Live Uni Demo & Dinner

July 17, 2009

I’ve finally decided to move my food blog (instant gratification) from livejournal to wordpress since I recently started my travel blog (occasional traveler). I figured the live uni dinner I went to would be a great first post!

I brought both my point-and-shoot and my DSLR to the event.  I was a little shy at first about busting out the DSLR so the picture quality is not so great for some of the pics. It was also my first time to use my new flash on my DSLR!

Rainbow Lodge‘s executive chef Randy Rucker (feeding curiosity) prepared a 9-course meal for a small group of Houston Chowhounds (plus guests) this past Wednesday night.  At $100 per person, this was my birthday gift to myself!

Big thanks to Jenny (i’m never full) for coordinating this once-in-a-lifetime dinner!

uni demo & live uni

After Randy showed us the process of cutting open the sea urchin, we were allowed to give it a shot.  It was a messy process, requiring thick gloves and scissors. We were also allowed to try it right after it was taken out of its shell. To no surprise, it was a bit salty, a taste of the water that it had been in.

I didn’t actually cut one open but I CAN say I ate some raw sea urchin liver.  WOhoo.  Reminded me of eating raw oysters…sorta.  Jenny described it as having a slightly floral taste.

uni-popcorn – uni powder seasoned popcorn

Nothing terribly exciting, but there was definitely a light uni taste.  Nice little starter while Randy and his staff prepared the uni that we had helped prepare.

live uni with olive oil, persimmon vinegar & chive

Next to eating it straight out of the shell, this was as simple as it got that night.  The vinegar resulted in the uni being firmer than when it had first come out of the shell.  It was yummy.

raw uni with smoked miso &  brown butter

This was one of my favorites, as far as serving the uni in its “original” form. The smoked miso & brown butter complimented the raw uni VERY well.  Mmm, miso.  Still simple, but sooo good!

baby white geoduck clam & a vinaigrette made from uni, meyer lemon, & caramel oil

This one was interesting.  The geoduck clam was okay.  By itself, I really don’t feel like it has a ton of taste.  The vinaigrette was sweeter than I expected, and the uni made the mixture creamy.

lots of different eggs both hot & cold

It was only a couple of hours ago, but, well, let’s just say, I should have taken notes.  The bulk of the dish was duck egg, uni, and some other stuff, topped with…some sort of soup?  I know, it’s sad how little I remember.  The bottom of the dish had gritty, dirty-looking stuff and while it added some interesting texture to the dish, I’m kinda on the fence about whether or not it really added to the dish.

almond gnocchi with caviar, coddled buttermilk, & uni

The people around me complained that the almond gnocchi was too tough.  I love the taste of almond, but I would agree that it wasn’t very gnocchi-like. Still, I did’nt think it was too bad.  the coddled buttermilk was VERY light, especially compared to the uni and caviar.  I thought it was more interesting of a dish than anything else.  I feel like perhaps the almond gnocchi would work better with something else..not sure what though.

slow poached iowa pork belly seasoned with carbonized onion powder & re-seared, creamed kimchee & uni toast.

The carbonized onion powder was eh for me, but I’ve never been crazy about anything thats been blackened.  The rest of the dish, however, made this a VERY enjoyable dish.  The pork belly was wonderful– this was the heaviest dish of the night.  I think the timing of it was good.  Everything prior was very light (and spread out over two hours or so).  The creamed kimchee was reallly good.  It had a spicy kick without being overpowering.

EXTRA – uni and chives on forbidden rice

Simple, but delicious.  The Chinese black rice must have been cooked in some sort of broth because it was extremely flavorful.  The texture of the rice was perfect with the texture of the uni!  *drool*

sea urchin frozen yogurt & our papaya ceviche

I very mcuh enjoyed this frozen yogurt.  If he had been selling this to take home, I would have definitely purchased some.  It was so good on it’s own, I don’t think it even needed the papaya ceviche.  Plus, I had a hard time cutting up the papaya.  Oh yes, it was topped with caviar and I did think it actually went well together.

uni & white chocolate

This dish was the most unexpected.  I had no idea what to expect, but I was VERY pleased with the results.  There was a warm, thick pudding-like mixture of white chocolate and uni– much like caramel.  There were chopped up walnuts, white chocolate flakes, and a small piece of raw uni that accompanied the dish.  Mmm, great dessert!

I also felt that the portion was perfect.  Too much of it and it might just be over the top sweet.

EXTRA – lightly seared prawns

I’ve already forgotten the type of shrimp, but Randy brought this out after we all had thought the meal was over.  I have forgotten almost anything that was said about this shrimp but it tasted great!  Very fresh and flavorful.  Plus, I actually very much enjoy having something savory after dessert.

mini-kitchen tour

Randy then invited us to tour the kitchen before we left.  I think the proper name would have been “freezer tour”!  One of the chefs showed us the goodies in their freezer, including a variety of meats that were hanging up aging.

It was all a very unique experience, especially considering I’ve only ever had sea urchin prepared one way– nigiri (at Japanese restaurants).  I’m very glad I took part in this dinner!  I had a fabulous time getting to know new and old Houchie’s!

I only ordered a glass of Cabaret Sauvignon, but I sorta wish I tried the wine pairing!!  It was a lot of wine for a small price ($35).  My total cost was around $140.  Well worth it! =)

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