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In Defense of the Amuse Bouche

One of my favorite parts of a fine dining experience is the amuse bouche, that little surprise gift from the kitchen to start the meal. In fact, I am quite greedy when it comes to these little preludes.

I first fell in love with Manresa after receiving not one but six mind-blowingly delicious little bites, and they are one of many reasons I keep going back six years later. The mezzethakia at KOMI is the stuff that dreams are made of, seven year after my first taste. I would sell my soul for an extra stomach just so I can keep tasting Johnny Monis' miniature creations.

Why are people coming down on amuses all of a sudden? Gordon Ramsay, on the BBC's Best Restaurants program, critized a French restaurant for giving guests more than one amuse. I could not disagree more. One of my pet peeves is being late for a restaurant reservation, but I had one of the most incredible amuse experiences at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas when my guest was late in meeting me for dinner. While I was sitting alone at the table waiting, the kitchen kept sending me a series of little snacks, including a beautiful briny oyster enrobed in creme fraiche gelee, a tiny little triple decker foie gras sandwich, a miniature burger the size of a macaroon, etc. I would never do that again on purpose-- well maybe-- but I almost wished that my guest took longer to arrive.

Note: My love of multiple amuses does not extend to a platter containing multiple amuses at once. Not to look a gift dish in the mouth, but amuses are generally not at their best when presented buffet style. Their beauty is in the fleeting tease of the palate, not working my way around a plate.


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