Maude June 2017 – Cucumber

I like cucumbers. What is not to like about cucumbers, those long crunchy green members of the fruit family who are related to gourds and melon? Cucumbers add a refreshing crunch to our salads, they are a fat-free conduit for dips and they are wonderful to infuse in water. Cucumbers are also very healthy, fight inflammation, freshen breath, full of vitamins that manage stress and help digestive health. But other than putting them on a crudite plate, in a water glass or on top of your eyes after a long night, are cucumbers really that interesting in flavor? In Maude’s June menu, cucumbers were the featured ingredient. As I reached out to friends to join me, many seemed unexcited by the featured ingredient. They wondered aloud, jokingly, if the meal would be cucumber crudite, tzatziki, raita and cucumber water. In general, I heard a few tell me they did not think it would be very interesting. Boy did those friends miss out! The team at Maude proved how diverse cucumbers are with a menu that was one of the best so far this year!

As we sat down for our meal, we were surprised with a bottle of Champagne Aubry Brut Rose that was a gift for one of my companions for her birthday. 

As we toasted the birthday girl and enjoyed our first sips, the first two bites of the night were served.

The cucumber tea sandwich with salmon was a fun way to start the meal. It was delicate, light and so simplistic. It was a classic start to the meal.

The other small bite was a Japanese cucumber with creme fraiche and salmon roe. And for some added crunch, there was dried salmon under the roe. Very refreshing with a touch of savory, we were ready for the next course.

Cucumber soup with tahini, lime juice, sesame croquante and mitsuba (Japanese parsley) was light and crunchy.

With the meal underway, we decided to also do the wine pairing for the night and started with the Massican 2014 Gemina, Calistoga, Napa Valley

The squid a la plancha served with lemon verbena, salad burnet and cucumber flower was light and foamy. The sweetness of the lemon came through on the finish.

Jean-Baptiste Souillard 2015 Roussanne, Rhone Valley, France

The lobster with braised cucumber, heirloom tomato and tarragon was one of the standouts of the night. The braising of the cucumber sealed in and intensified the flavor of the cucumber. The flavors were so clean and simple and yet so flavorful.

Jean-Baptiste Souillard 2015 Roussanne, Rhone Valley, France

The pasta dish of the night was buccatini, romaine, olive, salami and bread crumbs with fennel seed. The fennel was subtle and the warm cucumber tasted almost like zucchini. The bread crumbs added a nice crunch but I particularly liked the salty, meatiness of the salami.

The next dish was so delicate and light. It was tomato water with sherry vinegar, za’tar spices and sliced cucumber. But underneath the cucumber was dehydrated lamb loin which was not as tough as jerky.

Kalleske 2014 Old Vine Grenache, Barossa, Australia

The Merquez lamb sausage was served on a sort of hot pot and covered with greens. It was then placed on a large plate with a large slice of warmed cucumber and five different dips – gremolata with preserved lemon, harissa, labneh, honeycomb and lamb spice.

As a palate cleanser, the lemon, cucumber and eucalyptus sorbet was served in an edible frozen cucumber shell.

Dirty & Rowdy 2015 Skinner Stoney Creek, Somerset, California

The beautifully marbled Wagyu beef served with kimchi daikon radish, Japanese cucumber and scallion pancakes was another standout of the night.

For the cheese course, fresh rye pumpernickel rolls were served with Goldette, an unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese aged for 60 days, bread and butter pickles and mustard. We piled the mustard, pickles and cheese on the bread and it tasted like a deli sandwich. Another favorite of the night.

As we moved towards dessert, we started with a light elderflower bavoir wrapped in cucumber with cucumber sorbet and elderflower meringue.

Since we were celebrating a birthday, the kitchen sent out a cucumber cheesecake for the birthday girl.

The final desert was a violet ice cream served with compressed cucumber and cucumber chocolate ganache.

And it was paired with a cocktail of elderflower syrup, cucumber juice and Massican vermouth made from the grape tocai friulano.

Our last bites of the night were three mignardises which included shortbread cookies with cucumber white chocolate ganache, coconut cucumber panna cotta and chocolate cucumber patties.

And we were sent home with a cucumber and lemon pound cake which I enjoyed with my coffee the next day.

The entire cucumber menu was one of the best menus overall so far this year. Each dish let the lightness and distinctive cucumber taste subtly shine through. The flavors were fresh and bright and just delicious!

Next month…..Basil!