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The Divine Miss "M"


philadining
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Brief impressions:

1. Coffee fluid GEL is coffee in a form that you can brush across a plate, as in the photo. Just a textural/physical state difference. (Er, by physical state I mean solid vs. fluid vs. uh....gel. Clearly I haven't even contemplated science since high school.)

2. I particularly liked the surprise of the fresh coriander seeds in the eggplant mixture under the fish -- it added a whole new dimension to the plate. The fish was perfectly cooked: beautiful crispy skin, tender melty flesh.

3. Lamb that actually tastes like LAMB, what a shocker!

4. Wine pairings were phenomenal -- I don't know enough about wine to do really great pairings myself, so I appreciate it when others (like Chef Katz) do it for me. Every glass accentuated great notes in the dish.

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1. Coffee fluid GEL is coffee in a form that you can brush across a plate, as in the photo. Just a textural/physical state difference. (Er, by physical state I mean solid vs. fluid vs. uh....gel. Clearly I haven't even contemplated science since high school.)

I'd be surprised if the coffee fluid gel were just ordinary coffee in gel form, though; I suspect some tricks were used to achieve a very concentrated coffee flavor.

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Last nights dinner was a little adventure in Deliciousness. As it has already been well covered here I will only add some thoughts.

Since everything was delicious, favorite is clearly a subjective term here, but the fish was clearly my favorite coarse served, it was just exquisite in flavor and execution. From the tasty little sprig of what I now know the be wild asparagus, to the crispy and texturally wonderful skin. The pleasant surprise of the coriander mixed with eggplant was like the "ta da" note to top it off.

The Garlic soup starter was aromatic and such a pleasant way to start a meal and the chicken wing was just a delicate hint of the goodness to come.

I too was amazed at the smokiness of the chocolate and how it came across as a bacon desert. Getting that smoke flavor into chocolate and keeping a nice texture must be a very serious trick, but that is why he is a big time chef and I am a blundering home cook.

Interestingly enough my least favorite item served was the much beloved (by others) lamb croquette. Nothing wrong with it, and just with all the other flavors it was clearly the strongest flavor note. Everything else felt light and fresh, but this was clearly meat.

As to the wine pairings, I too think it is a skill I have a difficult time with. Additionally I have a big preference for red wines in general, but clearly these combined well and thought was put into the pairings.

As has already been noted the pacing was a little speedy, as normally I am OK with fast, so that was not a big deal to me. On the other hand I think all plates should be cleared simultaneously, but for most courses I was the last one at my table to finish and all other plates were already cleared. No sooner did my fork go down than the plate was removed. Our server was clearly very knowledgeable about the food and explaining it, but it was nice to have Shola stop by and offer details.

And I do not want to give any impression of dissing the service as it was excellent all the way around. The benefit of the speedy pace was that we could sit out on the patio for after dinner drinks and a cigar. They took excellent care of us out there, and we had a very enjoyable night. That's what counts in the end, it was a great evening that I look back upon. As a matter of fact to recount the night here I decided I needed to be in the right mood and opened a bottle of 98 Magnificat to go with some very nice cheese.

I would be remiss in not mentioning Katie and her efforts. I don't think it has been mentioned before but I have come to the firm conclusion that the seats at her bar are the most comfortable around. Katie whipped up some old man of the sea rum concoction for me, that hit the spot for a refreshing starter. She also whipped up a vanilla lavender martini for my wife that I may consider ordering if she could give it a lass girly feel or name.

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I am so jealous of all of you who attended Shola's dinner at "M". Any opportunity for a Shola meal is a great opportunity. As always, the food looked exquisite.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The wine pairings were really good, though we thought that the white Burgundy (mostly Chard, some Aligote) didn't stand up very well to the corn custard. I think I understood the idea behind the pairing -- by itself the wine had a complex earthiness that you'd think would go well with the truffle, but it turned out that the custard was too much for it.

You know, we've had several noble White Burgs go down in flames in the face of Shola's truffle-glazed custards. It always seems like they're going to work, and they almost do, but mostly they get steamrolled. At this dinner, I just took a little sip after I had finished the dish, and the match worked beautifully with the lingering memory of the truffle. I can imagine that it might have washed out in direct hand-to-hand combat.

I'd be happy to keep trying different pairings until we get it right...

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I finally got one spoonful of the Pistachio gelato this evening and it might have been the singularly most delicious single bite of anything I've ever tasted. Ever. Really truly. No foolin'.

Wine pairings are always a challenge with Shola's cooking, and I've often stated in the past that Shola takes a perverse pleasure in purposefully playing "Stump the Sommelier". I think last night's pairings were awesome. The Vouvray was a knockout as was the Ridge Zin with the lamb dish.

Bruce, that "Old Man and the Sea" concoction was a Hemingway Daiquiri. Not exactly revolutionary, but a classic I'd merely read about before having the pleasure of actually tasting one earlier this week. It has definitely made it into the rotation for the foreseeable warm weather. The Vanilla-Lavender Sour is a girly twist on another drink I refer to as a "Provencal Martini", aka the PD (the Panty Drawer). I think you'd enjoy the less sweet, more manly version of the drink made with Hendrick's gin and no vodka. Ask me about it next time you stop in.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Folks, out of curiosity: could someone please POST about these Shola dinners (or other Remarkable Culinary Events ) ahead of time, or be so kind as to tell me where to look? I could get organised if that were the case, assuming of course they're open to the public.

[Edited again, I found the mention, but might it not be useful to group these kinds of things in the calendar or in a sticky? Just asking, mind]

Edited by lfabio2007 (log)
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Folks, out of curiosity: could someone please POST about these Shola dinners (or other Remarkable Culinary Events ) ahead of time, or be so kind as to tell me where to look? I could get organised if that were the case, assuming of course they're open to the public.

[Edited again, I found the mention, but might it not be useful to group these kinds of things in the calendar or in a sticky? Just asking, mind]

I think Shola posts about them on his blog, but yes, if/when I hear about the next one I will post.

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David, there are three different meats (currently Rosette de Lyon, Gentile and Italian dry sausage) and usually six to eight different cheeses available.  My current favorite cheeses are the La Tur (triple milk - very creamy) and the Roaring 40's (cow's milk blue from Tasmania).  There are sometimes oysters available as well.  You can certainly cobble together a nice bar snack off the Tavern menu or can order from the regular menu as well.  Please do introduce yourself if you come in.

The meat-and-cheese variety seems thoughtfully selected. Thanks for the information, and will do. Would have dropped in Saturday had it not been closed for said wedding. Ended up at Miran instead. :smile:

David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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I was lucky enough, along with some of my fellow eGulleteers, to enjoy Shola's guest appearance at M. And I've finally finished writing up the experience. It's a bit much to post here so check it out:

Shola's Guest Chef Series: M

I'm already looking forward to Shola's next mystery/guest appearance as well as to a return visit to check out M on a regular night.

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I am a raw egg-o-phobe

Try not to think of it as "raw egg". Rather, think of it as "sauce that comes in single serving packages". Mmmmmm... delicious "sauce"...

__Jason

oh would that I could! I can only get into the yellowy goodness when it approaches a wet or not-so-wet scramble (and is mixed with the whites too), anything prior to that level of doneness isn't my thing. just my own eggsentricity i guess. (gosh that was a pathetic joke).

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I'm not getting this. Usually it is pretty easy to understand why a restaurant is closing. Not so with M. The kitchen is excellent. The bar is Katonian. The outdoor dining is as Charleston SC as it gets. There should be a line out the door every summer evening. Only thing I can come up with is location, location, location.

Philadelphians blew this one.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I'm with Holly on this one, Philadelphians did blow it.

Diners need to understand that quality restaurants are not publicly-funded museums or that chefs' labor is not something that exists in an artistic vacuum--restaurants need to be supported and patronized and if this doesn't happen, poof.

If we want a better dining scene, we need to support the small businesses that are pouring out their visions. One, this keeps these spots in existence and two, it encourages energetic and creative people to take the plunge thus leading to more innovation.

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Will the bar be open early tomorrow?

I've got a couple of less-stellar meals in the planning stage, and I need to watch myself about overcommitting for meals, but I do need to at least say farewell to Katie in this incarnation of her career.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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