Ubuntu is closed now, but I never posted these pictures, so here you go.
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When I heard the Chef de Cuisine of French Laundry, Corey Lee, left to open up his own restaurant in San Francisco, I was really excited. I think we all were; us cooks in the Bay Area, at least.
While the bar was preparing our drinks, we were served the dessert course, which was an assault on all the senses. Each one consisting of only one or two bites.
beets | a dessert salad of beets in several forms
I put a lot of work into this dish, only to find out half of the table didn't like beets. Thanks for telling me...
Sometimes I create dishes purely on a certain look that I'm aiming for. I have a picture in my head of how I'd want the dish to look, and then I make it work from a taste and culinary perspective.
Minibar is absolutely the best dining experience I have ever had--easy. Both food and drink were unparalleled.
dan dan noodles | sichuan spiced oil - iberico broth - jamon - shanghai noodles
"Dan dan" refers to the pole that street vendors originally used to carry the fresh noodles who made this dish popular. This dish tastes different every where I've had it. I like the flavors, but I usually get palate fatigue before I can finish a serving. The best I've had was at Spicy Town in Fremont. It's numbingly spicy, both from the amount of chilies, and the heavy use of sichuan peppercorns. It's intense, it makes you piss sweat and your lips feel as though you've rubbed it on habanero sandpaper, but it's delicious if you can manage the pain.
My version is more subtle. I clarified a broth made from jamon iberico bones and served with a noodle sample from Rice Valley. I made an oil with the same spices found in most Sichuan staples (coriander, garlic, chilies, sichuan peppercorns, cumin), and separated the liquids from the solids, and smeared the latter on the sides so the diners could control the heat at their discretion. Top that with some sliced jamon, and we have some fancied-up dan dan noodles.
raw scallops & coke farms strawberries | sake sherbet - pink peppercorns - fried sesame
This was dish conceived through improvisation of ingredients on hand. One of my favorite pairings is strawberry and pink peppercorn. It just works. The sherbet acts as a chewable dressing for the salad.
hen of the woods | koji marinated chicken - foie - truffle demi - siberian miner's lettuce
The breast was marinated in koji, which is rice inoculated with the bacteria 'aspergillius oryzae.' The same bacteria responsible for the fermentation of sake, soy sauce, miso, and a good majority of the Japanese pantry. If you'd like to learn more, listen to David Chang's lecture at Harvard, where he covers in detail.