Beast 7/16/08Posted: July 17, 2008
We finally made it to Beast. Overall, a fantastic experience. I would go back in a heartbeat, if only my heart (and wallet) could take that kind of a beating regularly.
The soup was cucumber and creme fraiche, was airy and cool; some citrus high notes with the cucumber keeping things steady. The flower petals were a beautiful contrast. The chili oil was… missing. Others said they could taste it, but I couldn’t. It would’ve provided perfect dissonance, as well as a textural anchor on the tongue, so my *hunch* is that it was intended to be drizzled on top, but was forgotten. It was paired with a Gruner Veltliner, worked fine.
Foie gras bon-bon: Unbelievable on the tongue, but a bit too worshipful. I come from peasant stock, and wanted to eat this on some country bread.
Steak tartare and quail egg on toast: Undoubtedly a highlight of the meal. The tartare was supremely cold with maybe some… scallion and white pepper? I had a minor yolk-splosion, so best to take it all in one bite.
Pork Rillette and house cracker: High expections went unmet. The pork was unnassuming, and the cracker could’ve been crisper.
Duck, duck liver, cherry and pistachio pate: A nice blend of creamy and roasty. I’m just not a fan of mixing fruit, nuts *and* meat, so it wasn’t my favorite. Also, my less-than-blue blood again was begging for bread or a cracker.
There was also a cornichon on a daub of dijon mustard, a crisp “ice leaf” (IIRC) on a sliced pea salad, and a salami.
All of this was paired with Tessier Cheverny Blanc – wonderful choice: front of the tongue, spicy, light.
The seared duck breast, alongside a cherry and tomato salsa and pan-fried squash blossoms. The duck was fairly unadorned, which was a great move given it’s place in the courses – nice to focus on purity after the charcuterie carnival. The salsa was more of a salad: Rainier cherries and cherry tomatoes halved and in a mild vinegar. It stood up for itself next to the duck.
The only downer of the course was the Grosbois Vielles Chinon that was the paired with it. Maybe they intentionally chose a wine that would get out of the way… or maybe it was just unremarkable. The duck cried out for a saltier, earthy red – I’d have chosen a tempranillo maybe.
Oddly, this was the simplest part of the meal, yet all agreed that it vied for a top spot among the courses. It was some local greens and a few peach slices in a sherry vinaigrette. There were marcona almonds, but as they were whole, they were bystanders. The upstaging of the course was the shaved goat cheese. The shameless creamy sourness of goat cheese, perfectly distributed via micro-shavings, hooked up with the sherry, and ravished those damn greens. Playing the excited voyeur was the Salomon Kogl Riesling – light on the tongue and a nice balance to the piquancy of the sherry.
Steve’s cheese – one slice each of a sheep, goat and cow cheese, with poached apricots, candied hazelnuts, saffron shortbread and local honeycomb. The sheep’s cheese stood out – with a broad nuttiness, definitely was the best choice to contrast the preceding course. The shortbread were little buttons, well-sized to reign in the saffron’s tendency to dominate. The honeycomb was what really took this course over the edge, into the realm of culinary primality – a chthonic offering spilt on the civilized craftsmanship of the cheeses.
The Prieler pinot blanc was well paired, provided respite for an overstimulated palate.
Lemon verbena meringues with buttermilk ice cream and tayberries and blackberries. The meringue was truly enjoyable, bright and sweet. The wine pairing was JJ Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese, and was far too thickly sweet to be served with buttermilk ice cream. We were offered coffee, which was the right choice for this course… but then left us with wine and coffee at the same time, which was awkward.
Tips: The portions were perfect, and the progression of courses was well thought out, so I’d recommend going for all six courses. The wine pairing, with a couple of exceptions, was smart, so I recommend that as well. Go for the second seating, as you’ll get more time to linger.