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Blue Hill -- Yummy

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Blue Hill -- Yummy

cabrales | Jun 24, 2003 05:45 PM

I recently had another lyrical meal at Blue Hill, which remains my preferred restaurant in the US. :) Chef Mike Anthony provided delicious-tasting (and, by the way, gorgeous-looking) dish after dish. (Chef Dan Barber may or may not have also been in the kitchen during applicable times.)

I greeted Maya, whom I was very glad to see again and who was, as always, gracious throughout the evening.

-- The amuses Mike provided began with a Kumamoto oyster, in its shell, that had a nicely-controlled strawberry granite (quite liquid in state) adding to its allure. Also included might have been basil and black pepper, which gave it persistence in the mouth. There might have been galangal too, but I was very unclear about that. I really like oysters, and the strawberry accoutrement deployed in this dish was refreshing and satisfying.

The second muse was a curl of house-cured beef with pickled radish, set atop a piece of toast that had a very limited amount of chicken liver spread on it. A very nice commencement to the meal, particularly in the case of the Kumamoto.

With the amuses, my dining companion and I drank Proseco from Veneto, "Ombra". It had a somewhat interesting nose, with hints of banana arguably.

(1) Sweet Maine Shrimp, Green Gaspacho Sauce and Fennel Salad, served with Ca Visco Suave (apologies if my wine notes are weak, as they tend to be)

This was a very nice dish, and one that continued a dialogue Mike and I have had about brocoli rabe flowers. These delicate-looking buds are yellow and small; slender. I was glad that Mike had sprinkled a few of them onto my dish, whereas my dining companion did not have any, for several reasons. First, Mike and I had had a discussion, the last time I was at BH, about why a skate dish had been composed in a certain way. In that skate dish, the brocoli rabe flowers that had been placed near the bottom of the piece of skate had uncharacteristically escaped my attention (and that of my then dining companion), but those flowers had been intended to counterbalance another component in the skate dish in a meaningful manner. When I saw the brocoli rabe flowers, which did have a brocoli-type taste, included in the sweet Maine shrimp dish, I was glad to have an opportunity to meaningfully taste them. They had a very slight bitterness which Mike had previously described to me. :)

Second, I really enjoy sampling edibile flowers in dishes. For example, garlic flowers utilized by Michel Bras to sometimes accompany fish dishes, irises utilized by Pascal Barbot on very limited occasions in the shotglass that accompanies his avocado with crabmeat dish, flowers in a raw-egg-and-chicken-bouillon utilized by Edouard Loubet to sometimes accompany his summer truffles "en croute" dish....

The sweet Maine shrimp were large and presented whole, and raw :) The texture was nicely supple, and there was a certain matteness to it. Even though I am not ordinarily a fan of fennel, I liked this preparation --smaller sections; refreshing. The green gaspacho saucing was imbued with vegetable sensations and appealing. There was a small bit of microgreens, some of which had an herby taste, that complemented the green gaspacho saucing.

(2) Smoked Lobster with Garlic Shoot Saucing and Pea Shoots.

A very interesting, and tasty, dish -- I had never had smoked lobster before. The lobster size was appropriately small, such that its flesh was supple and flavorful. As appropriate a level of cooking (i.e., significant undercooking) as I had recently sampled at Laurent Gras. A good amount of the lobster flesh had been included.

The smokiness of the lobster was heady, in a favorable sense, with an expression of bitterness that I found interesting in the context of lobster (particularly on the nose). Cherrywood had been utilized for the smoking. The smoking was even more engaging in the dish because of the garlicky sensations from shoots (milder than full-blown garlic, but similar in taste in the mouth) and the distinct refreshing taste of pea shoots. Equally appealing to the flavor sensations conveyed in this dish was the garlicky taste of chive blossoms, which Mike had also utilized in a dish the prior time I had visited BH. The robustness of the chive blossom taste lingered appealingly in my mouth for some time after the dish was finished. Interestingly, the chive blossoms were yellow and small too, and, in appearance although not in flavor, were not entirely dissimilar to the brocoli rabe flowers.

The wine pairing was a Viognier from the Loire region.

More description of dishes to come.

Background Information

The restaurant was, deservedly, very busy even on a Monday night. The main dining area was filled, and the garden room (a covered space one accesses through a corridor adjacent to the kitchen) was busy as well. Yesterday was the third night that a third dining area in the restaurant -- the outdoor small garden area beyond the garden room -- was available. I have yet to dine in that area, and hope to do so shortly (weather permitting).

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