(Photo from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)
Let's just say that I'm REALLY sad that we didn't have a working camera at this point because the pictures would seriously speak louder than anything I can say.
The tasting menu was huge. HUGE. The three-course tasting menu turned into five courses of the biggest platters of food I've ever seen.
We started, so naively, with bread and olive oil with fresh basil from the hydroponic farm. The butter served with it was seriously salted...and heavenly. The kitchen also sent out a complimentary basket of fry bread with carrot and pumpkin dip. The dip was okay - a little too sweet for me though. Since we were hungry at that point, we gave in to snacking on that. We should have waited.
Course 1 looked innocent enough when we were presented with it. The server came out with a bowl of pumpkin soup for each of us. The soup had the most amazing goat cheese ravioli at the bottom of the bowl - I could have eaten a plate full of that. The goat cheese was creamy and sharp and the ravioli was perfectly cooked. Definitely adding goat cheese ravioli and pumpkin soup to my list of things to make.
Then they set the tray down in front of us and we realized that the soup wasn't the first course. It was one of FIVE small plates that comprised the first course. The other plates were as follows:
- Crayfish with a fresh salad and vegetables.
- Chicken dumpling with a mango sauce.
- Seared scallops with sweet potato mash.
- Tuna tartare wrapped in seaweed and rice tempura with a watermelon sauce.
Of all of them, I think the scallops, tuna tartare and pumpkin soup were our favorites. The chicken dumpling seemed a little out of place and the crayfish, while good, didn't beat out the others. The tuna tartare was fantastic - you could taste how fresh the fish was. And the tempura added that extra little crunch. The scallops, of course, were delicious. They were seared in butter (what could be better?) and had this beautiful golden glaze on them. While I don't normally go for mashed sweet potatoes, these accompanied the scallops perfectly - a bit of sweet flavor to go with the fat, tender scallops.
Our next course was sage sorbet made with sage grown in the hydroponic farm. Again, it was strong and I couldn't finish it (like the ice and armangac at the chef's table). But it was still good.
Course 3 was like the first one - five small plates as follows:
- Pea and mushroom risotto.
- Rack of lamb with gnocchi.
- Beef with bearnaise and French potatoes.
- Tuna with a stir fry and sweet pepper puree.
- Mahi mahi with a sesame crust and braised sweet potatoes.
Of all of these, we both really liked the risotto. Steve really liked the lamb and I agreed - it was seasoned and grilled perfectly - nice and tender, very flavorful and not overcooked. Overcooked lamb is the worst. Everything else tasted good and cooked well, but nothing really captured us.
At this point, we were so far beyond full. Stuffed. Wanted to lay down for awhile. I was eyeing the lounge chairs over by the pool and starting to feel like Violet Beauregarde again.
But we thought dessert would probably be just one or two things, so we finished course 3 and moved on to course 4.
Wrong again! Course 4 was just like the rest. A bunch of smaller dessert-type items.
- Creme brulee
- Raspberry hibiscus sorbet
- Strawberry macarons
- Mint and ginger sorbet
- Strawberry sorbet with some sort of jelly
- Gazpacho of basil
- Mango puree
I was so full that I tried a couple bites of things (the creme brulee, the mango puree, the sorbets) and that was it for me. I was dunzo. Could. Not. Eat. Any. More. Which was SO disappointing because the dessert tray was really really beautiful.
So when they brought out yet another plate of desserts (a small plate), I was really surprised. It was just a couple small bites - chocolate malted balls on a strip of chocolate, etc. I can't even remember what else was on the plate (which is horrible!). I was in a food coma.
All in all, the food was good. A few standouts that we want to try to make at home. I don't mean to paint the tasting menu in a negative light at ALL. We were just stuffed! Again!
More to come on our cooking class with Chef Daniel and our trip to Sandy Ground...