Until minibar expands this summer, there are only six seats at the celebrated restaurant-within-a-restaurant. So when José Andrés and Ruben García announced that they were doing 50 seats a night for five nights at Rogue 24, a foodie frenzy erupted. Tickets sold out in less than an hour, turning the dinner series into the hottest show in town. Giada De Laurentiis could have offered make out sessions in by the front door and guys would have trampled over her if a seat opened up.
I have to admit that I was more than a little thrilled when I heard that the two chefs would be taking part in the series. No matter how jaded you are – though I retain my childlike wonder when it comes to great food – this was going to be a special treat.
But when I walked into the restaurant that night, I was yearning for more than a phenomenal meal. Burdened with bad news, I desperately wanted an elevational experience. I craved transportive tastes that could whisk me away from the troubles of the day to a momentary alternative universe. It’s a lot to ask of anyone; perhaps it’s even selfish and unfair. I admitted as much to my wife, who was joining me for dinner that evening. “Good, bad, it’s all life,” she reminded me.
Olive oil bon bon/caramel
The opening number looks like a blazing meteor frozen in mid-flight, its contrail shooting out behind to form the perfect place to pick it up. Placing this celestial lollipop on my tongue, I let it sit for a moment before crunching down. That shatters the delicate caramel casing and releases a warm rush of olive oil, which mixes with the grains of perky vinegar salt lingering on the edge of this delicate comet. The flavors evaporate quickly, cleansing the palate pleasantly.
Dragon’s breath kettlecorn
“You must look at each other while you eat this,” our server instructs as he places tiny balls of caramel popcorn dipped in liquid nitrogen in front of us. Wispy mist rises from them as we pick up the cool cubes and pop them in our mouths. Beginning to chew, the faux smoke escapes Snoop style and we both giggle like we’ve just taken an instantly intoxicating Vaporizer hit.