Once in a while when I know the restaurant is great, and the chef perfectly knowledgeable and perfectly at home with his creations, I call the restaurant and tell the chef, make us what you like. I do give him some guidelines, such as, no frying; no starches as main course; watch the salt. That’s about it. Then I happily put myself and my company in his talented hands.
Chef Josh Massin never disappoints. His tasting menu, at a recent dinner we had at Nobo Teaneck, was wonderful. His use of “sous vide” (vacuum) cooking techniques is fascinating, and yields maximum flavor while never getting too rich. I wonder if he could be persuaded to give a few of us a little demo showcasing this method.
Before you get a chance to go, feast your eyes on the menu:
Sous Vide Custard-like Hen Egg
Garlic Panko Breadcrumbs, grated “salamesean” port reduction, fresh chives, tellichery pepper
Trio of Soups
Tomato Fennel Puree (hot), English Pea and Mint (cold), Essence of Corn Puree (hot)
Celebration of Summer Legumes
Haricot Vert, Favas, English Peas, Edamame, Great Northern Beans, Pea Shoots, Wasabi-su-Miso Vinaigrette
Cherry-Vidalia Onion Jam Glazed Lamb Riblet
Chilean Sea Bass “Scallop”
Grey Owl Wild Rice and Baby Spinach Pilaf, Nori Vinaigrette
Sous-Vide Beef Two Ways
Rib Eye Filet – Butcher’s Cut
Hot Fudge Brownie
Peanut butter ice cream, peanut sauce, peanut crunch
Frozen Lemon Souffle
Lime Jelly, candied lemon zest, crème anglaise, caramel drizzle
Dinner started on a high note, with the seemingly humble poached egg: I remember thinking, not for nothing is it called the incredible edible egg. What creamy-crunchy heights did he take it to, with its shaved salami and Panko bread crumb topping!
The soups: three perfect soups without any stock or broth, just starring each veggie hardly adorned and reduced to its quintessence; the corn soup was something else. I could wear corn perfume!
The fresh legumes were adorned with the most novel drizzle, which this spy ran home to replicate: Toasted nori, blended with wasabi and miso to a smooth briny-smoky emulsion.
The bass was superbly seared, and went beautifully with the wild rice porcini pilaf.
The lamb riblet left other short ribs in the dust, and the melt-in-your-mouth beef hardly needed a knife to be cut. I loved how there was not a drop of superfluous sauce or other emollient anywhere: This is what happens when the food itself is perfectly delicious and comes in its purest form: hardly any adornment is needed around it.
In between courses, Chef Josh brought out a mysterious scoop, and asked us to guess the flavors. Hmmm, maybe our imagination was playing some trick on us…. taste again…. But no…. we got it right the first time: onions! A sorbet made with caramelized onions, carrots, ginger. Oh I know you won’t believe me if I tell you it was wonderful, or worse, you might think I am a bit odd, so: Just try it for yourself!
The desserts: The names already sounded like trouble: Chef Josh brought out a lychee sorbet the likes of which I had never tasted before; he explained he poured it straight out of the machine, before even freezing solid. Wow! Frozen lemon souffle with almond-scented creme anglaise, ethereally light and pleasingly tart with a neon-colored lime glaze; hot fudge brownie, topped with bittersweet chocolate ganache, and a scoop of heavenly crunchy-smooth chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Chef Josh joked that chocolate and peanut butter must be one of Hashem’s favorite shidduchim. What do you know, it was ours too (aren’t we created in G-d’s image?)
I felt so smug when I saw we left tiny pools of creme anglaise, and a bite or two of each dessert! Oh yes, and little smidgens of the meat around the bones: What restraint, huh? And the best part was, notwithstanding the magnitude of the feast, we felt pleasantly, not oppressively, full. On our way out, chef Josh asked us if we had room for another treat: no, but yes, of course! Apple fritters, with cream soda and a scoop of ice cream. Heavenly: Morality: Always read the PS in your text, even if you are maxed out: Something very important – and very delicious – might lurk there!
Chef Josh, thank you for a wonderful and delicious evening. I hope he will accept an invitation at my house: I will feed him well, almost as well as he fed us! Can’t wait!