Providence, Los Angeles (May 2009)

Like a country looking to invest its large current account surplus, my six-week haute respite had reached a critical mass (Due to objections, I will henceforth keep the esoterica to a minimum). Nine months had passed and the Michelin Guide had awarded Providence a second Michelin star since our last meal, so it seemed fitting to revisit. Our effervescent server wasted his breath describing the entire menu because it was the nine-course tasting we were after.

The inimitable amuse introduced me to liquor. Imbibing the grapefruit-vodka gel brought on a paroxysm of citrus. 

 
“Cocktail” trio: mojito, gin and tonic, grapefruit-vodka
Of all the courses, only the kanpachi missed the mark. Coriander masked the fish’s delicate flavor.
 
Kanpachi sashimi, crispy rice crackers, coriander flowers, endive, soy crème fraîche
 
Kanpachi sashimi, radish, olives, coriander flowers
These luscious eggs could be eaten by the dozen. 
 
Sea urchin roe, curdled farm egg, champagne beurre blanc, and brioche croutons
I have not seen chanterelles at farmers’ markets in months, which makes me more than a little envious of Chef Cimarusti’s supplier. Each component–the chanterelles, scallop, and purée–had a silky finish, leaving a desire for something crunchy. 
 
Seared scallop, yellow chanterelles, fava bean purée
As a white fish devotee, I really liked the halibut; its alabaster flesh flaked into bite-sized quadrilaterals. 
 
Wild Pacific halibut, tomato compote, burdock, shiso, Meyer lemon foam
Having professed my affinity for white fish, I should mention that no complaints surfaced when the medium rare wild salmon came out. Cracklings, mirroring the airy texture one finds in a pork grind, provided the right counterpoint to the fish’s fatty flesh. 
 
Wild Washington King salmon, carrot-miso butter, carrots, baby leeks
Deceptively large, this dish nearly filled me up. A caramelized onion, roasted garlic clove, and hazelnuts kept the tender loin, sitting in its own jus, from becoming too rich. 
 
Veal tenderloin, hazelnuts, roasted garlic, King Edwards potatoes, onion, veal jus
Providence boasts a formidable cheese cart. The tangy goat cheese, unpasteurized Époisses, and crumbly sheep’s milk cheese from Oregon towered over the recumbent swiss’ herbes de provence rind.
 
Goat, Swiss, Époisses, Oregon blue
As the savory courses receded, a quenelle fest ensued: raspberry, strawberry, and litchi-shiso. All were smooth and refreshing. Passing on the cheese course, my mother enjoyed the yuzu cylinder-raspberry amalgam. 
 
Raspberry sorbet, yuzu meringue, macerated raspberries
Adrian Vasquez, Providence’s pastry chef, makes dessert worth looking forward to. His ice cream’s concentrated flavor leaves one wondering, why cannot all ice cream taste so good? 
 
Strawberry sorbet, rhubarb, cassis, yogurt
 
Kalamansi gel, white chocolate coconut soy milk soup, litchi-shiso sorbet, granola
After finishing the petite fours and the ten courses that preceded them, I sat in effete contentment, knowing that I had just experienced one of Los Angeles’ best restaurants.
 
Petite fours: milk chocolate amaretto, salted caramels, hibiscus jellies
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