I'd been looking forward to this dinner since it was a rumor floating around a few months ago. If you haven't heard of it yet, LQ@SK is the collaboration between Chef Laurent Quenioux and Starry Kitchen in downtown LA. I'd been to the normal LQ@SK dinner as well as Bistro LQ, so I knew I could have high expectations for this dinner! I wanted to go to Chef Ludo's foie gras dinner really badly but I didn't because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't feel too guilty about spending the cash for this one.. white truffles are delicious, but not known for being economical. :P
When the reservations opened, Tiff and I made our reservations immediately and we were able to score 3 of the 24 golden tickets, hooray! On the suggestion of the Starry Kitchen peeps we headed out to Domaine LA the day before the dinner to get some wine pairings. The owner Jill was super helpful and helped us select three bottles that would could have throughout the courses, and even printed out the menu and coded it as to what wines went with each course.
And then, on November 14th, after all the anticipation.. we were there!
(btw, all the pictures are clickable for a larger version)
Amuse: Truffle Gel 2-ways - Gin and Tequila - these were fun, a little bit of molecular gastronomy to start the meal. I liked the tequila one better but that's no surprise.. I think gin tastes like dead christmas trees. And we had our first truffles of the night... the smell when they started bringing out the dishes was totally intoxicating!
Cucumber Ice Cream, Salmon Roe, Blinis, Truffles - this dish was light and delicious. I loved the cucumber ice cream, it really surprisingly well with the other parts of the dish.
Cold Poached Quail Egg Mold in Aspic with Celeriac, Fresh Truffles - not one of my better pictures of the night, but if you look closely you can see there is a big slice of truffle inside the mold! This was a deliciously savory dish, the aspic had a very rich flavor and the egg inside was just the right amount of runny.. yum.
Truffle Panna Cotta, Sea Urchin Emulsion, Tosaka Seaweed - uh.. you can see how much truffle is on top of that uni, right?!! and what you can't see is how much is in the panna cotta just underneath. I think this was probably one of my dining partners' favorite dishes of the night. I definitely liked it a fair bit, despite my seafood 'problem' (sadly, I don't like a lot of seafood). I keep trying seafood in the hopes that it will grow on me. I think uni might be one of those things that will end up in the 'approved' category based on my progress.
because I took a good picture and because it was one of the favorites, how about a close up?
Rabbit Tartare with Truffle, Celery Root Truffle Remoulade, Argan Oil Vinaigrette - cute animals taste better! I love rabbit, but had never had rabbit tartare before.. and actually, this was quite delicious. Rabbit can be a little gamey sometimes but this wasn't, it had great full flavor. And, of course, it was crusted with truffles...
Green Daikon, Dungeness Crab, Serrano Ham Pico De Gallo - crab is already on my 'ok' list of seafood, I like it. And this crab was super tasty! mmmm. the ham in the 'pico de gallo' gave a nice kick to the dish.
Scottish Hare Truffle Consomme, Boudin Blanc, Hare Shu-mai - I think this was my favorite dish of the night. those shu-mai were so darkly delicious... I'm not sure if I want to know what other parts of the hare were in there.. ignorance was bliss, though!
Truffle Lobster Tapioca Pudding, Diver Scallop, Green Tea Sabayon - this looked so delicious.. it's one huuuge scallop, sitting in delicious and covered with delicious.. unfortunately.. scallops are one of my most hated seafood items. I did try it. And then I gave it to my dining partners who devoured it in about 5 seconds, declaring 'you're crazy! this is amazing!'.
Truffle Congee, Spiny Lobster, 24 months Comte Cheese - I will confess that I also donated the lobster (after trying it) to my dining partners. I *did* eat all the delicious stuff surrounding it though.. yum.
Monkfish Cheek, Hazlenut Butter Vinaigrette, Leeks, Truffles - the last seafood dish, yay! haha I think most people have the opposite reaction.. anyway, I *did* eat this one. the fish was very mild flavored and rich tasting.
Scrambled Eggs, Truffles, Nopales, Truffle Mole - this dish wins the 'weirdest dish of the night' award (along with the 'worst picture of the night' award). Despite seeming a little incongrouous with the rest of the dishes, it was great. The mole sauce was complex and rich and delicious.. I wouldn't mind having a little of this mole to go with the leg of my Thanksgiving turkey..
Oxtail and Truffle Grilled Cheese - oxen aren't cute, but somehow they still are really delicious. The oxtail was a delicious mush of rich fatty meat. I was getting a bit tipsy from the wine at this point and declared that I wanted a large vat of the oxtail meat where I could just stick my hands in and eat it in true glutton style.. yeah, it was that good. The grilled cheese was a good match to the oxtail and yum too - how can you go wrong with grilled cheese?!
Bone Marrow Toast, Beef Culotte, Truffles, Huckleberries - this is an item I'd love to see as a full entree on a menu somewhere. But, with the same amount of bone marrow for the full entree's worth of beef. I think it was at this point in the dinner that I started feeling that all the fatty food was catching up to me.. oof. Regardless, the beef was exceedingly tender and well cooked, the huckleberries stood up well to the beef flavor and the bone marrow.. well, it's bone marrow. Delicious gloopy glop.
Scottish Wood Pigeon, Fresh Fig, Green Lentils, Parsnip, Miso, Nameko - of the three of us that had this dish.. one of ours was overcooked a little, but mine was like the baby bear's porridge.. just right! I liked the fig as a compliment to the pigeon, but I think this might have been one of my least favorite dishes of the night (not counting the seafood which is my own fault).. maybe I was getting tired of complicated dishes at this point. It was 18 courses, after all. I also got the largest portion of the three of us, so I donated a little to my dining partners as I was trying to picture where the rest of the food was going to fit in my body..
Veal Sweetbreads, Duck Foie Gras Soft Taco, Chanterelles - this dish was everyone's kryptonite.. I remember thinking as I ate it.. 'damn, this is delicious.. ugh I wish I could have this dish some other night'. So much fatty food... I took a little break and drank some water. BUT, I have to say this dish was super good.. one of my favorites of the night. It's a given that the foie gras was amazing and the sweetbreads too.. but the tortilla was fantastic! So light and perfect. I want this again sometime soon, since foie gras is one of my favorite foods!
Purslane Salad, Curdled Yolk, Truffles - just what the doctor ordered! Something lighter and simpler. This was a great dish and helped cut through all the fatty stuff I had just eaten.
Cheese Cart Course - I have loved the cheese cart ever since it was at Bistro LQ. Cheese is one of my favorite things to eat in the world, and Laurent has the best cheese cart in LA. It seems bizzare to say that the cheese course was a lighter course, but it *was*, compared to all the stuff we'd just been eating.
all the delicious pots of stuffs to go with your cheeses.. truffle honey also present but not pictured.
Truffle "Elote" Tamale, Steamed Milk - the sweet corn tamale was nice, but the steamed milk served beside it was light and sweet and my favorite part of the dish.
Beer Taffy, Truffle Barley Ice Cream, Hop Caramel Fleur de sel Cremeux, Beer Truffle Varnish - this dessert was crazy complicated, crazy beer-y, and crazy delicious. Everyone at the table really loved this dessert and despite being disgustingly full, we were able to find room somehow to get every last bite in our mouths.
I'm really glad I spent the money to go to this dinner.. it was quite the experience. I thought that the regular LQ@SK dinner was great, but this was truly above and beyond - all the dishes were so special. I didn't really talk about the truffles that much in my descriptions of the courses because I would just being saying over and over how delicious everything smelled and how much the truffles added to the dish. They really were divine, and for the amount of truffles in each dish the dinner was a bargain. I'm not sure if I'll be able to handle another 18 course dinner of *any* type in the near future though.. it was so much food! I'm proud I got through it all, though. :)
Thank you so much to: Nguyen for putting up with me joking around and hassling him when he was trying to work, to all the staff for working incredibly hard to make such delicious food for us, and of course to Chef Laurent for his wonderful imagination and divine cooking!
Truffle truffle truffle!!! <3 <3 <3