Progression I at Trio, 9/19/03
Posted 23 September 2003 - 03:29 PM
"Trio? For heaven's sake, why on earth would I go THERE?! The guy's so far 'out there' I can't find him with a radio telescope!"
Well...there's no way to complain that that quote was taken out of context or misunderstood. It's mine. I said it. Recently, even. When Bruce Schneier, a brother eGulletarian, wound up having to give up a reservation for this past Friday at the fabled kitchen table, however, I decided: I don't know the story until I go on up to Evanston and, well, EAT the story. So I have done.
Pass the Dijon mustard, please, and settle in for a long read: I have some words to eat.
The menu and wine list for the first fourteen courses, with commentaries, herewith:
Amuses (accompanied by Montaudon "Grande Rose" Champagne):
* Watermelon ice inside tomato/juniper aspic (refreshing);
* Pacific sea urchin, frozen banana, parsnip milk, presented under puffed rice (crunchy, that last; a tiny twang of sea salt somewhere in the dish brings out the brut in the Champagne superbly)
* Spice water (water with pepper, star anise, hazelnut foam on top, touch of truffle oil; to be chugged in one draft. Truffle aroma overwhelms, though nicely)
First white wine courses (accompanied by Cusumano "Cubia", 2001, from Sicily):
* Poached free-range hen egg, with nasturtium leaves and flower petals, from Trio's garden. (Exquisite.)
* The famed "black truffle explosion" -- a little raviolo, packing a major punch of truffle essence/oil/reduction/sauce inside; to be taken in one bite. (Wow. I see: the spice water set me up for that...!)
* A stem of angelica, still green and leafy, injected with apple puree (to be sucked out of the stem, while bruising same with teeth to get the combined tastes. Worked fine once somebody remembered to inject the branch I got -- a moment of unintentional comedy.)
The next, accompanied by a Muscat-ish 2000 Boutari -- a Greek wine, and one I never have had before:
* A mozzarella "balloon" (I'd love to know how that's done!) filled with tomato foam, garnished with peeled heirloom tomatoes of different colors and flavors, cut in simple geometrics and presented with basil and burnet. (This course worked for me, in a way the previous one with the angelica didn't. It may be personal, as this was a course I could eat without being given instructions as to how. It should be noted that bread appeared with this course, along with butter which was described to me as coming from someone in New England who owns four cows and occasionally forwards pictures of the cows to the restaurants where she supplies the butter. I conclude that my leg is being pulled. Nicely.)
Three red wine courses next (accompanied by 2000 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Meunier):
* Poached loin of lamb, over bitter orange and artichoke puree, with flowers and spices strewn over. Presented with a glass of lamb consomme, containing all the flavors on the plate, to be savored separately from the plate. (Superb intersection of orange and artichoke, and miraculously tender, aromatic lamb. I wonder which would be considered the 'deconstruction': the beautifully presented plate of food with all the elements arranged, or the compact little shot-glass of consomme, with all the flavors recognizable only when I shut my eyes?)
* A half-inch-by-half-inch speck of rice paper spread with intense, tomatoey essence, sporting some extreme oregano flavor: pizza, in other words. (This is presented impaled on a pin, which is anchored in a thin layer of wax at the bottom of a bowl. Fun.)
Accompanied by 1998 Cantina Santaoli "Shardana":
* Cap of prime beef, with parsley root and leaf, over peanuts both whole and ground. Presented with sassafras 'aroma': a hot rock onto which sassafras powder is spooned once the plate is in place in front of the diner. (That, fussy as it sounds, brought the dish into closer harmony with the peppery/spicy wine. Nice touch.)
* The famous "cheese and cracker": a dainty little brown pastry pillow with melted cheese inside, to be enjoyed in one fine swift savory chomp. (I'd have liked this better if it hadn't been presented at the end of a long, slim, napkin-covered ruler-shaped slab. It's funny, but a touch disconcerting, to have someone poking food at me from a distance with a stick before I'm even drunk enough to begin singing, throwing things, or dancing on the table.)
* A salad "snow" -- the juices of spinach and arugula, plus cabernet vinegar and salt and pepper, all frozen to a granita and presented in an elegant little round in a tiny bowl.
A dessert course (accompanied by 1999 Bechtolsheimer Petersberg Beerenauslese):
* Foie gras, "pushed", over crabapple and cider elements (This was described to me as a 'first dessert'; it locates for me, within the structure of the meal progression, rather as a transitional element, even with the Beerenauslese sweetness.).
Accompanied by Mastroberardino "Antheres"(a fortified wine, extremely powerful and viscous, almost medicinal):
* A 'soda' made of mountain huckleberries, accompanied by 5 gelees (including an intriguing smoke/salt gelee which was easily the most fascinating contrast with the intense Antheres and the richly sweet berry soda).
Do you see it, folks? There isn't a non-classical element in this meal! Concentrate on the foods themselves, on the flavors as they intersect with the wines, and the succession of tastes is one they'd recognize as being well within the canon of French menu design at Daniel, or ADNY, or Guy Savoy. The French Laundry influence is here and kicking serious culinary tail.
Back tomorrow with the second succession. That's right: this is only half the meal, and there's more to come...
Posted 23 September 2003 - 03:41 PM
I give up.
Posted 23 September 2003 - 03:49 PM
Thanks Sue so much for taking the time to share this with us.
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Posted 23 September 2003 - 06:10 PM
Can't wait for tomorrow's installment. Thank you, Sue.
Posted 23 September 2003 - 06:12 PM
Please provide details about service in forthcoming posts.
Posted 23 September 2003 - 06:17 PM
"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.
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Posted 23 September 2003 - 06:38 PM
Posted 24 September 2003 - 08:14 AM
You wouldn't regret it, joiei. There are also shorter (and less costly!) menus available -- bet you could see those on Trio's website, or at least request them.
Maggie: Flatterer. You know I get a massive kick out of doing this...
Nero: May I adopt your comment for my next signature line?
Posted 24 September 2003 - 09:36 AM
I'm glad someone was there to enjoy it, and especially someone who writes about it.
Posted 01 October 2003 - 08:01 AM
No clue, actually. From the slightly-cooked flavor and texture of the cheese, I would guess that heat is involved in some way: a thin slice of mozzarella is wrapped around a sphere of ice, perhaps, which then melts away in a brief, carefully calculated microwave or oven stint, and leaves the little balloon to be injected with the tomato foam.
That's my straight-out-of-the-box guess, but I truly don't know. I doubt chefg's going to give up the secret on that one, either...I can only testify that it tastes mighty fine.
Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:18 AM