I am back from vacation wherein I proved my theory that if you go to Wisconsin, drink beer, eat fried cheese curds and eat a lot of sausage, you will feel very, very fat after a few days of this.
After my friends and I came back from our trip up north, three of us went to a restaurant here in Chicago called Moto for a special dinner. It's kind of hard to explain Moto. It's weird, fancy and amazing. It would be stupidly weird and fancy, in fact, if it weren't so amazing. I won't try and use any more adjectives to describe it but I thought that the tale of what we ate in and of itself would suffice. Please note though that the menu I received is extremely undetailed. For instance, a dessert called "2 & 3 dimensional truffle" actually involved us eating a piece of paper with an image printed on it and the paper tasted like the image printed on it, but you would have no idea from reading the menu. So I'm sure some of the terms and preparation methods I use are not really correct, so please bear with me. At least the folks at Moto know I'm unable to reveal any trade secrets.
1.) Intro. We are seated and told that our menus are "being prepared." We didn't know what this meant until our menus were brought out to us. Printed on a big cracker. It said "Welcome Claire Zulkey" and "Happy Birthday Brooke!" on it. We decided to go for the ten course version and then ate our menus (sort of like an herby cracker) which rested upon a microgreens salad of some sort. It was the best menu ever.
2.) Salmon & Sesame. We're served raw salmon and typically I hate salmon but this fish obviously had just been caught, cleaned and served minutes before we ate it because it was so fresh and non-fishy. It was served with some sort of dust that was frozen like dry ice--it was ladled out of a freezing vat and when I ate some and exhaled, steam came out of my nose, like a bull but in the Arctic.
3.) Beet with bacon. "Waiter said it had an amazing texture but in reality=no texture!" was the note my friend Brooke wrote on this. We were served a sort of beet souffle, which was prepared in such a way that once you put it into your mouth, it seemed to evaporate into nothing. I know it sounds like we are eating a bunch of nothing at this point but trust me, it was delicious, We were also drinking wine but it was just regular old liquid wine.
4.) Merluzzo & popcorn: This was a type of fish and like I said, I am not typically a big fish fan but it was delicious. The "popcorn" was the style of sauces served with the fish--when you ate them all together, I suppose it had a popcorn-ey taste but our friend Liz really liked "the green/clean sauce: you had to mix together all five flavors." I think this was served with noodles made out of fruit but I'm not positive, it might have been another dish. It made sense at the time.
5.) Cucumber with lemon & basil. This was a cucumber broth and pickled cucumber dish to cleanse the palate. You know, that old song and dance.
6.) Smoked pork with frozen fried rice. I don't know what to say about this. I had been to a restaurant lately where the pork was described as 'falling off the bone,' which might be tricky wording for "have to hack through with a steaknife," but this pork you didn't need a fork to eat. I ate it with such gusto that I didn't really even notice the frozen fried rice. It was starting to become the norm at this point. As Brooke pointed out, each dish had every ingredient carefully calibrated to compliment the others, and we were getting spoiled.
7.) Pasta & quail: dehydrated macaroni and cheese served with a barbecue-style quail. When we were served it in a tumbler we were instructed to give the glass a sniff so we could check out how the one little dish smelled like the world' best bbq joint.
8.) Secret pork bbq dish. This wasn't on the menu. We were drinking some red wine with our meal that we assumed was making our waiters cringe (we didn't go with the additional $45 a person wine tasting journey) so they served us another smokey pork dish along with some flaming bread briquettes that somehow tasted smoked yet frozen (in a good way) once we blew them out. We obligingly fulfilled our duties with little grievance.
9.) Fruit & bubbles: carbonated watermelon and some strange white fruity/cheesy cracker. The waiter didn't seem to be amused when I said "Again?! I just HAD this".
10.) 2 & 3 dimensional truffle. A piece of paper with a picture of cotton candy on it. Eat the paper. Tastes just like cotton candy. Put the truffle in your mouth and bite it while it's in there. Cotton candy goosh squirts out. Then you finish with the outside of the white chocolate truffle. We were waiting for Willy Wonka to jump out.
11.) Graham & blueberry: this one was tasty but we can't remember anything goofy about it.
12.) Kiwi, mint & maize. This one is the biggest joke in terms of 'burying the lede.' We were served what looked like individual plates of nachos, but in reality, the nachos were actually sweet, the "ground beef" was actually chocolate ice cream, the "cheese" was mango, the "jalapenos" were mint (or kiwi?) and the "sour cream" was a sugary yogurt type sauce. This was served with mini strawberry shortcakes made with edible packing peanuts.
I shit you not.
As you can imagine the waitstaff at this establishment was extremely knowledgeable and extensive--we probably were served by at least three different waiters, all of whom seemed to have degrees in biochemistry and physics. Thusly I was grateful that the 18% gratuity was included because I would have been so confused and probably deliriously overgenerous at the end that I would have to end up homeless with a sign that says "Need money for edible packing peanuts. Please help?"