Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I had okonomi-yaki the other day at Sapporo-Ya in Japantown--they served it with parmesan cheese shreds all over the tonkatsu sauce and the cheese was writhing like a whole plate of living animals. It twitched around for about three minutes before settling down.

I like this review of Minibar from the New York Times: "They put on a dazzling show, starting with mojitos that you spritz into your mouth from a tiny silver sprayer and passion fruit whiskey sours. Fragile anise-flavored lotus root chips come with the drinks, presented in a cotton-lined white box.

My wife, Betsey, was instantly besotted with little logs of salmon belly wrapped in pineapple, topped with crispy quinoa for crunch and served with an avocado purée and mandarin orange segments. There was a touch of Serrano pepper in there somewhere, which gave the dish a bounce.

Minibar's deconstructions have helped build its reputation. For Robert M. Parker Jr., the wine critic, Mr. Andrés spread grape-flavored gelatin in a long, thin sheet and topped it with taste dots representing the flavors often detected in white wine, like vanilla, mint and almonds. He devised a Caesar salad consisting of two vertical cylinders of finely sliced jicama encasing romaine and anchovies. A quail egg is perched on one, a mound of shredded Parmesan on the other. His cheese steak consists of strips of Wagyu beef, seared with a blowtorch and wrapped around hollow miniature baguettes that are filled with aerated cheddar cheese.

There is always a conjunction of the intellectual and the playful. A chunk of ravishingly tender lobster is impaled on a kind of plastic syringe; the idea is to eat the lobster while squeezing its juices blended with olive oil from the syringe into your mouth. Believe me, it works.

Our favorite was a sweet-and-earthy frozen beet soup with raw scallops and raspberries, a concerto in red that deserves a place high on any list of modern classics."

Molecular gastronomy is awesome!

I also made a yummy dish last night by braising greens from the Box ("braising mix" of assorted bitter greens) in olive oil with onions and garlic, then toasting broken soba noodles in another pan and adding broth to cook them, and tossing everything together with some soy sauce and sesame oil.

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