“Watching people eat my food is like watching people have sex” - Michael White
Sunday was Z’s birthday and is, like I’ve mentioned numerous times, obsessed with Chef Michael White [who isn't right?] and his pasta…. Both of us haven’t been to Chef White’s baby, Marea yet so OBVIOUSLY, taking him here was the obvious choice. We got there a few minutes before our reservation and was promptly seated in a nice cozy table.
Yep Marea. THE Marea. “Seafood Porn” Marea.. [or so says Tony Bourdain]
And yes, we did eat those uni lardo crostinis :]
After two glasses of some delicious cold bubbly… I picked out a delicious bottle of Red, VERY delicious… seeee… Italian but with a hint of German… I like a good looking bottle… :]
To be honest, it took a long long time just to get someone to take our order, let alone give us bread or refill our water glasses. Our “waiter” actually went to tables that sat way after us and took their order, helped them out and gave them bread – WAYYY before us. Sad. And it’s a shame too, the sommeliers actually ended up giving us the most service and we barely saw our waiter until after Z complained towards the end of our meal, when they were getting orders wrong and serving us the wrong dishes at the wrong times.. and taking a long time. Nevertheless… we finally got our order in… towards the end of dinner we got our apology and yes we got bread. OH and everything was delicious. FYI, Manager and all the sommeliers are SUPER nice and attentive.
Breads… Foccacia, Muti-Grain and Sourdough
They were delicious. Chewy sourdough… a dense but full of flavor ansd still managing to be light, multi-grain…. BUT OMG the Foccacia was amazing… CHUNKS of huge green salty, flavorful olives in it.. and all the breads were even more delicious when dipped in the olive oil – which was super grassy, fresh and delicious – to be honest I was ready to make like an Asian and steal the bottle for consuming at home hahaha.. no worries, I didn’t find my inner Asian ghetto :]
Spring Pea Soup Shooter
I even got a delicious fat spring pea in my soup – super sweet, naturally of course…. blended to a creamy smooth consistency and a lightly tart foam on top. It was a nice change up from the usual asparagus soups that I’ve been tasting lately… speaking of which I kind of miss autumn/winter pumpkin/squash soups :] Hehehehe….
Sea Urchin, Lardo, Sea Salt
This is actually one of the sole reasons that I’ve been wanting to come to Marea. I love Michael White‘s food and pasta, but before I really fell in love with him and his food, I knew about these…. oh oh oh joy. These were everything and MORE than I ever could dream about. SOOO rich and decadent. You have the creamy creamy uni.. not one, but TWO lobes.. [and according to Andrew Zimmern and Michael White on the newest epi of Bizarre Foods those white splotches you get on Uni means it's EXTRA good.. it's also Sea Urchin sperm haha] Layered on top is a large fat thick delicious piece of perfectly melted lardo. MMM pig fat makes EVERYTHING taste better. Even the freaking crostini on the bottom holding two of the most delicious morsels in the world is perfection. Crisp, chewy, toasted to perfection – just enough bread to hold up to the richness.. but not overly so that all you get is extra bread.
PERFECTION in a bite [well for me three or four haha, I like to savour]
Sidenote: You also may remember the Top Chef All Stars team who went to White’s restaurant to eat and “mimic” the restaurant’s food… yep, those guys ate this[Team Marea: Stephen, Tre, Blais, Spike].. [and remember, Tre doesn't like uni and Stephen was saying how THIS dish would change his mind? Haha.. Yes I'm a Top Chef Trivia nerd]
I couldn’t help it… I made it so fuggggg but that’s the best part :D OMG am I a nerd that I just tweeted about this pic I drew and can’t stop laughing at myself? I’m such a dork!
Okay while I just totally ruined the whole classiness that I wanted this blog to exude… OOOOOOZEEEEE… EXUUUUUUDE… I’m tired and delirious :] And it’s my blog so in the words of Cartman “I do what I wannnnnnnttt!!!!”
Assagio Di Tre – Tasting of Three Crudo
Japanese Greenling, Pickled Ginger, Charred Celery
The second favorite of the crudos, we tried first… which was perfect. It was SO delicate, sweet and light – the perfect way to start off the appetite. Like an aperitif. I’ve never had Japanese Greenling before but it’s such a pure clean tasting fish…. the pickle in the ginger could’ve been a little stronger, but since the char and the celery flavors were also very light and just adding that little bit of needed texture, this was the most delicious bite.
Cuttlefish Tagliatelle, Soffrito Crudo, Bottarga Di Muggine
This was the most anticipated but the most disappointing of the three. It was missing acidity and oomph. The cuttlefish was REALLY tender and had that milky texture to the slight rubbery chew to it [just think raw squid which I eat all the time as sashimi at Japanese restaurants] The Soffrito was really refreshing and delicious… the slight salt, barely noticeable was from the Bottarga.. but like I said, totally missing acidity. :[
Pacific Jack Mackerel, Olives, Marcona Almonds, Mushrooms
This was definitely the winner of the crudos. A perfect balance of the sweet silky fish, the salty olives, the soft mushrooms and the crunch of the Marconas [which was funny because when the server brought it over they said Walnuts, HELLO, HUGEEE difference there!!!]
Braised Snails with Mushrooms, Croutons and Fennel
This was simple and complex at the same time. When I first saw this on the menu, Z showed me a pic of whole briased snails – kinda freaky looking – but these were cut into small pieces and perfectly braised to a tender chew. Full of flavor, and the lightly cooked fennel added SO much flavor to the dish. The croutons were buttery and crunchy while the mushrooms, also braised with the snails were tender and full of flavor. I LOVE MUSHROOMS!
Poached Egg, Spring Garlic, Bone Marrow, Baby Eel, Passatelli, Barley Brodo
This was totally not what I expected.. probably because usually when I get these sortrs of Uovos they look foamy or creamy or thick. And they’ve been like that in multiple restaurants that I’ve been to – not just Michael White’s. Le Cirque. Per Se. Le Bernardin. Bouley. This was SO beautiful. A perfectly poached egg not hidden in anything but with a nice broth poured around it. Deliciousness surrounding it but the star was most definitely the creamy warm yellow yolk that spilled out after slicing through it.
BTW, Passateli is a sort of pasta formed out of breadcrumbs. Yep, *the more you know theme song plays*
Of course I had to do an after picture :] It was DELICIOUSNESS and I totally could have made do with another bowl or two of this :] ALL to myself too… haha but then again #sharingiscaring.
Since they had gotten our orders wrong and had actually took the pastas out before we got the snails and uovo, they comped up a few dishes :] And some chamapagne.. but the waiting for the next course was KILLER – it took forever.. and because of the super slow service, we were slowly getting “full” fast….
Red Wine Braised Octopus, Bone Marrow
After seeing this on Bizarre Eats, Z & I KNEW we HAD to get this. The fusilli were cooked to a perfect al dente, maybe slightly under… the sauce, while not very “original” tasting, was very very homey.. and while the waiter said it was a heavier richer sauce, I thought it was a lot lighter than our second pasta. The octopus was also cooked to perfect – very very tender and full of flavor. MMMM… CHUNKS of bone marrow were in the sauce – YES, like VISIBLE chunks of soft delicious buttery fatty bone marrow surrounded the pasta and of course the nice crisp sprinkle of bread crumbs on top. Amazing.
Eel, Sage … delicious a little less than al dente pasta… looked like unstuffed tortellini.. totally forgot what they’re called and can’t find it on the websites :[
I hate myself for not remembering then name of this pasta. It was such a unique shape and while it was undercooked The sauce was definitely unique tasting so I didn't know what to think upon first taste. But the sweet sauce paired perfectly with eel [I mean how often do you eat eel aside from Unagi at Japanese restaurants?] While a bit on the heavily sauced side, the basil gave that nice pop of herby flavors – maybe a bit TOO much… but in the end it somehow worked and balanced each other out – maybe cause the pasta was so dense.
And after another long wait….
Grilled Creekstone 50 Day Dry Aged Sirloin, Braised Romaine, Bone Marrow Panzanella
Not Black & Blue like Z asked for but the aging and the marbling was beautiful. I could smell the aged meat from across the table and the meat was delicious, so so tasty… the Bone Marrow Croutons were to DIE for… and there were two pieces of braised [which looked just kind of like grilled cooked down] Romaine.
Roasted Beets, Ricotta Salata
Super super sweet and perfectly roasted beets. Deliciously red… and a creammmmmmy delicious ricotta salta shaved on top. Looked like heaven… looked like dessert. MMMM.. so delicious.
Roasted Black Bass, Roasted Eggplant, Fava, Grilled Ramps, Apricot Mostarda
By the time I got this, it was so late.. it was past 11 and I was really full already. The fish was delicious, cooked brilliantly.. soft, flakey.. and yes, my favorite word, tender… The skin as crisp and had the most amazing crunch to it. Then there was the grilled ramps, YUM.. and thin slices of eggplant.. MMMMM, so delicious. So refreshing… tasted so seasonal.
Formage Blanc Panna Cotta, Mandarin Orange, Pink Peppercorn, Thyme
The most creative way I’ve ever been served Panna Cotta. The Pink Peppercorn crunchy meringue pieces were SOOOO delicious and dotally made the dish. A bit of everything, all textures, tastes, flavors, sensessss of all sorts – and the pop of thyme – OMG I’m so in love [yes now I have Usher stuck in my head]
Fried Doughnut Holes, Lemon Cream, Prickly Pear Sorbet, Cassis
Fluffy but still dense, but not overpoweringly so. They reminded me of the fried doughnut holes you get at Chinese buffets.. yep, those really ghetto ones :] No, I totally mean that in the best way, the ghettoier the better.. probably because of the extra “flavoring” in the “AGE-ED” hot penaut oil they fry it in hahahah… come on, us Asians waste not ;D
But no, these doughnuts tasted super fresh, piping hot, melted in my mouth but tasted VERY clean [no dirty oil!]
Apricot Bonbon, Berry Pate de Fruit, Financiar, Salted Caramel
Started with the bonbon, next came the cookie/cake and then the pate and lastly – save the best for last – salted caramel… DELICIOUS! Full to the point of popping… we decided to call it a night and watch Hangover back at home to end the birthday celebration.
Happy Birthday Z.