Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tomatoes Triumphant: A Special Dinner at Manresa

On Tuesday evening I treated my tastebuds to a tomato orgy and they've been thanking me ever since. This tomatoes-in-every-course feast had four of us swabbing out plates with bread crusts -- a reaction that won't surprise anyone familiar with the cooking of Manresa's chef David Kinch and his staff and the exquisite produce grown for the restaurant by Cynthia Sandberg at her Love Apple Farm.
But let's get a disclaimer up here: Resident Gardener and I are investors in Manresa -- as are numerous other devotees of Kinch's food since his days at Sent Sovi. I don't write for newspapers or magazines about Manresa or Kinch, but here, well: it's my own space and I'll blog if I want to. And if these Tomato Feast posts send any of you running to Manresa it'll probably mean all of another 27 cents in our next investor's return check.

Back to the tomatoes:
We began with parmesan churros, served with an anchovy-tomato "hot bath" for dipping. I could have eaten a basketful. Next came a seaweed-citrus granite with a crisp little nori cracker --all atop "corn and tomato vers.4.2." [Another day I'll blog about "corn and tomatoes vers.1.1" - a Kinch dish friends and I are still talking about a mere 11 years after we first ate it.}
Following those savory little amuse-bouches we had "a delicate gel of tomato and ripe melon, a tisane of herbs and flowers flavoring crab and shellfish, and golden raspberies" which was a lovely lead-in to an absolutely sensational plate of
assorted cherry tomatoes with steelhead roe (cured in oak smoked salt) surrounded with roast tuna juice and a sprig of purslane.
I took one bite of the cherry tomatoes, turned to Resident Gardener and said: "Do not think that just because this is so good it's going to inspire me to PEEL CHERRY TOMATOES." An elegant touch, though.
The next course was one of my favorites of the night: fresh Monterey Bay spot prawns, cooked on the plancha, "perfumed with a rare virgin argan oil," and accompanied by tomato slices with beets and rucula sylvetta. I don't even *like* beets. Hell, usually I hate the little buggers. But in this dish they were wonderful. And the prawns were sublime. David told us they were split in half while still alive and then set on the hot plancha for a mere 10 seconds. Much more heat than that, apparently, can turn the delicate flesh to mush.

Thus endeth the first half of the meal. To be continued...


Katie Zeller said...

I always peel my cherry tomatoes...I pull the seeds out with tweezers, too.... Yeah Right!
So far dinner sounds fabulous!

Marjorie said...

oh holy moly i want those parmesan churros with anchovy-tomato dipping sauce!! and the roe/tuna juice/tomato thing sounds really interesting.