Monday, April 12, 2010

Lunch at Ubuntu with legendary cooking maven Deborah Madison, Part 2



So there we were, full as ticks, contemplating the serious question of whether to polish off that bottle of wine or do what has always proved impossible for me: order dessert.  

(Note: I've never been able to make it to the dessert course there, much to my dismay, even after four visits, since we always end up polishing off the entrees and so can't even contemplate such wonders as their Meyer lemon sorbet or sublime-looking cheesecake in a jar.  Some day, some day...)

Back at the beginning of the meal, when we had been discussing the menu, I had asked the waiter if we could possibly have their grits, since I'm still wallowing in memories of the dish I'd had of them way back in February.  

I know what you're thinking, too: You're kidding me... grits?  But this is what ground corn aspires to when it's left home, headed for Broadway, and is aiming for a Tony.  At Ubuntu, simple grits are transported into something that even outdoes polenta in the creaminess department.

Grits
And that's when the final entree winged its way to our table.  We protested some more, this time a bit more emphatically, but it still was exquisite. 

Deborah admired the way that soft, stewed garbanzo beans were combined with fried ones, allowing us to enjoy the different textures and flavors this produced.  The egg yolk was just barely done, so as it split open, it provided an extra sauce to one that was already described in "our farm EGG a la Catalan, stewed chickpeas; roasted CALCOTS with sauce romesco, sylvetta ARUGULA."  That romesco sauce was indeed divine, the roasted calcot onions sweet and creamy, but we were beyond full and regretfully left most of the plate untouched.

An egg made insanely good
Chef London appeared at this point so that he could talk with Deborah.  Only 26, he's been in the restaurant business since he was 13 and has worked in Paris and Tokyo.  Charming and ebullient, he talked about how he longed for the vacuum cooker called a Gastrovac, molecular gastronomy, and various points in between.  He stayed for as long as he could before the kitchen called him back.

Fennel cupcakes
Our waiter sidled in with a last gift: three tiny cakes called "mini vegan FENNEL pollen cupcakes; cream cheese frosting, bronze FENNEL."  Just barely sweet and unusually light, we ate them with abandon, delighting in the creaminess and almost savory anise aroma that enveloped our mouths.

Walking out into the pouring rain, I made myself a promise: next time I'm starting with dessert and working my way backwards.

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