Wednesday, July 11, 2007

a birthday degustation: trio of sorbets

After experiencing the various flavors of several courses on our chef's degustation menu (including the amuses bouche, flight of chilled soups, pan roasted black cod, artichokes prepared three ways, and earl grey tea infused duck breast-- all reviewed in previous blog entries), it was time to freshen our guests' palates and prepare them for the remainder of of the journey. To do so, we offered guests a trio of sorbets, each with complimentary flavors to stimulate different portions of the taste buds.
The first sorbet (starting on the top left in the picture to the left, and working clockwise), was flavored with cherimoya. The cherimoya, also known as the "custard apple," is a green-skinned fruit with soft and sweet flesh. The texture of the fruit is quite smooth and custardy, and the flavor a cross between various tropical fruits and berries. It is one of our favorite fruits to cook with, and the flavor is unique and the texture lends itself well to ice creams, custards, and sauces. The cherimoya sorbet was creamy and sweet, creating a delicious contrast to our next sorbet: ume and shiso.
The ume (or Japanese green plum) was paired with a simple syrup infused with shiso (Japanese "basil") to create a sour, yet herbal sorbet, that stripped any remnants of the previous courses from our guests' mouths. It was refreshing and loaded with acidic high notes.
The last sorbet was infused with Hawaiian lavender and Tahitian vanilla. The most subtle of the three sorbets, the warm vanilla and cool floral notes of this sorbet provided a delightful and smooth finish.

Accompanying the sorbets-- to provide some textural and temperature contrast, as well as to provide a stronger "hotter" flavor-- were juliennes of hand-candied baby ginger tempura. The ginger was candied for hours, reducing the majority of the sharp and oftentimes hot ginger-flavor, leaving a subtler and sweet ginger essence.
Once the sorbets reached the table, they were finished with the addition of a chilled sweet "soup" infused with the deep taste of hibiscus flowers. The acid and floral nature of the soup lent itself gracefully to the flavors of the sorbets and tempura, and created a striking color contrast against the pale frozen creations.
With our guests' palates cleansed, we proceed to the last third of the degustation menu, including oven-braised veal, fresh tomato salad, plated cheese courses, dessert, and mignardises. It only gets better from here!

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