Dinner @ Minibar in D.C.
If you’re a frequent reader of At Home with Vicki Bensinger then you’re aware that the last week of March I attended the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference in Washington D.C.
Having never been to D.C. I was very excited to explore the city of which I actually had little time to do. I was in conferences all day starting at 7:15am. and going through to dinner each night until 9:00pm – Midnight. To say the least I was exhausted upon returning home, but the time spent was well worth it.
I’d like to share the details of the conference with you but will do that in another post. Today I wanted to share with you all the photos of my dining experience at Minibar Restaurant owned by Jose Andres’.
Minibar is a Molecular Gastronomy Restaurant. For those of you not familiar with Molecular Gastronomy (Modernist Cuisine) it blends physics and chemistry to transform the tastes and textures of food. The result? New and innovative dining experiences. The term Molecular Gastronomy is commonly used to describe a style of cuisine in which chefs explore culinary possibilities by borrowing tools from the science lab and ingredients from the food industry. Formally, the term molecular gastronomy refers to the scientific discipline that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. Molecular gastronomy seeks to investigate and explain the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena.
Dinner at Minibar was quite the experience. Each evening there are 4 seatings of only 6 people. Not knowing anyone attending the conference I posted a message on the IACP site asking if anyone would like to join me. I reserved the 6:30pm seating for 6 people in hopes to fill it with other members. One week out I had a total of 5 including myself, so I released the last seat to avoid being responsible for it. A friend of one of the chefs took that last seat.
Dinner started with hot, wet, fragrant towels to cleanse our hands. Then we were taken into the kitchen which was surrounded by a bar with stools. The 25 course meal of 2 1/2 hours was $250 without beverages. You had the option to choose a course of wine, sparkling wine or non-alcoholic beverages with each course – prices ranging from $55 – $165. While everyone else opted for one of the wine selections, I ordered one glass of sparkling wine and ice water. If I had 25 drinks I’m pretty sure I’d be dead or all over the floor by evenings end.
Below are the photos of all the dishes served. Since they came so quickly I tried to write down what each was but they described them so quickly, even after repeating them, it was challenging dictating the specifics in writing. Below I have listed each dish in the order they were served. The last item #25 was not done through molecular gastronomy but I have to say it was my favorite of all the courses that evening. Course #18 I took a teeny bite of, but just couldn’t stomach it having grown up with two rabbits. The sauce that covered it didn’t help either…..
8. Pain killer
9. Pig Ear with Curry & Chili Oil
10. Cleanser (towel expands with water)
11.Fuscilli Pesto – Duck Egg & Black Truffle
12. Gazpacho Ice w/Almond, Garlic & Tofu Soup
13. Spot Prawns
14. Dungess Crab w/Thermador Sauce
15. Iberico Tendon w/ Onion Broth Consomme (onion soup made with 60 lbs. of onions reduced to a thick broth
16. Mushroom Cracker
17. Pan Roasted Breast of Squab with Cherry Sauce & Oyster Cream & Sea Lettuce
18. Rabbit with Pork Blood
19. Perfume Rose Ice Cream
20. Yuzu Marshmallow with wasabi powder & Japanese Citrus
22. Mushroom Pot-au-feu (covered in chocolate)
23. Ouzo Gummy Bears (very strong)
24. Krispy Kreme Donut Ice Cream (heavenly)
25. Panini with Bourbon Soaked Bananas, Nutella and Crushed Hazelnuts (to die for)!
This was a great experience and I’m glad I tried it at least once. I’m not sure I’d go again since it is rather pricey. Plus I realized at the end of the night that the Banana Nutella Panini was my favorite dish and most normal.
Probably the best part of the evening was meeting 4 unique individuals that I feel will remain life long friends. That alone made the evening worthwhile.
To get a better idea of how Molecular Gastronomy works, watch this video.