July 30, 2013

Michelin Funkyness @ Funky Gourmet

Was browsing through some travel pictures and I realized I had an entire backlog of Greece pictures I never, figured I would start with what was probably my favorite meal of the entire Europe trip. While  the food was delicious, what made the meal so memorable was the creative presentation and innovative production of each dish. We ordered two different tasting menus and thoroughly enjoyed each item they presented to us. There was also a tiny army waiting on us throughout the entire which was quite an experience. The concept of Funky Gourmet is to put some serious twists on traditional Greek dishes and ingredients.

Left: Mastic, Mastic, Mastic (aka Mastic 3 ways)
Right: Salsify in the Soil
From what I can understand, Mastic is a plant resin that comes from the Greek island of Chios, it seems to have quite a few medicinal and cosmetic uses, which is probably why the glob of mastic on the left like soap. It was also the first time I saw a dish presented on a gnarly tree branch. Salsify is another interesting ingredient that refers to the root of a purple plant considered to have oyster undertones. We were served dried salsify roots in a cream mixture meant to represent dirt. How clever.

Left: Squaring the Pea
Right: Spring Vegetable Salad.
The spring pea soup was tasted and light with lots of "green" flavors. But let me rave about the salad. I know it doesn't look like much but it was hands down the most complex, delicious salad I have ever eaten. The mini plum tomatoes were blanched in a sugary liquid and peeled. They were so delicate and light, I didn't even realize I was eating a tomato. If I could create a last meal menu, this dish would be on that list.

Croxetti with Basil Pesto
The Croxetti might have been my favorite dish just because it was so fun. Croxetti is a type of medallion pasta that originates from Northern Italy and traditionally bore a coat of arms; our croxetti were made from a beet base and bore the name of the dining establishment. There was also a mortar for us to make our own pesto and a small pot of hot water to cook our pasta. 

Left: Scallop in the Sea
Right: Yellowtail with Wild Greens
The yellowtail was cooked splendidly and perfectly moist, but the star of the two was definitely the scallops. The scallop was only slightly cooked and retained a sweetness to it that I had never experienced before; what was even crazier was the ginger ale foam it was paired with.

Left: Funky Gourmet Burger
Bottom Right: Greek Salad

The burger was quite tasty but I forget what meat they used. When we saw greek salad on the menu, we didn't think it was going to be a very impressive dish, but we were so wrong. All of the flavors we were used to from ordering copious Greek salads throughout the trip (sweet tomato, sour vinegar, tangy feta, spicy onions) had been packaged into some sort of granita were each bite of ice tasted like we were actually eating a Greek Salad.

Rib Eye on the Stone
Another DIY dish. The stone was steaming hot and the smell of the thyme underneath perforated the entire restaurant. We were instructed to sear each piece of meat on the hot stone for few seconds and eat with the accompaniments. I loveed the idea but apparently Japanese BBQ is very similar so V was not very impressed.

Beef Cheek with Pairings
I loved the wide selection of pairings we were given. Depending on the pairing, it really altered the taste of the beef cheeks. Since we were getting quite full already, the lighter pairings such as the onion jelly, green apple and tomato paste really stood out.

Left: Orange Explosion
Bottom Right: Smoked Ice Cream Sandwich
Who doesn't love liquid nitrogen overflowing all over a table? The orange explosion was a fun mini dessert which consisted of dark chocolate filled with orange liquor liquid that exploded in your mouth. How they got the liquid inside such a thin shelled chocolate ball, I have no idea. I probably could have gobbled up 10 of those things along with another 10 ice cream sandwiches.

Left: Bread, Butter & Honey at -196C
Right: Mignardises
When I saw bread and butter for dessert on the menu, I was slightly disappointed but once again,  I was pleasantly surprised. The dish essentially tasted like creamy chunks of ice cream with delicious goblets of the best honey I have ever eaten and it was all made with liquid nitrogen. Pretty sure we tried making ice cream in chemistry class with liquid nitrogen and it tasted nothing like this. The mignardises consisted of a blueberry chocolate muffin, raspberry macaron, orange jelly candy and a chocolate truffle.

Definitely one of the best and coolest meals I have ever eaten. Don't know when I'll ever be back in Athens but if I am, I might just have to go back to this place.

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