Wednesday, June 27, 2007

a birthday degustation: amuse bouche

To begin our chef's degustation menu, we served a traditional amuse bouche. 'Amuse bouche' literally means "to please (or tickle) the mouth." They are generally thought to be tiny, bite-sized morsels of intense flavor served at the start of a meal to prepare the diners' taste buds for the remainder of courses served. We chose to serve an amuse bouche for our guests to sample while reviewing the menu and getting comfortable at the dining table. We then later served a plate of amuses bouche to the guests (but that will be detailed in a subsequent blog...)

The initial amuse we prepared was a modified recipe of Chef Thomas Keller, owner of acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in Northern California's wine country. We share Chef Keller's culinary aesthetic of clean flavors, fresh produce, and locally produced ingredients, and have been influenced by his recipes and approach to food. Therefore, a respectful tribute to this American pioneering chef seemed both appropriate and required to start our meal.

The amuse bouche started with a thin black sesame seed tuile (a French wafer-thin cookie, which literally translated means "tile"), which was wrapped into a cone shape while still warm. The tuile was filled with a tartare of toro-- the fatty belly of fresh sashimi-quality blue fin tuna. The toro tartare was finely chopped, and infused with minced chives, sea salt and black pepper, and lime oil. Topping the tartare (in our tuile "cone") was a creme infused with the essence of Maui sweet onions. Garnished with chives, and presented in a beautiful footed bowl filled with rock salt and orchids, the amuse was delightful to both the palate and the eyes!

Accompanying this course, and the subsequent course of amuses bouche as well, was a deliciously dry champagne, Perrier Jou√ęt Grand Brut, Brut, Epernay-France. Bon Appetit!

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