So I'll try to keep this somewhat short and not ramble on like a Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap label...oops too late.
My birthday dinner at Lucques Saturday evening. Extremely satisfying across the board- a fine selection of the best raw materials and careful editing. Strongest impressions: Goin doesn't beat you over the head with garlic where she easily could. Her cooking talent is so broad and deep that she knows a million other ways to charm you. Nothing seems flash or just thrown in-it all makes perfect, deliberate sense.
The often mentioned fat green olives/toasted almonds combo in oil, along with salt-to-taste butter and bread, was a lovely beginning.
Starters: -"spiced lamb tartare with fried chickpeas, oil-cured olives and cumin flatbread". The raw lamb was cool, nubby in a luxurious way, with bright touches of coriander seed and fresh mint against toasty, nutty chickpeas and a puffy, pita-like bread.
-"dungeness crab salad with avocado, beets, key lime, chili and crème fraîche". A beautiful plate that started on top with sweet seafood against cool dairy, touch of crackled blk pepper bite, minerally beets, peppery greens, and a tangy-onion essence at the bottom. Bright and refreshing.
Mains: -"slow-roasted rack of lamb 'mechoui' with saffron potatoes, rapini and blood orange" The lamb was smoky, with a slightly bitter spice crust at the edges and padded with delicious areas of melting fat and a core of juicy meat. The blood orange pieces made a wonderful foil and sweet-sour accent. Potatoes and greens were exactly what you'd want at that moment.
-"suckling pig with fabada asturiana, cavolo nero, quince paste and garlic-paprika oil". Oh, and the suckling pig. When that cloud of sweet pig vapors hit my nose as the plate hit the table, I was in a dream. Gorgeous crackling skin with lush meat. A seriously finessed version of downhome pork with a subtle yet tangy sauce bathing the rest of the plate. Cassoulet reference points were triggered. White beans provided more creamy, soft notes and Goin's favorite cavolo nero kale added a vegetal touch. That cloud of pork will haunt my daydreams!
Dessert:- "date budino with armagnac prune ice cream and pickled raisins". Pudding-cake was fine if less deep and mysterious than the description suggested. The ice cream was icy and bland. Liked the boozy pickled raisins, but then I would love the scent of booze. Tasty molassey sheet garnish.
-"confectioner's plate" was my kind of mixed assortment of fantasy candy: wedges of English toffee, nougat, nut brittle, violet crumble (!), caramel, white chocolate cluster, pates de fruits (lemon and perhaps cherry?), choc truffle, candied citrus peel. Quality!
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