DineLA Restaurant Week - Patina for Lunch
When I lived in Japan, I often ate a communal stew called nabe in the wintertime. One of the staple ingredients within the myriad of possibilities of a nabe is konnyaku. Konnyaku is a firm translucent gelatin with black spots that is completely flavorless. After a few months, I felt comfortable enough to ask a close friend why Japanese people eat the flavorless konnyaku. The answer surprised me. It's the texture of the konnyaku that makes it important in the mix. It turns out the nabe is something to be savored in every part of your mouth. One should contemplate each ingredient’s distinct flavor, sensation, and texture within each mouthful. Even the simple act of eating of a stew in Japan can have a Zen-like importance.
Patina, one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, understands the importance of the mingling of textures and flavors. Starting my meal with the appetizer named, "A study of Market Beets with Citrus Fruit, Cloud of Goat Cheese, Pistachios and Watercress", I knew my mouth was in for a treat. The plate greets you with wonderful color and variety. The first bite consisted of a subtle young red beet, half a wedge of grapefruit, a sliver of goat cheese, and a hint of nuts. I chewed slowly and focused on the playful dance within my mouth. The next bite was 12 stems of watercress, an orange beet, a sweet wedge of tangerine, and mixed with a puffy whipped sauce. Chew...chew...chew - I believe a haiku is in order:
beckons my small smiling fork
heaven on a plate