site! Kudos, web site people!)

We got the four course prix fixe, which came with a bunch of little extra tidbits (the ones in italics) so it had the dance-of-many-dishes feeling of a tasting menu, though we got to pick the principal dishes. Oh, and interesting homemade sodas (I had maple mint, Jerry had ginger spice.)

A mini-salad-ish plate, with baby carrots, olive oil jelly, dessicated kalamata olives, and... some long bread-sticky things. This was more of a 'Time to taste some different things, to get your taste buds to wake up' than a coherent dish, but I quite liked the olive oil jelly.

Breads. The breads are Named! The Sea, Spelt Flour with Currants and Hops, and Cracked Grain. Yes, one of those is a little mysterious. The Sea had seaweed and squid ink and dried shrimp in it. It looked a bit like swirled cinnamon raisin bread. They were perfectly fine breads, though I was almost disappointed that The Sea tasted like bread and not something much more epic.

Soup. Two glass teacups, one soup a bright green savory spinach soup, the other a dark sweet red-brown cherry (and vinegar?) soup. If I heard the vinegar right, it must have been balsamic or not very much, because it wasn't a pungent soup, but a grounded sweet one. Oh, with creme fraiche. They were both from the pureed side of the soup tree, but otherwise very different. This is where I started really getting a sense of how the food worked - take a particular taste (spinach, cherry), distill it a bit to make it stronger and purer, and then accent subtly. So the main taste would come across very clearly, and without a bunch of other distracting tastes mixed in, but there were clearly other ingredients playing a supporting role, hard to point at but obviously there. (I know, for example, that spinach doesn't normally have notes of "rich and a little salty").

Official first course.
(me) Handmade Burrata: Rye Berries with Walnut Vinaigrette, Watermelon Radish, Confit Lemon, Black Mustard, Toasted Sesame Tuile
(Jerry) Concord Asparagus Salad: Veronica's Greens, Pickled München Bier Radish, Black Garlic, Lovage Bavarian
I took a picture of the burrata (a fresh mozzarella/cream concoction) because it was the prettiest thing ever. The cheese was really nice (though I don't think I've ever had *bad* burrata), and the rye berries were a nice savory counter. The sesame tuile was the third Major Flavor, a sort of sesame cracker that I could eat for snacks all day. (The radishes weren't very strongly flavored, but goodness were they pretty.) Jerry decreed his large asparagus very good, but avoided the black garlic aioli, so I had to help with that.

Official second course.
(me) Taleggio Custard Tartine: Chestnut Flour Shortcrust, Butter Confit Shallot, Seared Teff Polenta, Nigella Seed, Vegetable Mignardises, Mustard Snow
(Jerry) Halibut Brandade: Smoke-Brined Noank Oysters, Maine Steamer Clams, Shaved Porcini, Calaminth,Pickled Pepper Coquillage
Okay, this is where it started getting over the top in the Separate Things That Taste Interesting direction. The tartine was a little shortbread boat with the taleggio custard (stretchy-cheese-texture, not custard-texture) and a shallot on top. Mmmm. I... don't know what teff is. Two earthy dark polenta croutons, and seared (probably in duck fat) makes everything better. The mustard snow was powdery and tasted strongly of mustard without having any heat to it, which was a fascinating trick. Jerry's brandade was also very good (ahah! brandade != branzino! No wonder I can never remember whether it's a fish or a fish preparation!), two fish cakes which were definitely seared in duck fat. I had a piece of one, and it was a good comfort-food sort of taste.

Official third course
(me) Scituate Scallops: Pickled Cipollini Onion in Fumet, Kohlrabi, Hakurei Turnip, Prairie Fire Chili Froth
(Jerry) Vermont Wagyu Short Rib: Poached Scarlet Turnips, Blonde Morel Mushrooms, Georgia Peas, Red Wine Roasting Jus
"in Fumet" means the seasoned broth that the whole thing came in - it's kind of funny that it seems to be attached to the onion in particular. Two scallops, perfect and sweet, and here was another pure taste with embellishments just making it seem more itself. The onion was a minor taste of its own, and the fumet broth was a third clear note. These three were more complementary to each other, less independent, than the previous courses, but things really oughtn't to clash with the broth they're sitting in. (Clash is the wrong word for the previous courses - independent is better.). Jerry was particularly impressed by his short rib - that's usually the meat that I pick, and he thinks of it as a heavy flavor, but he said this was very light, but still really flavorful. I had a bite of this and half a morel, and appreciated both. We were trying to identify a faint sharp cheese taste in the coating of the beef, and the waitress rattled off a dozen ingredients (orange rind? molasses? soy?), none of them cheese. That definitely started me thinking about the whole "tiny embellishing flavors which make the principal flavor stronger" concept. I guess I claimed I was thinking about that back at the soups, but since I'm writing this all afterwards, it's kind of hard to tell.

Spoonful of red wine/sherry/chili sorbet. This was an actual blended taste, in contrast to most of the other things I've been talking about, but it was a very tasty mixture. The chili had quite a kick, and I wonder if either the red wine or sherry was actually a vinegar, as there was something of a sour note to it too. Maybe just the wine.  (Edit: Huh, as I reread this and note the desserts, I bet it was "Red wine / cherry / chili sorbet.)

(me) Red Wine-Cherry Semifreddo: Angel Food Cake, Rolled Oat Crumble, Pickled Rose, Sweet Herb Foam, Angelica Crème Fraiche, Cherry Geleé
(Jerry) Caramel-Poached Rhubarb Tart: Star Anise-Cardamom Syrup, Pistachio Frangipane, Pistachio Praline Ice Cream, Pistachio Brittle
Mine was back to independent lovely (desserty) tastes, but then there was a TRAP of the "pickled rose" which was VERY PICKLE. I found this hilarious, once I got over my startlement (you have to imagine a fluffy cat with all its fur suddenly standing on end and its tail sticking straight out), but I think it would have been a great betrayal had it been Jerry's dessert. I did not get any of Jerry's dessert, but it must have been good.

Two little cookies to end, one spice cookie and one white chocolate with pistachio. Nom.

All in all, it was a marvelous dinner, and I want to go back again, though I will probably need to come up with a special occasion.

I wonder if linking into Google works:

4 comments or Leave a comment
merastra From: merastra Date: June 8th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Sounds fabulous. Thanks for the excellent writeup! I love the "separate flavors with hints of supporting actors" idea. Any *one* of those things would make me happy as a single flavor for an entire meal.

I guess sometimes when I get fancy food like that, I'm a bit disappointed though because I expected, say, a "mostly scallops & mushrooms" dish and it turns out that it's 2 bites of scallop, a tiny sprinkling of mushroom, and a bunch of other good but non-scallop elements. And the entire dish will be about 1/4 of the size of what I consider "dinner". Do you ever have that kind of flavor-mix or food-size disappointment at a fancy restaurant?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: June 8th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Having a very short attention span helps with not being disappointed at the composition, if I can't quite remember what the description said when I ordered it. :) I think I run into "where the heck is the main thing I was expecting?" more often in less fancy restaurants (hee, I think the most recent time I remember this was Mike being grievously disappointed in a "sausage pizza" that was an onion and sundried tomato pizza with special guest star bits of sausage. Since I like onion and sundried tomato just as well as sausage, I didn't notice so much.). But yeah, fancy restaurants that I leave feeling hungry are always a little disappointing. There's a local place, Journeyman, which produces real works of art in food form, but I come home and think about snacks afterwards, which is just wrong. Or very fancy Italian places, several times I have ended up thinking "well, these three ravioli were really tasty, but now what?". I think that's a ravioli-specific thing, because pasta is not usually a minimal dish.
lillibet From: lillibet Date: June 8th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Teff is another trendy grain--making polenta of it sounds like a tasty idea.

This sounds like a real win of a meal. We were there about a year ago--made reservations right before they got written up large and felt very clever, yes we did! Our dinner partners weren't interested in the tasting menu and I've been meaning to go back--thanks for popping that up the queue.

Tonight seems to have been a good one for "no plans, let's make something happen". I realized about noon that we could go out, checked with the babysitter around the corner and she was free, so we had dinner at Posto (if you like rabbit, get there for the papardelle with rabbit in truffle butter sauce) and saw a fun movie.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: June 8th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
That burrata is in your colors. I didn't realize until now, but those are the firstfrost colors.

Teff is an African grain with no flavor whatsoever. It is forever linked in my mind with zebras.
4 comments or Leave a comment