My table was tucked into an intimate nook facing west, and I watched the whitecaps hoping to possibly decipher a spout or two of whale or a school of dolphins dancing about (I didn't). My mood began to soften and I could feel hours and weeks of hard work dissolving. Whether the negative ions from the ocean below or the crisp taste of vodka with lemon and tonic water were responsible for this new state of euphoria didn't matter.
I had already checked Sierra Mar's menu online, and although the four course tasting menu sounded appealing, with delicious items like Maine Diver Scallops and Grass Fed Filet Mignon, I couldn't resist going all out and chose the very different and indigenous "Taste of Big Sur" featuring locally picked leaves, seaweeds, seafood, wild meats and so on. I realize I risk alienating a few with my conspicuous consumptive tendencies. But just for a reality check, I work more than full time catering, bartending and serving people, so being served and pampered in this way is one of my biggest pleasures. Hey, I don't have kids, so... If you go, plan to spend many hours enjoying the view, the nice wine list with an inventive selection of California and European choices.
I've made numerous attempts at writing about this meal in the last several days and the only approach that seems to do it justice are photos and a few words, an attempt at food poetry perhaps. Because really, that's what the meal was, poetic, symphonic, subtle, and just right. Just exactly right. The chefs there played with pickling, toasting, grinding, pureeing, seasoning just so, and presenting with a whimsical style. There was tromp l'oeil, a bunson burner and a charred log involved in my meal. As is often overdone in California modern cuisine, with smears and salts dotting about and just too many flavors to really get them all into one bite, the chefs at Sierra Mar figured had it down pat.
Acorn dust and flesh
Lettuce of Miner's
Pickled succulent bloom
Poached and vinegared sardine
curled into a musical notecrunchy ocean bite
Meringue tromp l'oeil
baby abalone twisted
amongst sea greens
drenched in toasted butter and roe
perched upon the shell from which it came
A Turkey that once gazed down from above
roasted and pressed with fatty flesh
and peas and asparagus and morels
onion in leaves of brussels sprouts
lemon custard, just a bite, and its dark outside now so you can't see it
deserving of a flash:
chocolate ganache with toasted hazelnuts
happy Rivesaltes (fortified white grenache from 1978) and a perfect espresso finished me off...