5.12.2006

Appetitive on-location: Amada

One of the perks of the job, I was told and reminded of today, is the opportunity to expand my education. And that comes not only inside the lab, but outside of it for special lunches.
Super-swank restaurants I've been to include
Le Bec Fin, with its imposing doors, tuxedoed waiters, gilded wallpaper, and delectable dishes
Pod, with a futuristic feel and intriguing bathrooms, the first place I ate edamame, and whose Thai-style beef and chicken lettuce wraps I dreamed about for days
and just today, Amada
I remember Spanish food the way it was in Spain, some years back in high school, and going for tapas in a little underground, shady cave of a restaurant. Tortilla espanola was something of a pleasant surprise, being that I've never had much of a liking for eggs, but when light and savory and chock-fill of onions and potatoes, they're really not that bad at all. And jamon serrano, manchego y membrillo, all paired with fantastic bread . . . someday I'll go back.
Amada was not quite Spanish tapas the way I remember, but it was tasty. The patatas bravas, for instance, seemed more like spiced french fries in taste and appearance. Ensalada rusa, the tuna and potato salad, had a molded round of the salad made with mayonnaise and peas, and the tuna (cured, perhaps, with long slivers of chive) was the more noteworthy part. Tortilla espanola came in a small, maybe four-inch round rather than the thick wedges I'd expected, and though warm and cooked to a slight crunch at the edges, actually had less egg and far more potato than I would like. Its dryness was helped by the flavorful saffron aioli, served in a small mortar and pestle, already bright yellow and with red strands strewn on the top.
The lunchtime mixtos for both queso y charcuteria included three each. The cheese plate was beautiful: thin slices of aged manchego with thin lavender honey, a potent cabrales with a slightly sweet tomato marmalade, and garroxto with a garlic dulche de leche, a more mustardy color than the caramel itself and resembling it only in texture. First time I've had either the blue-veined cabrales or the nutty garroxto, and I hope it won't be the last. Meats included shaved slices of the jamon serrano; which they say is similar to prosciutto but really nothing quite mimics it, chorizo and salchichon with a peppery bite. And I have nothing negative to say of the baby lamb chops, grilled medium rare and served with a garlic-parsley sauce, except that a full serving of four, even when split with five other dishes and two other people, seems to disappear all too quickly.
Banana y azafran was split for dessert. A warm chocolate brownie, which the waiter told us was made with hazelnut flour, covered by part of a caramelized banana and a sugar crust, paired perfectly with the saffron sauce. The foam atop the brownie looked just slightly unappealing and got lost in the other flavors and textures, but I suppose that's artistry.
If eating like this qualifies as a learning experience, I'm going to be a lifelong student.

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