Enchantment Series

Have been busy melting glass getting ready for the International Society of Glass Beadmakers annual conference, The Gathering, in Las Vegas end of this month. This will be the debut of my Enchantment Series at its Bead Bazaar – an all-artisan-glass show on Saturday, 1 April.

Enchantment

This one is the extra large size at 40mm / 1.57 in!

IMG_2140

A group shot for size comparison:

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An Exceptional Evening at Benu!

There are six Michelin Three-Star restaurants in the Bay Area with three – Saison, Benu, and Quince – in San Francisco. Needless to say, reservation at these restaurants can be difficult. We were lucky to actually manage one at Benu last evening with only a five-week in-advance booking (neither Saison and Quince had availability thus making the decision easy).

Benu offers prix-fixe Asian-inspired cuisine and its offerings exceeded all of our expectations. It was truly an extraordinary evening of creative culinary delights.

We also did the (shared) beverage pairings and enjoyed sake, Riesling, Grüner, beer, Madeira, Pinot Noir, and Côte-Rôtie throughout the evening but for the life of me, I can’t remember what was served with what!

The evening started with “small delicacies” and there were many of them! Each was single-bite size yet Benu managed to introduce so many fabulous and complementary flavors within that one bite – we felt like a symphony was playing on our palates with each course!

First delicacy was a chicken “jelly,” mountain caviar

chickenjelly

It was followed by tuna “marrow” but none of us took a picture! 😉

Third delicacy was ankimo (monk fish liver), crispy bulgur wheat, ikura (salmon roe)

ankimo

Fourth delicacy was dumpling with pork belly topped with an oyster

porkbelly

Fifth delicacy was Korean blood sausage wrapped in ika (squid) “sushi” (didn’t know blood sausage could taste this good!)

bloodsausage_squid

Sixth delicacy was abalone and crispy abalone “liver”

abalone

Last (seventh) delicacy was egg white custard, truffle, faux shark fin

custard

Whole-grain bread fresh from the oven served with tangerine-infused honey butter was followed – finally – by the first of our menu items! Wasn’t sure I was hungry at all by this time… but we did persevere! 🙂

Thousand-year-old quail egg, potage, ginger – it wasn’t quite 1,000 years but the egg did take six weeks to make

1000ydegg

Foie gras xiao long bao with house made soy sauce

xiaolongbao

Uni (sea urchin) marinated in fermented crab sauce served with green onion Koshi Hikari short-grain rice

uni

Crispy frog’s leg, lettuce, vegetable sweet and sour (I skipped this due to my issue with frogs… don’t ask!)

frogsleg

Steamed bass, fish maw, black moss

rockcod

Smoked quail (we were told that Benu works with a farm that has been raising these quails for the past 40 years, breeding them for a larger size, and picking the docile ones for their sweeter meats … )

quail

Served along with spring bamboo shoot

bambooshoot

Warm mantou (Chinese steamed bun) with truffle cream

trufflecream

Sea of Okhotsk sea cucumber (I never liked sea cucumber until tonight!) stuffed with lobster

lobster

Beef rib steak with assorted condiments – kimchi radishes, marinated fern with shaved cashew (sure wouldn’t want to be that sous chef shaving those wee cashews, one at a time?), and soy bean paste (the leftover from its house made soy sauce that takes 9-12 weeks – in the little celadon jar)

beefrib

Leafy crudités for dipping in the soy bean paste

crudite

Consommé, shiitake mushroom, vegetables

broth

Omija (five-flavor berry – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami), olive oil

five-taste

Fuji apple, bellflower root, acorn and chocolate (another miss on the photography!) rounded out our scrumptious dinner!

I recommend putting a Benu dinner on your bucket list – it IS that good!