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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Best/Worst food moments of 2004

Continuing on the tradition I began last year, here's the Best/Worst food moments of 2004:

Best overall food experience: Food blogging on Chez Pim

Best food shopping moment: A mad race across Paris in imaginary matching-colored scooters with Lynn and Matt to buy more honey from Jean Paul Couto at the marché bio on Blvd.Raspail. (more on this later)

Most fun cooking: Another Thai feast for the London friends, this time chez V.

Best I didn't know it could taste like that dish: This is a tie, between the slow-cooked egg with white bean soup at Manresa, and the tranche de lard fermier au caviar pressé at Pierre Gagnaire.

I said this, somewhere else, of the egg dish at Manresa:

a barely coddled egg, with Manchego cheese in a soup of white bean purée. Sounded deceptively simple, didn’t it? The egg looks at first as a simple coddled egg, with a tiny mound of microplaned ribbons of aged Manchego cheese, partially covered by a small tuille cage of crisp cheese, some chives, and with a light sprinkle of sea salt and white pepper. But the egg is not coddled at all, rather it has been slowly warmed, in barely simmering water, for nearly an hour to arrive at the point where the egg white is just set, gently taking prisoner the bright red and still thoroughly runny yolk. A soup of purée white beans is poured over the egg at the table. The soup, a creamy and satin smooth texture lends the dish the earthiness and mouth-feel that is an absolutely perfect foil for the richness of the soft egg, punctuated by the strong sharpness of the cheese, a light pang of spice from the chive bits and pepper, and the light crunch from the tuille, building the dish into a gorgeous and slow revelation of flavors and texture that is a perfect specimen of that term I spoke of just before, finesse, in every sense of the word.

Best restaurant meal: A tie, Pierre Gagnaire, November (still haven't written it up yet, will do very soon) and the Pig fest at St John.

Best overall restaurant experience: Manresa, countless meals

Best service: The French Laundry with Liz and John, the day after my birthday

Worst service: L'Arpège in September

Most fantastic discovery: Manresa and Le Meurice

Best homey dessert: Meyer lemon tart with pine nut crust, at seder chez Melkor

Best fancy dessert: Another tie, the unusal and extraodinarily delicious chocolate mousse and whiskey flavored foam at Pierre Gagnaire, and the fabulous millefeuille served table side with pomp and circumstance by Alexandre at Le Meurice.

Worst fancy dessert: Gâteau croustillant of milk chocolate, banana, and lime, at Les Ambassadeurs

Most bizarre meal: in 2003 this was bizaare in a bad way, but 2004 was bizaare and great at the same time, at Trio by Grant Achatz.

Most blah meal: Charles Nob Hill, July--so blah I couldn't bring myself to write about it.

Most disappointing meal: L'Arpège in September, it saddens me so to say this, as they are, and still remain, one of my favorite restaurants in the world.

Worst meal: Fort Wayne Airport, Indiana. You really don't want to know.

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Best compliment:
"It's Pim's Chez, we all just live in it", Jinmyo

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