food-ie event #12 at Cafe Apamate 3-10-09, 7:30
1620 South St. , Philadelphia 19146
Cafe Apamate is a tapas byob restaurant offering us a chef tasting menu. A seven course tapas tasting menu -Pintxos y Picas (mini-tapas)
This food-ie experience offered a nice array of different flavors, all were tasty and sometimes unexpected which definitely hit its mark as the chef's aim was to offer a meal about: "degustating" different flavors and textures and enjoying an "experience" not just a meal". We ended up a smaller group than usual, perhaps due to various factors but the company, and the sangria, was lively and the pace of the meal seemed right.
We started off with the small cup of potato and roasted leek soup topped with a farm-raised egg yolk and chorizo emulsion. For the veggies that skipped the emulsion, damn, you missed a great component of flavor, in my opinion. I enjoyed the balanced smokey chorizo influence. Next came the Plato con Charcuteria which I forgot to photograph, perhaps because it was the most photogenic dish. When it arrived, I must have had hearts in my eyes since it included a handsome display of hams and cheeses and bread - o my.
The wild mushroom confit with garlic, tomatoes, herbs and roasted pepper sauce were like heaven on my tongue. The Bechamel and Serrano ham croquettes dish followed with a rich creaminess that felt a bit like an indulgence. Next, the seared pork tenderloin stuffed with poached sherry wine figs arrived on top of a carrot-cocoa puree and wine reduction with some marcona almonds as garnish arrived. One couldn't, at this point, help but notice how we were all becoming full yet it did not deter us from delving into the savory new experience of the mole-like rich sauce which the tenderloin sat atop. While the pork seemed roasted to a state of sausage-like texture, the fig filling was a great balance for it. I enjoyed it very much and pitied those poor vegetarians that missed it. (a moment of silence please, for the veggies). The seared sea scallops topped with a green apple-lemon and herbs infusion (looking like sea foam) were served as our final savory dish. It arrived in a half shell, and like Venus, it was beautiful in all ways. The scallops were a great size and perfectly cooked.
A final surprise was delivered with the tragedy of the churro machine's demise. Apparently Apamate's lauded churros ceased in mid-production. The restaurant was able to offer a few churros and chocolate dipping sauce that was shared between the group. I'm not sure what the consensus was, but I liked them for their freshness and surprisingly healthier texture than the greasy, cinnamon sugary carnival excuse of a dessert I had come to know in the past. These were good, light and tender. The chocolate sauce was pure good chocolate, though I almost yearned for it to include more unexpected flavors, as we had grown accustom to throughout the meal.
Additional dessert supplements were dishes of a rich chocolate mousse and rice pudding. Now don't go away yet. The mouse, which to me was intensely chocolate and rich without being run-of-the-mill chocolate, reminded me of a hybrid of ganache and a truffle. While it was dryer and tended to crumble a bit as we spooned it up, it did not suffer in flavor or texture. I loved it. The rice pudding, while sounding the most pedestrian, was my favorite. It was thicker, less gelatinous than typical pudding, and people, to me that's a good thing! It was a wholly new experience of rice pudding for me, which was topped with a slight golden creme-burlee top that made so much sense to me. Perhaps the substitutes were so good to me, they just overshadowed the churros? regardless, that and the really great coffee were a pleasing ending to a good meal. In addition, dishes of rice pudding and chocolate mousse were brought out. The churros were good, assuming the final ones made were made according to a well working machine. Their freshness, no doubt, are their greatest strength. They certainly did not seem like the unhealthy cinnamon greasy carnival desserts Ive come to know as churros.
*this meal cost: $35 + tax and tip= $45 Per Person
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