Homaro Cantu stole our cookie!
last night for my father's 60th (!) birthday, the family went to Moto, a new chic restaurant in chicago's "meat-packing district" (read: uber-trendy restaurant district). moto, opened within the last year, is led by Homaro (omar) Cantu, its 28 year-old executive chef. i'll be 28 in two weeks. what have i contributed to the world? not sure. canu has contributed the edible photograph, sauce that comes in a turkey baster-style tube (so you can draw on your plate), sorbet orbs, and doughnut soup. needless to say, dinner, the 18 course Grand Tour Moto (gtm) with wine progression was a fascinating experience. cindy lent me her camera and photos will hopefully follow shortly.
before i get into things, let me tell you, my dad opened up presents at dinner and my brother gave him a packaged frosted cookie with edible ink markers. you know, cuz we were eating at moto. when omar came by the table, my dad showed him the cookie and he thought we had brought it for him, so he took it! he stole our cookie!! Homaro Cantu stole our cookie!! what could we do? nothing. so, i hope he liked it.
that said, i had a blast, but there's something about moto that recalls a restaurant scene out of some future dystopian dark comedy in which trendy wealthy people pay exorbinant prices to eat food they wrongly believe to be chic and sophisticated when it is, in fact, lumpy oatmeal and stale chips. if you see my point. don't get me wrong, dinner was fantastic, but i couldn't get out of the back of my head the image of our dear friend omar, sitting in the kitchen, snickering at us as we ate our salsa-flavored gelatin cubes, green curry ice cream dots and popcorn-flavored packing popcorn (which we didn't get; it was in the 10-course meal). but i did love the "edible literature," despite the fact that it wasn't literature at all, but a description of the cheese printed on the cheese. and i enjoyed the "deconstructed bouillabaisse" cooked at the table in a translucent box (patent pending) sprinkled with lemon rind. also on the menu:
- champagne and scallops (smoked scallops, cream cheese, salmon roe with grapes infused with fizzy stuff) with an edible photo of the dish)
- maki in the 4th dimension (a piece of sushi wrapped in a photo of classic maki types)
- onion...crouton...nitrogenation (french onion soup, pretty much, constructed at the table using liquid nitrogen, i think)
- lobster&orange (a aerated orange, squeezed over lobster poached in butter. fantastic)
- duck pull apart (an inside out eggroll)
- sunchoke&kalamansi (sunchoke puree with kalamansi (it's like a lime) foam)
- sweet potato pie (sweet potato chain and cube, escher-influenced)
- bouillabaisse deconstructed (see above)
- orange orbs (carrot red pepper juice frozen inside a balloon spun on dry ice, with balloon carefully removed to create giant orange orb. we were told to wait until they collapsed, but my brother cracked a hole in his which was very satisfying to see. this was one of my favorites.)
- skirt steak with red wine and beet puree applied your way(see above)
- margarita with chips and salsa (salsa-flavored gelatin cube atop a piece of cilantro and corn puree, served with a margarita sorbet "chaser")
- prime dry aged beef w/braised pizza&garlic (not impressive except that the garlic was lightly grilled and skewered on the tip of the spoon...aromatic and whatnot)
- edible literature of grana padano (see above. it was a lovely creamy cheese)
- green curry, hearts of palm w/salted sugar (carmelized hearts of palm with green curry ice cream dots (think: dippin' dots))
- oatmeal stout w/venezuelan chocolate (a cup of liquid stuff, which was my least favorite, tasting similar to the thick watery layer at the top of a bowl of oatmeal after it's been sitting for a bit and before it's stirred)
- squash ice cream pellets (more dippin' dots, this time representing "pumpkin ice cream," served in a small cup with a sprinkle of pumpernickel crumbs. it was good)
- doughnut soup (a cup of a light cream colored warm liquid doughnut, rich and sweet, which i rather enjoyed, despite having an aversion to doughnuts--they give me headaches)
- french toast with hot blueberry syrup (little blueberry gelatinous blobs with french toast croutons. omar, if you're out there, you must make this with a touch of mustard in the blueberry. it will be divine, i promise! this was pretty good, but mustard would've made it truly unique and wonderful.)
- chocolate cake with hot ice cream (frozen chocolate mousse with panna cotta, more or less. i couldn't say one way or the other how this was, as we were on our fifth hour of dinner and i was quanked)
- cupcakes (special for the birthday, more gelatinous blobs with sweet croutons, this time meant to taste like cupcakes, with rainbow sprinkles. tasted more like non-cupcake specific sweet gelatinous blobs. cute, but needing a little work. although, i think my palate was blown by this point)