So, how much information is too much? It's a serious question. These days as we prepare food and serve the guests in our dining room, the question is how much do the guests actually want to know about the food? Let me give you an example. We had three separate parties come for that long tasting menu we did the other evening. Actually we had two parties who had requested a tasting and one who happened to be staying with us that evening, with no idea about the food we do. Now here is where it gets interesting. One of our guests was truly into food, arriving early to spend time in the kitchen with us. That particular diner wanted to know all of the details about what we were doing and how we make it happen. The other culinary guests were following a trail, searching for the out of the way places that might have great food in the South Western states, a path which led them to our doorstep. The third visitor was there to check out the property and did not know anything at all about the food. We showed him the menu and offerd him as few or as many of the courses as he wished. Our solo diner encouraged him to try the entire menu, but he demurred. After looking things over, his response was that he would have a salad, an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. Within those boundaries, he would put himself in our hands. Then he went off to relax in the guest house, put his feet up and catch up on life.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen we continued to prepare for the evenings menu. The guest who was there to learn about our food watched as we began trimming sheets of cuttlefish and portioning fish for dinner. As he watched Alex trimming the large sheets of cuttlefish that we would be frying later in the evening, he asked the diner what he thought about the size of the sheets we were preparing for dinner. Due to their small size, normally there is no way to create a large square of cuttlefish like the ones we were prepping for service that evening. It actually had not crossed his mind that the size was unusual. He wasn't thinking about the fact that they were the largest sheets of cuttlefish that he had ever seen. He was wondering how they would taste when we finished them. He was pondering how we would present them that evening and how they would taste when they were crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. It's not always necessay for people to be aware of all of the subleties that go into the preparation of a dish. It's simply necessary for them to enjoy the finished product, in this case a luscious and delicate sheet of beer battered cuttlefish served with liquid chorizo, Thai basil and a thin yuzu disc.
Again, we return to the diner who was not expecting the food to be anything other than simple Southwestern fare. For his menu we began the evening with our frozen vinegar martini and then shared the wild char roe and grilled potato ice cream. After these first two dishes, the wary diner just nodded and said he might be able to eat a bit more before the entree. He was letting us pitch. He did not eat all of the courses, although he ate a few more than he had originally intended. What he did do was relax and enjoy the meal. He did not have the back story on the ingredients or on the chefs. All he had was the atmosphere in the dining room and what we set before him. That was more than enough to complete the experience.
The other two parties went the distance and by evening's end they were talking and comparing notes of meals past, present and future. They had eaten at a lot of the same reataurants at different times. It was intersesting to hear the comparisions. The couple, as far as we know, was there for the food, the ambiance, and the meal. We had been reccommended to them as worth the trip. So they had come to dine and we were glad they had done so.
We had three separate parties enjoying the same menu with three different levels of expectation and three different experiences. None of them had actually tasted our food before. They had varying degrees of exposure to what we do and who we are. In the end they all had an enjoyable evening. The next morning they joined us for breakfast. We served fresh fruit, scones and one of the house specialties, Eggs Alex. The thread that tied these two meals together? Flavor. We are a flavor driven kitchen whether we are preparing an intricate tasting menu or a country breakfast. Sometimes the pairings may seem odd or outlandish but for us it all comes down to how things taste. Food has to taste good or there's no point to what we do. That's why it doesn't matter if we cook for foodies or cowboys, because if they're willing to open themselves to what we do, we know we'll win them over in the end. It's all about flavor.