For the first time, I met Cynthia Sandberg and I have to admit I was overwhelmed by her passion and her height – 6 feet to my 5 feet. This is not a supplier in the sense that FL uses Jacobson’s farm, this is Manresa’s farm – a close collaborative relationship with Chef David Kinch and Cynthia in the most compatible marriage of ingredient to the table. A vegetable becomes more than just a vegetable, an herb is more than just an herb, and an egg yolk is a gorgeous yellow. Manresa is so much more than dining – it is love affair between the earth, the soil and the sun. There is a reverence for the product, be it animal or vegetable.
There is no way that I will do justice to the menu – I am not that good of a writer and so many plates reflected the soul of an artist that just seem to defy words. Also, I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies; I tried to write everything down, but good conversation and wine did get in the way.
Petits fours “red pepper-black olive”
Vegetables from the garden – these 4 words are the ultimate understatement, exquisite crudités that included carrots, zucchini, radishes, ice plant with an herb crème fraiche.
Sorrel and Olive Oil Ice – a refreshing palate enhancer
Amaranth and Borage Barbajuans – Barbajuans (in the Monegasque dialect) are actually fried pouches or ravioli made with rice flour with the addition of the amaranth and borage
Eggplant with smoked miso – again 4 words that I can’t really explain
Summer Croquettes – Insert croquette in your mouth and in one bite the liquid summer corn with a touch of vanilla and cayenne explodes throughout your mouth.
Arpege Farm egg – I make this very well thanks to Chef David Kinch, but I am thinking of raising chickens much to my husband’s horror. The Manresa egg is just wondrous.
Caviar consommé, wild amberjack belly with Iranian Oscetra caviar – this is just an OH MY dish – I can’t begin to explain the taste components of this dish – salinity, ocean, salt, texture, top quality fish
Shellfish with sausage, Yerba Buena – I love fish – all fish – so swordfish, littleneck clams, peekytoe crab, cuttlefish, spicy sausage, cherries and mint – Thank goodness for Dana – server extraordinaire and her detailed descriptions.
Garden veloute with mustard – Just imagine a deep green garden veloute with stone ground mustard to enliven the veloute
Spiced vegetables with brown butter –zucchini, tomatoes, radish, carrots, puree of radish tops to name a few with a brown butter “sauce” with vadouvan. I have had vadouvan with Ludo’s lobster dish, but who would have thought how much this spice would enhance vegetables.
The vegetable garden – any resemblance to going to a farmer’s market and buying fresh veggies and having fresh veggies from the hands of Cynthia and Chef David is deceptive, misleading and basically a misnomer. Many, many years ago, at Eugenie les Bains we were served a market basket of just harvested vegetables from Eugenie’s gardens. The presentation was simple – just a market basket of vegetables. We were enthralled by the simplicity and the just picked freshness. Manresa’s vegetable garden was a Miro painting of the most exquisite cooked vegetables coaxed by David and Cynthia with “God’s hands” helping out with the weather. Also on the plate was something signifying dirt – actually purple potato, parsnip and chicory.
Golden pursulane and tomato with smoked roe, roasted red pepper and tuna broth – the roe popped in your mouth and was enhanced by the rich tuna broth. From a google search about pursulane:
“Purslane is more than merely edible landscaping — it is a culinary delight! In fact, it is a succulent herb”.
“Purslane’s stem is round and smooth, and it trails along the ground like a small vine. Young plants have a green stem, but, with maturity, stems take on reddish tints. Purslane has small, oblong, green leaves, which form clusters. The leaves resemble small wedges and, like the stem, are juicy.”
“In order to preserve purslane’s juiciness for eating, harvest this delight of your edible landscaping in the morning or evening, when you won’t have to compete with intense sunlight. Purslane can either be used raw in salads or sauteed as a side dish. In addition to the crispy texture you would expect from a succulent, purslane also has an interesting peppery flavor.”
Monterey Bay Abalone and slow egg, sucrine lettuce and bread crusts – I love eggs so I am a sucker for any egg dish with a beautiful runny yolk. The Abalone was perfectly cooked and the bread crust sautéed in pork fat added a new meaning to the combination of egg and abalone.
Summer roots with beef tendon, seaweed pistou – I am going to need help describing this dish – my notes are totally non-existent. I just remember eating the most tender piece of beef I have ever tasted.
Squash blossom fritters and nasturtium ice cream
Red plum and pistachio sable, raspberry and rosewater sorbet
Chocolate and ollalieberry pudding
Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”
What an extraordinary meal. As I said at the beginning, my descriptions do not do justice to this cuisine.