Replicate: What were you inspired to create/make this year based on something else?
Mike and I ate a lot of fancy dinners this year. Fancy might even be an understatement. We ate at some of the most creative restaurants in the world. There were mushroom mousses, foie gras shavings, molecularly deconstructed olives, gold-brushed balls of chocolate filled with passion fruit filling, mustard ice cream, oyster ice cream, sea urchin ice cream, fish bowls filled with a completely edible but totally realistic aquatic scene, an incredibly hard-shelled toffee dessert that I had to smack open with a knife to break it…
We ate some crazy awesome shit.
And Mike thought it would be fun to see if we could recreate any of that stuff ourselves.
I was totally into the idea and was excited to try to do something fancy, fun and different. We went shopping one day and bought all sorts of ridiculous items in hopes to make a themed dinner that would remind us of something we might see in a unique restaurant. Mike picked the theme: it would be a drug theme.
Uhh, I know. Totally weird, especially coming from two people who had to look up what magic mushrooms even look like. But we went for it and I spent hours in the kitchen, planning out and executing our meal. Our menu was as follows:
- Sauteed “Magic” Mushrooms served in a light truffle butter sauce
- Smoked Paprika Chorizo “Cigar” in puff-pastry, served alongside a glass of Lagavulin Scotch
- Marinated sardines on “lines” of salt
- “LSD” sugar cubes in 9 different surprising flavors (balsamic vinegar, lemon, truffle oil, lime, soy, curry, paprika, cherry, sesame oil)
- Mushroom and Spinach Confit “joints” baked in a wonton wrapper served with garlic aioli
- Cubes of watermelon “injected” with sangria and served with mint leaves
Our Drug Dinner
It was one of the most frustrating meals of my life. Nothing turned out right. The “cigar” puffed up to the size of a kielbasa, so I had to make new ones in an egg roll wrapper (for the photos, of course) the “joints” were kind of flavorless and the filling kept oozing out while being fried, the “magic mushrooms” were forgotten until the last minute. The sugar cubes were fun though and the watermelon was the best thing ever (thanks to Mike who made those).
So it didn’t all quite work out, but it was certainly a memorable meal! I have so much respect for the artists and chefs who have the vision and talent to pull this stuff off because I certainly couldn’t do it. I’d prefer to enjoy the experience that they give me instead of sweat it out in the kitchen for overly-ambitious and completely mediocre meals.
The effort put into this dinner probably wasn’t worth it. But we did get really amazing sangria-infused watermelon cubes out of it, so not all was lost. I wish I could make some of the items at the restaurants we go to, but the surprise and delight of the creativity is half of the fun, so perhaps it’s all better if it remains a mystery.