Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bistro 5: Heirloom Tomato Celebration

Several times a year Chef Vittorio Ettore of Bistro 5 prepares a very special menu which is centered around an ingredient that is in season and is available only for a limited time.  In the spring it was strawberries, summer, peaches and in November, truffles.  We we very lucky to be invited to preview his Heirloom Tomato Celebration recently.  This special menu is a worthy gastronomic joy, as you will see.  It will be available on September 5 through the end of the month.

We began with this fresh focaccia bread and a basil hummus.  Basil was featured heavily, as well, in many inventive ways as the perfect compliment to the dishes we tried featuring some of the many different kinds of tomatoes.  Each dish was also paired with a special wine.

Chef Ettore rounded the table to dress the first dish personally for each diner.

Gazpacho was our first taste but not just any Gazpacho.  This featured Cherokee Tomato, Scallop Ceviche, Cucumber-Jalapeno Sorbet and Gazpacho Cloud.  The delicate flavor of the tomato was not overpowered by the other, sharper tastes, the ceviche was fantastic and the sorbet playful on the tongue.  An impressive beginning.  This dish was paired very nicely with 2011 Aragosta, Vermentino, Sardegna

The next dish showed off Chef Ettore's playful, childlike side: Potted Tomato "Panzanella".  Pineapple Tomato, Mozzarella Balloon and Black Olive "Soil." I cannot tell you how much the ladies loved this adorable, little potted plant as it was placed before them and the taste was every bit as unexpectedly delightful.  This is how one gets creative with food.  Chef explained to us that he was inspired when he was strolling through a Michael's store and saw these tiny plant pots.  The pairing here was 2008 Domaine de Saint-Pierre, Sancerre, Loire, a great Loire Valley wine.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto:  Lemon Bay Tomato, Goat Cheese and Crispy Prosciutto.  Perfectly simple in ingredients and execution with the full, rich buttery taste of the risotto contrasted with that crunchy prosciutto.  Perfect.  The pairing here was 2011 Domaine de la Solitude, Rosé, Côtes du Rhône, my favorite pairing.  I am so glad that Rosé wines, once looked down upon a trend well-past it's time, have made a comeback.

Rohan Duck Breast:  Smoked Speckled Roman Tomato Creme Brulee, Sweet and Sour Butternut Squash, Thai Basil and Pickled Ginger.  Another inventive delight.  When you lifted the top of the glass jar of the creme brulee the smoke gently wafted out across the table for another sensory dimension.  It reminded me of the techno-emotional cooking style of Grant Achatz, the smell of the burning leaves in Autumn transporting the diner back to deep memories equated with happiness and the simplicity of life.

The duck breast was meaty, rich and perfectly succulent.  This was paired with a 2007 Il Passo, Nero d'Avola, Sicilia.

The fantastic last dish was a dessert called:  Tomato ... Sweet Tomato.  Organic Peach Tomato Napoleon, Basil Yogurt Gelato, Vanilla Anglaise and Sweet Pistachio Pesto. 

The Tomato Napoleon cream mousse was presented in these glistening spun sugar globes with basil leaves.  The ingredients were prepared and then served in one, large plate, deconstructed for all the diners to fight over as in the famous Tomatina annual tomato fight in Spain, Chef explained.  Very fun and absolutely delicious.  This was paired with a 2011 Zagara Moscato d'Asti, a very inviting, sparkling dessert wine.

Here is a very short video of the deconstructed presentation with the tomato mousse heaped in the middle.  Those small dishes are individual servings of the very unusual Basil Yogurt Gelato, which really made the dish for me.

Overall, I would have to say that this was an extraordinary night of very creative dishes featuring only the best in-season ingredients.  Congratulations Chef Ettore!!!  The five course menu is $65 per person, wine pairings $25 additional (and well worth it.)  There is a three course option available for $45, $20 additional for wine pairings.  Please contact the restaurant for details and reservations.

Bistro 5
Playstead Road 
Medford, MA 02155
Telephone: 781.395.7464 Bistro 5 on Urbanspoon

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