December 28, 2009
/’fru pi/ [froo-pee]
– noun informal
1. an ardent fan of a chef or of a particular style of cooking
2. a food groupie
I don’t quite know when but, at some point, I think I’ve turned into a Marcel Vigneron froupie. Whenever I hear the name “Marcel”, part of me wants to squeal like a teenage girl at the premiere of a Twilight flick.
Maybe it’s his engaging on-screen personality that makes my heart skip a beat or his iconic Wolverine-like hair that makes me melt? …No – it’s his food that brings out my inner froupie.
(“OMGAhhhhh!!! It’s MARCEL!”)
I was very excited for the December Hatchi event at Breadbar as this was my first chance to taste dishes by Marcel and Marcel alone (i.e. sans José Andrés, at the Bazaar). I was also hoping he’d bust out the molecular gastronomy and he did not disappoint – spherifications, foams and liquid nitrogen, we got it all.
To begin, his amuse bouche was a simplistic spherification of pomegranate juice with a single blueberry tucked inside.
Course 1: Hamachi Sashimi
His first course (my favorite course of the night) was a fantastic hamachi sashimi. The composition of the dish – the fresh fish, the citrus of kumquats, the sweetness of the momo chan (i.e. little green baby peaches), the texture of seaweed – was thoughtful; each bite was enjoyable.
Course 2: Dayboat Scallop
The second course was a dayboat scallop, sitting atop cauliflower couscous and seaweed. The molecular portion of this dish wasn’t blatantly apparent until I overheard him explaining the dish to the diners next to me: the puree on the plate (the pink, purple and yellow) are all the same. In order for him to obtain the different colors, an acid is added to the mixture that causes the colors to bloom from purple to pink.
Course 3: Langoustine Ravioli
The third course was a tad confusing to me, only because I seemed to enjoy the avocado wrapped mango more than the langoustine ravioli. The ravioli, on its own, was reminiscent of har gao that had been steamed in a dim sum cart for a tad too long; however, when tasted with the avocado and mango, it picked up a little bit of flavor and life. (Note: I was happy to see a foam make an appearance on the menu – What is a meal with Marcel without foam?!)
Course 4: Misohoney Black Cod
The fourth course was another simple, clean dish – a miso honey black cod sitting in broth. Although I had just come off of a seafood high at Le Bernardin the Saturday prior, I still thoroughly enjoyed the buttery texture of the cod and the lightness of the broth.
Course 5: Lyonaise Salad
The fifth course was a salad with bacon and a breaded egg. Not bad, but nothing impressive.
Course 6: Vadouvan Lamb
The fifth course may have fallen a bit flat, but the sixth course was a surprising tender rack of lamb with a deconstructed tzatziki. My piece of lamb was a tad too fatty for my preferences but what meat I was able to scrounge off the bone was succulent and delicious.
Course 7: Grass Fed “Corned Beef”
The seventh course, a gigantic chunk of short rib, was daunting in size (I just can’t eat that much anymore!). I didn’t eat the entire piece but the bit I did devour was also very tender. The three types of corn (e.g. the baby corn, the pureed corn and the popped corn) were fun and did exactly as described – they added texture to the dish, keeping you interested as you made your way through the mountain of meat.
Course 8: Souffle
Marcel’s last course was a green chartreuse souffle. I tried the green chartreuse in one of the cocktails for the night – the herbaceous flavor was a bit strong for my taste. However, the flavor mellowed out in the souffle, making it a nice ending to the meal.
I almost made it through the entire night without any froupie tendencies but I caved in last minute – I may not have screamed his name across the Breadbar dining room but (as you can see above) I got a picture with Marcel in the end.
I’m such a froupie.
Hatchi with Marcel Vigneron