Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Test Kitchen Reunion with Roy Choi, Ricardo Zarate & Dahlia Narvaez || 9.19.11

Last night Picca & Sotto played host to a lovely event, a reunion of sorts for the various chefs & bartenders who'd meandered in and out of the Test Kitchen in the past year.  Having been an avid fan of the whole Test Kitchen family & not wanting to miss the chance of seeing Roy & Ricardo (two of my very lick-able chefs) cook together, I rounded up the troops & we set out for what turned out to be one phenomenal meal.

* This was also a reunion for us of sorts... Punky & I met the lovely Alie & Georgia at the Test Kitchen bar almost a year ago!! So it only made sense that we all shared this meal together :)

* * I was sad to have missed what played out in the Downstairs kitchen with Steve Samson & Zach Pollack of Sotto, Walter Manzke of Republique, Nancy Silverton & Matt Molina of Mozza and David Lefevre of MB Post, but thank god DarinDines was there to let me re-live it with mouthwatering photos.

The Darkness (Dave Kupchinsky)
peach-infused mezcal, amontillado sherry, amaro nonino

The Paloma (Dave Kupchinsky)
chamomile-infused tequila, coriander-grilled grapefruit, aperol, lime, grapefruit syrup
 *by far our favorite cocktail of the night... i could easily have drunken a whole punch bowl of this!

Jalapeno Express (Matt Wagner)
mezcal vida, agave nectar, lemon, basil, jalapeno

Papaya Guava Tarragon Honey Plate (Roy)
Oh man did we enjoy the honey!  Energy-Bee from the santa monica farmer's market? Is that right? Whatever it was, it was the perfect combo of sticky & sweet to make this dish sing!  That plus I love anything with shaved red onions on top for a nice extra bite.

Sweet Shrimp Amaebi Tartar, Mango Ceviche Sauce, Wonton Chips (Ricardo)
 Confession: I had to look up Amaebi.  I'm a bad Japanese person.  Duh. Sweet Shrimp,  But then doesn't that make the title of this dish a little redundant? Whatever it was Ricardo's ceviche doesn't disappoint in this super flavorful dish.

Roadside Pineapple Pork, Bitter Orange, Red Bean Plantain Stew (Roy)
By far the best dish of the night.  The only thing we were missing was a warm plate of tortillas to soak up the beans, but were very thankful later on that there wasn't that heavy addition of carbs.

Roasted Monk Fish, Quinoa Curry Stew, Cucumber Yogurt Relish (Ricardo)
 Oh Monk Fish.  What a terrible name. (confession, as a child my parents thought it'd be cute to call me Monk Fish, until the sad sad day that I realized on a school trip to the museum that the Monk Fish is in fact a really ugly fish.  Don't call me Monk Fish. I won't respond.)  But on the flip side, the uglier the fish, the tastier the treat, right?  I only wished there was a bit more umph to the curry, I wanted the strong flavors of the last dish to carry through!

Braised Short Ribs, Pineapple Aji Amarillo Glaze, Island Coleslaw (Roy & Ricardo)
By this point we were all stuffed, but thankfully Alie showed up just in time to scarf down the remnants of our short ribs!  Nothing goes to waste, right?  A little on the sweet side, these were a nice savory transition into our dessert.

Melon Sorbetto, Orange Blossom Crema, Sicilian Pistachios (Dahlia)
 And finally.  Dessert.  All I can say is WOW.  That honey formed an almost "Magic Shell" on the sorbetto & crema, and the concord grapes + pistachios added a night light finish to a wonderful meal!

As always, thank you Stephane for all of your help & can't wait to see what you're going to accomplish in the next year!


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