Monday, November 24, 2008

Last Dance Gypsy Dinner

I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Gypsy's final final dinner. Ok, the 2 "final"s are because there was one final dinner back in May, but they decided to have a series of 5 "final" dinners and I happened to attend the last one.

For those of you who never heard of Gypsy, it was an underground dining club where chefs would prepare some of the most creative dishes without the restrictions that a traditional restaurant would have. I've had an affinity for these non-traditional settings since Mamasan's at the Mission District in San Francisco. Gypsy, however, takes it to a whole new scale. Those of you who are Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations fans may remember Gypsy's innovative approach with it's Pop Rocks palate cleanser.
As we were getting seated, the gentleman at one side the table commented about how honored he was to be sitting across from one of the other diners. I turned to my left and at the head of the table happened to be sitting Kathy Casey. Yes, THE Kathy Casey, the celebrity chef and longtime food columnist for the Seattle Times. I must say, I was completely startled and even remain so right now as I write this. This was going to be one of those watch-learn-and-listen kind of evenings. And if that weren't enough, Seth Caswell, the talented chef from Stumbling Goat fame was also at the table. Blessed I was, indeed!
The dinner was 9 courses of pure bliss with wine pairings that made me wonder if Chef Gabriel Claycamp were a chef or a sommelier. The experience:

Diver Scallop Tartar
caviar, champagne gelee, nigella meringue, amchur powder, umbrian olive oil
(sorry it's so bright, but I hadn't mastered my camera at this point)

Matsutake Dashi Broth poured onto foie, lobster, cocoa dust and cranberries. The cocoa added a surprising depth and bitterness to the dish that I didn't expect to like so much.

Hazelnut Delicata Fritter
persimmon, bacon, arugula, reverse egg

The science of a reverse egg (where the egg yolk is hard and the whites are soft) has to do with the temperature it is cooked in. I think it was 190 degrees when the yolk would harden and yet the whites remained a liquid. A strange and fascinating experience.

My favorite dish of the evening, Truffled Black Cod with duck confit. Two of my favorite things. The confit was combined with turnips into roesti, accompanied by mustard cuisson and topped with chervil.

Wood Fired Foie, bubbling from the pizza oven on a cold evening. The smell of garam masala in that broth was intoxicating. Served with quince gallette, thyme peach jam.

Talk about an innovative palette cleanser. This is Green Olive Cotton Candy with olive oil granite and herbes de Provence shortbread. I loved the irony of savory flavors in traditionally sweet dishes.

Finally halfway through the evening. This is Fried Bone Marrow with brioche, parsnip & white chocolate puree, balsamico and gremolata emulsion. All the combinations went incredibly well together.

Blackberry Mole Braised Pork Belly + escarole, bocarones, raisins and Pedro Ximenez vinegar. Sick and twisted, but delicious. Exactly how much bourbon were they drinking when they came up with this???

Roasted Lamb Loin & Offal Crepinette, with chanterelle farrotto, guanciale, beet, prune tobacco jus. Yes, tobacco. So Thomas Keller.

The first of 3, actually 4 desserts: Talleggio Napoleon. Super stinky cheese layered with white truffle and apple. Sprinkled with walnuts and chestnut honey. The cheese had the aroma of the "feet of the angels."

Dessert #2: Olive Oil Financier with Black Olive Caramel on the left, roasted pear sorbet on the right, and chestnut bubbles to tie them both together.

Dessert #3: My half-eaten Ricotta, Zabaglione & Espresso Parfait, with bits of caramel fleur de sel mixed in. Obviously I couldn't wait to try it before taking a pic.

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