Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pascal Barbot at Ko Part 3 (food, MomVisit09)

Finally got the last of the pics off the phone camera, so here's the final installment of Pascal Barbot at Ko. We'd finished the savory courses, and while I'm normally not big on dessert courses, we were excited to see what he would come up with. It was nice to see the named chef in charge of desserts rather than a separate pastry chef.

The first sweet course involved this dish with vanilla ice cream in the middle in a moat of something that chef Barbot sprayed out of a whipped cream/foam canister. He asked us to guess what it was. Whatever it was, it went really well with the vanilla ice cream. The room temperature mystery puddle was a little grittier than foam or whipped cream, and it melded with the ice cream terrifically across flavor, temperature, and texture. When we were finished and noone offered him an answer, he came back with a mischievous smile and sprayed some more of it for us to try. Oh wait... that's, no, that's.... mashed potato? Yes, whipped/foamed mashed potato and ice cream. Wow.

Next came a vibrant lemongrass chili sorbet. The lemongrass flavor was nice and clean and the chili kick at the end really brought it up a notch for me.

On the plate was some praline with chocolate thing while the bowl contained a fromage blanc sorbet with a black sesame puree. Again, he manages to take something that can easily be overpowering (black sesame) and keep it in balance with the rest of the dish.

A vacherin (meringue crust) filled with honey ice cream was simple and tasty.

The final course was a jasmine eggnog served in an eggshell and honey chestnut madeleines. Also tasty, but the best part of this course was watching chef Barbot and chef Serpico jump up and down to check on the madeleines as they couldn't see directly into the mounted oven.

A final picture of some of our chefs for the evening. On the left is Barbot's sous chef Daniel who was the only guy who flew here from Paris with him. Next is the honored chef of the evening, chef Pascal Barbot. In the middle is Peter Serpico, chef de cuisine and partner at Momofuku Ko. The big fella next to him is David Chang. I didn't get the name of the chef on the right, one of a surprisingly large number of chefs from the Momofuku brigade who helped out that night.

Chef Pascal Barbot by himself. Conversing with him throughout the night (in English), I learned that he had arrived the day before and would be leaving the day after. That's pretty amazing that he came only to cook that night. I asked him where he ate the night before and he said WD-50, a place that I still haven't been yet. I also asked him whether they cook more with geese or duck in Paris, because I prefer geese, but can't seem to really find it in the US. He said that geese is more readily available in the winter season, but that otherwise they tend to serve duck throughout the year.

An action shot of the chefs at work that night. For those who've never been, this pretty much is what Momofuku Ko looks like. A counter with a not very deep kitchen behind it, though I think there's more to the kitchen in the back. The guy in the black shirt in the background is chef Humm of Eleven Madison Park, talking with his general manager Will. I remembered having read about chef Humm's food back at Campton Place in San Francisco, so I asked him why his food at EMP didn't seem as whimsical or radical. He told me that as a young chef, you often have to push the envelope on creativity to get noticed, even though it may be further than the food you really want to cook.

Once again, it was a wonderful evening and a great experience. I want to take the opportunity here to thank all the staff for helping make that night what it was.

I don't seem to have any notes on the wine pairings, but they were all really nice and I have pictures of the bottles below:

For Part 1, click here
For Part 2, click here

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