Last night we had a wonderful early Valentine’s Dinner at Manresa. The chef was doing a special citrus menu. Here is an excerpt from their site:
Citrus Modernista Dinner
Thursday, February 2
Experience tangelo, mandarin, sevilla orange, yuzu, Mexican lime, blood orange, and indio mandarinquat at their peak. Plucked fresh from the tree, David Kinch creates a unique six-course menu featuring exotic varieties of local Santa Cruz Mountains citrus. This seasonal Modernista prix-fixe dinner is $95 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
The meal started with a nice glass of cava followed by an amuse typical for the chef. It was Japanese mackerel with daisy mandarin and avocado served with a citrus cocktail with hibiscus. I’m not a huge fan of mackerel, but the raw fish was extremely fresh and cut well. The citrus cocktail was perfectly balanced to cleanse the palate of any remaining oiliness from the fish. The cocktail itself was well balanced with a great blend of acidity and sweetness.
The next course was a Mesquite charcoal grilled foie gras with smoked sea salt and calamondin caramel. This was an extremely unique preparation of foie (at least in my experience). The infusion of smoke flavor balanced quite well with the fattiness of the foie. I was informed that the foie was poached whole in milk, and then brought down to near freezing, followed by the roasting in mesquite charcoal. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavors. The veins (being that this was prepared whole and not cleaned) proved a little rough in terms of texture for my preference. I wonder if this could have been prepared torchon, followed by the smoking? The chef was really busy on this night, so unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to ask him. This course was paired with a 2002 La Magendia de Lapeyre, Jurancon. A really wonderful wine that paired perfectly with the citrus tones of the caramel without being overly syrupy like a sauterne might have been.
Diver scallop with citrus consommé (ruby red grapefruit, vangassay lempn) with shiitake mushrooms was next. This dish was great. It’s been a long time since I really enjoyed a scallop. I often find scallop dishes too bland, where the chef tries to not overpower the delicate flavor of the scallop or too bold where the chef kills the flavor of the scallop. The chef did a perfect job and found that narrow “sweet spot” of intensity of flavors required for scallops. The natural earth and smoke flavors from the shiitake made for a great transition from the smokiness of the last course. The 2004 A.& P. De Villaine, Bouzeron, Aligoté wine was a great pairing. Perfectly delicate with just the right minerality to complement the dish.
The next course started with a nice 1996 Kalin Cellars Semillon from the Livermore Valley. The slightly bitter finish paired well with the richness of course – John Dory on the plancha. It was served on top of some savoy cabbage with kieffer lime and lemongrass. I don’t think anyone cooks John Dory as well as Chef Kinch. This dish was phenomenal – wonderful bright intense flavors of citrus from the lime and lemongrass meshed well will the richness of the preparation.
The next course was lots of fun which showcased the whimsical side of the chef – Pennsylvania farm poularde “Caesar”, romaine gratin, anchovy-citrus (snow lemon, kalpi lime and berfamot lemon). The dish is intended to be the chef’s take on a chicken Caesar. This dish was really hearty and full of flavor. A really nice way to enjoy the 2003 Salinia Pinot Noir from the Green Valley, Sonoma.
The chef served a Mandalo with sabayon before completing the menu with a Baked chocolate mousse, meyer lemon ice cream with assorted mandarin compote. It was a nice play on the classic orange and chocolate flavor pairing. This was paired with a N.V Graham’s 10 year Tawny Port.
As always, the chef’s food didn’t disappoint. The house was packed on this night and it’s great to see him doing so well. We’ve been dining with him since he opened Manresa and remember few people knowing about the restaurant back then. His success is well deserved. As I’ve mentioned before, his staff is excellent from Michael the GM, to all of the servers and the bus staff. Another wonderful experience…