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Throughout the next few days, your humble and humbled correspondents will be providing dispatches from the Moto front and from our 7+ hour dinner. My mind is at work, but the meal deserves at least as much thought as it took eating it.

However, at the start, it is well and appropriate to thank with gratitude the entire staff at Moto. This includes far more than Chef Cantu - and his entire team (he made that clear in talking with us) - a team that is not divided between servers and cooks. And at a restaurant which serves 18+ courses we thank the brave dishwashers and potmen (some of whom, given the ethnic politics of restaurant kitchens, no doubt could provide us and perhaps Chef Cantu, leads to Chowist heavens).

Before describing the meal (later), let me describe the post-meal, courtesy of Chicago's famed Department of Streets and Sanitation (thank you very much, Dennis Foley). On our way from the Meat Packing district with Jazzfood and his guest, my poor little Honda Civic hit a pothole of the size that makes driving in Chicago such a joy. With the help of one of Moto's staff and Jazzfood (whose domains of expertise knows few bounds), the tire was replaced. (My knowledge of automobiles begins and ends with the food that I can eat driving). And I am pleased to report that my dear Civic is now resting comfortably.

At the outset let me thank Matthew McCammon, Moto's general manager and wine director for an amazing set of wine pairings. Few people can tame Chef Cantu's creations, but M. McCammon can. A dozen wines without a single Sauvignon - Cabernet or Blanc. But with the most memorable Syrah (2001 Schubert Syrah, North Island New Zealand) that I have ever tasted and an extremely wonderful 2003 Bruno Verdi Sangue di Guida from Lombardy that erased forever the line between wine and grape juice - and a splendid Campbells Rutherglen Tokay from Victoria, Australia. Perhaps the pairings leaned toward the sweet rather than the tannic or flinty, but they worked (Matthew knows that if we talk about how we like dry wines, our hidden hearts yearn for a touch of sugar).

More later.

Moto
945 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 491-0058
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The punchline is based on an unexpected turn of events or phrase, a twist, a surprise, and dinner at Moto was nothing if not 'surprising.' The buttery 'packing foam' with champagne that kicked off the meal, the chocolate-colored bladder that burst blueberry at the close, and so much in between confounded the routine and caused one to reconsider what we eat and how we eat and there were a lot of laughs around the table as each punchline was delivered.

Still digesting.

Hammond
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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First off, let me add my gratitude to Chef Cantu and the entire staff of Moto for a wonderful experience last night. We were treated like royalty. The dishes were inventive and gimmicky while maintaining a firm foundation in culinary greatness...a rare combination that was thoroughly enjoyable. I'll keep my comments in this post very brief and instead focus on showing a pictorial tour of the LTH dinner at Moto. I'm sure much discussion will follow, and this pictorial guide may be useful to aid the discussion. I appologise in advance for the quality of some of the photos. Conditions were not all that conducive to taking pictures due to the almost complete absence of light (except for mostly candles). I did the best I could.

Menu
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This was the menu for our special LTH dinner, which took over 7 1/2 hours to eat.

Popcorn Flavored Packing Material
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This was the amuse. It really did taste like buttered popcorn.

Champagne & Scallops
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Maki in the 4th Dimension
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Onion-crouton-nitrogenation
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The highlight of this dish was the presentation.

Lobster & Orange
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Duck Pull Apart
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Sorry I didn't have a picture of what happens after you pull it apart.

Sunchoke, Yuzu & Kalamansi
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Sweet Potato Pie
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Bouillabaisse Deconstructed then Reconstructed Tableside
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Seafood cooked in Moto's signiture box at the table, then assembled into a bowl.

Raccoon Road Kill
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This is the one dish that really showed off the kitchen's chops. Cathy2 brought some leftover raccoon from her Wisconsin coon adventure and the chef came up with this truely amazing dish on the spur of the moment.

Skirt Steak with a Red Wine & Beet Puree Applied Your Way
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Some of chose intravenously as 'your way.'

Margarita with Chips & Salsa
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Prime Dry Aged Beef with Braised Pizza & Garlic
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Antonius would approve of the use of garlic in this dish purely as an aroma.

Edible Literature of Grana Padano
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As good to read as it was to eat.

Green Curry, Hearts of Palm & Salted Sugar
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This was the one dish that I felt missed the mark.

Oatmeal Stout with Venezuelan Chocolate
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Squash Ice Cream Pellets
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Doughnut Soup
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This tasted exactly like a glazed doughnut.

French Toast with Hot Blueberry Syrup
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Chocolate Cake with Hot Ice Cream
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Vegetable Globe
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Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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Sounds like an incredible experience-- 7 1/2 hours???

Thanks for posting the great pics-- I can't wait to hear more.
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Thank you for the beautiful photos of what I am sure was a truly outstanding meal. I was drooling over the pictures as I scrolled through them.

From the posts, It sounds like a great evening.

Suzy
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I have been musing deeply on our meal last night. The ideas encased in food will not leave my thoughts. If, for no other reason, is one of the most memorable meals of my life. I can't bring myself to claim that was one of the most delicious meals of my life in purely gustatory terms (although there were many very delicious moments and several astonishing ones). And on this a crucial and important paradox rests.

If we look back at this meal from the distance of a decade hence, we may well conclude that Chef Cantu is the most important American chef of his generation OR that Chef Cantu is the most influential American chef of his generation OR that Chef Cantu represents a fascinating footnote to American cuisine.

As I 'read' his cuisine, Chef Cantu is attempting two revolutions at once: call them 'Cuisine Agape' and 'Technocuisine.' At some points they work well together, at other points less so. By Cuisine Agape I refer to Chef Cantu's attempts to amaze and to provide diners with a deeper range of emotional response that is traditional at table. He wants - and succeeds - in infusing laughter, gaiety, puzzlement, and, perhaps, even, annoyance in the course of the dinner. Most great chefs have stopped at producing profound satisfaction ('Isn't this dish exquisite!'). Exquisiteness is not sufficient for this chef. In several dishes the tastes will be less memorable than the ideas (yes, the pureed chips and salsa do taste like chips and salsa). Dishes like his deconstructed sweet potato pie produces a gaiety, the roadkill raccoon created deep laughter as we got the joke (it took a moment to see the plate as a highway with a blob of raccoon), the popcorn flavored packing material produced a deep sense of discomfort leading to satisfaction, the French toast with hot blueberry syrup produced a startle as the syrup bladder suddenly spilled its tart richness unexpectedly, and the sorbet sphere produced a mix of eager anticipation and impatience as we waited for these brightly colored ice orbs to implode. Rather than being a maestro of the tongue, Chef Cantu strives to be a maestro of the emotions.

In this his similarity and differences with his mentor Charlie Trotter are apparent. In some sense, Chef Cantu is the anti-Trotter. I think of CT as 'the philosopher in the kitchen' (with a bow to Brillat-Saverin). His subtly forces one to consider the intricate relations of tastes and textures. These are slow and cognitive considerations. As a culinary philosopher, there is no one better. (And few better as a working chef). If there is a complaint of CT's cuisine is that it sometimes lacks the robustness of European-trained chefs like Chef Joho - a commitment to 'big flavors.'

No one would suggest that Chef Cantu is a philosopher in the kitchen - he is too impatient for that (this is not an assessment of his personality, but of his cuisine). He doesn't wish to have us contemplate, but to shake us up, grabbing our lapels. He wants a cuisine of amazement, a cuisine of affect. Unlike most chefs who root their cuisine in a desire to comfort, Chef Cantu, like artists such as Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, or Christo, realizes that an art form can make demands on its audience. Cuisine need not be 'prettified.' Diners beware.

Let me not exaggerate, Chef Cantu is not at the point of serving rusty nails, or forcing us to forage with him or dumpster dive. He shows no signs of desiring an emetic cuisine, a cuisine of cruelty. (We are not ready for this, and, hopefully, never will.) Yet, the opening salvo - our amuse bouche - our popcorn flavored packing material was an attempt to challenge the diner. Should be trust this chef by placing what appeared to be Styrofoam in our gullet? It was a brilliant stratagem - and as the nervousness and the 'peanuts' dissolved - an effective one undercutting our confidence in the world of cuisine, permitting Chef Cantu to twist our expectations all the better. A second dish - in my judgment the high point of the evening (bolstered by the best wine of the night - the 2001 Schubert Syrah) - was the 'Skirt Steak with a Red Wine & Beet Puree Applied Your Way.' We were provided a small pipette of beet-walnut sauce and were permitted (demanded) to create our own aesthetic. Coupled with pellets of Kentucky Fried Chicken Ice Cream and sliced rutabaga, a dish that just couldn't work, did work magnificently. The references to KFC and to Burger King raise the question of who controls the meal - the diner or the chef. Who could image that fried chicken ice cream would have been the perfect partner for skirt steak - Chef Cantu, that's who.

In thinking back, a Cuisine Agape may work better with somewhat fewer dishes. We had 20 courses during seven hours, and fifteen might have encapsulated the emotions without repetition. However, given the length of the meal I was not stuffed at any point in the dinner, itself a triumph for a meal of this breadth, and a recognition of the Chef's awareness of the physiology of the digestive tract.

This brings us to Chef Cantu's commitment to a technological cuisine. Technocuisine is not so dissimilar from a Cuisine Agape. The engineering tricks are designed to amaze. However, I couldn't escape the concern that sometimes Chef Cantu selected the dishes to show off his chemical prowess. When you give a young boy a hammer, everything in the house becomes a nail. I felt that some of the dishes had this quality. The Maki in the 4th Dimension - a surprising maki, covered in edible rice paper embossed with images of the food within, was more a curiosity than a dish that I would demand for future meals. The use of carbonation or nitrogenation - can work as it did for the wonderfully tingly, sexy 'Lobster and Orange,' or it can be less effective as in the 'Onion-Crouton-Nitrogenation' (with its mist and mystery), which lacked compelling taste structure after the smoke had cleared. Technology needs to serve a sense of culinary wonder and emotional response. Or put another way, many bright ten-year olds receive chemistry sets, but one must be cautious when they ask to serve breakfast in bed.

So to return to my question at the start: will Chef Cantu be seen an important, influential, or eccentric chef in a decade's time. He (like we) is a work in progress. He is challenging the idea of what a meal means. But some revolutionaries go too far. That is, they provide an outside limit within which others work. This was true of some of the early chefs who attempted fusion cuisine (I think of Larry Forgione here). They have great influence, deservedly so, even if they are not the most important chefs of their generation.

Others (Charlie Trotter, Alice Waters) can push the limits, but know when to pull back, allowing them to be revolutionaries and masters. Still others, think of Marinetti and the Italian futurists, become footnotes on the path not to be taken.

Moto is a young restaurant and Homaru Cantu is a young chef. If in the years ahead he is able to filter his brilliant ideas from his other ideas, he will become a member of the pantheon of truly prodigious chefs. If his ability is not to shift ideas, but can gather around him a group of acolytes who can incorporate his ideas while drawing back from his missteps his position as a powerful influence will be secured. But if this cuisine pushes further into creating dishes just to demonstrate that they can be created, then we will have been treated to an experience that will remain deeply embedded in our memories, but not in our dining choices in 2015.

Thank you, Chef. Thank you, staff.
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GAF wrote: the popcorn flavored packing material produced a deep sense of discomfort leading to satisfaction,


Let me get to this quote is a second, but first let me say, that I too applaud GAF for setting up this dinner. I guess to slightly paraphrase Voltaire, even if I had little desire to go on this adventure, I'd fight for the right for others to do it. I think such outings add another dimmension to our community (and also smash some of the myths about chowhounds vs. foodies or such--I think the people on LTH just want to enjoy food, whatever the form.)

OK, I'm off one high-horse and on to another. What's so different from this "popcorn" and Trader Joe's pirate booty? :P
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Vital Information wrote:What's so different from this "popcorn" and Trader Joe's pirate booty? :P


I didn't know such a thing exists. Asuming it's a female pirate offering up the booty, I'm going to a Trader Joe's tomorrow in search of the answer.
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Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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This should be in non-food chat, but since this thread is so current, I'm linking here to an article in the current New York Times about Chef Cantu's use of technology--especially the inkjet printer!

Sounds like you all had a wonderful time. Thanks for the photos and the reports. Looking forward to hearing from others.
Last edited by Ann Fisher on February 2nd 2005, 9:41pm, edited 1 time in total.
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stevez wrote:
Vital Information wrote:What's so different from this "popcorn" and Trader Joe's pirate booty? :P


I didn't know such a thing exists. Asuming it's a female pirate offering up the booty, I'm going to a Trader Joe's tomorrow in search of the answer.


I've had the TJ's Pirate Booty (my kids love it), and it's much crunchier than the "popcorn" we had last night, which actually LOOKED like packaging material, and even had some of the "give" of packaging material. I think GAF called it right: it was a kind of a test. You are asked to eat something that looks like something you'd never want to eat. Looking around the table, I believe every one of us ate every last piece of what looked the stuff you'd shake out of a shipping crate...and it tasted pretty good, buttery and crisp and a good complement to the champagne.

Hammond
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David Hammond wrote:
stevez wrote:
Vital Information wrote:What's so different from this "popcorn" and Trader Joe's pirate booty? :P


I didn't know such a thing exists. Asuming it's a female pirate offering up the booty, I'm going to a Trader Joe's tomorrow in search of the answer.


I've had the TJ's Pirate Booty (my kids love it), and it's much crunchier than the "popcorn" we had last night, which actually LOOKED like packaging material, and even had some of the "give" of packaging material. I think GAF called it right: it was a kind of a test. You are asked to eat something that looks like something you'd never want to eat. Looking around the table, I believe every one of us ate every last piece of what looked the stuff you'd shake out of a shipping crate...and it tasted pretty good, buttery and crisp and a good complement to the champagne.

Hammond


Obviously, I have no idea what the popcorn tasted like last night, but *I* find Trader Joe's Pirate Booty to have a texture quite like styrofoam packaging material.

Then, again, I suppose there is more than one kinda styrofoam--Cantu using a more springy vs. crunchy styrofoam.
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There is a very soft packing peanut, much much softer than pirates booty, that is cylindrical and made of cornstarch, so dissolves in your mouth or under water. They're obviously also biodegradable. I'm almost certain, despite having not tasted it, that this is the same type cantu used.

It's soft enough that you can squeeze it into a flat disk easily, and it'll spring back.

-ed
Last edited by gleam on February 2nd 2005, 9:37pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gleam wrote:There is a very soft packing peanut, much much softer than pirates booty, that is cylindrical and made of cornstarch, so dissolves in your mouth or under water. They're obviously also biodegradable. I'm almost certain, despite having not tasted it, that this is the same type cantu used.

-ed


Not to hijack this thread any more than I have, but the real question then is, what the hell is pirates booty made out of :?
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I think they are veggie chips or potato chips.
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Vital Information wrote:
Not to hijack this thread any more than I have, but the real question then is, what the hell is pirates booty made out of :?


Ingredients: Corn meal, rice, canola and/or sunflower oil, aged cheddar cheese (no fat milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes), whey, and lowfat buttermilk.

hijack over!
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"There's more to food than taste."

That's the kind of statement that can send eyes rolling but it's so obviously true.

It was interesting to me that when, at meal's end, jazzfood asked us "Which was your favorite dish?" several of us said the skirt steak, which despite the accompanying syringe filled with blood-red beet juice and KFC pellets, was one of the more 'traditional' foods we had last night. It was just damn tasty meat, and I think most of us were responding primarily to the taste of the food (as though this meal had taught us nothing!).

Now, taste is obviously important, and I'm in agreement with GAF that I'd never order Maki in the 4th Dimension again not because I didn't like it, but the flavor of the fluke was exceptionally subtle, not terribly flavorful, and because the dish was basically a concept that works for you once and is then best remembered.

When I do remember this meal, I tend to dwell more on the technological innovations that brought out the taste: the gas-charged grapes that sizzled and perked the taste buds to receive the flavor of the scallops more completely, the bouillabaisse de- and then re-constructed from monkfish cooked in a personalized plexiglass box topped with lemon zest to spread the aroma around the room, and pizza forks capped with garlic to scent the dish without actually adding garlic to the tongue (could Chef Cantu have read Antonius' post about the sin of over-using garlic?). All of these dishes were very very good (as in tasty) and they also demonstrated how Cantu puts technology to the service of taste, and for all the "jeez, I've never see that before" moments (as with chips and salsa puree, doughnut soup, and others), what's really best is when the tech and taste come together no big surprise there, though, I've got to admit, those big-as-a-cantaloupe spheres of red, orange and green (created, the Chef told us, by adding vegetable liquid to a balloon, adding gas, swirling and chilling), though not terribly tasty, were a sight to behold and long remember (fortunately, C2 has the video!).

This was an eating adventure, and like any real adventure, it required some willingness to throw oneself into an unpredictable situation and just see what happened. Sometimes good stuff happens and sometimes not. Either way (and in both ways) it was way worth it.
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Hi,

For your edification, the raccoon was brought last night for Hammond to taste. Since David has spent considerable time trying to locate a raccoon butcher, I felt he should have a sample of what he has long desired. At least if he didn't like it, then he could cease all his efforts.

When I walked into Moto last night, everyone was sitting in the cocktail lounge. When the gentleman took my coat, I handed him a plastic bag holding my container of raccoon and a frozen coconut drink to keep it cold. I inquired if they would consider warming up the raccoon so everyone present could have a taste, generously suggesting the staff could sample some as well. If they objected, then could they please refrigerate it until we left. They promised to consult with the chef and advise.

After we sat down to dinner, Matthew inquired how many present would like to try the raccoon? Ten of the eleven people present affirmed their interest. I must admit I still assumed they would just heat up the raccoon, I never dreamed it would be granted the four star presentation treatment paired with a suitable wine. Of course, there was considerable humor and maybe some nervous tittering about what we were about to eat. In respects to the suitable wine presented with professionally hushed tones, someone inquired, "What suitable wines were offered Saturday night?" "Wine? No discussion beyond let's have a beer at the bar!"

I pride myself on being observant, though sometimes I focus on the leaves and not the tree. I was really caught up looking at the edible paper rendition of a raccoon. I joked with the staff, "Would the paper taste like raccoon in the deja vu style we experienced in an earlier course?" No, though they confirmed the paper was indeed edible. As I used my fork to reach under to extract some raccoon, I notice immediately a change in the texture. Rather than the course chunks of meat on the bone, they had deboned it and shredded it finer, yet the taste was very much the same. Only then did I see the larger picture, that the presentation was of roadkill raccoon! Jazzfriend quipped, "All that's missing is an 'Acme Anvil' dropping from the sky!"

Image

In the delightful chatter post-raccoon, we learned Jazzfood's friend has a master's degree in dissectology ... ok, some related degree where she performed a variety of dissections the breadth of which was staggering. She was quite eager to work with Hammond in pulling the skin and cutting up the raccoon. It often boggles the mind what one learns in the company of LTHforum people; who are so rich in interesting experiences.

Mrs. Jim in Logan Square was really quite taken with the image of the raccoon. There was hardly any question, she needed a raccoon image to take home. I inquired with the staff if they could allow us a copy of the raccoon image. They graciously provided us with not one but three sheets of edible paper with raccoons applied with edible ink. So Hammond, Mrs JiLS and I could have an interesting souvenir of our evening.

I just keep wondering how those wonderful gentleman who hunted and cooked those raccoons will react to learning how their gift of raccoon meat traveled.

Regards,
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"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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For now, I will merely post Mrs. JiLS's reactions:

"I'm going to die ... I'm just going to die. I'm having trouble breathing."

(repeated approximately 17 times between Moto and home in Logan Square)

I don't think it was my rendition of "The Aristocrats" that did her in (although personally, I think I killed). (FYI: The Aristocrats Explained)
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JimInLoganSquare wrote:I don't think it was my rendition of "The Aristocrats" that did her in (although personally, I think I killed). (FYI: The Aristocrats Explained)


JILS,

Thank you for bringing this subculture "joke" to our attention. I just caught the South Park version, which is too vile to link to, though I am practicing my own rendition, and should have it in good form by the weekend.

Hammond
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More seriously, after the dinner Mrs. JiLS and I got into a deeper discussion of what we had experienced. We agreed (based on her professional experience and my own dabblings in the field many years ago) that many aspects of the Moto dinner represented performance art. At many times the staff was clearly "acting" in a way with regard to the food presentations that was intended to be challenging. And sometimes the food was inherently challenging. The clearest example was the "packing material" amuse. This dish was a challenge -- to expectations, to personal bravery, to trust -- the last being the key element of the challenge. This was a dish that broke the fourth wall. Ultimately, we all got past the trust issues and ate the dish, which was quite delicious (and paired nicely with a '99 vintage Champagne). A very intellectual snack that kindled some old sparks; the same that led me many moons ago to be a philosophy Ph.D. dropout.

JiLS, M.A., J.D. (but not Ph.D.)
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Just a note regarding the 'green curry, hearts of palm and salted sugar.'

I liked this one, though I feel I may have been the only one or two people in the room who felt so (I picked up "thirds" from from those who disliked it).

After the two meat courses and edible cheese literature, I found the nitro-chilled palletized green curry blobules quite refreshing. The bruled heart of palm and salted sugar was okay, but I really liked the cold curry: the temperature and spice (notes of cardamom and cilantro) perked the palate and transitioned nicely to dessert.

Hammond
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Cathy2 wrote:After we sat down to dinner, Matthew inquired how many present would like to try the raccoon? Ten of the eleven people present affirmed their interest.

In my own defense, I'll point out that I did eventually have some of the raccoon on the extra plate, and ended up liking it quite a bit. It's sad that psychchef left early, but in that case after seeing all of your reactions, I helped myself to some of what was on the extra plate, and found it to be not so scary at all. I found it a fairly mild dark meat, not very gamey at all. (I averred originally because I don't like gamey flavors and assumed it would be there.)

I can't say the packing popcorn has no cornstarch in it, needless to say, but its texture had absolutely nothing in common with either cornstarch packing pieces or Pirate's Booty. Think of a very elastic, almost to the point of plastic, meringue. After letting a few pieces melt in my mouth, I actually tried to bite into one and couldn't. I left teeth marks but could not bite through the material.

I'm processing all of my photos now (the kitchen was very generous and creative in dealing with my seafood allergy, so there are plates to be seen that are not on this page yet), and will probably write up my thoughts over the course of the next few days. I will say I have a title for my post that I'm very happy with. And it was an extraordinary meal. I suspect that if Moto has any detractors, they might just be taking food too seriously. While I don't know if Cantu follows the sustainable practices of a number of highly respected chefs in this city, I found absolutely no shortcuts or compromises in the quality of the food itself.
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I don't think it was my rendition of "The Aristocrats" that did her in (although personally, I think I killed).




it's all in the delivery.




still digesting. like a good movie or book. i'm finding that some things in retrospect are stronger in my memory than they were in the moment. i will say and did say last p.m., i'm glad that the gimmick had substance. i, more than anyone there, was probably walking in with a show-me something attitude for a couple valid (i rationalize) reasons...



he did.




well done -- from matthew's inspired wine pairings and all around knowledgeable and excellent service, to the innovative foods and presentations that truly are "food for thought", to the expert pacing of the bacchanal feast... all added to the heightened quality of this special evening. i think the entire table agreed that the meal/evening/grande bouffe, was greater than the sum of it's many parts.


for me, it was quite a memorable evening on many levels and stimulated me to rethink my own repertoire. besides everything else already mentioned, to me, that was worth the price alone.





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i forgot to mention that one of the waiters (who actually rotate from the back of the house, a great idea) that served us all evening, also helped fix the flat we encountered upon leaving.
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David Hammond wrote:Just a note regarding the 'green curry, hearts of palm and salted sugar.'

I liked this one, though I feel I may have been the only one or two people in the room who felt so (I picked up "thirds" from from those who disliked it).
Hammond


I'm not sure whether it was the taste of the dish or its placement in the progression of dishes that I didn't like. We had been through a nice flow of tastes that took us from some subtle dishes in the beginning to "main courses" like the two beef dishes and then we were headed toward "desert". The curry came along with its very assertive flavors just when I was ready for "sweet". It seemed out of place and jarring to me when it was served. I might have liked it better earlier in the evening, but I'm not even sure about that.
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When jazzfood asked us which dish we liked the best, I didn't hesitate for a moment to say "pull apart duck". Of course, those who know me were probably not surprised by that. It was duck, after all. I was somewhat surprised that so many said the skirt steak was their favorite. Not that it wasn't very good, but it didn't seem all that special to me from a taste standpoint. It was not very agressively seasoned and was somewhat bland IMHO, although the quality of the meat was excellent. This is not to say I didn't enjoy the dish, just that it was not my favorite of the night. The thing that made that dish was the syringe full of beet juice. After years of hearing "don't play with your food", this was a chance to do just that. In fact, the whole dinner was one big play date with our food.

Anyway, getting back to the duck. When you pulled apart the little "flauta", a sauce of sorts came out of the inside and flavored the duck. Interestingly enough, I found myself constantly cutting off little bits of duck and stuffing them back inside the "flauta" and eating it that way. The dish had a very rich and nicely balanced full flavor. If I could go back to Moto and get a full man-sized serving of this dish (probably an unlikely occurance), I would be a very happy camper. I could see it now. A big mound of duck sitting on the plate, served with a burrito (or, more properly in this case, a chimichanga) filled with juice...mmmmm duck heaven!
Last edited by stevez on February 3rd 2005, 9:53am, edited 1 time in total.
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JimInLoganSquare wrote:More seriously, after the dinner Mrs. JiLS and I got into a deeper discussion of what we had experienced. We agreed (based on her professional experience and my own dabblings in the field many years ago) that many aspects of the Moto dinner represented performance art. At many times the staff was clearly "acting" in a way with regard to the food presentations that was intended to be challenging. And sometimes the food was inherently challenging. The clearest example was the "packing material" amuse. This dish was a challenge -- to expectations, to personal bravery, to trust -- the last being the key element of the challenge. This was a dish that broke the fourth wall. Ultimately, we all got past the trust issues and ate the dish, which was quite delicious (and paired nicely with a '99 vintage Champagne). A very intellectual snack that kindled some old sparks; the same that led me many moons ago to be a philosophy Ph.D. dropout.

JiLS, M.A., J.D. (but not Ph.D.)


OK, I'm not trying to make this a debate about pirate's booty. What I keep on wondering after I read the remarks is, what's the big deal. Eating something that looks like styrofoam does not seem that challenging. Really. It does not seem nearly as challenging as eating racoon or eyeballs or ant eggs or brains. It's not about food machismo.

I just think that, say me, would have no conipitions about eating the popcorn. There is no taboo or fear that really strikes me about putting that in my mouth. Like I say, it did not bother me to put the TJ pirate's booty in my mouth and it looks a lot like packing material. So, to a certain extent, it seems from the safety of experiencing your meal from pictures, that this challenge was more of a false challenge.

Moreover, I think most people going into a Moto meal at this point know certain things about the challenges: the edible menus, the various other haute cuisine versions of doritos. If you know you are going to be served a piece of paper, are you really being challenged when you get it?

I appreciate in many ways, what Chef Cantu is doing, and I REALLY like reading these reports and seeing the pictures, but I remain less than convinced about certain conciets. I find as much gaity in the sublime green mole at Amanceer Tapitio. Wowing is good, calling into play all the senses is good. It's whether I need performance art or just a good dinner that I wonder.

Rob
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Vital Information wrote:I find as much gaity in the sublime green mole at Amanceer Tapitio. Wowing is good, calling into play all the senses is good. It's whether I need performance art or just a good dinner that I wonder.
Rob


Rob,

It's all good...just at different price points. I get just as much enjoyment from a well prepared Big Baby as I get from a meal at Moto. It's just a different experience. All of those experiences are valid, though.
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JimInLoganSquare wrote:I don't think it was my rendition of "The Aristocrats" that did her in (although personally, I think I killed). (FYI: The Aristocrats Explained)

JiLS,

Aristocrats, who knew. :shock:

Moto sounds a once in a lifetime experience, as complete an experience as one is, if they are lucky, to find in life, much less in a restaurant.

Thanks to all for sharing their adventure and to Chef Cantu for his obvious grace, talent, imagination and generosity. Chef Cantu you are truly an Aristocrat. :)

Enjoy,
Gary
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stevez wrote:
Vital Information wrote:I find as much gaity in the sublime green mole at Amanceer Tapitio. Wowing is good, calling into play all the senses is good. It's whether I need performance art or just a good dinner that I wonder.
Rob


Rob,

It's all good...just at different price points. I get just as much enjoyment from a well prepared Big Baby as I get from a meal at Moto. It's just a different experience. All of those experiences are valid, though.


Ah, but it is not price that bothers me. I do not begrudge at all, Moto's prices. I think that higher prices are well justified first of all, by the amount of people (and the skill and training of these people) incorporated into the dishes. Second, I think the extensive use of high quality ingredients justifies the higher costs; third, I think the level of sevice and comfort Moto provides justifies the higher costs. Last, frankly, for all my pinko leanings, I am also a capitalist, and I think restaurants like any business, should be able to charge what they market will pay. It's not cost.

My issues are two-fold. One, it's the idea of bringing science to the table. I actually have a client who is a big food related company. There's a lot of chemists at this place that have been creating products like Moto's for a long time. We do not call it cuisine cause they go into common packaged goods. The other thing is the notion that these places bring additional emotions into the dining experience. I know I can't understand the exact emotions you all felt at your dinner, but all the things described, I have experienced before at meals. So, I just do not see Moto adding in that area.

Thanks for the discussion! :D

Rob
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