Sunday, April 22, 2012

4.20 HERB Dinner by LQ & SK - 04/20/2012

What better way to celebrate 4/20 than with an "herb" dinner.  This was actually the second in the series but felt more apropos because of the date.  The dinner continues the successful collaboration between Laurent Quenioux and Thi and Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen fame.  Despite all the secrecy and cloak-and-dagger theatrics there was actually relatively little cannabis with most of the courses featuring "Chinese herbs" instead.

Silkie Bantam Chicken - Chicken Skin, Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, Cannabis leaves, Citrus oil,  Pickled Beets, Solomon's Seal
Beer - Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale
For those who don't see the bird as a pet, Silkie Bantams are prized for their flavor and firm lean flesh.  That texture is a bit lost on in the spongy core, but the "cap" of chicken still exhibits the delightful toothsomeness that the breed is known for. The creamy guacamole is laced with plenty of citric tang which compliments the gentle savor of the meat nicely.

Spare Ribs - Angelica Root, Bergamot Glazed Pork Belly, Green Apple, Green Garlic, Slaw
Earl Grey (bergamot) Tea Weed Cocktail - apple-cannabis tincture
The ribs are seasoned with Angelica Root, the vegetal bitterness reminds me of countless Chinese herbal remedies that I've had throughout the years.  The belly was more to my liking, the bergamot was quite faint leaving the unadulterated unctuousness of the fat.  The slaw provided succulence to counter the oil of the belly but could have used some acidity or spice.  The accompanying cocktail was a touch one note, I enjoyed the mouth-puckering tang but felt that it didn't

Monkfish - Congee, Cannabis Epazote Pesto, Nettles, Shiso, Young Carrots
Cho Sun One - Ganja Sesame oil on perilla leaf - korean pear, american moonshine
This was my favorite course of the night.  The cooking on the fish is spot on: moist, pliant, and muscular texturally with an aromatic butteriness.  The succulent tomatoes add a tingling sweetness, but it is the congee that provides most of the flavor thanks to the distinctive herbaceousness of the pesto as well as a palpable tingle of spice.

Beef Culotte - Onion Bacon Cannabis Tart, Sunchoke, Nameko
Gin Gibson - Smoking gun Ganja garnish
The culotte or top sirloin cap tends to be a tougher cut and though the meat was well cooked, it sat too long before serving.  The result is a lukewarm slightly congealed texture.  The accompaniments were enjoyable particularly the lightly pickled tang of the Nameko mushrooms.  A solid dish, this could have been excellent if it were served promptly.  The cocktail was something of an adventure, raw gin cut with an intensely savory smoke that reminded me of bacon or smoked fish.

Osmanthus Panna Cotta - Rhubarb, Namelaka, Blood Orange sorbet, Cannabis Soil, Kumquat, Asparagus
Bhang Lassi - garam masala, milk , almonds, hashish
There was so much on the plate that I didn't even know where to begin.  By and large the elements on the plate were enjoyable enough individually, particularly the panna cotta.  However taken all together it was difficult to see how all the pieces fit together.  The asparagus was the oddest inclusion and judging from the reactions at our table I wasn't alone in this opinion.

I think Laurent has been working wonders ever since partnered with the Starry Kitchen team and while the food here exemplified the strengths of their partnership but I think the overall experience left something to be desired.  Where the first "herb dinner" had 30 diners, this time around the team served 105 and the result was a banquet-style meal with people packed cheek to jowl. To be fair most people appreciated the communal atmosphere, but with so many diners the unavoidable delay between plating and service meant dishes tended to come slightly cold.  I appreciated the creativity and effective use of unique "herbs" but the mechanics of the meal could have been a bit better.


Amy said...

I felt that the best part about this dinner was the communal aspect. There was a very eclectic mix of people there - and no, not just stoners! Plus, it was a pleasure meeting you and running into Kevin as well!

Starry Kitchen said...

Amy- ...and that was the very intention too. If you're going to share an illegal+underground dinner (w/ DJ+Drinks), you might as well make some new friends. I heavily believe in the communal experience (and yes, I'm so thankful it wasn't all stoners either.. *phew)

Ryan- thanks for the write up. I will say a lot of the experience might have been lost on you since your friend JUST emailed you the instructions, story and etc while you were driving to the event. As far as the food being colder than it should I concede to that, and it helps to understand that the space we were in did NOT have a kitchen either. As you may know, we had to trek back and forth between the loft and your friends left which made for a VERY interesting circumstance, and pretty much setup our own kitchen+staging area.

Either way, thanks for coming out. This dinner for us was more about the experience and less about any singular thing. Food possibly better enjoyed individually, but when was the last time you went to an illegal+underground+eating+rave event??? ;)


Team SK
Nguyen Tran
(aka the "Commodore Booty McHooters")

Anonymous said...


Epicuryan said...

It was a pleasure meeting you as well. It was definitely a very diverse group and from the general atmosphere a group of relative strangers that got on pretty well.

Team SK,
I can certainly respect what you were going for with the illicit communal dinner. I probably would have appreciated the experience a bit more if I wasn't fighting off what was the beginning of a pretty vicious bout of food poisoning. Cramps, chills, and aches don't make it easy to enjoy being in a crowded makeshift space. Still I'm glad I got to experience it.


Starry Kitchen said...

Epicuryan- oh SUCK! Yeah, I could understand trying to recover from that and NOT loving being cramped w/ 100 other people. That would lessen my experience immensely. BUMMER! Sorry that you had to go through that (and hope you didn't get food poisoning from one of your regular hang outs either)