Taste of the week – March 8-14th, 2009

This was a week of quality over quantity. I really only had two days this week that contained worthy possibilities for this award, but on those two days, there were plenty of outstanding  candidates. The first day was that of the Slow Food dinner at Chez Sophie. Any of those dishes could have qualified, but the lamb kidneys remain the most memorable taste of that evening for me. A couple of great cocktails at Tailor in NYC last night were worthy of consideration too. However, with a Chef's tasting at the NY Times 4 star and Michelin 3 star restaurant, Le Bernardin, thrown into the mix, the likelihood of something from that meal not garnering this award was low. Indeed, the odds were fulfilled this week, as dinner at Le Bernardin (post to come in detail) was truly outstanding. The dishes were so good that it is nearly impossible to pick only one, so I won't. I will pick two – one from Eric Ripert's savory part of the meal and one from Michael Laiskonis' dessert portion.


Seared Spanish Mackerel; Parmesan Crisp and Sun-Dried Tomato; Black Olive Oil

Somehow, somewhere mackerel got a reputation as being a very "fishy" fish, very strong and overpowering. Wherever that reputation came from, it wasn't due to this dish. Mackerel is a relatively oily fish and that can in lesser hands result in an extremely strong and sometimes off-putting flavor. The flavor of the fish was clearly there, though it was not overly strong and certainly not off-putting. The blend of Mediterranean flavors proved to be a bit of magic when added to the flavor and texture of this "barely touched" fish. It was my favorite savory dish out of a meal of extraordinary savory dishes.



A signature dish of Michael Laiskonis, the pastry chef at Le Bernardin, EGG was simply marvelous and fully deserving of such a designation. According to Chef Laiskonis, "Starting with the whole, raw egg: the top is removed, the egg emptied
out (used, of course, in other preparations), and the inner membrane
carefully removed. The shells are then returned to the cardboard
container and filled half-way with a milk chocolate custard. The eggs
are then placed in a water bath, covered, and then baked (or rather,
steamed) until set. Upon firing, the eggs get a layer of liquid
caramel, a caramel foam (caramel creme anglaise in a nitrous
canister), then a touch of maple and a pinch of Maldon salt." This dish was the subject of Chef laiskonis' very first blog post. It has withstood the test of time very, very well.

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