NYC: Per Se (Nov. 2012)
Restaurant: Per Se
Exec Chef: Thomas Keller
Chef de Cuisine: Eli Kaimeh
Date: November 24, 2012
I’ve been lucky enough to try Per Se quite a few times, and going this latest time probably involved the most ridiculous story yet. The night before, we had gotten a little drunk in KTown, and we ended the night with some pho. I forgot what we were talking about, but I asked the three others if they were free for lunch the next day and then spontaneously made reservations for lunch the next day.
…Okay, maybe I was more than a little drunk. ANYWAY, it was not a great night for me. I ended up just staying awake the entire night and drinking lots of coconut water and water; I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get a hangover and that I wouldn’t have the chance of missing lunch by oversleeping. It worked; I didn’t have a hangover! At the same time, I felt… ridiculously tired and out of it during lunch. Still, the food was great as usual!
It was also my friend’s first time trying caviar, foie gras, and truffles! (The others got the “Oysters and Pearls” and foie gras terrine dishes.) I guess it’s a great way to introduce yourself to those three luxury ingredients haha.
We had the typical nine-course with some additions and modifications:
1. I got the vegetable menu’s potage in place of my caviar dish, while the other three got “Oysters and Pearls”.
2. I got the pumpkin “velouté” instead of the foie gras terrine, while the other three had the foie. (For some reason, I’ve been sick of foie for a while :(.)
3. We added the white truffle tagliatelle as an extra dish.
Gruyere Cheese Gougeres.
CARAMELIZED SALSIFY “POTAGE”
Golden Raisins, Shaved Celery Branch, and Madeira-Chestnut Mousseline
This dish had a lot of fall flavors. The salsify potage and madeira-chestnut mousseline meshed together really well, and the raisins and celery added a few more welcome elements to the dish, which was really light (though that might be because it was a small portion?) and provided a nice start to the meal.
WHITE TRUFFLE OIL–INFUSED CUSTARD
“Ragout” of Black Winter Truffles
Salsify “Beignet”, Flowering Quince, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
SAUTEED FILLET OF COLUMBIA RIVER STURGEON
“Pipérade”, Young Fennel, Smoked Eggplant, Cilantro Shoots, and Spicy Clam Emulsion
NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER “MITTS” TEMPURA
Koshihikari Rice, Hard-Boiled Hen Egg, Charred Scallions, Heirloom Carrots, and Ponzu
This was really good, but I felt like the ponzu sauce overpowered the taste of the lobster a bit. I think I just like the normal butter-poached lobster dishes much more—I really feel like the flavor of the lobster in the normal butter-poached lobster courses is just much more intense and foodgasmic. It kiiiiiiiind of made me sad because it was the others’ first time at Per Se; I wish that they had gotten the chance to try normal butter-poached lobster!
Shaved White Truffles from Alba, Brown Butter (added to release more flavor)
You can probably tell how good it is. I mean… white truffles. Tagliatelle. Yeah.
CRISPY SALMON CREEK FARMS’ PORK JOWL
“Cassoulet” of Rancho Gordo Beans, Sweet Garlic Cream, Tomato Marmalade, and “Sauce Dijonnaise”
This was my favorite dish of the meal (even more than the tagliatelle with white truffles)! There’s something about pork jowl that just makes me incredibly happy when I eat it. (It’s probably all the fat. Yep.) I wish I could say more about how the other elements added to the dish, but… it was one of those moments where I didn’t really think about what I was eating and just enjoyed it happily ^_^. (I vaguely remember the pork jowl melting in my mouth, and I also remember the others sighing with happiness!)
SNAKE RIVER FARMS’ “CALOTTE DE BOEUF”
Yukon Gold Potato “Mille-Feulle”, Wilted Arrowleaf Spinach, Glazed Pearl Onions, and “Béarnaise Mousseline”
I really like Snake River Farms’ beef; it’s always been really juicy and tender whenever I’ve had it. Anyway, I always love Per Se’s preparation of their beef. The beef dishes here have been among my all-time favorites! (Anyway, the others loved this dish, too. Quoting my friend: “That was the best piece of beef I have ever eaten.”)
COBB HILL’S “ASCUTNEY MOUNTAIN”
Grilled Cheese “Pain Perdu”, Green Tomato “Chow Chow”, Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, and Pimentón (Paprika) Mayonnaise
“Biscuit Cuillère”, Limoncello “Panna Cotta”, Pear Soda, and White Wine Granité
“Pain d’Epice”, Whipped Buddha’s Hand, Orange Buttercream, and Tangerine Sorbet
-Per Se’s Version of an “Ice Cream Sandwich”
-24 House-Made Chocolates
-Cinnamon-Sugared Brioche Doughnuts with Cappuccino Semifreddo
-Tour d’Argent of Salted Caramel; Apple and Peanut-Chocolate Macarons; and Lemon Custard, Dark Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate Truffles
At the beginning of the meal, I bet my friend that she couldn’t finish all of the food. She had finished dessert and was satisfied that she was able to finish the food—then the oreos and chocolates came out. She had this annoyed look on her face, but she hadn’t given up! She began trying to finish all the little chocolates when the donuts came out—she had this “WTF” look on her face but still prepared herself to finish both the chocolates and the donuts.
THEN the truffles, macarons, and salted caramel came out, and she went, “NOT WORTH IT. I’M DONE.” It was pretty entertaining to see her reactions with each arrival of the mignardises. She gave it a good go, though!