Monday, October 17, 2016

Hill & Hollow's 7th Occasionally Annual & Absolutely Last Ever Appalachian Deconstruction & Molecular Gastronomy Dinner

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

Hill & Hollow hosted the 7th Occasionally Annual & Absolutely Last Ever Appalachian Deconstruction & Molecular Gastronomy Dinner on Thursday night. It is one of the many dinners that Chef MK Ohlinger creates as part of his Global Dinner Series.

Molecular Gastronomy at Hill & Hollow

The multi-course feast had just one sitting - at 7 p.m. - and had a few long tables where you mingled with fellow guests. It used traditional Appalachian food reconstructed through molecular gastronomic theory:
Gastronomic theory is, in its simplest definition, the art and science of good eating. It is a modern style of cooking that uses the innovations of scientific disciplines ... It is a modern style of cooking that uses the innovations of scientific disciplines ... Perhaps the most famous for this culinary style is Chef Ferran Adria, of the infamous El Bulli in Spain. The meal will be twelve to fifteen courses, served in three acts ... At the end of the meal, a souvenir menu will be presented to the diner, explaining what they have just eaten. In keeping with our standard of using only natural ingredients, all preparations will be done without the use of chemicals or machinery. Molecular Gastronomy and Deconstruction Theory were introduced to the Morgantown culinary scene several years ago by our previous incarnations, Solera Café & Richwood Grill, and we are excited to be working in this cutting-edge genre again ... After this edition, we will retire this dinner and continue looking to the future for new inspiration.
Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

MK introduced the meal and mentioned how some things won't be as they seem - and some things will be. All the while, Willy Wonka songs started playing. So, I was 100% all about this. I love the whole Willy Wonka theme. I had a half table full of friends - Steve, Vicki, Lisa, Sher, Eric and Sarah - who were just the most fun to try to guess what each of these dishes were. Because, keep in mind, we had no idea. The menu wasn't presented until the last dish.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

It's crazy how much your mentality plays into how you appreciate a dish. Some things I thought I may not like, I did in fact like based on flavor alone - and not preconceived notions. All in all, a very fun time that kept us guessing the whole way.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

STRANGER BIRD
Potato pasta, poached baby potato, pickled alder catkin, hemp seeds
What I thought this was: fried noodles with a potato egg and pickled pinecone. It was a cool presentation, but not overwhelming in flavor. Fairly mild.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

LITTLE RASCALS
Buckwheat ravioli, chevre, toasted alfalfa broth
What I thought this was: some sort of tea broth with sesame oil, wild onion and dumplings. I wasn't super on board with this broth until I had the bit of onion. That gave it some flavor that I needed.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

CHICKEN & WAFFLES (revisited)
Southern fried partridge breast, wasabi waffle, maple tamari
What I thought this was: Chicken or not and a wasabe waffle. I definitely thought this was chicken... until a few more bites revealed just a different taste. And that waffle... that sneaky waffle. Wasabe. Love, love, loved the breading on the partridge breast. Amazing.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

STILL LIFE AQUATiC
Smoked trout, tarragon, hen o' the woods, tagarashi
What I thought this was: A fish tank with fishy fish mushrooms and a green that tastes like licorice. My least favorite of the night. I couldn't get over the mentality of licking a fish tank.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

RECONSTRUCTED TACO
Taco sausage, masa cream, cheese crisp, lettuce powder, tomato chip, cilantro sorbet
What I thought this was: A Taco. This was by far my favorite bite of the night. Each piece was super flavorful. I loved the cold cilantro sorbet paired with the masa cream. And, after I ate the whole thing together, I really thought it tasted like a taco. Absolutely delish.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

*HIDDEN TRACK: TOWED IN THE WHOLE (TRAIN IN VAIN)
Semolina toast, gelled vanilla yogurt, spherified mango
What I thought this was: Some biscuit with cheese and citrusy - in a bread in the basket way. So, this was actually really good. It looked just like an egg in bread, but the flavors were actually pretty good.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

BUCK IN A DUCK
Venison tenderloin encased in duck necks with cherry-chicory air & ginseng gastrique
What I thought this was: Some delicious tender meat with a foam cinnamon and maybe duck fat. If you told me this was tenderloin, I would have laughed all evening. It didn't have a characteristic gamey flavor that I've come to associate with it. Very tasty.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

LIQUID CAPRESE
Heirloom tomato consumme, basil water, fresh mozzarella, black vinegar
What I thought this was: Liquid caprese drink. Once you pulled the mozzarella ball to the top of the glass, all of those flavors mixed together. It was quite tasty; I wouldn't have minded a little balsamic drizzle on top.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

SNAP, CRACKLE, PORK
Pork cracklins, hickory-smoked milk
What I thought this was: pork rinds in some creamy milk. I didn't really know what to make of this dish. The pork cracklins were far more flavorful than pork rinds that I've had, but because of the presentation, I wanted to pour sugar and cinnamon on top and eat it like a cereal.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

CHICKEN NOODLE
Chicken impasta, cream foam, parsley oil
What I thought this was: chicken noodle soup. I think Eric guessed this one pretty easily. It really emulated the flavors of chicken noodle soup well, so no huge surprises there.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

LEGO LEMINATE
Lamb taffy, mint yogurt, freeze-dried pawpaw essence
What I thought this was: Some strange jerky with sour cream. I think Sher did guess that this was a gyro, but I wasn't feeling it. There was something frozen that I liked, but there was a sort of mint flavor. Eh.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

FLOTATOS & GRAVY
Patatas bravas, chicken-of-the-woods gravy
What I thought this was: Potato soup or clam chowder. I really, really liked this dish. It was creamy and super flavorful.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

FRIED GREEN TOMATO PARFAIT
Green tomato jello, ramp aioli whipped cream, toasted bread crumbs
What I thought this was: Green tomatoes with garlic. I was proud to announce the tomato flavor first, and I actually liked this. The topping was a bit much and hard to dig into, but I liked all these flavors together.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

ROCK CANDY GARDEN
Cane sugar, honey dust, habanero crystals, candied black walnuts, chocolate salt
What I thought this was: Possibly a deconstructed walnut cookie. At first, I was trying to figure out how to literally stomach the idea of a plate full of sugar, but it was quite good. I love it even more now that it was a rock garden. But, the salt balanced this out well, and there was just a touch of heat. Tasty.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

ROOT CANAL
Caramel chew, scorpion pepper sugar
What I thought this was: At first, a delicious caramel candy and then hell. This lovely little candy was hiding a scary, breathtaking scorpion pepper. I took a tiny bite, because it's tasty, but good lord did I feel that heat in the back of my throat. Praise god I didn't take a bigger bite.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

TRUFFLED UP IN BLUE
Candied blue potato, heirloom chocolate ganache, honeysuckle caramel
What I thought this was: Maybe a taro chocolate candy. This was weird, considering there's a blue potato inside, but it was still tasty, and I loved the honeysuckle caramel.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

CHILLED TO THE BONE
Maitake-bone marrow ice cream
What I thought this was: I thought maybe at first this was like hash ice cream or some sort of smokey ice cream. It wasn't my favorite of the evening, but it also wasn't my least favorite.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

MOLLY KAFTA
Fried fruit dumpling, rice noodle, sweet potato sauce
What I thought this was: Pasta with a jam sauce and fig meatballs. I thought this was quite tasty - plus it was the cutest little presentation.

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy

Who else went? Did you guess more correctly than I did?

Sher Yip Molecular Gastronomy