Over the past several days we have dined at a number of restaurants, some we have had the time to write about, others are on hold until we get the time. Sure, we could have stayed home yesterday in the blizzard, but we had lunch reservations. That is a story unto itself.
During the meals we have consumed over the past few days a few striking ingredients caught our palates. The first was mojama. Mojama is a dry cured tuna loin which is traditionally shaved thin and marinated in olive oil served with a glass of crisp white wine. We enjoyed it shaved over a duck egg with roasted potatoes (Casa Mono) though its flavor and texture got our wheels churning. We talked about serving it shaved over raw hamachi or pairing it with melon confit. A fig and arugula salad would benefit from this salumi from the sea. The point is the ingredient caught our attention and started a train of thought which is just beginning.
The second ingredient of note is Hawaiian pepper leaves. These were used to wrap a tiger shrimp farce which was then grilled and served with chilled noodles in peanut sauce at boi. The leaf was tender and succulent and became bound to the shrimp farce as if it was there to provide structure and snap to the crustacean parcel. Again, the original presentation of the ingredient was delicious and it sparked a series of thoughts in how we could use the ingredient as well. We began talking about everything we could wrap from loins of fish to loins of meat to foie gras which we wanted to steam. Then we moved to pasta and began a series of questions about the use of the pepper leaf from making an herbal puree to using it in large pasta sheets.
The third ingredient which caught our attention was a confit of duck hearts. When we were served the dish, (per se) paired with barley stuffed cabbage and a petite Yorkshire pudding, Aki began to reminisce about making duck confit and throwing in the hearts and gizzards into the fat, a treat which was eaten partway through the event of confiting duck legs. What caught my attention was the use of an ingredient. The restaurant was able to make a small dish out of an ingredient which is either put in the bin or eaten as the reward for making confit. Also, it reminded me of the fact that not everyone has to have the same dish nor do you need to have enough of any one dish to feed the masses. Sometimes it is better to appreciate a limited quantity rather than using the limit as a reason not to make a dish.
We have enjoyed many other ingredients during our adventures, these three just seemed to tell their own story.