If you have lived south of the Mason Dixon line for any amount of time you probably have heard of the expression; “Well if you have gone to the trouble.” This saying rings very true anytime that I go to a restaurant that has on the menu a dish that is a pain in the ass to make, prepare and repeat consistently. Don’t know what I am talking about? Go ahead and make yourself a Soufflé and serve that sucker before it dies. The dishes that I am always in awe of may include; lamb chops that have been Frenched from the bone and served at the perfect temperature. Have you ever served a Turducken or had one that was overcooked? Ever get tennis elbow from whipping Béarnaise Sauce? How many of you have almost burned down the house making a Baked Alaska dessert? To me, the hardest would be to serve Beef Wellington and not overcook the damned thing.
One dish that should be added to this list is Thomas Keller’s award winning French Laundry’s Amuse-Bouche of White Truffle Oil-Infused Custard with a Black Truffle Ragout. *Oh wait did I just lose you? Let me back up. First WTCBF is an Amuse Bouche?
An amuse–bouche [aˌmyzˈbuʃ] (plural amuse–bouches) or amuse-gueule [aˌmyzˈɡœl] is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amuse–bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but are served gratis and according to the chef’s selection alone.
Now that we have determined what an Amuse-Bouche is, I am sure that there are a couple of you who wondering who hell Thomas Keller is and why is he doing laundry for the French? Ok, that was a little bit funny. Anyway here is a proper back story on Keller’s joint called Per Se that is on the West Side of town. On the menu that the kitchen serves is a very simple and very French dish of Egg Custard with a Black Truffle Ragout. It is served in the same egg shell that once held the yolk. Friends let me tell you something….it is ethereal and worth the price of admission.
If you call yourself a foodie and are worth your weight in sweetbreads you have to appreciate this presentation. The egg shell is perfectly cut at the top and is the daunting responsibility of the junior chefs in the kitchen. Remember cartoons growing up of the army private peeling potatoes? The job of cutting the top off of the egg is the equivalent of that in the kitchen at Per Se. *Ok, I will come clean, we ate there this past weekend and it kicked ass! When this dish was served again this past Saturday, it really got all of us talking about the presentation. Homeless Tim as luck would have it, happens to “know a guy” and inquired about how this job was performed. He further negotiated that since we all were a little short asked if we could help out and chop some egg shells in payment for our dinner.
Now before you start to think that the kitchen staff gave us knives and a dozen eggs let me stop you right here. The ‘egg topper cutter off-er’ is a little cup that sits on the top of the egg and you pull a plunger like a morse code machine. To keep us from stealing all of the chocolate candies (Yes I am looking at you MC Hammer) they brought out 2 eggs and the showed us how to crack the egg. Let me cut to the chase, it is harder than one would think.
Served it is a very simple and very French Dish. The story is that Keller over ordered eggs for the restaurant and since he didn’t serve breakfast he had to come up with something quick. Notice how all great menu items start as a solution to a kitchen problem?
Notice how the top of the egg is cut clean? Try that ish the next time you make eggs for breakfast in your BVD’s.
Close up of the Egg Top Cutter Off’er
Schroeder working her magic on the egg.
Tim you had ONE JOB! I am kidding, trust me when I say that this is no easy task and we figured that Per Se holds roughly 75 seats in the main dining room and the private room so some poor Shmo in the back is breaking at least 100 eggs a day to make service.
Yes I stalk the Instagram of the French Laundry and Per Se. I love the quotes or remembrances that are on ‘the pass’. My all time favorite is still after they won another 3 star Michelin award that read “Work Hard, Stay Humble”
In case you were wondering a gastronomical orgasm happens to each patron who dines there behind those doors.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Oh and it will take us a year to get the money to pay for next years dinner. *if we make the cut.
Thanks to a great dinner and great conversation again. Merry Christmas