"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Telepan - July 16, 2010

House-Smoked Brook Trout

The layers of flavors in this dish are a pleasure. I would start from the top: Take a mouthful of the cool smoked trout and savor its gentle smokiness and the melting flesh; for the second bite, cut into the corn blini and enjoy the sweet starchiness; for the third bite, now put a piece of the smoked trout on top of a dainty square (or not so dainty), dab a bit of sour cream, and carry this sweet, smoky, tender and solid mound on the folk (don't drop any now!) into the mouth...and just say "Ahhhh..." You can then start from step 1 again. Or you can be masochistic and bide your time and eat the sweet crunchy corn adorning the plate, before you lose control and attack this trout mountain head on...

Eggplant Parmigiano

The execution of food at Telepan is admirably constant and precise. One of these two adjectives alone is already a feat; to manage two says something about the achievement of the restaurant.
The eggplant was perfectly crispy and, combined with the salad, must be the healthiest eggplant parmigiano I have ever had - regrettably, if not the best eggplant parmigiano or even the second-best. Is this one of those vain attempts to make over traditional recipes? The reason that a particular recipe survives over time despite the superficiality of fashion, lack of commitment and general forgetfulness of the human race is because it is good. When it is good, leave it alone. On the other hand, should I give credit to the spirit of challenge? After all, civilization moves forward (most of the time) due to the relentless pursuit of novelty (because human beings get so bored, easily). Nonetheless, when it comes to food, effort alone is not enough to please, is it?


Typically Telepan, the quail was well-executed on a bed of light salad. But does it have room for innovation? Absolutely. How about a few slivers of grapefruit in the salad, or a few pistachios, or both, I wonder?

Fazzoletti with Pork Ragu
Wider than pappardelle, fazzoletti with ragu is like lasagna without baking.
It would still have been a beautiful dish, albeit a little overly generous by a few pinches of salt, if the fazzoletti got out of the hot water bath 60 seconds earlier. Even human beings get wrinkly when you stay too long in the tub; imagine what water can do to the fazzoletti.

Spaghetti with Lobster Bolognese

Bolognese is a meat sauce or, ragu, predominently tomato-based from, where else but Bologna. Bologna is in Emilia Romana, the grain capital of Italy. Bologna is endowed with many agricultural delights, but agricultural products are from the land, not the sea. A good ragu uses a combination of beef and pork - either animal lives on land - with tomatoes grown on land.
On the other hand, let's face it - lobster is really about the texture. If you truly enjoy the crustacean family, there are many other more interesting creatures under the sea, starting with the langostini. You know where this is going: When you take this lobster and put it into a Bolognese sauce, whom would you bet your money on? Put another way, lobster + tomato = tomato with chunks. There is one solution, mind you: Just add a lot of lobster and lobster shells (like when you make the stock for lobster bisque) into the base. Then we can talk about Lobster Bolognese.
While we are at it, one more thing: I am not eating lobster lo mein but spaghetti, I think. Please take my poor long friends out of the pot 60 seconds earlier.

Striped Bass with Pickled Beets

Did the words, "pickled beets," rouse your skepticism? I totally understand and sympathize if they did. But rest assured, I can tell you that it was a surprisingly complementary. Fleshy and flaky, striped bass does not have a pronounced flavor: If we do a blind test, can you really tell the difference between a striped bass and, let's say, the sea bass? (Well, let me think about this again as I may just be able to...) Here, the beets come in: The earthiness and the sourness of the pickled beets, cool on the palate, contrast interestingly with the striped bass - both in taste and touch.
High praise for the chef for combining these two ingredients.
Salmon with Lobster Succotash

Now, salmon is a fish with unmistakeably salmony taste: Many times, cooking skill depends on balancing off the abundant fattiness of the salmon with something showing the creativity of the chef. Sometimes, the chefs go slightly overboard, however. Balancing does not mean killing the distinct flavor of a tricky, albeit unique, ingredient. If you have ever dined at Modern, you know what I mean: It was a testament to the "modern" culinary technology because it somehow managed to erase the original flavor of each ingredient.
This salmon was thus "modern" in such a way in being totally unmemorable. What is memorable then, you may ask. A dish can be good but yet easily forgotten, like a nice guy that you went out a few times with but you would not be able to remember the name 12 months later. A truly remarkable, life-changing, and beautiful dish has the power to evoke the taste and texture (and the pleasure) upon recollection - i.e. total recall (such as the Chateaubriand Rossini at Chez Matsuo in Tokyo). Total recall, this was not.

Stuffed Zucchini Flower

Telepan always provides a satisfying and enjoyable meal: Good in the average, within expectation, does-not-interrupt-dinner-conversation kind of way. Occasionally, it rises up to a few "Hm? This is good!" moments; and other times, "Hm...what is this?" moments as well.
This salad of stuffed zucchini flower was the latter "Hm?" moment. Adequately edible, but if you ask me what the difference was between this dish and the eggplant parmigiano, I would not be able to tell you, really.
Strawberry Granita Parfait
Unfailingly my favorite dessert at Telepan. It is refreshing, full of fragrant strawberries and cream and attractive until the last bite for its bubbles on the tongue and crunchy almonds.

Other desserts - good and very signature Telepan.

Crunchy Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Giuanduja

Tres Leches Cake

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