This the 3rd pop-up dinner at Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe, by Mielye Mitchell, the chef de party at AnnaLena , partnering chef Jorge Tuane. I was first invited to “The Flavour of Spring“, his very first of the series, but missed the 2nd episode, “The Flavour of Summer”. This time, “The Flavour of Summer 2” was going to feature the local organic farm products of late summer in the 7 courses (including amuse bouche). My dear friend Areta (@foodgressing) again was the great company of the evening.
BEEF TAR TAR
Koji cured beef, lotus root chip, squid ink mayo, soy wasabi vinaigrette.
I really enjoyed the bold flavour on the beef tartare, prepared with koji, featuring the flavour of Japanese fermented rice, along with Squid Ink Mayo – an explosion of umami flavours. This one is definitely different from your typical tartare preparation, which is usually subtle in flavour but rich in luscious texture. I think it’s brilliant. And I was glad to see to lotus root chip is used for the vessel, which I did it myself. For the visual, chef Mielye created a tarragon flavoured powdery snow with molecular gastronomy to support the lotus chip, which happened to taste good but was not credited on the menu.
Hairloom grape tomatoes, pickled Sunshine watermelon, cous cous, creame fraiche
Paired with Le Viuex Pin Vaila Rose 2017
This dish sets the tone of a summer dinner. The details of care on the tomato and watermelon are exquisite. The cous cous adds texture and complexity, and the subtle citrusy flavour is right on point. I really liked the French rose wine to pair with the freshness of the dish.
Roasted Beets, quinoa tabouleh, burrata, peach, hazelnuts, beet soil
paired with Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2016
I feel like the course is very similar to the first course in concept but with more details and crunchy texture. Just like the watermelon in the last course, the peach adds some complexity of flavour. But both dishes were much alike.
tuna, cucumber, pear, ponzu charred scallion mayo, nori chip
paired with Godella Bierzo Encanto 2016
This was the first dish that wowed me. Not particularly a big fan of albacore tuna, which I usually find boring in flavour and texture, I actually really enjoyed the flavour on this. The ponzu charred scallion mayo packs a punch of flavour, making a more vibrant dish than it looks.
Mussels, sweet corn tomato broth, poblano pepper, charred corn, sourdough crumb, chorizo oil
paired with Orofino Gamay 2017
This dish reminds me of the mussels dish at AnnaLena, but again with the crunchy texture added to the dish as the chef’s personal preference. The corn is the fun seasonal element here and works really well with mussels and tomato. The flavours in the dish rock but the crunch of the sourdough crumbs are a little too much for me.
LAMB & LOBSTER
Lamb belly, lobster, smoked carrot puree, tomato garlic jus, market greens
Paired with Cotes de Jura Rouge 2015
For the first time having lamb and lobster for a surf and turf dish, I truly enjoyed the combination. Both lamb belly and lobster are succulent and satisfying. The flavours are spot on as I love the incorporation of fresh vegetable in the sauces.
Yogurt pannacotta, fennel honey, puffed wild rice, variations of plum
The pannacotta is more like “broken” pannacotta which is not in the form of the solid jelly texture. Overall the flavours were good from the plums. Again there is the crunchy texture from the puffed rice, but it is more refined and feels good on the palate.
This was a lovely dinner and a nice showcase for the seasonal fresh ingredients such as tomato, beet, and corn. The chef told me that he loved putting texture in his dishes and it definitely showed here. Although I’m a texture guy myself, for a 6-course dinner plus amuse bouche, I thought the crunch could be toned down a little bit to create a contrast between courses, making the experience more memorable. The highlights for me were the tuna dish and the surf and turf dish with lobster and lamb. It’s no easy feat to make the boring Albacore tuna vibrant and fun to eat in a dish. And the combination of lobster and lamb is just brilliant – a first time for me and I truly enjoyed it.