El Ideas

El Ideas – the latest brainchild of chefs Phillip Foss and Andrew Brochu. My friend from trapeze, Eric, recommended this place to us a month ago. He was so excited about it he went 3 times in a single month! So of course I had to try get reservations. First I signed up on their “lottery system” online, but didn’t get so much as a squeak from them. Eric suggested just giving them a call, which was what I did. I simply asked when their next available slot was, and they gave me a reservation a month out for 4.

Perfect. We invited our favorite foodie friends, the Rs, and eagerly plotted out our wine pairings. Dinah at El Ideas suggested a medium body sparkling, an unoaked Chardonnay, and a medium body Pinot Noir or Merlot. The Rs brought a bottle of Cava they had brought back from Spain, and a bottle of the really delicious 2008 Grigch Hill Chardonnay from their wine club. We brought the 2008 Rippon Mature Vine Pinot Noir we brought back from New Zealand, and the 2008 Eos Tempest Sol Washington we’d recently bought from Woodinville, WA.

It’s so hard to pick a favorite from the many courses! Several, I wished they were more than mere bitefuls; I would have gladly wolfed down entrees.

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Lightly smoked Tasmanian trout with roe, anise, finger limes. The trout was delicious. When we trooped into the kitchen to watch the chefs plating, Chef Foss showed us the smoking gun he used to smoke the fish. You could even choose the different flavors of wood chips to smoke with!

We opened the cava first. A beautiful, and light sparkling with notes of apple. The Rs bought it at a restaurant in Barcelona, where they had fond memories of downing the bottle with sinful plates of meat.

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Corn (several kinds of preparations), with charred avocado. We even ate the silks of the corn. Heh. My favorite was the cream of corn on which the fritters of corn kernels sat. Beautiful.

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Tortellini with Alaskan King crab, cucumber and ginger. This was definitely one of the highlights of the meal. The consume was most pungent, and we wished we had bread to mop up the plate. The sweet raw crab meat was mixed with some mint leaves – a brilliant combination; I remember the jolt of surprise every time I took a bite.

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Preparation of lamb in the open kitchen. We were urged to mingle with the chefs and encouraged to join them in the kitchen. Heh the other 6 diners (only 10 per night) did so almost between every serving, but we were enjoying our conversation and drink. It was fun to watch their deft hands at work though, and a marvel to see how clean the kitchen space was, especially since each dish required more than 10 different ingredients.

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Lamb with beans, tomato, and anchovy. This would be perfect for a cold wintry evening. The anchovy lent a good savoriness to the lightly seared lamb.

We opened the Chardonnay to go with this. It paired beautifully. I loved the crispness of the wine in the start, and the round finish at the end. A very elegant wine.

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Sepia with ham, peppers and saffron. Another favorite of the evening. The squid ink risotto was most delicious, and the sepia (small squid off the coast of San Sebastian) was cooked to perfection.

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Almond milk with casaba melon, elderberries, and hyssop. We downed this, shot-style, in the kitchen. The almond milk was mild and not overpowering, and I loved the elderberries.

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Chicken liver with huckleberry, onion, and apple. Another favorite. The chicken liver was done up popcorn chicken style. I’m not usually a fan of liver, but I would have eaten buckets of that. The onion and apple was wrapped in a pancake of cheese, and tasted exactly like we were eating French Onion soup. It was incredible.

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Cod with cauliflower, coconut and salsa verde. I loved the cream of cauliflower and coconut so much I ate most of it by itself, which was a mistake because the gently cooked cod was somewhat salty on its own. But everyone else raved about the fish.

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Foie gras with scallion, peach and Szechuan peppercorn. Another favorite!!! I’m drooling just thinking about of the foie gras melted in my mouth.

We broke out the Rippon Pinot for this. It’s a delicious Pinot, light and soft and smooth. The vineyard the grapes come from is the most beautiful vineyard I have ever seen. The vineyard is gently sloping, towards a gorgeous deep blue lake. Beyond the lake is a ring of snow capped peaks.

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Matsutake with snails, yuzu-ponzu, and watermelon. I loved the snail!

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Ribeye with maitake, thyme and mushroom sauce

We opened the bottle of Tempest Sol from Woodinville at this point. Sadly, the wine seemed very corked to me. It had a strong sherry-like nose, and the flavor just seemed off. Y and I pushed it aside, but the two boys didn’t seem to mind the wine that much.

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Manchego with gooseberries, candy cap and endive. Everyone loved, loved, loved this one. The manchego was very, very lightly breaded and fried, and soft in the middle. It was delightful.

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Pear with pumpkin, pomegranate, and rooibos. I really, really enjoyed the puree of pumpkin and pomegranate. It was delicious. I cleaned my plate.

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Orange with poppyseed ice cream, crushed pine nuts and citrus sauces. This was delicious! The pine nuts were a little savory, but blended so well with the sweet sour citrus sauces.

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Chocolate salty balls, served up on ends of swords. This was a fun end to the long evening, especially when we were childishly brandishing the swords at one another. By then, we were way stuffed.

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