5955 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
9.30.06 - Saturday, 5:30 PM
Myself, Best Friend, and 5 additional friends
I'm not exactly in the closet about my undying devotion to Providence. I was lucky enough to discover this restaurant earlier this year, still in its infancy, and with each magnificent meal, I fall more in love. The staff is as phenomenal as the food, and although it's definitely pricey, it's worth every penny to me, every time. I save them like crazy so I can indulge. Some folks splurge on clothing or jewelry or spa treatments. Me, I eat. It's a love affair.
My best friend had a birthday recently, and she chose to live it up right. Seven of us descended into Providence for a monumental tasting extravaganza. This was an honor on so many levels, as the majority of my friends had ever experienced a meal like Michael and Adrian create. Couple that with the special day of my favorite girl, and well, it's a celebration I knew we'd never forget it.
I took great care in photographing every course, but I'm afraid I failed miserably in the wine department. Get more than one glass of vino in me, and logging things in my noggin no longer works. Had I been really smart, I would have written down the wine pairings. Next time, I promise. Oh, mercy, I can't wait for next time.
So, here's my best effort to recreate the magic. Some ingredients will escape me, but the pictures say more than I ever could anyway . . .
Drew Langley, my absolutely favorite sommelier, took immaculate care of us. When you visit, trust him implicitly. He is simply blessed and delightful, and he looks like Ewan McGregor. All kinds of fabulous.
That's myself and pal Eddie, who was also celebrating a birthday. I do love me some Libras!
A large, crusty roll with butter and (yay!) rock salt - so good, as always.
Amuse Bouche One:
Crispy Salmon Skins with Creme Fraiche
* We all thought this tasted like the most elegant pork skins ever - with the creme, the light crispness melted into a creamy heaven. Such a great wake-up call.
Amuse Bouche Two:
* We were told these were the result of a recipe from Michael's grandma. The batter, while thick, melted on contact, just like the previous course. I am salivating at the memory of this texture. Oof, so good.
Course One (pictured above):
* This incredibly delicate sushi lay in a light bath of tomato delight - a tomato sorbet, chunks of the luscious in-season fruit, along with parsley and an additional root vegetable - an absolutely perfect beginning, it ticks off a beautiful bond with the freshness of the sea, and the tomatoes in this dish just sing.
Sabayon with Uni, Brioche, and Truffles
* Just look at this breathtaking presentation . . .the kind of beauty you hesitate to devour. The sabayon, with its foamy texture and rich custard-like flavor, swam atop the hyper-fresh, punchy uni. This is an ingredient I either love or hate, but this evening, it tasted like liquid gold. The earthy, buttery zing of the truffles matched the buttery brioche quite perfectly, melding with the unique uni flavors and that to-die-for smooth softness. Exquisite.
Satueed Day Boat Scallop
* One large, perfectly cooked scallop was served with a delightful root vegetable, savory bacon slice, and, if I recall correctly, a red pepper relish. Michael, of course, included bazillions of other intricate ingredients, but these were the showstoppers. So fresh, salty, and sublime.
Salt Cod with a Poached Egg and Summer Truffles
* Holy. Crap. My FAVORITE. The cod's firm yet gently smooth texture merged with the jelly-like egg, and the truffles unified all the flavors - part simplistic, rustic heaven, part decadence, allllll perfect. What is it about truffles + eggs?
* White fish with Artichokes, Chorizo Sauce, Powder, and Foam
I was in the ladies' room when this puppy landed, so I cannot for the life of me recall what fish this was - my best guess is halibut. The chorizo powder and foam, however, were the stars - that, and the basil reduction. The herb-pizzazz with the potent and fiery chorizo completely dominated the fish flavor, which simply added a gorgeous texture and substance to the dish. Outstanding, and so original.
Big Eye Tuna, Caramelized Cauliflower, and Bone Marrow
* Yup, you heard me, that lovely little white dollop is fatty bone marrow, and it was PHENOM - the tuna was the best I've had outside of Urasawa, and the little streak of carrot reduction was a delicious jolt. Mmmmm mmm mmm!
We sampled just about everything on their magnificent tray, from stinky French unpasturized cow's milk cheese to a rosemary crusted American goat's cheese that made me feel religious. Matched with marvelous fresh figs and honey, with a crunchy, flavorful nut bread. Wheee!
Course Eight/Dessert One:
White Chocolate Lollipop with a Liquid Apricot Center and Saffron Threads
* Oh heck yes. This little morsel came with strict instructions - eat the whole thing in one bite or be sorry. After popping it, I understood - the apricot liquid inside exploded on contact, and the combo with the white chocolate and that subtle but amazing punch of saffron - so magical. I loved it, and I'm just not a white chocolate fan. It's usually way, way too sweet - but the balance was perfect here.
Course Nine/Dessert Two:
Grape Sorbet with Brioche and Peanut Butter Powder
* This was a heavenly deconstructed peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The grape sorbet had an immensely fresh-from-the-garden zing, and the surrounding powders suited the pairing perfectly. The brioche powder combined with the scrumptious, mouth-puckering peanut butter nirvana just hit the spot. Not quite like mom used to make on the surface, but the familiarity of the flavors totally took me back.
Course Ten/Dessert Three:
Miniature Churros with Sliced Apples, Raisin Puree, and Horchata Ice Cream
* So, you're at Disneyland, and your mom has just announced you can have one - and only one - dessert. Admit it - you are bypassing the boring ass cotton candy for some churro action. Oh, the memories! Adrian hit a home run with this puppy, and it's not just because of these little churro gems. No, the score on this plate was the raisin puree - I'm quite certain he infused it with crack. SO freaking tasty, with the Horchata ice cream and the apples, which offered up the nice, crunchy texture. He shoots, he scores.
Course Eleven/Dessert Four:
Bacon and Maple Syrup Ice Cream with Brioche, Banana, and Peanut Butter Powder
* There's just no way I can properly describe this incredible delicacy with any true accuracy - just go try it. It's as if, all these years, bacon has been wrongfully kept on the savory side. There is finally some justice.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups - Eat your heart out Reese's; these are succulent, rich, and perfect in every way.
Lychee Gelee - Little squares of jiggly sweet and sugary goodness.
Vanilla and Chocolate Caramels - A handful of each to take home; seriously, what don't they think of here?
So there you have it - a very happy birthday for my very favorite person, in the greatest culinary destination to hit LA this century.
Yes, I know how lucky I am.