Friday, January 6, 2012

Chris Crary's "Wild Game" Dinner @ Whist || 1/5/12

The truly awe inspiring element of watching Top Chef (and well really any cooking show) is it's ability to make your mouth water simply from delicately crafted descriptions and what the show appropriately labels as "food porn."  However, visually and audibly tasting food is a far cry from actually EATING it, so when Jo Stougaard of @MyLastBite announced that over one of her countless spicy meals at Jitlada, she'd partnered with the delectable Top Chef Chris Crary to throw a "Wild Game" dinner inspired by Episode 7 of this season, I knew I had to go taste everything for myself!

Perusing the menu I couldn't help but notice the constant juxtaposition of traditional with a touch of modernist in each description... I wonder if he picked up any new tricks of the trade while checking out Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine in Episode 9.  It was pretty amazing tasting everything, a lot of cool techniques, great flavors and comforting undertones in what I felt was a very nice balance.   Regardless I'm sure all you're interested in is the food... so enjoy!  (Visually... muhahah)

Amuse Bouche
Octopus & Potato Gratin
 A nice little bite of the "wild" sea to start off the dinner... very clean and crisp flavors.

First Course
Roasted Rabbit with a Carrot Panna Cotta, Thai Spices, Peanut and Lime
 What a cool and clever idea!  Bunnies & their carrots... I sort of wish the panna cotta had a little more depth, but the rabbit was delicious especially with the spices and the crumble of peanut.  Plus the little bunny lollipops were super adorable.

Second Course
Venison Neck & Loin with Coffee, Huckleberry Mustard, Crispy Shallots and Forest Herbs
 I've never had Venison Neck before... wow was that delicious! Texture wise it just crumbled apart and was perfect for scooping up the delicious sauces.  I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the two types of venison on the plate as well. 

Third Course
Boar Belly with Root Vegetable Cassoulet, Truffle and Apple Ephemere
 Very similar to pork belly, this absolutely tender piece of meat was fantastic.  So much so that it's how we met the table next to us who noticed I'd slowed a bit (you know taking photos etc.) and kindly offered to help out with anything that was leftover.  Unfortunately for her, I cleaned my plate!

Fourth Course
Antelope Osso Buco with Pearled Barley, Acacia Honey, Gremolata and Goji Berry
 Damn you hunger... this dish looked so yummy that I failed to get a completely in focus picture before diving in!  I absolutely LOVED the honey presentation which sort of reminded me of the spiced honey glass in the Modernist.... Interestingly enough each thing alone on this dish was just OK but finding that perfect bite with a little bit of everything really made it sing!

Fifth Course
Duck Egg Flan with Wild Turkey, Cardamom Crumble & Cajeta Ice Cream
 Not going to lie, this sucker was as rich and decadent as it sounds.  It really needed to be served with a shot of very bitter coffee to help it go down, but it was incredible.  My dining parter dusted hers I think before I was even done taking photos!

Chris Crary with Executive Chef @ Whist, Tony DiSalvo
All in all I thought Chris did an excellent job of cooking fairly exotic proteins with very familiar and comforting flavors while adding interesting little twists and tweaks to make them unique.  Personally I think I enjoyed it even more since we had such enjoyable eye-candy wandering around the dining room as well :).  That and the bottle of wine...

But really, Chris after tasting your food, I'm going to say that the Top Chef judges defiantly sent Malibu home WAY too soon!

Whist at Viceroy
1819 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 260-7500
http://www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/santamonica/dining-and-nightlife/whist.php

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