Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday, Vegas 3: RM Seafood, Bar Masa, Twist

Breakfasting at Mon Ami Gabi with a Scientific American I picked up the previous day at the “bookstore” at Cyrstals. Title article is The Quantum Universe: Could foamlike fluctuations rule spacetime at the tiniest scale? Seems to go perfectly with all the foam I had last night at E. No chamomile at Gabi today, instead I go for the ginger peach- should be well paired with my ginger topped grapefruit. I was fantasizing drinking ginger beer last night, maybe from one of the drinks but certainly in anticipation of this breakfast. The pairing of the candy and the tea are worthy of Jose Andres last night. Reading the article, “information, not matter and energy, constitutes the most basic unit of existence,” reminds me of my experience with the prawns at Mix last Feb, in the sense that love is information.
As I’m eating, the mag in front of me on the table, my server asks me if I’m a scientist. On the periphery of science. A writer. Where you from? Vancouver. You a student? No, a teacher (OK, past tense- I was a teacher longer than I was a student). Do I look like a student, I don’t ask? Must be the hair. It may be white, but it sure is funny looking- though students these days tend to be much straighter looking than in my days.

At Rick Moonen’s place. Really wanted to have that Moonen Doggie John Curtas raved about. But it’s off the menu for tweeking. Maybe I never will get to eat one. ELV recommended the Evening Walk cocktail. The catfish sloppy joe has been recommended so I order that and the waiter talks me into ordering the crab cake. Curtas was right about the Evening Walk being an adult cocktail: Tanqueray Rangpoor, Zirbenz pine liqueur, Cochi Americano, Rosemary twig. Very intricate, subtle, evolving and never overpowered by the rosemary swig I had my doubts about. The same herb was involved with the drink at Hastings House I was drinking when the quest idea first came to me- and that wasn’t even a good cocktail. This drink takes awhile for the rosemary to kick in and when it does, it blends perfectly with the pine liqueur, adding a new rung of pleasure to the vast goodness of the crab and holding its own against the bbq’d intensity of the sloppy catfish. It adds a sort of intellectual texture to the dishes – more for my brain to do as I’m eating. This level of complexity is what I was expecting but didn’t get too often from E last night. That was more an assault of food. I'd watched an interview with the chef on Al Mancini's webcast Top of the Food Chain and looked forward to talking with Anthony Fusco about sustainable seafood, but he had moved to Texas. Perhaps I'll be able to get in touch with Rick Moonen his sustainable self. The sustainable seafood crusade undertaken by Vancouver's aquarium has affected sea food restaurants and even big chain grocery stores throughout this city. Why not Vegas as well? Perhaps Moonen will know.

Bar Masa
As Mix took its great King Prawns off the menu (still on web menu, most duplicitously), I went over to Bar Masa at the Aria where I had been eyeing the Maitaki Mushrooms with truffles on the web menu since preparations for this trip began. I discussed liquid pairings with my bartender Susan who recommended a Japanese beer I’d never heard of, Hitachino Nest, aged in cedar casks. First I think it’s from a prefecture I’ve never heard of, but upon examining the bottle, I find it’s from Ibaraki, not at all distant from Chiba where I lived most of my life in Nihon. The more I drink of this beer, the better it gets and it does indeed blend perfectly with the mushrooms with serious truffles, the first meal I’ve had in Vegas where I can really taste the truffles and enjoy them accordingly. The beer just keeps on getting better and better, more a winter beer, a season they don’t really have here. The maitaki remind me of the great mushroom dish I had at Charlie Trotters in 2008, the highest compliment I can pay any dish.

Twist

At the bar across from Twist. This may indeed be the best bar view in Vegas. As I walk in , the band is playing All Blues, as enjoyable a tune as the view and the eats and drinks, which is saying a lot. A few minutes before, when I left neighbouring Bar Masa, I heard a familiar Vince Guaraldi tune. A little girl in the lobby said, “Charlie Brown,” in familiarity with the song, whose name escapes me but it is from those TV shows. Couldn’t have asked for a better tune to go with the divine Maitaki. I see a woman at the piano with a tip jar. Hopefully, Guaraldi lovers filled the jar. I’m too early to go into Twist so I finally try out its bar on the other side of the elevators from Twist. They tell me they have the same cocktails as Twist but I go for an Unusual Negroni to get me into the citrus mood for the citrusy seafood to come.
When I finally escape the exquisite view and head into Twist, I am surprised to be remembered and get a great table, and the same waiter I had last year, whose fiancée works at e where I had dined the night before. In a biography of Fernan Adria I read recently, it was written that Fernan was inspired to his particular path of culinary adventure by dining at one of Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurants in France.

"Gagnaire's menu at the time was aggressively idiosyncratic, offering such dishes as lobster cream with melon juice, pigeon chutney, and crispy crepes and hyssop-flavoured young rabbit and rabbit kidney with tripe, sweetbreads cooked with garlic confit and spicy pepper sauce. Ferran says that it was, by sampling creations like these, that he first realized just how far it was possible for a chef to go."
p.124
Ferran, by Colman Andrews.


Even though Andres is not Adria, it’s easy to see the influences in flow here. Thankfully they still have the passion fruit cocktail I so enjoyed on my previous two trips and good as those drinks were, tonight’s is the best yet. I order two. Food is hit and miss, the usual for Gagnaire. After a torrent of amuse bouches, I order the scallops 3 ways from the appetizer menu.

MAINE DIVER SCALLOPS
Oven baked Scallop Tart, Scented with Curcuma, Grapefruit Honey Fondue
Grilled Scallop, Served on Artichoke Cream, Red Port Syrup
Scallop Mousseline with Lime, Celery Salad & Paris Mushrooms

They remind me of Akira Back’s raw scallops from his contest with Martin Heirling at the Uncork’d event I attended last May, though these are cooked. I was least satisfied with the grapefruit scallops, though grapefruit is the fruit my body has the greatest craving for. The lime didn’t make itself known in the moussaline as much as I’d expected. Still, a fine meal with once again, a perfect beverage.
I asked my friend Doc Technical to photo shop an image of a drop of water on a seat at Twist, an illustration of the experience I had at Twist last Feb. Here’s what he came up with.







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