Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Table At Season To Taste

I read about Season To Taste in Edible Boston and decided to go to “The Table”, a monthly dinner. We ended up at the event with Chris Edelman of Seafood Specialties (and also blogged about by Chef Robert Harris here: http://thetableatseaso…). Thursday nights “at The Table” are themed dinners with a special guest where you sit at “the table” with 8 other guests.  The table is right across the counter from the kitchen where Chef Harris and his staff prepare a meal. Edelman is supplier to some of the greats like Jody Adams at Rialto, Grant Achatz, and Thomas Keller (no joke).

Chef Harris

Chris Edelman of Seafood Specialties

The Atmosphere:
Chef Harris and George Nickolopoulos (Asst. GM) described “The Table” as a big social experiment. You might consider it weird to sit with 8 strangers at dinner, but it all worked.  Everyone shared a common interest in food and they were enjoyable company.  The format encourages the diners to ask questions, get up from the table and gawk at the kitchen (a few feet away), take pictures, and make comments.  You might be able to have some of that experience in a restaurant where you sit at the counter and the chefs are in front of you (O Ya, AKA Bistro, and B&G Oysters comes to mind), but the pace and atmosphere at “The Table” are much more conducive to being a part of the whole process rather than just watching.

The Food:
Chefs Harris and Edelman (both are classically French trained) had worked together ahead of time to come up with a five course meal titled “The French Evolution”. You can see it here.

Oysters:  Both preparations were generous and excellent.

Soup: The stock in this had an incredible aroma and Chris informed us that 8 different fish frames, and lobster shells had been used in developing this.  The Rouille had at least two types of paprika.  The grated Boggy Meadow Farms Fiddlehead Tomme was well-matched. Although a relatively simple presentation, the flavors were extremely well-developed, and accentuated by the lobster in the stock.  

The Maine shrimp in the timbale were in season and Chef made good use of them, poaching them with no shells.  The flavor on this was dish excellent and was accented by fine shreds of fried sweet potatoes.

They did an excellent job cooking the sole (it was perfect in fact) and the vegetables were well seasoned.   I thought it was clever that they bruleed the hollandaise sauce on the fish lightly before finishing it off.

Chef did a super job of par-boiling the lobster and then poaching it in butter.  The ginger-carrot reduction was inventive and really unified all of the elements on the plate.

For the dessert, there were two types of salt to season the chocolate.  So by now you’re thinking that sea salt is pretty mainstream with chocolate (yes, it is),  but the really clever twist on this which really blew me away was that he used smoked sea salt.  This is Viking Sea Salt available at Formaggio.

The Wine:

I am doing an injustice to the wine by not listing each of the pairings.  But I will say that I honestly enjoyed all of the wines that I tasted and was super-impressed with the prices on their wine list as representing real value.  For the five that I sampled (both imported and domestic), I thought they were all excellent.  Martin Langer of Oz Wines is their wine broker. I’m going to try to keep an eye out for the wines I had, especially the La Kiuva, Arnad-Montjovet, Valee D’Aoste (red!) paired with the fish course.  Red with fish? It’s not unheard of and it is becoming more mainstream. Yes, this worked and frankly it was a really cerebral pairing.  The bottle was ready to drink, but not so young as to be simple.  The nose was attractive and fruity.

The Whole Package:

For me, a lot of what I think about with any meal, whether at home, with friends, or in a restaurant is the total experience.  It’s about the food, the people, the atmosphere, and the memories you leave with.  For me, this was a 5 star experience. I had a great time chatting with Chris Edelman about fish, sustainability, cooking, and the fish business. I had a great time chatting with my compatriots at the table about all sorts of things, and not just food and wine. I had a really great time picking Chef’s brain and hearing about how he’s living the dream.

2447 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 826-9037