Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lost Palate?

I recently dined at Bluestem. I was pretty excited about the evening as this chef was hailed by "Food and Wine" as one of the country's top 10 new chefs. Now that is a lot to live up to.

I spent the money for the chef's tasting. Not a small amount for Midwest cost of living. It began with a trio of appetizers, one mussel in a saffron sauce, a chilled mint drink, a crab and sweet ice dish reminiscent of Iron Chef seafood desserts, and a shrimp panna cotta. The panna cotta was interesting and complex in flavor. The rest of the meal included seared fois gras, a lentil soup with roast duck, Seared Tuna, and Wagyu beef strip steak, and two chocolate desserts, one with grapefruit.

All the meats were precisely cooked. The server knew her wines well. The flavors of the sauces were all subtle. Hints of lemongrass, etc. Perhaps too subtle. Or maybe I just don't have the palate I thought I did. Maybe it has been killed by too many nights of Mac and Cheese with my toddler. I can judge a good Mac and Cheese let me tell you!

Overall, it was a good meal, but not what I would term one of the 10 best chef meals. Maybe it was a less sexy menu than normal. I think I should give it another shot, when I can afford it. However, given the rarity of nights out in that price range (for me) I will probably keep driving north to La Fou Frog instead.

I had an excellent elk medallion with a cranberry wine reduction sauce that still ranks as best meat dish I have ever had. And the mussels and pomme frites are always excellent.

Wine Blog

Just read the NYT wine critics startup of a blog. Good points about tasting versus drinking. Wine is very individual and from my novice view, wines are like people. A taste is just an introduction, but you have to get to know the wine to find out the true character.