Friday, October 4, 2013

LQ Fooding @ Vertical Wine Bistro

I've known Laurent Quenioux and his eclectic fare since his Bistro K days in South Pasadena, so when I heard he's doing a few "foodings" (that's food+feelings, a concept that I'm familiar with but still don't fully grasp—and I'm not sure if anyone's meant to,) I made a reservation, snagged Conbon, grabbed a bottle of wine and up the stairs we went to Vertical Wine Bistro.
Stairs to Vertical Wine Bistro
And just like he promised on his site, these foodings are unique, one-of-a-kind experiences, with a menu of dishes that sounds disparate but induces curiosity at the same time. Oysters with chicharrones & figs? Porridge with pomegranate & teriyaki chicken? Would that really work?
Zaca Mesa Z Cuvee
Had I known that Domaine LA was doing the wine pairing & selections for the LQ foodings, I would've readily gone with her picks. But since that wasn't disclosed on the LQ site (and I myself didn't know until shortly before the dinner over twitter,) I wound up bringing along a bottle of Zaca Mesa's 2009 Z Cuvee Rhone-style red blend. And it worked pretty well throughout the meal, with its mix of berry & spice notes, a medium body and soft tannins (which got mellower as the night went on.)

As for the dishes, they were all very playful indeed. With so many different components, no two forkful are ever the same, and wekept playing mix and match with each course. Of the six courses, my favorites were:
Rice & Chestnut Porridge, Pomegranate, Mushrooms, Teriyaki Pintade Hen
Rice & chestnut porridge with teriyaki pintade hen & pomegranate - a surprise to me since I generally prefer my porridges to be on the mellow side, but here it acted as a balance against the piquant pom arils and the luscious, richly flavorful chicken.
Hare Pie, Quince, Huckleberry, Brussel Sprouts in XO Sauce
Wild Scottish hare pie with huckleberries, quince, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, brussel sprouts in XO sauce, sichuan peppercorns - Admittedly the pie on its own was a bit too salty but upon mixing it with the tart berries, sweet, fragrant quince and the savory sprouts, it was like technicolor of tastes compared to the black & white of a standard pot pie, with various flavors and textures mingling merrily on my tongue.
Lychee Cremeaux, Vanilla Froyo, Passion Fruit Gelee, Cherry Granita
Lychee Cremeaux, passion fruit gelee, vanilla froyo, cherry granita, blood orange caramel, cookie crumble - like the hare pie, I loved the fiesta of flavor variations and combinations on this plate. I'm also thankful that this was a lighter dessert, considering the heftier courses we've had prior and because we also ordered...
Cheese Cart
Cheese Plate
...selections from LQ's cheese cart, which has a reputation of its own. With almost 40 kinds of French cheeses of every imaginable variety (aged vs. fresh, hard vs. soft, bleu vs... not), it's another experience that's near impossible to replicate (well, my not taking notes of what we actually might be a factor too.) But the seven we chose spanned all three milks, a range of textures, ages & rinds, and even a vein (to Conbon's hesistance, but even she found that one "not bad.")
Cheese Accompaniments
The accompaniments are just as unique, with an array of fruit forward spreads, some hazelnuts and helping of truffle honey. The last one is worth the $3 extra splurge, since it goes well with every cheese we had that night.

My only real sadness is that this fooding will be LQ's last for 2013 (there are still some spaces available for this coming Sunday & Monday, check out the reservations page or his twitter feed.) But I do look forward to what inspirations he'll bring back in '14, after his debut in London.

More photos on my flickr set here.

LQ Fooding @ Vertical Wine Bistro
70 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103

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