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63 fuietelle of toasted marshmallow and chocolate cream.jpg

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Gypsy, Somewhere, WA, tasted on February 5, 2006 Given the frequency with which I eat out, I sometimes overthink all the factors that go into how I feel about a given establishment. On the one hand, I really try to filter out everything but the food. Even the service, and price are secondary (within reason). Flavor, texture, and freshness are top of mind for me. But I have to admit that even though I work hard to have my blinders on, once I do decide that I am fond of the food at an establishment, I am always curious about the story that led to the food being so great. And truth be told, good stories start to intermingle with good food to the point where the two are inseparable. This is not to say that if all of a sudden the food was bad that the story would be able to support the experience on its own. In fact, a good story without the supporting evidence is just hollow and inauthentic at best. And all this philosophizing brings us to Gypsy.

Gypsy came on the scene in the last couple of years as the Seattle area's secret underground invitation only restaurant. And as far as stories go, secret underground invite-only restaurants are pretty good. The question of course is, does the food in the case of Gypsy stand up to the story. And frankly, that's a tough question to answer because Gypsy's policy is to bring in new chefs for every dinner they serve (which happen every so often). On this night the guest chef was an up and coming young local woman who is just making her mark. Her theme... dessert as dinner.

Set in a quiet neighborhood Gypsy welcomes you to its beautifully set community tables, and and open kitchen. Aside from the high expectations for the meal, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the pre-meal is the camaraderie. Clearly everyone attending was excited for an illicit meal. And it seemed to me like many had been there before.

The menu included: Lemon Tart - A lightly Lemon Cream Tart with Citrus and Shaved Fennel Salad, Ganache - Aquavit's Foie Gras Cake with Molten Center, Jams and Jellies - Goat Cheese Parfait with Cassis Jelly and Candied Beets, Caramel Corn - Roasted Pork Belly with Spiced Mustard, Smoked Mashed Potatoes and Cumin Caramel Corn, Tart Tatin - Braised Beef Cheek with Endive Tart Tatin, Tian - Key Lime Tian, Strawberry Cheesecake - Yogurt Mousse with Strawberry on an "Aural" Crust, Dreamsicle - Vanilla Tapioca with Blood Orange Segments, Chocolate Malted - Ovaltine Mousse with Roasted Banana Bavarian and Caramelized Rice Crispies, and S'mores - Fuitelle of Toasted Marshmallow and Chocolate Cream. Oh yeah... don't forget the Petit Fours.

On this night at Gypsy dinner was excellent. Perhaps I was too excited to see one of this young chef's first opportunities at running the show. It's true that the meal's design was in the style that's popular these days, maybe almost a little clever-clever (the "aural crust" consisted of pop rocks). But there's no denying that the potential of her simplicity, humility, and flavor combinations is super promising. Her short term focus on dessert clearly gave her the background from which to prepare this meal. But I claim she hasn't found her voice yet. When she does, she'll be unstoppable.

I don't know what other dinners at Gypsy are like. And frankly, since you need to be invited, you probably won't either. I will say this however, the folks at Gypsy are clearly focused on the right values and willing to take chances giving young chefs the opportunity to step up. Will every meal consistently meet the bar? There's no way to know. Do I plan on going back to find out? Yes.

We've included an extra packed (66 image) photo album (devoid of any identifying images) to give you a sense for the action-filled evening. Pardon the low light... it was an "intimate" setting. :) Enjoy!










Tastingmenu is focused on superlative restaurant experiences from two perspectives: behind the plate and behind the stove. Tastingmenu is written by Hillel (professional eater) and Dana (up-and-coming professional chef) in Seattle, Washington.

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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