Thursday, November 08, 2007

"All sides please, we're really interested in dessert"

What brave souls (or crazy by other people's standards) would go to a restaurant run by Tom Colicchio, celebrated culinary figure and host of TV's "Top Chef" program, and in response to "What would you like to order?" say, "All sides please, we're really interested in dessert". Alright, alright, I exaggerate but it almost went down like that. We shared an entree and ordered not 1, not 2, not 3 but FOUR sides! Yes, four sides. Here's our story...

Me and a friend of mine went to dinner at Craft in Los Angeles and just had a ball. We had originally thought we'd each order an entree, share an appetizer and get a few sides before dessert. But in the excitement, we forewent the entrees since the sides were so tantalizing. And thank goodness that we decided to go that way because before our first side/appetizer came, something straight out of The French Laundry playbook came into play...our first "compliments of the chef"...
Amuse Bouche of cured fish and micro greens
This was a cured fish (sorry I don't remember) with a citrusy sauce and greens. My girlfriend, wary of fish - especially raw fish, skipped the fish tasting and just had the sauce. It was nice - but it didn't blow me away. Being that I LOVE sushi, maybe I'm a little more biased, but for craft - it was good. But who am I to complain about something that comes compliments of the chef?! This compliment came as palette teaser and not meant to be like sushi and so based on that, I say it worked.

Ah - onto the Peekytoe Crab & Sweet Corn and Foie Gras, Quince & Pistachio
Peekytoe Crab & Sweet Corn and Foie Fras
This was sooo good! Oh that Peekytoe Crab reminded me of a seafood casserole I had when I was a kid, that unfortunately, I have not been able to find a decent matching recipe for. And of course, the Foie Gras. Oh - wish I didn't like it so much because the serving at Craft is amazingly large for an order of Roasted Foie Gras. I was in heaven, espeically since I had it all to myself because my girlfriend just couldn't eat all that fatty goodness, though, she did like the candied pistachios adorning the foie gras.

Hen of the Woods mushrooms side (AKA Maitke Mushrooms)
Hen of the Woods
Oh - when I first had this at Craft, Las Vegas, I was in heaven. My husband, who absolutely HATES mushrooms, looked at the mushrooms in disgust. But I absolutely LOVED them and told my girlfriend she just had to try it! So she did and loved them. As you can see, these mushrooms are huge! I love them because the leaf like stems get crunchy during the cooking while the meatier base is so full of flavor. I could just eat a few of these mushrooms as my entree really. (well, we kinda did)

Oh no, I am missing a pic should rest our Thanksgiving side of the nite, White Sweet Potato & Marshmallow...

Oh - this was a heavenly creation. It sent memories of thanksgiving and camping through my head. The use of white sweet potato made it surprisingly lighter than I expected and the toasted melted layer of marshmallow at the top was heaven to my taste buds. My friend had to stop after a while, said it was a bit sweet for her but she knew this my my kind of dish. I would like to try to replicate this dish using the lighter sweet potato...hopefully in time for this Thanksgiving.

The one entree we ordered was the Hawaiian Blue Prawns with Lemon Verbena...
Hawaiian Blue Prawns & Lemon Verbena
We both shared this dish and both agreed, we won't be ordering it again. Not that it didn't taste good but the flavor implied more of just a garlic shrimp than of something that contained any lemon in it. "Where's the lemon in this? Where's that yummy lemon verbena taste that we love?" My friend is a lemon lovah and she was so looking forward to this and was so let down.

On to desserts!

First we had the Tom's take on a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, Peanut Butter Cup with Caramel Gelato
Peanut Butter Cup with Caramel Gelato
It was nice and interesting...but if you are a Reese's Peanut Butter cup fan (like I am) it's just okay. There is peanut butter in the chocolate disk you see on the right hand side that had a smooth texture with a crisp chocolate crust. It was good - but certainly not better than the candy. The salt was mainly in the crust which is, I think, the complete opposite of a Reese's Peanut Butter cup (most of that salt taste is in the peanut butter from what I've observed). But hey, that's just me and I'm no celebrity chef.

Next: Glazed Donuts with Spice Pear Jam...
Glazed Donuts with Spice Pear Jam, Coffee Custard and Chocolate Pudding
I was trying to avoid drinking caffeine and so was my friend, but I HIGHLY recommend getting caffeinated coffee with this baby. The glaze on the donuts is not your normal glaze. It felt a little tangy and I thought that was a nice touch. The colorful touches to the plate were very interesting. The Pear Jam my friend loved. The chocolate "pudding" was more like a silky yummy ball of chocolate that we liked to eat alone and the greenish swirl was some kind of coffee bean mousse, it was great...but really needed coffee to finish this off which is probably the expectation of the chef because of course, it's meant to be coffee and donuts! This dish was just a lot of fun.

The Ice Cream Machine of Doom!"...the most anticipated dish of the evening, Maple Bacon Ice Cream...
Maple Bacon Ice Cream
I have a bad habit of not wanting to eat dessert before my meal, or even WITH my meal. In this case, the habit is a good thing to have been observed. This dish was not as we had expected. My girlfriend, after her second bite, did not touch it for the rest of the evening. I, on the other hand, didn't think it was too bad until the big chunk of bacon I was left chewing. I would have liked it more if the bacon bits were just that, BITS. I think the ice cream could have been sweeter to offset the salty of the bacon, but I think because it was a little on the lighter side, the bacon took over and then it was all over for us. Too bad, I wanted to give Tom a thumbs up for his Iron Chef like creation using the Ice Cream Machine of Doom but I just couldn't. But I have to thank him for giving us a chance to taste such a creation that I would otherwise only watch on TV since I do not have an ice cream maker of my own.

Just when we thought we were full...more compliments of the chef! Tiny little macaroons and chocolate covered toffee with nuts. Always yum-e...

And last but not least, a spiced muffin to boot, packed and ready for us to take home. Again, compliments of the chef.
Compliments of the Chef

Ahh - so full by this time, we were happy to see the packed the muffin to go and happily left our table. Though, not everything was what we thought or satisfied our individual tasting palettes, we were none-the-less entertained and very happy. We love a chef who is willing to put all kinds of interesting things out there for us to try (& give us so many complimentary things!). Craft's menu plays to our side-lovin' foodie personalities and we are already hoping to come back to Craft to try the plethora of other sides available. Though, we're bringing more people next time so we can order more stuff! LOL.

p.s. Our dinner of 2 was meant to be 3 but unfortuantely, one of our lot came down with food poinsoning the day before. So sorry Rokes! We hope you enjoyed this post and will be able to come with us next time. :)


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