Saturday, January 30, 2010
Nowhere in the Mission
There are many simple dishes in that can go horribly wrong, but of them all I have been scarred too times by over-boiled carrots. I am actually not a huge fan of carrots to begin with, but boiled carrots are one of the many man-made failures of the modern culinary world. It's not that I don't like food you can eat through a straw, it is that bland-not-sweet-enough flavor usually with the taint of peas and corn that really drives it to the top of my least liked foods.
Now I'm never one to not try something too many times for my own good. Over the years I've noticed that I have more tolerance, even a hankering, for things I did not care for in the past. Perhaps it was need to confirm my dislike, or just that our chef had put them next to a vibrant purple lime cabbage sautee, but these carrots changed my mind on boiled carrots, and this chef will change many minds on what to expect in the mission.
He is friendly, well-dressed, and wears the invincible grin of loving what he does. On this particular evening in no particular place in the mission, I was treated to a meal, a show even, and a new perspective on boiled carrots by Manny. We came for the freshly butchered goat and not much else, and when I say not much else, it's actually difficult to tell what you're about to get in this nowhere of a spot in the melee of the mission.
I'm loathe to reveal my new favorite spot, and can't say too much about what to look for, but what you will find is a young chef who aspires to give you something you will love to eat as much as he enjoys making it for you. His station is tightly packed with everything you need to prepare a meal. From a single spot he has reach to myriad apparatus; a deep frier, a skillet, a boil, a burner, mise en place, knives, a cutting board, a refrigerator, a set of warmers, and everything you can't even think you'd need all within just a few feet, flames tickling the back of his jacket.
His uber-station is always clean. When I say clean, I mean I am self-diagnosed OCD, and his ship is run very tightly. He even washes his own dishes and waits your table. The plates have a good number of elements but are plated with care, an eye for color, composition, and flavor. It was perhaps the inclusion of a perfectly boiled and seasoned bright orange and green crew cut carrot top next to the brightly purple cabbage that broke me of my carrot angst. But most certainly it was the simple well-executed techniques, fresh ingredients, attention to detail, seasoning, and plating that made this a great meal.
It was also a great experience in no small part due to the inspired young chef who enjoyed all parts of the kitchen and the house. I'll need to go here as frequently as I can because soon it'll be a place I can't get into. As for boiled carrots, well I've been saved. Thanks Manny, I'll be back.