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Manresa report

Robert Lauriston | | Aug 13, 2008 11:22 AM

Finally made it to Manresa the other night. Our plan was to do the four-course but we ended up going for the tasting menu.

The revelation of the meal was "Into the vegetable garden ..." which was a type of dish I've never encountered before. It looked at first like a salad, but some parts were closer to a ragout, and there were some foams and who knows what else. I definitely want to go back to try this in different seasons. A blog entry from the chef on its evolution:

Other highlights were the Parmesan churros, the "classic version" of the corn and tomato salad (who knew that peeling tomatoes was worth the trouble?), and the vadouvan ("exotic spice"). Also the house-made bread, which is almost exactly like Tartine's, no coincidence as the baker used to work there. And the house-churned butter.

Unfortunately, after tasting 16+ dishes and I'm not sure how many wines (we got one each of the two pairings) over four hours, my memory of the meal is mostly a blur. I know everything was delicious. The only dish I thought was a little weak was the amberjack sashimi, since the accompanying fresh green coriander seeds (somewhat similar to caper berries) overpowered the very delicate fish, but it was great to get to taste those.

Among the wines, the Bordeaux-like 2005 Ahlgren Bates' Ranch Cabernet and the very Burgundian 2003 Miura Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir were standouts. I was also impressed by the pairing of a 15.9%-alcohol Sea Smoke Chardonnay with the sashimi, normally I find such high-alcohol wines bizarre and undrinkable but this combination brought out its sake-like qualities.

I'm looking forward to going back, but from now on I'm doing the four-course instead.