Monday, January 3, 2011

School, Food

Okay, so school finally started today and from what I can tell its going to require quite a bit of my time, so the frequency of my posts may slow down a bit...thats not to say I wont be posting...just not every day. Theres some exciting stuff coming soon (?), as well as lots of events in Chicago.

Anyway, continuing my gluttonous tour of over the top & highly praised Chicago restaurants, I went to Boka last weekend for their 9 course grand tasting. I started with a barrel aged manhattan (aged in house for 2 months). After my drink at Graham Elliot I've been craving Manhattans. This was unusually smooth for a Manhattan and delicious. It seems that Boka's barman, Benjamin Schiller, has been making quite a name for himself and his bar. Later in my meal I picked a liquor and a flavor and he crafted some delicious cocktail that I have no clue what was in it other than sage and gin. On to the food:

Bread: Rosemary focaccia - this was the best bread I have had in recent memory. Perfect amount of rosemary, just crispy enough crust, salty...awesome. I had four slices (I rule)

Course 1:

My frist course was a bento box of raw samplings - clockwise from the top right: 1: Marinated snapper, crispy coconut crusted tofu, green tea soba noodle, pickled radish. 2: Shigoku oyster, American caviar. 3: Hamachi, blood orange, sunchoke puree, some chips (sunchoke maybe), black tobiko. 4: Bigeye tuna, eel terrine. The oyster & caviar was incredible..maybe the best oyster Ive ever had. The hamachi was also fantastic. The other two samplings were great but paled in comparison.

Course 2:

Seared Sonoma Valley foie gras, grilled banana, caramelized brioche, brioche puree, baking spice gastrique. I was told this was supposed to be reminiscent of banana bread pudding. I can see it. It was insanely rich and delicious - as would be expected with a foie preparation like this.

Course 3:

Maine diver scallop, forbidden black rice, cumin dusted lotus root, roasted zucchini puree. Everything on this plate was great. At this point I was super happy. Each course was great, tasteful, and exciting.

Course 4:

Scottish salmon, winter spinach, crayfish brandade, black garlic puree, crosnes, mussel & saffron foam - This plate was good. Im not a huge fan of black garlic, its flavor is VERY assertive and tends to overpower things. This was the first time I've had crosnes, and they're awesome. The brandade was great & the salmon was good.

Course 5:

Pheasant, beet braised kohlrabi, celery root, chestnut puree, truffle foam, black truffle - I was really excited when this was delivered, the description sounded so good. It was good...but not as mind blowing as I hoped.

Course 6:

Seared strip loin, crispy sweetbreads, moroccan ratatouille, creamy grits, collard green puree - All the individual pieces were really great - especially the sweetbreads and the creamy grits, but it didn't all come together as cohesively as I hoped.

Course 7:

Prickly pear sorbet, lime curd, tequila gelee - A brilliant and stunningly beautiful palate cleanser. Unfortunately the sorbet was a bit too sweet, leaving a lingering sweetness. Ive made prickly pear sorbet a few times and it is an unusually sweet fruit and makes for a bit of a tricky sorbet. Ive had bases that tasted great turn into horribly over sweet sorbets.

Course 8:

Spiced apple cake, honey crisp apple, vadouvan butter, walnut, yogurt gelato - This was a holy crap I can't believe how great this is kind of dessert. The vadouvan (essentially a french curry, with shallots) worked incredibly well - the yogurt gelato was perfectly tangy and refreshing..the cake moist and delicious. I would come back just to order this dessert.

Course 9:

Flourless venezuelan chocolate cake, hickory smoked chocolate gelato, cocoa nibs, pulp of cocoa pod - So this dessert was ruined by the gelato. I can totally see a smoked chocolate being awesome, but hickory was a strong flavor to pick and the smoke was overwhelming - becoming the only thing I could taste. Luckily I always try each individual piece to a dish before combining - because this was the first time I have had the fruit from a cocoa pod and it was incredible. Tangy, sour, faintly sweet with an afterthought of chocolate - unlike anything I have had.

With the check I was given a chocolate salted caramel and a cocoa nib meringue (that tasted suspiciously of cinnamon). Both were nice.

So thats Boka!

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