I read somewhere about the duality of God. Well, in the Mistral kitchen, they have their own interpretation. Behold the duality of the Mistral kitchen god.
Mistral is truely a temple of food. It's a small restaurant, (40 covers) with a small kitchen, (3 chefs.) They only do tasting menus; 5, 7, or 10 courses. The owner/chef is William Belickis. He trained under David Bouley in NY before coming west to do his own thing. I must say that after eating at Bouley, Danube, and Mistral; the pupil has surpassed the teacher. I say that more for dramatic effect. Bouley and Danube are some of the best meals I've had in my life. But so is Mistral!
Mistral got off to a slow start when they opened in 2000 (I think). i don't think people were used to not having an ala carte choice on the menu. I also don't think they were used to the prices. I remember in the early years, I stop in and say high to find the dining room nearly empty. It was very disheartening for me to watch someone who is so dedicated to their craft, and talented, not succeed. But I firmly believe that the cream always rises to the top. 4 years ago, Mistral received a 29 food rating in Zagat. I'm not sure if that was the turning point or not, but they've been doing great ever since. I hear there are only two 29s on the west coast; Mistral and Gary Danko. I'd love to try Danko one of these days! I also hear there are less than ten 29s in America. Not that I put that much weight in Zagat ratings, (William contends that if Mistral was in NYC, he'd never get a 29,) but its still pretty good company to be in.
Luckily, I had a friend take pictures of this event. He has professional equipment (and professional skills), and is also a friend of the Mistral kitchen. So he was able to get some shots of them setting up. I was at home watching the UCLA Gonzaga game. Go Bruins!
I'll write more about what happens in the kitchen tomorrow, as I'll be working there.
I showed up a bit late because I got lost in the game. But I had to stop in the kitchen and say hi.
That's William in the foreground.
Here are the people who would be working hard all night to make us a very happy group.
Charles, the chef de cuisine.
Stacy, the pastry chef.
Juan, the dishwasher.
By now people were seated and the room was nicely buzzing. (Sound, that is. Not alcohol)
We started with a wonderful amuse. Kumomoto Oysters with pomello and grapefruuit granita and celery bubbles.
You should have seen the layout area in the kitchen!
Well, there you go!
I've never had oysters and grapefruit together before. I will in the future. What a great pairing. The oysters were as fresh as ever, and the celery froth added just the right amount of balance.
I should note that we were having wine pairings with every course. But I wrote nothing down, and the picts of the wine have not gotten back to me yet. I'll post them when I get them.
Michelle does not eat raw shelfish. So she got a lobstrer claw dish instead.
I have no idea how they go the meat out of the claw so perfectly. Maybe I'll find out tonight.
Seared scallop with english pea basil soup and carrot froth.
Now you see where I stole my scallop/ soup idea. They do this one often, For good reason. Its one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth!
Alaskan Halibut with rice beans, abalone mushroom noodles and beet vinagrette.
I'm running out of superlatives. It was very good
Hamachi with Italian plum puree, blood orange, fennel, butternut squash and capers.
I should point out here that Charles and William tend to focaus a lot on really good seafood with simple, unadorned flavor accompaniments. This dish is a perfect example. They are good at what they do!
Risotto with Hanshimeji mushrooms, Lions mane mushroom, Idiazabel Cheese, and burnt scallion oil.
that Lion's mane mushroom on top was pure heaven.
Next came one of the highlights of the evening. Sous Vi De Pork with bolognese flavors.
They seal the pork lion in a vacuum seleed bag and cook it under low heat for 8 hours. I have no idea how they got the pork to be cooked absolutley perfectly. It was, tender, sweet, juicy, and delicious!
Louis Kahn, one of the greatest American architects, once said, "Ask a brick what it wants to be, it will say an arch." It is about the true nature of a brick. What it was design to do and how an arch is the epitome of its designed function.
I say "Ask a pork tenderlion what it wants to be, it will say Sous Vi."
Sonoma Artisan foie gras (enjoy it while we can!) with rhubarb puree, gingerbread crumbs, and hibiscus syrup.
I commonly contend that Mistral does the best foie gras in the city. Tonight's dish did not change my mind. For many people in my group, this was their first taste of foie gras. Everyone was amazed with this dish. I was so happy to be sharing an experience I enjoyed just a few years before in the same room. Of course, they served it with a sauternes.
Breast of Moulard duck, fingerling potato pureee, swiss chard and zhatar spice.
again, perfectly cooked meat. I think duck breast is the hardest meat to get right. It seems the window of opportunity is the smallest compared to other meats. They got it perfect!
Always a great cheese course.
Brillat Savarin with truffles, maitre seguin, perseil be Beaujolais, l'edel de Cleron.
Everyone was having a lovely time.
Desserts came out next.
Here's Stacy hard at work.
Green grape and pineapple sorbets with roasted pineapple and grape confit. and Muscat ice.
Chocolate + passion fruit. Chocolate croquant, chocolate ice cream, chocolate pot de creme with cara cara float.
We finished with sour cherry financier's. I forgot to get a picture of those.
Thanks to the entire staff at Mistral for one of the most memorable and enjoyable evenings I've had. I'm sure my friends would concur.
We all sat down for a shot and a beer at the end of the night.
Left to right: William, Charles, Patrick, me, Thomas, and Rene.
What a night! My friends even pitched in and bought my dinner. Thanks everyone!
I think a fitting way to end this entry is with a quote by Ludwig Meis van der Rohe
every bit as appropriate in cooking as it is in architecture.
"God is in the details!"
Edited by hhlodesign, 24 March 2006 - 12:19 PM.