June 22, 2010

Moto Restaurant with My Mom

As I mentioned, I recently enjoyed a fantastical dinner at Moto restaurant with my mom, courtesy of chef and mastermind of molecular gastronomy, Homaro Cantu.
When our 10s, or ten course meal, began with the words, "You may now eat your menu," it was clear we were in for an unusual evening. Had we been more strategic, we would have eaten a large breakfast and then nibbled lightly, very lightly during the day in order to prepare our bodies for this marathon of meals, ten courses at Moto.

Each staff person we encountered at Moto was either a culinary student or graduate of such a school. Take for instance, the dapper Trevor Hamblin, who gave us thorough descriptions of each course (twice), each drink, patiently answered our many questions and chatted more amicably with my mother than I did (kidding!).

After noshing on our menus, we were eager for the first course: chicaqua ("shee-cah-gwa") onions, the city's namesake. Cute, tiny, pink onions with a bulb the size of my 10 year-old son’s pinky nail served with flat bread. Delightful.
It could take as long to blog this meal as it did to eat eat--2.5 hours(!), so I'll share highlights.

The chef works with trained sommeliers to come up with pleasing combinations. The most interesting pairing was this German rauche bier or smoked beer. Mmm. tastes like bacon...and beer. Interesting.

The "Reuben lasagna," looked like the latter, but tasted like the former. Consisting of brisket, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut, the sandwich, I mean lasagna, smelled like a childhood memory, but I'm not sure which one. Trying to place that elusive scent, I kept sniffing, deeply inhaling to no avail, but fortunately did not draw attention from curious onlookers.
The Cuban pork sandwich was a definite win and the presentation was brilliant.
The cigar-sandwich consisted of braised pork confit and (something else), mixed with in house pickles and white bread, deep friend, wrapped in braised collard greens then in smoked red pepper puree sitting atop a bed of ash made of black and white sesame seed ground with Cuban spices. The presentation is wonderful. It was a bit salty, but overall crisp, chewy, and satisfying.

Bubble Tea?No, watermelon soup! This got points for originality, but then again so did every other course of the evening. Dig if you will this picture, watermelon consomme with ginger and lemon, “scallop sous vide in lemon oil” with citrus peel for flavor and a bit of mint. The broth itself was intriguing, but the fish combo didn't work for my Mom or me. For what it's worth, I'm not a huge fan of Bubble Tea, either.

How about rabbit maki risotto? Looks like sushi, but it's not. This mouthful was made with rabbit loin and brussels sprouts wrapped in mushroom paper and rolled in rice, as well as sesame and poppy seeds. It was served with aoli with allspice, and daikon marinated in beet juice instead of ginger and freeze dies peas instead of wasabi. Tasty as long I could keep thoughts of cute little bunnies out of my head.

Remember our patient waiter? He must have thought I was hard of hearing I asked him to describe this next dish over and over again. Broccoli rabe and pork belly braised in stock that starts with caramel and is flavored with lemon grass, chili and like five other things that boil down into the glaze.

The dish was too complicated for me to transcribe (did I mention the many glasses of wine?) no matter how many times Trevor repeated it. Mushroom stems pureed blah blah and made into what sounds like a meringue version of the original mushroom. WTH? But, oh, look how lovely!
Delicious course; I especially like the sweet and delicious glaze that had just a hint of spice.

Not quite, but close to dessert, we enjoyed this classic Italian dessert morphed into a savory Mexican one.

The actual dessert courses included Pad Thai-esque, featuring sorbet "pad thai," mango cream, vanilla rice pudding, coconut sorbet and lime slice made out of thai basil, cilantro and lime juice Mom told me she'll never look at pad thai the same way.

We ended the meal, which felt like more of an event, really, with a root beer float Moto-style. That is, a beaker of locally brewed root beer topped with a vanilla infused packing peanut dipped in liquid nitrogen, for a magical effect.

Our dinner at Moto was an unforgettable mother-daughter experience, but heck, dining partners aside, a dinner at Moto is just plain memorable.

Click here for more Moto photos from the launch party of their Planet Green Show, Future Food.


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