42 grams 11th Visit — Chicago (12/2016)


After my early October visit, I had not planned to return to Chicago until sometime early next year.  However, some unused vacation time gave me the chance to add an extra three-day weekend to my schedule, so I scheduled a one-night stop in Chicago to check out the fall-to-early-winter menu.  There were a few courses that were the same or similar but with slightly different ingredients.  There were also some changes in dish sequencing for the familiar ones from the prior visit.

Since this visit was with a friend, we brought along two bottles of wine to have with dinner – a Chassagne-Montrachet for the white wine and an older Rioja for the red wine.

The first dish is one that I had on the last visit, but not as the first dish on the menu.  It was whipped foie gras at the bottom with Australian finger limes, freeze-dried mango and rice sticks to form the nest.  The garnish at the top was citrus marigold.  There were lots of texture and flavor contrasts to make this a nice opening course.

This dish featured King crab, with a thick (sliceable) butternut squash panna cotta, crispy speck, land caviar (actiually the seed from an herbal plant called Bassia Scoparia, with a taste and texture similar to quinoa).  A mixture of lettuces and herbs formed the salad.

This course included wood ear mushrooms (instead of the lobster mushrooms from last time) as the main ingredient.  A shellfish sauce made from Spanish scarlet prawns dressed the mushrooms.  A homemade XO sauce added a little spiciness to the flavors, and char roe added some saltiness and texture.  Sea vegetables finished off the composition (dulse (red algae lettuce fried), a succulent called ice bud, Okinawa sea grape). There were a lot of texture contrasts to each bite, as well as a nice savoriness.

For the full write-up, click here.


La Degustation — Prague (5/2014)


La Degustation is a Michelin one-star restaurant that opened in 2006.  I didn’t know anything about the restaurant when I booked it.  When I decided to visit Prague, I searched for a molecular gastronomy/modernist cuisine restaurant and it came up as the result.  Their website (in Czech and English) described the experience as Czech cuisine prepared with modern techniques.  It was easy to make a reservation – I just filled out the on-line request form and they responded within a day to confirm.  And their location was conveniently located in the Old Town section, about a 10 –minute walk from my hotel near the Náměstí Republiky.  The 40-seat restaurant is simply decorated with a modern look and an open kitchen.

They seated me at a table right next to the kitchen, which was almost as good as if they had a counter overlooking the kitchen for me to sit at and watch.

For the full write-up, click here.