18 Jul Maude July 2017 – Basil
I love basil. I love the aroma of fresh basil on a margarita pizza, on top of a caprese salad, in a pesto sauce or in a Thai dish. But never did I realize how many types of basil exist, more than forty varieties! Leave it to Maude, who picked basil as the featured ingredient for the July tasting menu.
Holy basil, cinnamon basil, lettuce basil, sweet basil, lemon basil, Lesbos basil, opal basil, African blue basil and more, each has its own appearance and aroma. And we were in for a treat with the Maude July menu!
Two of us sat down for dinner and as we waited for our dining companions, wine director Kevin Caravelli poured us a small glass of Domaine Julie Benau Picpoul de Pinet “Cuvée Libero” 2015 from Languedoc France. What is really cool about this crisp mineral-driven wine is that is it aged in barrels underwater. The delicate fresh wine was a perfect start to a meal that would also be fresh and delicate.
Sweet Corn – The meal started with sweet corn and sweet basil cannoli wrapped in wontons and sitting on a plate of corn husks. Light, creamy and delicious, the cigarette shaped item had a little basil flower sticking out one end that added a sweetness on the finish.
Summer Squash – Summer squash and squash blossoms stuffed with feta are served with olives and Lesbos basil, a basil originally from the island of Lesbos in Greece. Lesbos basil smells of cinnamon, allspice, cloves and citrus and added a spicy kick to the fresh vegetables.
Scallop – A large tender scallop that melted in the mouth was served with lemon basil cream and dehydrated scallop on top. I loved the lemon basil cream so much that I wanted to pick up the scallop shell and lick it.
Vermillon – Vermillon snapper, not to be confused with red snapper, is a mild, sweet fish that was served with a potato topped with piperade and Holy basil, considered a sacred plant by the Hindus.
Iberico Secreto Larb – Chicken larb with Iberico ham was served with lettuce, Thai chili and basil and this was one of the dishes that I could have had seconds and thirds.
Caprese – The palate cleanser was a mozerella and tomato ice cream on a fried basil leaf and served with aged balsamic. Yum!
Spaghetti – The pasta dish for this month’s menu was a spaghetti with mortar and pestle pesto, Australian truffle and parmesan. Another dish I wished for seconds.
Beef Consomme – The beef consomme was a gelee, topped with bone marrow cream, Thai basil and Thai chilis and a strip of wagyu on top. This simple looking dish was light but complex and full of flavor, including a kick of heat (well, for me, I got more than a kick of heat, more like a punch).
Tangine – Braised goat and apricots with African blue basil, a shrubby basil with a deep musky clove flavor, is served with a side plate with hand-milled couscous, chickpeas, and tomatoes.
Pizza – The cheese course this month was a pizza topped with Quadrello cheese and basil puree.
Our pre-desert desert was lemon basil ice cream, black sesame ice cream and dragon fruits.
Namelaka – White chocolate namalaka, a Japanese term for “creamy texture”, was served with burnt cinnamon, blackberries and opal basil, a purple basil with anise notes.
To end the meal, the mignardises were mango and basil curd in white chocolate case crust, a basil genoise and aerated milk chocolate and basil oil.
Thanks to my dining companions, we enjoyed some delicious wines, starting with Krug Champagne and Le Grand Dame Rose Champagne and ending with Montevina 1977 Special Selection Amador County Zinfandel, Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1983 Pauillac and Louis Martini 1970 Pinot Noir, California Mountain.
And to finish the meal, wine director Kevin Caravelli served us a glass of Lustau Vermut, a red vermouth based on the sweet and velvety Pedro Ximénez and the dry and nutty Amontillado. The two sherry wines are aged separately in their own soleras for 10 years and then ten botanicals are macerated for a velvety liqueur with notes of citrus, coriander, roses, red fruits and cinnamon. It was a lovely way to end the meal.
And this month’s take-home was basil caramel popcorn which I forced myself to save for the next day.
Next month – Peaches!