Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Morel Mushrooms at Curtis Stone's Maude (Beverly Hills)

When Maude opened, I asked the same question I ask about other celebrity chefs: "But can Curtis Stone cook?" I went the first time for the artichoke month and the answer was a resounding "Yes, Curtis Stone can cook, after all". Before leaving for Boston, I went back for the morel menu.

If you're not familiar with their concept: Maude serves only a prix fixe menu, which changes every month. Each month's menu is built around a particular ingredient: artichoke, rhubarb, morel mushroom, pea, and so on. The prices vary, since morel is obviously more expensive than peas.

For starters, Popcorn, Australian winter truffle, and shaved morels


I loved the next course: Risotto, citrus butter, chicken-stuffed morel
I wish I had a bigger bowl of this risotto, but I knew there are many more to come. The light zest of the citrus butter made each bite of the rich risotto feel fresh and new.

Rock Kanpachi crudo with pickled morels, avocado mousse, herbs, passion fruit snow
I was wondering how they would pair something as earthy as morel with a delicate kanpachi and passion fruit, but pickling it is ingenious decision.
Soup, rosemary, oyster crackers

Followed by Seared Scallop with garbanzo, wild garlic, pickled watermelon rind, roe, morel foam
The scallop was perfectly seared. Most of the flavor of the accompaniments here are dominated by the pickled watermelon, the morel foam adding only a nice earthy tone.

Since Maude has an open kitchen and a tiny dining room, you can see the cooks from any table, preparing what is possibly your next dish. We got excited when they started smoking a dish.
The cooks smoking our next dish
Duck egg, summer squash, horseradish, smoke
The creamy egg yolk is to be mixed with squash, creating an even more rich and silky mouthfeel. I'm not sure if the smoke really affected the dish, but it did make for a fun presentation.

Raviolo, consomme, truffle crumble, watercress
There's always a raviolo on the menu, but each time it is prepared differently. This time it is densely filled with scallop mousseline. Morel consomme is poured tableside.
I've only been here twice, so I can only compare it to the raviolo filled with a runny egg. They're both excellent in different ways. This one is slightly lighter and accentuates the consomme.

Pork belly, pickled morel, cilantro jalapeno puree
The jalapeno and the pickle cuts the richness of the crisped pork belly.

Lamb, green garbanzo, eggplant, leek
A well balanced meat dish with nicely pink lamb.

Taleggio, onion, charred peach, nasturtium
The taleggio is lightly fried; bite into the shell to reveal the melting cheese. I love taleggio but I find it a bit much to eat big bites at a time with little accompaniment. I secretly wished there was some bread and honeycomb.

Incorporating mushroom into a dessert is pretty challenging, but Maude handled it very well. The first dessert is an Ice Cream Bar with coffee and morel
There are candied morels on top of the chocolate shell.

Another dessert followed: Black Forest Floor (dark cherry, chocolate, hazelnut)

The chocolate crumbles certainly does make this dish look like the dirt in a forest. While the morel isn't apparent you can definitely detect earthy notes it imparts on the dessert. Loved the combination with cherries.

Mignardises: financier, raspberry and dark chocolate truffle, strawberry and chartreuse hard candy

I rarely return to the same restaurant within a short period of time, especially a fine dining restaurant - there are just so many places to try in LA. But I loved Maude during my first visit in Artichoke month and their monthly menu is a concept that draws people to return. Corn month is coming, I love corn! And truffle month during the holiday season! And so on ... I have yet to be lucky enough to see Curtis Stone in the restaurant, although my friend has, so don't come in expecting a celebrity sighting. Instead, be assured that you will have an excellent meal utilizing the theme ingredient in ways you never thought of before.

212 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Maude on Urbanspoon


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