That Potato Did Not Warn Me

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Pretty harmless looking huh?

I tried to put off writing about the Paul Liebrandt meal for a while because sometimes, it just feels decent to leave some experiences as… well, just experiences — instead of turning them into some flat, lifeless narration from my biased point of view as I am about to do right now.

Here is the thing about ‘molecular gastronomy’. What am I supposed to feel about it? These days, I look at restaurant and food review websites and would always feel an unstoppable force in the form of a grimace sprout itself over my face whenever I see the face. It’s so embarrassingly pretentious. Critics are sick of the phrase. Even the chefs that are supposedly practicing such ‘style’ of cooking deny association with it, or expand it into a longer string of milder words to the likes of ‘bringing a personal and experimental touch to tradition [insert nationality] cuisine’, while sneakily spherificating peach juice and turning soybeans into edible paper with some Dürer illustration in fruit ink printed all over them.

Yet… I love it. I love it in all its pretentiousness and triumphs and failures. I didn’t like the beef tartare, there’s something awkward between the meat and the blini. I loved the foie gras spheres, they were powerfully graceful. I remember every single ingredient and every conversation that punctuated them because this is one of those few meals with the rents when we would inevitably focus 70% of our conversation on the food we’re eating and the rest on memories associated with them. It was – how would you put it – fun , from beginning to end. Strangely enough, the most memorable moment came at the start of the meal as I put the innocent looking amuse-bouche into my mouth. It looked like a tatter-tot in the shape of a perfect sphere, and I was brutally ambushed as it exploded into a sweet rush of liquid potato in my mouth. It came as such as surprise it left me sitting there, dazed, with a silly look of wonderment on my face, like a child who just discovered that babies don’t come out of cracked eggs.

You only discover babies don’t come out of cracked eggs so many times in your life… and then it’s up to potatoes like this to keep the fun coming.

Foie gras with beet borscht gelée, mustard apple and black olive

Wagyu Flairton beef and a demo on how to paint with vegetables.

Beef tartare on blini with a fleck of edible gold

Brioche with passion fruit, coffee and banana. That square of Stilton on the plank of banana? Good one.

'Smoked Caramel'... popcorn, brown butter crumble, pomegranate. Big. Bang.


Corton, 239 W Broadway, New York 10013, (Btwn Walker & White St)

Decor: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5
Taste: 4.5/5
Price/head: 120 USD (dinner)

A documentary following ten years of chef Paul Liebrandt‘s life in the kitchen, A Matter Of Taste, is premiering on HBO today!


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