Anniversary dinner at Manresa     27-Dec-06

This year for our anniversary, we chose to go to Manresa in Los Gatos. (Thanks, Bert!)

Overall, it was a lovely dinner. The place is cozy, elegant, and modern. We decided to go with the tasting menu, and I (Scott) took the wine pairing as well.

(Sorry for the photo quality - it was very dim there, and it was inappropriate to use a flash.)


Sourdough or olive (later walnut) bread, served with Plugra butter dotted with fleur de sel. (Wine: Henriour Souverain Champagne (sp?)). On the first round, the bread was warm and crusty, but the replacements were cold and soft.

Amuse bouche


Petit fours: red pepper gelée and black olive Madeline – both rich and savory; a wonderful start


Winter croquette with liquid foie gras and chestnut center, to be eaten in one bite – a wonderful flavor and mouth experience


Romanesca and foie gras royale – cool foie gras mousse resting below warm thick soup spotted with a tiny romanseca floret, pistachio speck, and pistachio oil – this was rich and complex


Arpege egg – layered cooked egg, sherry vinegar, maple syrup and whipped cream with chives – different textures, sweet/savory moments, and temperatures

Mains

I am allergic to fish and seafood. We both got the tasting menu, but Roswitha got seafood and I did not.

Wood-grilled foie gras, quince consommé, toast, applesauce, dotted with apple slivers and rosemary blossoms – smoked 6-12 minutes over oak (although it tasted more like mesquite), fleur de sel, very smoky; my favorite dish of the evening. (Paired wine: 1997 Franz Karl Schmitt Niersteiner Pettenthal Riesling, Auslese – sweet, floral, citrus, velvety, perfectly matched to dish)


Oysters en escabeche foam with carrots - one of Roswitha's favorites



Slow-cooked egg under thin brioche triangle with sweet onion soup – sweet comfort food. (2004 Henri Perrusset Macon-Village Chardonnay, Burgundy – dry, and hollowed out)


Salad of Autumn’s forgotten vegetables, roots, and marinated mushrooms sautéed separately and tossed with black truffle vinaigrette – very earthy and tasty, although many of the root vegetables seemed a bit overcooked. (2004 Guerrero Anais Piemonte – apple/pear fruit)


A carrot from the vegetables below (next course)




Monterey Bay Abalone in its own bouillon with foie gras (scented with lemon grass, floating nori, and spring onion chiffonade) - Roswitha's other favorite.



Vegetables from the garden with vegetable juice foam and gnocchi, served on a tippy plate. Although this was, on its own, excellent, following on the heels of the prior course made it seem too insubstantial. (2003 Pouilly-Fuissé Chateau de Beaurigard Joseph Burrier – pleasant limestone/mineral, hints of anise and allspice)


Atlantic fluke on the plancha with vegetables from the garden with an excellent chard tempura, parsnip and other root puree (excellent), red wine sauce


Roast suckling pig rack (tiny popsicle) with homemade boudin noir over parsnip purée – wonderful intense flavors, and the sausage was nicely seasoned and rich. (2003 Cune Viña Real Tempranillo, Rioja)


Roast breast of duck with glazed daikon over brushstroke of mandarin and bitter caramel and reduction – the duck was well cooked, but not as flavorful as it should have been; the sauce combination did help. (2003 Jura Arbois Jacques Puffeney – corky (but not corked) – the evening’s failure)


Roast Rack of Veal over oxtail and tendon raviolo with black truffle sauce and assortment of small marinated mushrooms (shitake, etc) with buttery cream – both the veal and raviolo were wonderful. (2004 Philippe Faury “Vieilles Vignes,” Saint Joseph – hint of tobacco, vanilla, rather jammy) - and, sorry, but we forgot to shoot this one before starting to eat.

Desserts


Avocado-grapefruit-condensed milk: Whipped cream over grapefruit granita over avocado mousse – subtly sweet, tart, and creamy


Buttermilk beignets with blood orange sauce and malt foam – perfect beignets and the two sauces complemented it well. (2004 Rudolf Müller Riesling Eiswein, Rheinhessen – I normally don’t like dessert wines, but I enjoyed this one)


Spoon of egg nog ice cream with hint of coconut – rich and custardy, and not too noggy


Hot chocolate spiced with habanero with home-made marshmallow disk and tonka bean brownie – yum!


Petit fours, decorated with candles for our anniversary: strawberry gelée and chocolate Madeline – looked exactly the same as first item we ate, coming full circle!
Notes:
  • Service was somewhat clumsy. Servers and others bumped into tables, looked elsewhere, and almost scraped the guest’s nose when removing silverware. It was not nearly the ballet of Per Se, the French Laundry, or Tetsuya’s.
  • Still, service was very attentive, with a knowledgeable willingness to proudly discuss the food, and give a kitchen viewing – we were made to feel special
  • Although it was not perfect, it was an excellent, world-class meal. We'd go back, and likely will.

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