I never knew this would be the third time this week that I would be going to my journal for writing inspiration:)
Feeling hunger pangs made the wait all the worse as I anticipated the dishes Fuzio Catering (www.fuziocatering.com) was preparing for our private sampling—a feast that we were assured would be fully representative of the meals they could provide for our past Christmas show that took place in December last year. As our hosts inquired about the number of guests and made suggestions for the event, a server began distribute a bright green mint dip, a sauce that released a tangy aroma that instantly reminded me of a fine Indian restaurant. The potato samosas that soon accompanied it consisted of a slightly crispy crust surrounding finely mashed potato mixed with spinach, producing a smooth blend of spices that was perfectly complemented by the mint dip, which was mixed better than many I’ve tasted in the past.
A stronger scent announced the arrival of the baked spinach and cheese puff pastries, a small but rich appetizer that I instantly loved. The creamy blend of spinach and cheese, contained within a soft shell, had a robust flavor, and the smooth texture was somewhat akin to a spread rather than a pastry filling. Eating only one proved to be the most dissatisfying part.
This made the arrival of the next dish disappointing, as I have always held a dislike for salmon, which is simply too strong a flavor for my personal tastes. The salmon chowder soup with dill pesto certainly appeared appetizing, but given my dislike of many types of fish, I didn’t anticipate that I would enjoy it. Carefully avoiding the finely cut portions of salmon, I scooped a bit of the thick soup onto my spoon and tentatively tasted it. The chowder itself did not contain any more than a trace of the salmon flavor, and the firm pieces of carrot and potato balanced the dill pesto well. Risking a piece of salmon, I was surprised to find that the seasoning used in the soup offset any strong fish flavor, making it much more enjoyable than I had expected.
As we cleaned our bowls of the chowder, a flood of scents signaled the arrival of the main courses. The first dish I sampled was the fried beef with oyster sauce, an adaptation of a Chinese-style dish with a more international flavor. My primary complaint with many foods using oyster sauce is the overpowering saltiness, which tends to smother other flavors. In this case I was pleased to discover that virtually no salt could be tasted, and the rich flavor of the beef and vegetables was easily detectable. While the beef was a touch firm, the vegetables in particular were prepared extremely well and were still slightly crisp when bitten.
Wresting the plate of pasta with pesto sauce away from Mr. Ray, who claims it to be one of his favorite meals, I scooped a healthy serving onto my plate and took a first bite. Being a fan of Italian pesto myself, I first felt that the pasta, though properly al dente, didn’t possess a strong enough taste, but more complex flavors began to emerge after the second and third bites. Pesto, as a standard in Italian cuisine, is often oversimplified—particularly when alternate ingredients are used. Thankfully, this particular version utilized pine nuts rather than a substitute, and the subtle flavors—a zesty tang and slight, pleasant bitterness—lingered long after the last bite.
I had put off the last of the three main courses until the last, again because of my hesitancy in eating many dishes that contain fish. The seared dory fillet in almond butter sauce was certainly beautifully presented, with the finely cut slices of fish set against sliced vegetables and mashed potatoes, all of which was drizzled with a pale yellow sauce and topped with thin, crisp slices of almond. Any doubts were erased after the first bite. It was without a doubt one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten. The butter sauce yielded a surprisingly sweet taste, and the dory fillet was extremely tender, with a pleasant nutty aftertaste that lingered for several minutes. The vegetables were again perfectly balanced between tender and crisp, and the almond butter sauce, though very distinct, did not overwhelm the individual flavors.
Although we felt quite full, we had little difficulty making room for the final offering: Japanese style marbled chocolate cheesecake. Although I love cheesecake of all sorts, I’ve found that it can be quite heavy, particularly after eating a full slice subsequent to a large meal. According to the Executive Chef of Fuzio, this particular cheesecake’s preparation involves a method that makes the base far lighter. He certainly was right; the cheesecake practically melted in my mouth. The intermingling of cheese, chocolate and mocha flavors was simply exquisite, and it was a fitting end to one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time.