The food: molten chocolate cake and other Jean-Georges-ian delights
On a recent visit to New York, E and I went to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Perry Street restaurant and had the prix fixe “Fall Promotion” lunch (now offered year-round, according to the Jean-Georges website).
The large ground floor room in a Richard Meier-designed building that overlooks the Hudson River contains lots of white leather and glass, and was virtually empty at lunch. The vibe was more formal than I usually like, but the staff were polite (no upturned noses or pressure when we didn’t order drinks or wine), and the deal – three generous courses of high-end, well-crafted food for $26 – is unbeatable.
We started with the Crispy Calamari with Yuzu Dipping Sauce and Sesame, and the Fresh Made Burrata with Grilled Sourdough and Figs:
I loved the upscale presentation and the premium quality/taste of those dishes. The appetizers were followed by an amuse-bouche of soup (leek? celeriac?) with a black truffle swirl. I’m not a big black truffle fan, so my bouche was not amused, but I appreciated the gesture.
For my entree, I had the spiced organic fried chicken with yogurt mashed potatoes, spinach and a honey lemon vinaigrette. The boneless piece of chicken reminded me of the Japanese dish tori karaage. It was tender and tasty and I loved the citrus vinaigrette with it, but for Asian-style fried chicken in New York, I think I prefer the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar version.
E had the grilled yellowfin tuna burger with bonito mayonnaise, shiso (I adore shiso) and yuzu pickles (served with homemade potato chips) which he pronounced delicious.
For dessert, we both had the marvellous molten chocolate cake, and we walked out happy.
Back at home, I found out Jean-Georges Vongerichten was the inventor of molten chocolate cakes, and that his relatively simple recipe is widely available online.
So for E’s birthday this month, I tried out a gluten-free version of the recipe (substituting rice flour for the 2 tsp. of flour required) during a week-long stay in a Florida vacation condo where we’d gone for a brief escape from the Toronto winter.
I brought ramekins and Valrhona chocolate in my suitcase, amassed 1/4 cup of sugar from many (30?) sugar packets that I picked up in the hotel coffee shop, hand-whisked the eggs and sugar (the condo kitchen was not equipped with an electric beater), mixed up the cake batter in an extra-large measuring cup (no big bowls either), and had a whale of a time inverting the hot ramekins and lifting them gently to release the cakes. Three of the four cakes that resulted came out looking like this (but tasted fine nevertheless):
But the last one looked AND tasted pretty damn good, all things considered: