You know how I feel about Eric Ripert. He’s probably mentioned more on this site than any other chef. He and Anthony Bourdain came to San Jose on their Good vs. Evil tour and of course I had to go. Even though I had a feeling I’d already seen a lot of the material at the two Cayman Cookouts, I didn’t care. My neighbor said she’d go with me so we decided to grab a bite to eat before the event. I pinged Jeff Bareilles, Beverage Director at Manresa, and found out we could get some food at the bar so we popped in there.
We sat and talked with the bartender, whose name I did not get! D’oh! He was a lot of fun. Jeff recommended my perfect cocktail. It’s one he developed called the Lemon Zest. He was spot on, it was sooooo good. My friend got the Manresa Bordeaux blend wine that Jeff blended. Also, soooo good.
The food didn’t disappoint either. A Belon oyster with a citrus granita started everything off. If you didn’t say it was an oyster and I blind tasted it, I’m not sure I would be able to tell you what it was. It was ridiculously good. Don’t get me wrong, I love oysters…my friend does not and she loved it too…but this wasn’t like any oyster I’d ever had. The Arpege egg came out and I, once again, had to tell the L’Arpege/food poisoning story. I however wasn’t poisoned so I ate the egg. I like that concoction until the end where all I have left is yolk—unfortunately, runny yolk is not my thing.
The remaining courses were awesome: chicken with potato mousseline (not Mussolini, no dictators in my dinner please). And dessert was a goat milk ice…thingy. It was ice cream with an ice on top and goat with goat. Yeah, I didn’t write it down :P The final plate had macarons that tasted like the best damn nutter butter you could ever imagine and crunchy little chocolates pieces.
We headed out of Los Gatos and headed to the San Jose Center for Performing Arts. Last time I was there was with this same friend and we sat front row, center for Tori Amos. Amazing night. We weren’t that close for Eric and Tony, those seats were crazy-expensive!
I have to say, I find it pretty amazing that these two chefs…well, one chef and one former chef now traveling gourmet…can fill this huge theatre. I mean, I love Eric and I find Tony very entertaining but I’m usually an anomaly. I’m the weird one. I’m the one who squeals like a ’60s Beatles fan when my favorite chef walks in a room….I mean, who does that?!
We had a moment of hometown and just-eaten-there pride when Eric listed David Kinch as one of the 3 chefs he’d want to have cook for him if stranded on a desert island (the other two: Suzanne Goin and Joel Rubuchon). Tony was really, exceptionally brutal towards Eric. I’m amazed they can do this night after night and remain friends. I was right, I had seen a lot of the stories in the Caymans, but there was plenty I hadn’t heard. In particular the story of Eric, in a restaurant in France, telling a woman she was mal baisé then punching her husband! ERIC RIPERT! Practicing buddhist, proponent of calm, encouraging surroundings….PUNCHED a guy in the nose. Not saying the guy didn’t deserve it or that he wouldn’t have clocked Eric but…OMG! That story was worth the (significant) price of admission alone!
I’m also amazed that they can talk for 2 hours every night of this tour and either continue to come up with new material or, when it’s rehashed, continue to look so authentically surprised and/or embarrassed. All in all we had a lovely food-centric evening. Food at Manresa, hilarity with Eric and Tony.