Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maude - 11/11/2014

212 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 859-3418

This marks my third trip to Maude this year and it has been one of my most anticipated meal since I first learned about it. For those who don't know, Maude's menu is based around a theme ingredient that changes every month and this month's ingredient is the always-prized Truffle. Getting a reservation at Maude requires persistence and luck in any month and November was sure to be worse than most. Indeed I called over 100 times with no luck but fortunately another of my dining group managed to make it through.

Snack: Cannoli - White Truffle Ricotta, Celeriac, Parmesan
As always, the meal at Maude opened with a couple snacks. First up was a mini-cannoli filled with creamy ricotta spiked with a soft fragrance of white truffle while the shell itself was reminiscent of a tuile both in terms of texture and its slight sugary sweetness.


Snack: Pop Tart - Onion, Black Truffle
Our second little bite was an uber-luxe Pop Tart. The bite has a toasty crumbled texture as one would expect as well as a pungent onion sweetness tinged with truffle.


1: Soup - Potato, Kohlrabi, Escarole
Rene Geoffroy, "Empriente," 1er Cru, Aÿ, Champagne France 2007
Moving on to our first course we were presented with a verdant cream of kohlrabi and escarole over which our servers poured a hearty cream of potato and truffle soup. The truffles come through clearly in the rich brown potage but the bitter nutty restraint of the vegetables helped temper the mixture.


2: Squash Salad - Persimmon, Truffle Vinaigrette, Brown Butter
Occhipinti, "SP68," Sicilia, Italy 2012
Squash and salad are two of my least favorite words when it comes to food so I was pleasantly surprised by this course. Neither the squash nor the persimmon had the cloying weight that they so often convey, instead their muted sweetness was an integral element grounding the more astringent vegetables and the caramelized savor of the brown butter. The SP68 proved to be the best pairing of the night. On its own the wine has lots of ripe apricot but also a whiff of egg-y funk, but when taken with the salad the wine shows a bit more expansive and nuanced character


3: Scallop Crudo - Truffle Soil, Beets, Salsify
Dominio do Bebei, "Lapola," Ribera Sacra, Spain 2011
The words scallop crudo are pretty much always music to my ears. Maude's rendition is less a true raw preparation as it is seared on one side. Though still rare I found the texture a touch firmer than I'd like, the flavor was a superb mix of saline-sweetness and a perfect compliment to the rough crunchy soil of truffle and hazelnut. The pickled salsify was a wonderful addition, bringing a crisp succulent brightness while the dollops of beet juice added an intense but short lived sweetness that complimented the dish nicely.


4: Hen Egg - Brioche, Creamed Leek, Alba Truffle
Liquid Farm, "White Hill," Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, CA 2012
Eggs and truffle are a classic no brainer, and indeed the silky yolk coupled with the Alba truffles are a thing of beauty. Still Chef Stone doesn't stop there, resting the yolk on a bed of soft creamy leeks and a sprinkled with smoky bits of brioche. The combination made me think of a truffled bacon vichyssoise and was easily the most overtly delicious course of the night.


5: Turbot - Endive, Spinach, Truffle Coulis
Chenu, "Aux Clous," 1er Cru, Savigny-les-Beaune, Burgundy, France 2012
The fish course consisted of a beautifully seared turbot. The flaky white fish is more full flavored than most preparations especially with the earthy truffle imparting a smoky relish. Meanwhile the tangy verdant blend adds an extra dimension of countervailing flavors.


6a: Hand-Cut Tagliatelle - White Alba Truffle
Francesco Rinaldi, "Cannubio," Barolo, Piemonte, Italy 2007
In a departure from Maude's normal format, we were offered a choice for our pasta course, either tagliatelle or risotto. Naturally we opted to try both and share. First up was a very al dente pasta, dressed table side with a generous shaving of white truffle and splash of brown butter, pure simple and delicious.


6b: Risotto - White Alba Truffle
Francesco Rinaldi, "Cannubio," Barolo, Piemonte, Italy 2007
Truffle risotto has long been one of my favorite things in the world and like the tagliatelle, the risotto was prepared simply really little more than a vehicle for enjoying the earthy fragrance of the white truffle.


7: Veal Sweetbread - Cauliflower, Sauce Perigord
Francesco Rinaldi, "Cannubio," Barolo, Piemonte, Italy 2007
The next course was almost a savory intermezzo. A single tender morsel of offal-y sweetbread served in a earthy sweet sauce made from cauliflower and black truffle.


8: Venison - Parsnip, Matsutake, Chocolate
B. Levet, "les Journaries," Côte Rôtie, Rhone, France 2007
The final savory was a beautifully crimson slice of seared venison. The meat is quite lean showing off a steely character. The parsnip and chocolate help round out the meaty heft but are a bit too sweet. The sprig of grilled Matsutake proved to be the critical element thanks to a woody musk that ties the plate together.


9: Teleme - Walnut, Cranberry, Black Truffle
Our cheese was a mild semi-soft variety that served as an excellent medium for the crumbled black truffle. The white truffle honey provides a brighter floral counterpoint to the weighty black truffle while the toast adds a much needed textural contrast.


Intermezzo: Sorbet - Yogurt, Apple, Celery
Our first dessert started as a soothing mixture of bright green candied apple and tangy yogurt but the celery infused soup adds a cerebral bitter wrinkle to the mix.


Toffee Cake - Alba Truffle Ice Cream, Raisin, Pomegranite
Boxler, "Sommerberg," Grand Cru, Riesling Vendages Tardives, Alsace, France 2009
Our formal dessert was a rich toffee cake soaked in lemon giving the pastry a built in restraint. The truffle vanilla ice cream was equally impressive suffusing the palate with an even truffle and vanilla bouquet.


Mignardises - Palet d'or, White Truffle Truffle, Black Truffle Macaron
Our meal ended with three superb little treats. The Truffle and Macaron were straightforwardly delicious where the Palet d'or was a bit more complex with a buttery puff pastry contrast to the truffled and chocolate.


As expected, Chef Stone delivers once again, putting together a menu showcasing the versatility and range of truffles. Some courses follow classic approaches that celebrate the sublime musk of the prized fungus while others take a more cerebral approach using truffles to compliment or enhance.

Recently an article came out about Curtis Stone saying that he opened Maude to prove he was a chef and not just a TV personality. Judging from my three experiences I have to say mission accomplished!



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