Friday night's kick-off to the Labor Day holiday weekend was a guest appearance by celebrity chef Drew Deckman bringing his Baja campestre cuisine to the patio of Quattro Restaurant in the Four Seasons Silicon Valley.
For those not familiar with Chef Drew&amp;#39;s bonafides: &amp;quot;Drew was awarded a coveted Michelin Star for his work in Restaurant Vitus in Germany as well as Rising-Star Chef in Berlin in 2003 during his tenure as Executive Chef at the Four Seasons Berlin (17pts Gault Millau) and in March 2014 was Host Chef of James Beard Foundation: Baja meets NYC Dinner.&amp;quot; His restaurant, Deckman&amp;#39;s en El Mogor, brings the table to the farm with many of the ingredients sourced on site at El Mogor Ranch. I&amp;#39;ve enjoyed his cooking in Valle de Guadalupe and Ensenada and it was a special pleasure to share his cooking with friends closer to home.
With four of us, we were able to order everything on the pop-up menu, and then reordered our favorite bites. The Baja striped bass crudo, $15, dressed with ponzu, pickled asparagus, white and black sesame, colorful edible flowers, crispy cracklings and oyster foam was one of those repeats. Our first plate was a bit more generous than this photo of a plate on the pass early in the evening. The second order, placed at the end of the night at last call, was about twice the portion shown here.
Eggplant relish, $12, turned out to be robustly seasoned roasted eggplant served on crostini and topped with crispy prosciutto and microgreens.
Kumiai oysters, 3/$12, tasted fine with the pink peppercorn, oyster jerky and fruity olive oil dressing. But not nearly as plump and fresh as in Baja.
&amp;quot;Buffalo&amp;quot; quail, $14, was a half a bird, kind of skimpy for the price. Fried then bathed in a fiery chileajo sauce and served with a herbed yogurt dipping sauce, the quail was accompanied by a couple crisp batons of juicy jicama and a bed of white beans. The very flavorful beans were tinged a pale green, looking almost like flageolet, infused with savory herbs.
Smoked beef carpaccio, $14, featured rosy pink slices of cold smoked tender beef topped with smoked mussels, uni, julienne of colorful root veggies and chile oil.
Lamb shoulder tacos, $13, were filled with tender shreds of lamb intensely seasoned with hibiscus and habanero, garnished with cured red onions, crunchy fresh cabbage, disks of crispy radish and cilantro. This was the other dish that we re-ordered despite the tough, stale corn tortillas. Next time Chef Drew comes to town, please source from the tortilleria across the freeway at Cardenas supermarket in EPA for fresh corn tortillas or buy masa there and make them by hand, as his food deserves.
For dessert, a creation of Quattro&amp;#39;s pastry department, a freshly made churro with dulce de leche and strawberry soft-serve. The fried-to-order churro, served hot and dusted with cinnamon sugar was spot on and the ice creams were lovely.
For libations, 2015 Fluxus Blanco, a blend of Palomino and Chenin Blanc, has been one of the best whites I&amp;#39;ve had from the region. However, our bottle was a little tired at 3 years of age and disappointing for the $68 price. A representative of Don Julio was at the event offering tequila samples. We had a taste of the silver before she departed.
Quattro&amp;#39;s patio was a pleasant venue for a summer barbecue, complete with Mexican music and servers to add to the atmosphere. We shared our communal table with Mrs. Deckman and Baby Deckman. Chef&amp;#39;s tiny daughter can slurp down oysters with the best of them. I had met them at the Conchas festival in April in Ensenada and it was fun to see them again.
Chef's cooking chops were eye-opening for my friends. One described the preparations as more detailed than he had expected, and that he'd like to explore a tasting menu. I explained that I've spent more than 30 days in Ensenada and Valle de Guadalupe in the past year, mostly for the food and I've barely scratched the surface of the diversity available there.
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