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Chef's Tasting at "Salt"
"Salt" - Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island
Richard Gras, chef du cuisine (the husband of a friend of mine)

We visited the Ritz for three nights as a relaxing getaway before the pending arrival of our son; we had the pleasure of ordering the "Chef's Adventure" tasting menu, a blind tasting at the chef's whim where none of the courses was listed on the evening's official menu.  It was hands-down the most satisfying meal I've ever enjoyed.  Each element alone was of the highest quality and flavor, yet each balanced the other elements in the dish.  And every course had a food-geek element...Chef Gras clearly knows a little molecular gastronomy, yet tempers it with solid French techniques, some regional specialties, and some fine imported items.  The friendly four-tier Russian service met my expectations for fine dining without being haughty in any way.  After the meal, our server even let us step into the kitchen to see "backstage" -- I was impressed to see a few molecular gastronomy devices, including a smoking gun they were using to anoint a tuna carpaccio.

Gruyère cheese roll
black olive loaf
beurre sec d'Isigny A.O.C. (unsalted French butter from the Isigny region)

Keeping with its namesake, the server brought three different types of finishing salt (of the possible 20-30 that the kitchen keeps at any given time):
- Hiwa kai black salt from Hawaii
- Salish alderwood smoked salt from Oregon
- citrus peel-infused Croatian Adriatic sea salt 

foie gras & dried cranberry mousse garnished with pistacio & mâche
shaved cucumber and crème fraiche

Course I
Jamón ibérico (black-footed Spanish ham fed herbs, acorns, and roots), Manchego cheese, Beauty Heart radish, wine & spice poached Lady apple, shaved fennel, aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena D.O.P. (a.k.a. "real" balsamic vinegar)

Course II
fried green tomato, Hawaiian blue prawns, mozzarella di bufala D.O.P. (a.k.a. "real" mozzarella), datil pepper sauce, green tomato coulis

Palate cleanser
raspberry sorbet

Course III
free-range chicken breast sous vide; ragout of beans, broccolini, and morel mushrooms; green tomato coulis; cream of yellow tomato & fennel
[Prior to this course, the server brought each of us a beautiful Laguiole steak knife for the meat. You know, the expensive French knives with the wood handle and the decorative bee? Since the chicken breast was cooked sous vide, the knives were superfluous since the meat was silky smooth.]

The silkiest cappuccino I have ever had in my life! Unbelievably creamy microfoam topping an espresso with copious reddish crèma.

strawberry shortcake, vanilla foam, strawberry soup, chocolate stick

Farewell candies
salted butter caramels
dark chocolate raspberry truffles
raspberry jellies

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I like salt. And caramels. And strawberries.

And crepes. And ice cream. And EVERYTHING!

Too lazy. I think we really might go early this time, given my level of misery right now. And if I give Steve a recipe, he will probably blow up the kitchen. He's not even confident enough to use the coffee machine. I am dead serious.

When we get our membership to the Y with the $6 an hour babysitting for any number of kids, I am making Steve take me for crepes. Crepes will make me happy. Maybe crepes with caramels. And something salty. And maybe a margarita.

Ah, the mad ramblings of a tired and extremely uncomfortable pregnant lady...

I have never been more jealous than I am right now. Thank you for making my Lenten struggle more struggly.

My eastern types don't mess around with fasting!

I love chef's tasting menus.

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Great read! I wish you could follow up to this topic

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