I had a very good Cyber Monday, if I do say so myself. My KitchenAid mixer has been in decline every since that time, years ago, that I was using it to knead bread dough and heard a giant BOOM in the kitchen, only to discover it had toppled on to the floor, cracking a tile in the process. Now it looks like Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi, its whole back exposed to reveal stray wires and coils (the cover won’t stay on). The other day I accidentally put my hand on one of those wires and it zapped me. The thing is ten years old and so when I saw Jason Kottke link to a KitchenAid mixer deal on Amazon yesterday, it was if the food gods were smiling down upon me. I got the six-quart, professional series in Aqua Sky for $220 less than the normal price. It arrives tomorrow.
I may have also purchased a new food processor, a fire extinguisher (you never know!), and two mid-century serving platters on Etsy that weren’t discounted for Cyber Monday, but I was on a roll, so I just went with it. And then, one of L.A.’s most celebrated restaurants, Trois Mec, posted this on its Twitter feed: “We’re celebrating cyber Monday with a deal of our own! Buy for 2 and eat for 4, or buy for 1 and eat for 2! Valid for today only! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details!”
I texted the Tweet to my friend Ryan O’Connell, who’s always up for adventure, and sure enough he said he was into it. I e-mailed Luis to see if the deal was still going and he said he had a table for us at 8:45. Those food gods must really, really like me.
So sure enough, at 8:45 last night (Cyber Monday night), we sat down for dinner at Trois Mec.
Spoiler alert: this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long, long time. Maybe my favorite meal of 2017.
It started sweetly enough with two savory madeleines, tandoori and lemon thyme.
Then came the only dish that hadn’t changed since my last visit, and rightly so: the crispy tapioca, parmesan, passionfruit square is the perfect emblem of this restaurant. Expertly made, enigmatic, you’re not quite sure what you’re eating, but you’re loving every bite.
But where I really started to swoon was when the bread came out: there was brioche, there was grilled bread, and then there were three butters. One was a brown butter emulsion, one a butter infused with Mezcal, and the third–my favorite–an imported butter from France infused with espelette.
There were diver scallops with apple gelée, seaweed, and buckwheat popcorn.
The scallops were perfect: they tasted like they’d just been fished out of the water, shucked on the spot (do you shuck a scallop?), and then paired with ingredients that made them taste even better.
And then there was my favorite course of the night: wood grilled endive, pain d’epices, citrus, grilled herb mayo, radicchio.
This dish was genius, specifically in the pairing of a sweet, Christmasy bread with the bitter endive and bright citrus. I couldn’t stop raving about it, and it paired really well with the wine Ryan picked out (pretty sure it was a Bourgogne, but Ryan’s the wine guy).
We splurged on the supplement of potato pulp, onion soubise, frozen foie gras, cantal cheese, and brown butter.
Imagine the dust that makes a Dorito so good, then imagine a dust made with all of the things listed above and sprinkled over a pile of potato pulp, and you’ll understand what’s so dazzling about this. If you’ve been watching the latest season of Mind of a Chef starring Ludo Lefebvre, the chef of Trois Mec, on Netflix, you’ll learn the roots of this dish and see the process of how it’s made. So of course we had to have it.
Then came the entrees: steamed bass, curry sauce, cabbage, yogurt, and fennel pollen.
And grilled beef belly, cactus, grilled lettuce puree, and seaweed.
Ryan wasn’t sure about this dish and I wasn’t sure about it either, but the more that I think about it, the more that I think I liked it. Instead of a rich, heavily-sauced beef dish, this was light… almost like a cactus pho, if you can imagine such a thing.
Transitioning us into dessert world was crispy bread ice cream with Comte cheese.
I had such a big reaction to my first bite of this. Ryan and I were engrossed in conversation, so I just sort of popped this into my mouth and my eyes nearly bugged out of my head. It was CRISPY BREAD ICE CREAM with GRATED CHEESE ALL OVER IT. The all caps should help emphasize what a surprising taste sensation this was. I told Ryan that I hated it and loved it all at once and he felt the same way. I think eliciting a huge reaction like this is a huge accomplishment; it’s the Pink Flamingos of cheese courses.
And then there was the main dessert, featured in the lead picture of this post: Crème fraiche panna cotta, salted caramel cooked in the fireplace, caviar, and barbecue salt. I’ll show it to you again…
This was stunning. So weird, and yet it made so much sense. Pastry chefs sprinkle salt over their desserts all the time–it’s all the rage, these days–so why not caviar? But caviar wouldn’t make sense if the other ingredients didn’t sort of make sense with it. But crème fraiche makes sense with caviar, and salted caramel makes sense with panna cotta, so it all added up to a huge wow moment. This was my second favorite thing I ate at Trois Mec, after the salad.
As a final gesture, there was a sunchoke macaroon which was, of course, super tasty.
What a fun night at Trois Mec. And what a great Cyber Monday. It’s my new favorite holiday.