Last night, I experienced Manresa on the penultimate night of the James Beard Foundation pop-up. I've been following Manresa for awhile, first through Pim's blog, then her tweets, then Manresa, David Kinch and John Paul Carmona separately. And now they were all in NYC! I jumped at the opportunity to experience David's graceful cooking, more Pippa than Posh, if you know what I mean.
I loved this complete story. Gazpacho, almond milk ice and pickled green strawberries: a bracing walk in the garden in the early morning. The vegetable beignet (not shown): velvety cooked veggies taking a dip in their former youth. The green strawberries turned white when pickled and added a little bit of Boo Radley, which was also nice.
The only time I ever eat abalone is Chinese New Year, where it's a symbol of hospitality and hope for future wealth. Here it was like a seaside steak, so firm and tight it clung to the knife for a split-second before it peeled away. It was served with grilled cucumber and avocado with "norinade", what I suppose is a seaweed chiffonade or (if you're performing your logic in an American accent), a marinade. This was like a Swiss Army knife of green's many pleasures: crisp lettuce, fatty avocado, pure umamied seaweed.
In terms of raw product, porcelet is suckling pig. But suckling pig in my world is a messy (though very delciious) affair that is plush with juice and fat. This porcelet came tidy and trim, the skin a savory crust as fine as a potato chip, served on a bed of whey polenta, rhubarb, hazelnut and spring onions. The whey polenta was my favorite, not rich and starchy like a grainy mashed potato (boring), but something pleasantly pliant and squeaky in the mouth, like putty.
Finally, we ended on this golden blister of a popover. Thecrust, in what was emerging as the theme of the night, was a dance of decadence and delicacy. Smeared with hibiscus-berry butter as sweet as sorbet and as light as goose down, it tasted like a victory lap.