Best of October 2015
November 30, 2015
This October was very special for me. I went back to Japan the first half of the month and I enjoyed so many wonderful foods there. October is also my birthday month and we had some really amazing birthday meals after I came back to NY. One of them was Semilla in Brooklyn. I just love this place. It is a vegetable-forward restaurant which means they focus on vegetables as their main ingredients with animal products playing more of a supporting role.
Semilla is a cozy 18-seat restaurant where everyone sits around a counter. Even though it is a small establishment, there are several waiters that take care of you very well. The whole dinner was flawless. They served the entire course meal with perfect timing.
(top left) Chestnut Fritter with Raspberry & Pine Vinaigrette
(top right) Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Barbecue Onion Dip
(bottom left) Raw Matsutake Mushrooms with Pumpkin Seed Ragu
(bottom right) Wild Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with Potatoes and Sea Urchin
From the first four courses, I really loved the raw matsutake mushrooms with pumpkin seed ragu. I am a mushroom fanatic and I love any mushrooms but matsutake is such a special mushroom. A good Matsutake costs about $100 per mushroom in Japan but this is mostly because of super-high demand and less supply. There are no other countries that consume matsutake like Japan and there are many imports from China or Korea however the flavor of matsutake reduces dramatically by the time they get to Japan. Therefore the cost of imported matsutake is about 1/10 of Japanese matsutake. Unlike other types of mushrooms, matsutakes can't be artificially cultivated - similar to truffles. They grow only around the root of the red pine tree and only from September to October. So, I was very glad to see matsutakes from Maine on the menu at several restaurants in NYC recently. The way they use matsutakes is so different than the usual way we eat them in Japan so it was very interesting. At Semilla, they shaved matsutakes and served with cow milk hard cheese and pumpkin seed ragu. It was so flavorful and refreshing and I was in love with this dish.
(top left) Broccoli Salad with Miso Hollandaise
(top right) Rye & Walnut Sourdough with Cowbella Butter & Buttermilk
(bottom left) Cream of Matsutake Mushroom Soup with Garlic Chantilly
(bottom right) Roasted Squash & Goat Cheese Tart
They served another matsutake dish I really loved that night: matsutake mushroom soup with garlic chantilly. It was so silky and it exploded a woody perfume with a touch of garlic from the chantilly. It was a very rich soup that normally I wouldn't want to eat more than what they served but it was so good I wished it came in a ramen bowl!
(left) Tarragon Profiterole with Wild Blueberry Sorbet & Buttermilk Ice Cream
(right) Fig Leaf Rice Pudding with Fermented Grape Granita
Semilla's course menu was very flavorful, unique and powerful. What they serve depends very much on the season. I went to Semilla at the perfect time to be able to enjoy some of my favorite ingredients. I am very curious how they whip up somewhat boring winter vegetables in cold months. I am looking forward to visit there again in a few months and then again in Spring and Summer.