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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Daniel Skurnick's pop up dinner


Left: pork terrine and cacao with carrot caraway brown butter paper. Right: beef tartare with nuoc cham gelee 

I wasn't going to write about this dinner. Maybe because I just wanted to enjoy the dinner and not have to think too deeply about it. And I especially didn't want to write it now, now that it's been over a week since it happened. But even though two islands' worth of eating and a new restaurant opening have happened between then and now, I still think about it.

Last Monday, Daniel Skurnick, most recently the pastry chef at Morimoto Waikiki, created a one-night only menu at Prima. Some courses toed the line between savory and sweet: one sandwiched a pork terrine between two crisp chocolate wafers, with a carrot caraway brown butter paper, a grown-up version of a fruit roll-up; a dessert course paired a liquidy chocolate pudding with russet and purple potato chips and salted caramel ice cream.


Left: opah with roasted cauliflower and granola. Right: chocolate pudding with potato chips and chocolate soba streusel

It was impossible not to think about this dinner, while spooning it up. My date became the third wheel as I marveled at the beauty of the dishes, the custom-made servingware that was striking yet fun (everyone makes their own pasta these days—how many make the plate it's served on?!), the this-just-looks-effortlessly-casual plating, the surprising flavors, the delightful textures. In particular, the mostly savory course offered soft opah countered with crunchy granola made of puffed brown rice, dry roasted quinoa and squash seeds. "When creating a dessert, one usually takes textures into account as well as flavors … Far too often, this thought process is not utilized when creating an entree," Skurnick writes of this dish.

And this is why I bring up this dinner now. Skurnick has written a 13 page digital magazine with his notes, thoughts, sourcing and even some recipes from the dinner. It makes me realize that the meal, however thought-provoking, was just the tip of the iceberg in Skurnick's ideas and maybe that's why this dinner remains embedded in my subconscious.

I wouldn't want to eat like this every night (such a dinner demands the food equivalent of a sweatpants and Desperate Housewives veg out session immediately after), and neither does Skurnick want to cook like this every night (too fussy, he says) but here's hoping that occasionally he'll let us peek into his mind with future dinners.

Posted on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.



 

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