Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday Vegas 3: Bouchon, Serrano again, E



Wednesday begins with cab ride to The Venetian for breakfast grapefruit and tea at Bouchon. Tea not as good as before but grapefruit is still fantastic.
Worth $11 cab ride to go to the only non-union hotel on the strip and give more money to Sheldon Adelson to give to his pal Newt Gingritch? It has to be really good grapefruit to warrant that.
The lunch tapas at Julian Serrano’s were much more successful than the lobster disaster from Monday night. Actually damaged my legs with the 3 mile walk from the Venetian back to the Excalibur so never lifted weights but recovered enough to walk over to the Aria for Julian’s scallop and stuffed pepper plus cava.
Finally, at 5:15 I’m at Jose Andres' micro-restaurant e 15 minutes early, as the reservation commands. I choose the mocktail pairing but have a gin tonic from the bar while waiting to go into e. Synchronistically, the gin tonic I had at the bar, inspired by the taunt “the best gin tonic you’ll ever have” on the Ipad drink menu, turns into the perfect preface to my first e course: a gin tonic turned into foam. Same drink, different texture. The room is full of library files from which oddities appear and are expected. Thereafter, we are assaulted with a box of rings (Beet jewelry), carmelized pork rinds which don’t appeal and Spanish “clavel” which is equally forgettable. We even get delicacies on copies of Jose's hands. I don’t remember the apple Brazo de Gitano at all, nor the Nitro Almond Cup, too slight a meal to trigger memory, Not the Crispy Chicken Skin in Escabeche. I had no idea chicken skin was edible, any more than I knew fish skin was edible before my meal at Guy Savoy last Feb. This was probably the best dish. I was stunned. Equally stunned by the intensity of the Jose Taco, caviar wrapped in ham. It was an explosion of the mouth. The following Oliva Seerica Ferran Adria brought the genius of El Bulli into the hungry mouths of Vegas, followed shortly with a Cava Sangria sphere, equally as entertaining. Unfortunately, between the spheres of liquid pleasure was what was described as Madrid street food, a Bocata De “Calamares,” which instead of the squid taste I always admire, the assault of sea urchin deprived me of any pleasure and painfully occupied space in my stomach I would have preferred to fill with far better food. I could have told the restaurant I don’t eat sea urchin, but hoped that Jose could come up with an edible sea urchin course just as Archatz did with previously inedible oysters at his Alinea. I was getting to the point that eating more food was increasingly difficult, so wasted stomach space was a particular problem. The last dish I could actually finish was the Artichoke “Puree” with Vanilla. The following Lobster with Citrus and Jasmine was delicious but no longer within my realm of consumption. Alas. The chickpea stew with Jamon Iberico ham was easily abandoned and the turbot with bone marrow was, like Le Cirque’s turbot, not nearly as good as the turbot at Picasso. The Rosemary Wild Mushrooms in Papillote was pretty good, but the Secreto of Iberico Pork with Squid was one of the highlights. Finally pork as good as I’m used to from the great Tonkatsu restaurants of Tokyo. That was a week ago, and I can still taste that great pork in my memory. Thereafter, 7 deserts. Maybe people who enjoy sweets would have enjoyed them. Not me.
I staggered over to Fleur after this ponderous meal, and sat down on an available chair. Marisol insisted I move to a more comfortable chair. I protested, but eventually gave in and savoured the comforting softness. Marisol demanded I put my feet up. I took my shoes off, but she brought a cloth to cover the chair so I could put my shoed feet on the welcoming chair. This is a good example of the Fleur experience I sampled daily during my trip, but every time I went to Fleur, I was welcomed.

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