Gone is my desire to sit down for under sixty minutes at a nice restaurant and eat one huge entree of meat, pasta or salad. Give me two and a half hours oohing and ahhing course after course of creative, esthetic, gastronomically pleasing little delectable bites. I’ve got time, time to eat.
Thankfully more restaurants are offering tasting or surprise menus. My favorite five course tasting menu was devoured in Seattle at the Copperleaf restaurant last weekend. Even the menu descriptions prepare you for an exquisite meal with unique adjective laden detailed descriptions.
Ditto for my first molecular gastronomy meal that got me hooked with this style of cuisine. It all happened during my honeymoon, my husband and I indulged in the unforgettable surprise menu at Con Gracia in Barcelona, Spain. So memorable I would fly back just to dine there again.
Be forewarned these types of menus should offer a disclaimer, “Items may be marginally larger than your (husbands) thumbnail.” Both types of menus can range from three to twenty plus courses with or without wine. Although nobody would choose the latter. 🙂 Typically these menus offer itsy bitsy morsels that account for .25 of a course. Therefore I can always justify calories of twelve-ish courses down to four. Win win!
A tasting menu comes with a printed menu with all the courses and wine information of what you will be served. A surprise menu is a meal full of anticipation, wonderment, adventure and yes…surprise! Only the chef really knows what you will be eating. Hopefully, your server gets the memo too. Foodies will delight, control freaks may feel like they are indulging in plate after plate of anxiety.
Molecular gastronomy plays a part with creative small portions and beautiful presentation. Sometimes you won’t know what you are eating unless you pay close attention to your server. A perfect example happened at Copperleaf, my salivation glands kicked in when the miniature cupcake arrived compliments of the chef. No utensils needed. I just picked it up and popped it in my mouth just as my server announced “Enjoy the brioche cup with whipped egg, caviar and arugula”, My first near spit take. What? no buttercream with my aperitif?
Tasting Menu Copperleaf Restaurant SeaTac, Washington
I relished dining amongst the lush garden at Copperleaf Restaurant. Even though it is downtown SeaTac by the airport you would never know.
The menu included:
• Fennel creme with Lummi Island smoked salmon with Meyer lemon fleur de sel perfectly pared with – NV Treveri cellars Blanc de Blanc
• English Pea Agnolotti – Black Sheep Creamery Fromage Blanc, Morel mushroom butter – 2011 Foundry Chardonnay
• Hickory smoked sablefish, english cucumber, toasted beet granola, green apple yogurt – 2013 Gilbert Cellars Rose of Mourvedre
• Lummi Island Blue Foot chicken, melted garlic, applewood smoked bacon, young spinach, porcini mushrooms, summer savory – 2010 St. Josef Estate Pinot Noirs
• Theo’s Chocolate Glace, espresso pudding, praline cake, candied pecans – Angle Vines “The Sweet One”, Stone Tree Vineyard
How did I remember that? I took a picture of the menu so I wouldn’t forget a thing!
Surprise Menu Con Gracia Barcelona, Spain
My honeymoon had us enjoying our first night in Barcelona with energy all around us. Yet, authentic tapas and gourmet food were our priority. We ventured out to our first molecular gastronomy meal at Con Gracia. We opted for the Surprise Menu with “to die for” wine pairing. I fell in love again, with cava, our aperitif.
This was an seven course meal with delectable bites that included: basil infused clear tomato juice shots, blended cheese and herbs stuffed green olives, black truffle mushroom risotto, creamy miso soup, duck confit, blackened black cod, granita with an electric daisy, and ended with a raspberry panna cotta and a perfectly paired port. Heaven!
“So what about the electric daisy?” you ask. Well, we were instructed to put this little yellow flower bud between our lips for a few seconds, then on the roof of our mouths. The tingling began as if we were enjoying a handful of pop rocks or perhaps a 9v battery. Our lips and palettes would never be the same. Just an unforgettable electrifying dining experience that started our trip off perfectly.
While recovering from our food coma we caught a cab to the Magic Fountain or Font Magica. An amazing display of water, music and light. A gorgeous and magical full belly Mediterranean evening.
I just can’t get enough tasting or surprise meals. I love pretty food. A talented chef can make art out of a dining experience by blending food and wine in such harmony the combinations are endless. So many tastes so little time. Just kidding, I always have time to eat!