I've been struggling for hours and hours with how to capture the flavors and layers in my next dish-Foie Gras Mousse, Ice Wine Jelly, Huckleberry Compote, Crouton.
I tried about every shape, size and type of mold I have...and nothing worked. The Foie Gras stuck to the mold and wouldn't come out. If the Foie Gras was at room temperature, it was like glue up against the side of the mold. Freeze the Foie Gras in the mold to make it easier to come out? Nope, little crystals of ice formed in the mousse and changed the silky texture we crave in Foie Gras.
I'm challenged by the level of texture in each element--and how they stick to one another in the mold--jelly next to mousse, mousse next to compote, all touching the walls of a persnickety mold. I dipped the mold in warm water to loosen the mousse, then beat it against the counter and pushed a pairing knife around the edge of the mold. What finally came out looked more like dog food rather than something worthy of an eGullet Cook-Off.
And then I remembered. I remembered this dish I tasted a few years back at a noted temple of French gastronomy. A restaurant smack dab in the middle of the desert in Las Vegas of all places. A dish crafted by the hands of a French Master. A man with Michelin Stars. A Chef who served me the ultimate taste of a humble ingredient grown in backyard gardens around the world. A dish with a layer noted on the menu as pea "gelee." I searched back in the archives and came upon my report on Vegas Uncork'd 2010-http://forums.egulle...s-uncorkd-2010/
In my report, this is how I described the vegetable course served at the "Master Series Dinner" at Guy Savoy restaurant in Caesar's Palace-First Course-
"Tout Petits Pois"-Peas All Around
Served with Pascal and Nicolas Reverdy, Les Coutes, Sancerre, 2007
"This is one of Chef Savoy's signature dishes. The base is a pea gelee, then you have pea jus, fresh Spring peas, pea shoots and a poached egg. The waiter cuts through the soft yolk once the dish is placed at the table. The bread for this course was a toasted country bread with chive oil. The taste is the essence of a garden of peas. Everyone at the table used the toast to soak up the pea and soft egg. Delicious."
One of the dessert courses at the 2010 dinner at Guy Savoy was a masterful composition of different flavors and textures of strawberries, again using "gelee" as one of the elements.Fifth Course-
Served with Clarendelle, Amberwine, Monbazillac, 2003
"The strawberries were served a number of ways-one small wild strawberry, poached strawberries, strawberry sorbet and strawberry gelee garnished with tiny little basil flowers and a small dollop of basil foam to the side. The herbal scent of the basil added to the sense one was eating fresh, sweet strawberries in the field."
While I would like to think my food writing has progressed in the past two years, I know my skills with gels are still lacking. But with the inspiration from the memories of "Peas All Around" and "Strawberry," I'm putting Grandma Pink's little metal Jell-O molds back on the shelf, (for now), and I'm directing my dishes to different preparations. Once I've crafted Foie Gras, Ice Wine Jelly and Huckleberry Compote into something that looks and tastes delicious, I may move on to a sweet dish employing gels.