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Amuse Gueule

I spent last weekend in NYC with thornyc. What an amazing man, and what an amazing town. I love New York City, but most of all I love the food. I was told that there are no bad restaurants in the city, because they wouldn't survive. I don't know if that's true, but I sure put a lot of wonderful things in my mouth over the last three days.

All-liquid diet: a smoothie, soup, tea, soda, and water. I had my reasons.

Popcorn and a Diet coke watching "Hamlet 2". Quick review: absolutely hilarious, though I'm not sure I liked the movie. Maybe merely being funny isn't enough to be one of my all-time favorites, but I laughed so hard my chest ached... if you know that feeling.

Dinner at WD-50, Wylie Dufresne's restaurant. You might remember Wylie as being the really hippie-looking "molecular gastronomist" judge from last year's Top Chef program. I got to watch him work through the open kitchen. It's great that he actually works at his own restaurant, unlike a lot of celebrity chefs. I think I also saw Marcel Vigneron from Season 2 working there cleaning the floors and kissing Wylie's ass, but I'm not sure.

I started with some delicious smoked salmon. The menu read, "smoked eel, salsify, guava, puffed yuzu", but what came out looked like artwork... various colors smeared across a warped white plate. Yuzu is a type of grapefruit popular in japan. I have *no* idea how Wylie puffed it up like a rice crispy. It kind of goes against God and nature. But it was quite a flavor experience.

For dinner, Thornyc had the "pork ribs, fried plantain, rhubarb, jerk consomme". It looked like brightly colored children's building blocks in a pool of delicious liquid. I had "duck breast, spaghetti squash, almond polenta, and pomelo molasses", which tasted like Thanksgiving would on Mars - a lot of fall flavors but nothing really recognizable.

Dessert was the most spectaular, "toasted coconut cake, carob, smoked cashew, brown butter sorbet". Though ostensibly a dessert, the main flavor was "smoke". Everything was toasted, roasted, or smoked, to the point that hours later, the aroma was coming out of my sweat. It was appropriate, given the other things going on all weekend. Thank You Sir Thor, for the experiences.


Brunch at "Cafe 2", the cafeteria at NY's Museum of Modern Art. thornyc and I picked out a little too much - creating a picnic of incredible antipasti. Various sausages, field greens, a tomato tart, artichokes, aged cheese, seafood salad, and some of the tastiest herbed olives I've ever had. A great start to spending some time at the museum. I particurly liked seeing Laurie Anderson's violin that played itself, and the reconstructed "Destino" collaboration from Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney.

Party at Ernie's and Greg's (faghatesgods and mondragon). What a great time with a fun bunch of guys. I'm glad I met you all - sorry if I was distracted and didn't talk for long. There was an amazing pink frosted tropical carrot cake, as well as a chocolate cake that really *was* "death".


Breakfast at Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay's breakfast restaurant. We started with a carmelized grapefruit with mint and blackberries - a nice trick that I had forgotten and want to try to make at home. thornyc had a delicious pressed roasted pork sandwich, while I had a blue corn buttermilk waffle with vanilla creme fraiche. The best thing was the muffins with raspberry pepper spread, and the bacon with a mango glaze. Mmm... bacon.

Also throughout the weekend
Lots of ash
Shoe polish
Used chewing gum
A cigar butt
Various people's spit
Other shit

My diet starts again... honest. I forgot to do my pushups yesterday, which will mean more punishment with the cattle prod.

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Don't forget what I believe to be the best chocolate pudding in town.

Oh! You mean Cafe 2! i thought You were referring to... something else.

didn't know you were such a foodie. Next time you are here you'll have to come over when we actually "cook" as opposed to what we did on saturday which was about all we could muster for that many people!

I'd love to over and see the sling room! Somehow I didn't ever make it down there...

I know what else you could put in that mouth.

Wow. A weekend with Thor. I'm jealous. sigh.

the yuzu puff is made by mixing yuzu juice and tapioca flour (perhaps with some coarsely ground tapioca pearls) into a dough. roll the dough out, steam it, dehydrate it, then fry it - BOOM, instant puffed yuzu.

is Alex Stupak still the pastry chef at wd~50 or has he moved on?

Yes, Stupek is still there, and I believe his inventive compositions complement and hold their own against Dufresne's. Perverse and amazing. Another form of the coconut on the plate was tiny cubes of pulpy baby coconut.

There were several elements of each dish we had absolutely no good idea how the kitchen pulls off, and the waitress wasn't sharing any secrets (if she knew) when we asked about the yuzu puffs, which were amazing, tasting of highly refined grapefruit juice, melting on the palate with no residue (so I'm not sure your method was how it was done). Earlier today I thought the juice might have been made into a foam, and then freeze-dried.

Edited at 2008-08-26 01:31 am (UTC)

you may be on the right track there - ingredients such as Methocel and VersaWhip can be used to foam liquids and then dry them, though the result is usually more like a meringue than a puff.
these dehydrated foams do have much better flavor than the tapioca puffs, which can be a little bland if your flavor base isn't concentrated.

There are plenty of bad restaurants in New York! Foodwise, thornyc would never lead you wrong, though, so you were saved from any potential gastronomic disasters...

Great meeting you!

Foodwise, thornyc would never lead you wrong

I love the qualification.

Now I do too... :)

I have envy even though I was out dining and MoMAing with Thor just two weeks previous.

What an amazing man, and what an amazing town Truer words could not be said. We ate but three meals and ice cream'd with Thor, but not a miss on any of them. In particular I was very impressed with the Sichuanese, it was flavoured just as I remember real Southern Chinese... I had a moment of bliss when I saw 空心菜("empty heart vegetable") on the menu. One of my very favouritist things in all the world.

It was a shame that he and I had such a brief visit. We'll take more time off next time.

Lucky you. So tell this Sir all about Friday's liquid diet and things pissy...

Glad you saw (and liked) Hamlet 2. It'll probably be my only 15-minutes-of-fame ever being in a nationally released movie. I was surprised (a) that it got a national release and (b) it was decently put together to make it a cohesive, yet silly movie. You sure couldn't tell it from the short time the chorus was filming!

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