Last evening we served our last tasting menu (at Keyah Grande). We are still here, cooking small dinners for the last guests, New Year's Eve and for friends of the new management team. Last night was fun. We were able to work through a number of new dishes, put some improvements on old ones, and find some new inspirations, while serving guests who truly enjoy dining. We also revisited my Achilles Heel, because I still haven't learned my lesson about the amount of food people can comfortably consume.
The plan was twelve courses. We have a model for twelve course meals, one which is solid and which can be consumed without over taxing the diner. The model in its idea form is cataloged in the Twelve Course Notebook on the sidebar. That is for further reading. We had twelve courses for the menu yesterday morning, though I had two extra dishes that I wanted to share with our guests. Aki's theory is that if it doesn't fit then it shouldn't be there. According to her, if you have too many courses then exchange, substitute or tweak to fit, but after twelve you get diminishing returns on what you serve because the diner can't easily consume it. On the other hand, I did not want to miss the opportunity to present a few extra flavors. The kicker is that guests do reach a saturation point, even with a succession of small dishes. Last evening was a fine example of that. At around course ten the guests started getting full. Two courses would have made the meal's end an easy finish line; 4 courses is still a fair amount of food even at 2-3 bites per course. There's a fine line between happily satiated and overstuffed. Sure we could have cut a few final dishes, although I believe that would have taken away from the entire menu. Also, I was not sure when we would have another opportunity to cook for these particular guests. That is an important factor, wanting to share as much as possible in a finite time period.
Our guests seemed to truly enjoy and appreciate the meal, the dishes, and what we had to offer. Yes, they were a bit full, though I am glad we added the extra courses because the two additions stood out to the diners. I am also learning something else. While I truly believe in the idea of a twelve course menu, its structure may need to be adjusted. Looking back I have come to realize that in our next venture we will not feel the pressure to share every dish or idea with a guest at one time because they will be able to come back again and again. The few real foodies that have made it out here have perhaps suffered from our lack of audience. We're so excited to cook for them that we tend to overdo things just a bit. Off the beaten path is a good thing. Having no proximity to a path means that only rarely does someone stumble across our doorstep. We're looking for a place off the beaten path, but still easy to find for those who are looking for the experience.
Here is the menu we served last night. Can you guess which two dishes were the add-ons?
Sourdough Ice Cream
wild arctic char roe, blueberries,
Raw Nantucket Bay Scallops
Key West Pink Shrimp Salad
condensed milk dressing, sorrel,
tender cocoa nibs
Sunflower Seed Risotto
perigord truffles, applewood smoked bacon,
Foie Gras Torchon
huckleberry ribbon, violet pop rocks,
Broiled Japanese Eel
hot foie gras sheet, apple-olive relish,
foie gras consomme, morel mushrooms,
prosciutto cavatelli, banyuls vinegar,
grape-chipotle, fermented black bean-eggplant,
spiced macadamia nuts
Chufa Nut Crusted Lamb Sweetbreads
papaya–caper sauce, pickled chufa nuts,
kaffir lime spinach
Crispy Pork Belly
smoked apple pudding, porcini mushroom marmalade,
pecorino-edamame mosaic, summer savory,
smoked tomato jam
persimmon puree, lemon chanterelles,
pistachio, red carpet clover,