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Nicodemus

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Gourmet Dining - Manresa [Jan. 23rd, 2013|11:12 pm]
Nicodemus
As a special splurge, Trey, Kit, and I went out to a fancy restaurant. We try to have a nice dinner out each FC but this one was exceptional.

We went to Manresa by chef David Kinch. This restaurant has held two Michelin stars for five years.

It was elegant without being stiffly formal. The staff was attentive and smoothly choreographed in their movements, showing professional skill and attention to detail. Yet quite friendly and eager to assist.



We opted for the tasting menu... And, oh, what a meal! 14 different dishes. It would make Remy proud. :D



The meal began with a savory amuse bouche: red pepper (capsicum) jellies and black olive madeleines. An excellent way to start!


Garden vegetable beignet topped with crispy kale and grated chevre. It was a firm, dry, and nutty goat cheese as a little accent. The kale was crisp and dry, a new preparation to me. The beignet’s vegetable filling was soft and a touch creamy, reminiscent of pesto.


Abalone and radish in aspic over panna cotta. This was an interesting dish. I rather like abalone, I must say. But the aspic was over-salted and I felt the radish got lost. This was one of the disappointing ones, in part because it seemed so close.


Diver scallops with sour orange marmalade and macadamia cream. This was a surprisingly good dish, considering I’m not normally too fond of marmalade or macadamia. The flavors played off the scallop nicely and created a cohesive dish. The puffed grains were a cool textural element.


Herring with roe in porcini sauce. This was probably my favorite dish of the night for flavor and aroma. The grilled fish was brought out unsauced and that warm porcini cream was poured at the table, carrying the smell of the fish with it. The mushroom wonderfully complemented the concentrated sea flavors. Creamy with a bit of crunch and a hint of green. Absolutely terrific!


Garden salad, including beet, flowers, and herbs. There was a foam (cucumber?) and purée of nasturtiums, which added a sharp and spicy edge. A good blend and the different degrees of processing made for a curious little interplay, almost replacing dressing.


Black cod with brassicas (greens of the cruciform and mustard families) and anchovies. In this case it looked like primarily brussels sprout leaves, cabbage, and broccoli. The greens had amazing body to them; I confess, I’m not sure how they were prepared -- possibly blanched then quickly sautéed in oil? The fish was sous vide or very delicately poached and had little other than its natural flavor. A pleasant dish that wasn’t overly fancy.


Shellfish and matsutake mushroom soup. The shellfish appeared to primarily be mussels which is fine with me -- they’re my favorite apart from crab. The broth had deep flavor yet was clear and shiny, marking careful preparation. The greens still had a fresh note so were likely added as the portions were served up. Lovely, fresh, classic.


Boudin noir (a variety of blood sausage) with popped buckwheat and (underneath) stewed apples. This dish was eye-opening and the most surprising of the dinner, surely. I’d not had blood sausage -- less due to aversion and more to not encountering it much. The presentation and combination of elements was so unusual that it really made me think. The texture combination of firm chewy sausage (it’s somewhat like a dry aged pepperoni), light and crunchy puffed grain, and mushy fruity apple was excellent and stimulating.


Slow-roasted duck with blood orange and beets. Excellently prepared and delicious. I’m sure I’ll sound pretentious but I found the combination a bit predictable. Still, can’t claim I didn’t finish it all!


Champagne gelée, granny smith apple slices, with gin and juniper. Due to my intolerance of alcohol, I couldn’t eat this one beyond sampling the apple. But I’m told it was good.


Chestnut cake, brown butter ice cream, and sour red currant sauce. Marvelous dessert! The cake was rich and thick, almost like a bread pudding. The ice cream had a light, pleasant flavor. I particularly appreciated the currant, an ingredient I like but don’t see very often, which set the balance of sweet and sour on the plate.


Finally, the closing two: chocolate cordials along with cocoa madeleines and strawberry jellies to mirror the opening. All quite good. And, (relatively) simply though it is, the strawberry jelly was probably my favorite of the bunch. A lovely finish!


LINK: photo album with larger pics.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: sabercat
2013-01-24 08:03 am (UTC)

Sounds amazing

I've only been to two michelin two stars. One in Grenoble, France (in a Hotel we stayed at) and this one. Your experience was similar to mine, although I ordered a lamb entree there that was amazing. I should have opted for the tasting menu though... more experiences! :)

Bravo!
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2013-01-25 03:44 am (UTC)

Re: Sounds amazing

Excellent. We've been to one other restaurant of this caliber but I don't recall how many stars it had. It is certainly a great experience to put yourself in the hands of the chef to see what he has chosen to create.
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[User Picture]From: sabercat
2013-01-25 05:05 am (UTC)

Re: Sounds amazing

Agreed. We've had only a few dinners that I'd consider better than those Michelin rated places. If you are ever in Ensenada Mexico (or San Diego and want to take a 90 min. drive) El Rey Sol (it's a French Restaurant oddly enough, named after King Louis the 14th or 16th... I can remember) but anyhow... I'd have to say that was the best meal at a restaurant that I've had, and actually a bit cheaper as well. We just told the chef to do his best. 4 hours and 8 courses later.... :)
"The Apartment" in Edinburgh is absolutely fantastic as well. I don't know if it's Michelin rated or not, but certainly very nice. If you ever chance to be in that area. It's hard to get into that one though as there are literally about 10-12 tables. Call ahead. :)
Les Terraces is the one we went to in Grenoble when we stayed at the Grand Hotel. Expensive, but well worth it.
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[User Picture]From: schnee
2013-01-24 10:10 am (UTC)
Oooh! That sounds (and looks) lovely all around. :)
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[User Picture]From: sabotlours
2013-01-24 02:45 pm (UTC)
Once in awhile everyone needs to experience really really good food. Bravo.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2013-01-25 03:45 am (UTC)
Agreed! It's important to experience what great cooking can be. It's very inspirational.
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[User Picture]From: baccala_30
2013-01-24 08:23 pm (UTC)
Great presentation. :)
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[User Picture]From: melchar
2013-01-24 09:07 pm (UTC)
Wonderful descriptions and excellent photography! I really enjoyed your review ... and it was certainly drool-worthy.
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[User Picture]From: marko_the_rat
2013-01-25 09:21 pm (UTC)
My goodness, that looks heavenly. I guess it pays to splash out once in a while.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2013-01-26 04:39 am (UTC)
Indeed, was delicious. I think such experiences can be very inspirational. Makes you consider your own cooking ideas.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2013-01-28 12:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, my.. that does look and sound quite wondrous. Not just some inspired combinations, but all so beautifully presented too. (A place where my cooking tends to fall down clumsily, I'll admit - the flavors are always interesting, but appearance? Usually more at home in a horror flick. If I were to open a restaurant, it'd be one of those venues with deliberately minimal/no lighting =:)

The only time I've enjoyed a tasting menu, so far, was way back in 2001, at Jameson's, in Brisbane, which has since closed, with the chef hopping to other places in the Australasia region. There, the emphasis was on a marriage between the best and freshest Australia has to offer, with sensibilities borrowed from his Japanese wife.

(Coincidentally, I recently won what was described as "restaurant vouchers" - and I've just discovered the specifics. It's for The Forge, in Covent Garden. I think I'll be happy to go there =:)
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