As my fond farewell to what was one of the most stunningly creative culinary experiments in Los Angeles, I went to the Test Kitchen one last time before their doors close for good. Last night, they created a celebration of some of LA's future celebrity chefs: those who have attained Sous Chef or higher before the age of 25. Way to make me feel even older. Each chef started with an amuse bouche to showcase their flavors, followed by another 5 courses. And at $50, certainly a steal!
But let's start first with the cocktails. Because really, what's a meal without some delicious booze? In order from left to right...
SMOKE & MIRRORS - islay scotch, fresh lime juice, mint leaves, absinthe. A fairly stiff drink with a subdued finish, this certainly worked as a nice starter to the evening.
SITE HOUND - gin, fresh lemon & grapefruit juice, scarlet glow syrup, aperol. My favorite of the night, but I did have to google a little scarlet glow to figure out it's a simple syrup made with the addition of a hibiscus & elderflower tea which gives it a nice brilliant red hue and a tasty flavor.
LA VELENCIA - chamomile infused rye, manzanilla sherry, fresh lemon juice, yellow chart. I failed in my google quest to figure out what yellow chart is, so if anyone could fill me in, that'd be great. Very tasty, the chamomile rye added a nice touch.
BOUKMAN DAIQUIRI - rum, cognac, fresh lime, cinnamon bark syrup. strong & a memorable way to end my drinking journey!
The meal started off with an array of 5 Amuse - 1 from each Chef. Starting in the upper left corner & working clockwise...
MOHITO LOLIPOP (Troy Sazzmann) - I started with this, figuring it was the one unlike the others. A good kick in the mouth awakening with a flash frozen burst of flavor. Nice, but certainly hard to describe.
GREEN MUSSEL "MARGARITA" SHOT (Phillip Lee) - My absolute favorite of the Amuses. This went down easy, and finished with a delicious avocado mousse.
KUMAMOTO OYSTER, SEA URCHIN, CAULIFLOWER, WHEY (Jon Butler) - Very ocean-y, it totally evoked the flavor of the sea & complimented the oyster perfectly.
TUNA TARTAR, TAPIOCA, BONITO (Allen Buhay) - Crunchy, salty sweet perfection. It's hard to not love something covered in tuna tartar.
PINEAPPLE, GINGER, BASIL, RUM, GARNISHED WITH PROSCIUTTO (Kristyn Brewer) - A slight miss for me, the name was very obvious, and the pineapple, ginger combo really hit hard and in not the best way. Plus with the salty prosciutto it created much more of a pucker than a pleasure.
And on to the main courses! The majesty of this meal came in the fact that even though it was the inner workings of 5 different chefs, the courses all worked in harmony & totally built on each other. It was like the perfect "get hyped mix CD" all UP.
ATLANTIC DIVER SCALLOP (Jon Butler) - The scallops, or as I like to refer to them, fluffy pillows from heaven created a very nice transition between the appetizers and the mains. Complimented with a Singapore curry & asian pear, this was a delicate savory & sweet dish that was light enough to devour in it's entirety.
WARM HAMACHI (Phillip) - Going from the glazed and seared to the warm and comforting, the warm hamachi over a bed of sweetbreads and grapefruit still managed to maintain a little of it's sashimi like quality while steaming up the taste palate. Of all the chef's combos, Phillip knocked it out of the park!
SPICY CHICKEN WING (Kristyn) - After warm, we went to spiiiicy with Kristyn's chicken wings, cooked in coconut, red chili & lime with a delicious dose of basil cream to cool off the palate. Our waiter thought this dish was the best thing ever served in the test kitchen, and I'm hard pressed to not concur! My mom wants to stalk Kristyn down at her post at Westside Tavern to convince her to make it a permanent addition to their menu.
PORK BELLY (Allen) - And finally the creme de la creme of savory products. No contemporary menu is complete without a hearty serving of pork belly, and Allen's delivered! Crispy and sweet on the outside, melt in your mouth texture on the inside. The belly swam in a pool of blended rice, fairly reminiscent of congee, and was paired perfectly with a dose of pickled papaya.
And really... what's a dinner without a dessert? Since I know my readers, this is the picture you're looking forward to the most, so I left it large for your salivating pleasure.
SCHWARZWALDER KIRSCHORTEN MOUSSE (Troy) - with baumkuchen and schatten morrelen. Yes. The only thing I understood in that description was the word mousse. And I'd even just gotten back from Berlin, so you'd think I'd have picked up a word or two... but I just went with it & enjoyed.
Dear Test Kitchen,
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR A WONDERFUL RUN!!
And I can't wait for your TV show ;-)
Test Kitchen LA
9575 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles 90035