Sunday, January 04, 2009

Highlight #125: NYE dinner - Restaurant: Jardiniere (SF)

2008 had been a challenging but very rewarding year for J and I. For one, our married life together will forever be measured from this year forward. To say good bye, we gathered with two other couples at Traci Des Jardins's Jardiniere in San Fran early on NYE. J and I had a big party to go to afterwards where magnums of champagne were waiting, so we really needed a good food base.

The dinner started off with a little elegant amuse of caviar panna cotta. The caviar was surprisingly mild on the salt scale and was further tamed by the cool creaminess of the dense panna cotta.

The appetizer course that followed was my favorite of the meal. A small lobster salad captured what I really love about the lobster, it's delicate sweetness. Instead of the mayo that typically holds together a lobster salad, this one was lightly dressed with a citrus infused dressing and was accompanied by crisp stalks of Fuji apple and jewel-like grapefruit sections. The lobster meat was exactly the opposite of mealy and played off its natural sweetness against the slight tartness of the grapefruit and complimented the crispness of the apple. It was a well considered dish.

Next up was a fair sized piece of salmon, slightly seared to crusty on the skin side. Hidden underneath were an abundance of mushroom mix, which included some tasty hedgehog variety. Also in the mix where a bit of greens for color and texture. Most at the table seemed to have enjoyed the salmon immensely. I liked the deep savory flavors very much, but thought my piece was slightly overcooked and flaked a bit less than delicately.

The most interesting dish of the night went to the meat course, a veal dish. The veal was done just right and showed off this protein's trademark mild milky flavor. What really upped the star quotient though was the innocent looking fried cube in the foreground. Without warning, the pierced cube squirted out milk chocolate colored foie gras juice, which imparted an intense earthiness on everything it touched. Completely on the other end of the spectrum from the veal's natural flavor, the combination somehow worked well. Although, I personally enjoyed eating the two separately (just mopping up the foie gras juice with the breaded cube skin).

The sweet ending was provided by the decidedly old fashioned baked alaska. It would have been great to see flame table side, but that would have been a bit too much to ask on this busy NYE. With my ice cream obsession, it's impossible not to love this. The ice cream also hid a thin layer of moist and dark chocolate cake at the very bottom. My devouring the thing led Paula to excited claim that it's the most food she has ever seen the nibbler ingest all at once. I guess that's something. :)

Here is to a wonderful new year ahead. I have a feeling that it's going to be good despite the economy.

300 Grove St
San Francisico, CA 94102

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