eat with tenacity

last thursday i had the joy of experiencing tenacity, chef randy rucker's private dinner service -- in the comfort of *his* own home. i got to talk to megan and pet winston and look through his fridge and peruse his collection of cookbooks. now how intimate is that?

chef rucker (aka food genius) was formerly owner/chef of laidback manor, a short-lived, progressive american restaurant that was just way ahead of its time for houston. rucker stressed local seasonal ingredients and implored modern cooking techniques such as sous vide and other experiments in his kitchen-cum-laboratory. most of us know what a sous vide is now from watching top chef, but he was experimenting with it long before that.

i was looking forward to experiencing this all for myself first hand. the menu:
  • canape: cured rainbow trout in yuzu with microbasil, saffron threads, and thai chilis
  • tilefish tiradito, yamabuchi miso, lemon verbena, fennel blossoms, thai chilis & kimchee consomme

  • smoked vichyssoise, dashi foam, gulf crab, and garlic flowers

  • roasted gundermann's farm peach, red komatsuma lettuce, warm lime-eucalyptus emulsion, and meringue

  • toasted cod gnocchi, trumpet royal mushrooms, & pea shoots

  • mr buddy's compressed pork, japanese cucumber, and sauce ravioli

  • frozen lemon balm gazpacho & opal basil

  • strawberries, yogurt, and mint
the entire meal as a whole was the best i've had this year. vichyssoise with dashi foam was my favorite dish. the dashi smelled so wonderful that i picked up the bowl to inhale a whole lung-full of the aroma. it held up so well after the soup was added that i could make my own "bites" of soup, picking how much foam, crabmeat, and soup i wanted in each spoonful. the gnocchi was transcendental. it was amazing how the gnocchi paired with the earthiness of the mushrooms and the freshness of the pea shoots. the peach dish was very playful as it was served with a stick of meringue. and i just loved the kimchee consomme.

the flavors, ingredients, concepts were expertly crafted. our lemon gazpacho had the same ingredients frozen and added back to it for a contrast of textures and temperatures. i could tell the meal was well-thought out: deconstructed, reconstructed, and then executed.

i was also impressed to learn that the boar was hunted down by randy's own brother last week and the herbs & chilis were straight out of randy's own garden. can you get any more local that that?

by luck i sat on the chefs side of the table. i got to exchange lots of words and laughes with chef jonathan jones formerly of max's wine dive and now with the americas woodlands. it was also interesting talking to jared estes from VIN which shut down earlier this year. justin bayse, chef de cuisine of voice was also there. i guess chef's can get out of the kitchen (i was really surprised jonathan was able to get out of the restaurant)? but i guess they just head straight into another one. it was a great feeling being around people who are even more food obsessed than me.

my photos suck of course. so definitely check out katharine's more thorough review of the night and photos. i know we are all waiting to see how misha's (photographer extraordinaire) turned out and maybe even anonymouseater will post something.

update: anonymouseater posted a review of the evening here.

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