Friday, May 21, 2010

six hours of Moto (part 2)

The second half of our meal started out with this course, which was listed as "Coffee Break" on the menu but was referred to as "Shabu-ccino" by the servers. In any case it was a cute idea; a "cappuccino" made with veal stock, fermented black garlic, and soy sauce "coffee", with potato bisque "creamer" and a truffle oil "sugar" cube. The stock was accompanied by thinly sliced kobe beef, edamame, carrot and potato. Both the potato bisque and truffle cube were delicious by themselves, but eventually I threw them both into the broth to try to dilute its saltiness. I was only partially successful.

Next up was "Duck & Mole". The duck was braised and served lime sour cream inside a cannoli shell. On the plate was the mole sauce, freeze dried corn powder, white jalapeno powder, and crunchy pepitas. I actually quite liked this dish except that the mole was too sweet compared to the awesomeness that was Rick Bayless' black mole sauce.

"Crepes that are Cheese" consisted of two servings of "cheese" made from crepe batter mousse, and one serving of "crepe" made of cheese. The pink "cheese" was encrusted by a raspberry puree "wax" and the blue "cheese" was made with caramel and blueberry puree. The "crepe" was a smoked gouda served with grand marnier and apricot chutney. I think I was only moderately satisfied with the textures of this course (the mousse was too pasty, and the cheese "crepe" was a bit waxy) but the flavors were fun and I really liked the apricot "crepe filling".

The parade of desserts started with this "Pina Colada", which was among my favorites. The bowl initially contained rice and dehydrated pineapple flakes in rum-infused coconut milk, and then the server poured in a fair amount of liquid nitrogen, to keep the flakes crunchy. The experience of eating the flakes in coconut milk reminded me of eating cereal, and the overall taste was light, mildly sweet, and very refreshing.

This strangely named "Rainbow Sprinkles" course was barely a dessert. The cupcake was a real cupcake, but the batter was made with foie gras fat, and the filling was a creamy foie gras mousse. The "sprinkles" were made from pistachios and lentils, dyed with beets to give them color. There was also a more traditional preparation of foie gras, served with blueberry gastrique. The cupcake was interesting and I enjoyed it, but I let D have most of my foie.

I'm not sure this course really resembled a "Snow Ball" but it was yummy anyway. The orange liquid is a carrot cake puree with hints of ginger and cinnamon. Inside the "ball" is more of the same puree, on a base of cream cheese, and then encased in solid white chocolate. The pink topping is cherry flavored coconut. When I broke through the white chocolate with my spoon, the carrot cake puree actually squirted out at me. Luckily I didn't make a mess. There were also bits of orange, apple, and walnut in the bowl. I liked the combination quite a bit; the puree was subtle and mostly savory, which offset the white chocolate well, so the whole dish was pretty low on the sweetness scale.

Our "Banana Split" courses were served to us on giant "battleship" plates. The bowl was filled with banana sorbet "ramen noodles", banana custard, roasted cocoa nibs, roasted almonds, and bits of maraschino cherry. The pipettes were filled with syrups: chocolate, caramel, and cherry. The syrups themselves were a little sweeter than I would have liked, but it was super fun sucking them out of the pipettes. I mostly ate the banana part by itself.

This "Acme Bomb" was the smallest but also one of the best courses we had that evening. The "bomb" has a chocolate exterior, a liquid graham cracker interior, and a marshmallow "fuse". After setting down the plates, our server lit the "fuse" which caused the marshmallow to cook. The entire thing had to be eaten in one bite, which tasted very much like a campfire-toasted smore. Yum.

The following course was listed as "Chocolate Truffles" but we figured there must be a catch. Of course, there was. The other name for the dish was "Truffles that are truffles", and although it looked like we were being served a gigantic raw truffle, the overall taste was much more like chocolate truffles. Beet mousse and black truffle mousse were coated with cocoa nibs and cocoa powder, and served with hazelnuts, freeze-dried beets, and chocolate ice cream. Again, great balance of sweet and savory.

The very last course was a "Root Beer Float". The root beer was homemade but unremarkable; the interesting part was that it was served with a vanilla "packing peanut". It really did look exactly like a packing peanut! We were warned to eat it quickly before it started to collapse (I waited the longest because I was taking photos, and towards the end, it really did start to shrink.)

As you can see, dinner was really fun despite taking almost six hours. We'd been warned by a friend that the full tasting menu would likely be a bit of an "ordeal" and there were times when we started to tire, but there were enough "wow!" moments to keep us engaged pretty much throughout the evening. I told someone afterwards that it was like being served a constant stream of little works of art that happened to be edible.

After the meal, as we were looking for a place to take a group photo, one of the servers suggested we go downstairs to visit "the lab"!

He showed us around a bit; apparently they use it as both a TV set and as a private dining area. Then, he answered some of our questions about the food we'd just eaten, and asked us about our favorite and least favorite courses. We told him we loved the Onion & Gruyere, Yellow Snow, Cigar & Ashtray, the Pina Colada, and the Acme Bomb, but were less fond of the Red Bull Paella and the Phunnel Cake. It was a fun chat, but as a result, we got out the door just before 2am. Craziness.

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