Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IDSK Volume 3

After briefly alluding in my last post to a recent IDSK collaborative dinner, I realized I’d been remiss in not posting at least a little detail about the event. But first, for those that missed my report on Volume 2 back in July, a quick injection of background information seems in order. IDSK is an acronym for the recent collaborative efforts between Alexander Talbot of Ideas in Food and Shola Olunloyo of StudioKitchen. These are two chefs – one a long time Philly resident, the other a recent transplant – who both approach their craft with passion and intensity. If you’re into culinary artistry, the nuts and bolts of molecular gastronomic technique, or simply enjoy ogling near daily doses of some pretty high zoot food porn, their blogs both deserve to be on your reading list.

The theme at this recent outing was a combination of the exploration of subtlety of flavor coupled with malleability of form and textural contrast. Though I found the evening’s food somewhat less delicious overall than at IDSK2, there was still no lack of pleasure to be found in the moment. As always, the experience was helped along by a charming cast of dining companions, which by bizarre coincidence on this night included Tesco Vee's old college roommate, with whom I partook in a little reminiscing about the DC hardcore scene of the early-to-mid 80s.

It’s been long enough now (the dinner was held back on October 2) that I won’t belabor this post with intricate details of each course. Instead, I’ll just let Shola’s photos do the talking; you’ll see what I meant by my above food porn reference.

broken icicle radishes, crab applesauce

Peanut Pumpkin
roasting jus, dona engracia

Matsutake Mushrooms and Bartlett Pears
hot and cold, raw and cooked

Chestnut Soup
gala apples, bacon bits

Warm Hiramasa
vadouvan, eggplant

Russet Potato Gnocchi
parsley, tender garlic, powdered raclette

Twice Cooked Scallop
chorizo, black cabbage, beef fat consomme

Whey Poached Beef Strip Loin
braised shank, red cabbage: raw and cooked

Adelegger 17 Month
yellow tomato jam

Apple Pie and Coffee

* * *

In the old days at StudioKitchen – these dinners are BYOB – Shola had always presented a menu long enough in advance to allow for specific wine pairings. He and Alex have more recently taken to fine tuning their final menu right up to the last moment. As such, they encourage their guests to bring whatever they’d like to drink. For me, that means packing up a wide range of wines with an eye toward versatility and food friendliness. Of course, they’re all things I’d like to drink as well. On this night, I ended up sharing just about everything I’d brought with my fellow diners. No pictures to do the talking this time, so some quick notes seem in order.

Jochen Ratzenberger’s 2003 Bacharacher Kloster Fürstental Riesling Sekt showed the ripeness of the vintage in its rounder, bigger mouthfeel than in more typical years but was still a delicious way to start the evening.

As is my friend Bill, I’m convinced that one could very successfully pair Riesling with nearly everything that Shola cooks. So, for the first course or two, Riesling it was. Johann Peter Reinert’s 2005 Wiltinger Schlangengraben Spätlese halbtrocken, to be exact, which showed a whiff of sulfur when first poured but was also beginning to develop some lovely mineral pungency. Great, cleansing acids and lots of yellow plum and green apple fruit, as well. Excellent food wine. As I’ve said here before, Reinert’s wines are super under-appreciated.

That all-Riesling fest will have to wait until next time, as next up was the 2004 Viré-Clessé from André Bonhomme. This was much more developed than I’d have hoped or expected, showing some premox character in its slightly oxidized entry, followed up by poached pear and walnut on the palate. It improved as its temperature rose but not enough to make anything near a full recovery.

A bottle of 2006 Coudert Fleurie “Clos de Roilette” was screamingly good, showing amazing, even atypical levels of richness but still full of focus. Totally on point, though it’s got years ahead of it, and a great match with the garlic-potato-parsley combo in the gnocchi course.

Last up was a 1998 Gigondas from Château du Trignon, which gave the “Roilette” a serious run for its money. I’ve been disappointed with some other ’98 Southern Rhônes I’ve opened over the past year or two, as they’d either not gone anywhere or already begun to fade. This, though, was a lovely expression of Grenache, all crushed red fruits and garrigue, with the elegance that comes to wines like this only with age.

Finally, some music with which to bring things to a close. It’s not quite the same Meatmen mayhem as 20+ years ago but, even if you didn’t follow the link earlier on, I know you were just dying to see Tesco Vee in action.


Vinogirl said...

Food looks delicious, but portions too small. Call me old fashioned but I like at least the opportunity of getting myself full.

David McDuff said...

The portions are small, vgirl, but they add up to a meal.... I've never left one of the SK or IDSK dinners feeling stuffed but I've never left feeling hungry, either.

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